Here I intend to draw attention to various scripts I have written over the years. They are mainly comedies. Even the serious stuff has jokes in.
- The Adventures of Stoke Mandeville, Astronaut and Gentleman
This is an important script for me. Not only is it one of the best, but I have twice produced it for the theatre, once in Newcastle and then in August 2002 at the Edinburgh Fringe. By clicking the above link, you will visit the pages that once were to be found at the domain www.stoke-mandeville.com.
- Cyberpunk Netrunners From Beyond
A sit-com about trainspotters, written originally for a series on Tyne Tees Television. It is now supposedly in development as a childrens' animation. The original brief was a sit-com in four minute episodes, for four actors, each episode to be written by a different writer, in order to showcase local writing talent. In practice, of course, this meant that whoever wrote the first episode defined the characters and situation and so was vastly more important than all the subsequent writers, who would all have to try and write comedy to fit somebody else's initial ideas. This was so monumentally stupid an idea that the project, after lots of writers had wasted time on it, was scrapped. I never cease to be amazed at how dismal the ideas of media people can be. I wrote a few episodes with my colleague Fraser Charlton, and these were produced as a training exercise by some local television production students. I wasn't convinced that all of those students were really cut out for television work, however. I remember how they kept forgetting the situation, and the cameramen would talk during recording.
- In and Out of Character
A television play about live action role players. It showed the people participating at a 'fest' and how the human interaction operated at a few different levels - those of the real people and those of the characters they were playing - and how the chance to introduce oneself to others as a fictional character can tell us quite a bit about human nature. Never produced. One producer said that it lacked the dramatic tension of a successful television play. Since then, a thousand 'reality' shows like Big Brother have proven tremendously popular, despite having no plot at all. People are interested in human interaction, it seems.
- The Glasshouse Conspiracy
A radio play in which aliens conspire to destroy the Earth's climate. It was a bit like a whodunnit - who murdered the planet? The idea was to kill the planet and make it look like an accident (climatic catastrophe), but how does one go about destroying a climate? Part of the point of the play was to introduce listeners to common misconceptions about global warming etc. I for one, and there are millions like me, am not convinced by the media and their doom-and-gloom ways. It was rejected by BBC Radio 4 in the most emphatic way. I don't think that whoever looked at it thought it was politically correct. No one else broadcasts radio plays.
Answerphone message scripts - ideas to liven up your out-going messages.
- Built for the Stone Age
A major script for me. I wrote loads on the topic of evolutionary psychology in the form of comedy sketches. I got an academic in the field to read the scripts to check the facts and argument, and he approved them without a quibble. I could interest no television people, none of whom could understand the concept of the show, and some told me that it would never work. In frustration, I made a pilot myself. It lasted fifty minutes. I shot it in five and a half days and edited it in three (which is, I am reliably informed by people who work in television and who knows these things, impossible). It cost £850 of my money to make.
It has been a success and a failure. Everyone who has seen it has understood it, and found it very funny and informative. Every television producer who has seen it has loved it and wanted to produce it. It has been used a fair few times by Newcastle University and once by Durham University as teaching material. Unfortunately, television commissioners do not watch pilots made by unknown people. So far as I know, no television commissioner has watched more than a few minutes of it. In their calls for new material, they insist that they want cross-genre projects and new kinds of ground-breaking television, and yet I have in writing from two fully-qualified commissioners that there is no such genre as comedy-documentary. The only way they seem to understand a description of a programme is in terms of other programmes ("It's like Changing Rooms meets Pet Rescue meets 999 - every week two neighbouring mountain rescue teams have to rescue a different vet…"), which is a problem for me, because no one yet has been able to think of a programme that my proposed one is like. Public interest in evolutionary psychology is very great, because it is the study of fundamental human nature, but still media folk are wary of it, because it still isn't entirely politically correct. Television commissioners are timid conservative people, all terrified of commissioning a dud, so they stick to established formulae. Thank goodness I'm not bitter.
You could go here to see a page I wrote explaining what evolutionary psychology is. You'll need to use your browser's BACK button to return here.
- Bloody Saxons
My first play. I first write it when I was thirteen, but my mother threw it away. Throwing things away is one of her main hobbies. I wrote it again. She threw it away again, but I rescued it from the rubbish bins before the bin men got to it, and then hid it better. It is a three-act play about Arthur, Romano-British general of the dark ages, having to cope with all the hangers-on and toadies that his success has cursed him with. Nearly performed twice, but never actually performed, which might be a good thing.
- I Can't Believe It's Not Murder
Co-written with Fraser Charlton, a television play about a man who may or may not have been murdered because he stumbled on a way of making margarine taste as good as butter. A semi-comedy whodunnit that portrays scientists as nice ordinary people, rather than as charmless nerds and psychopathic masterminds, which are the usual stereotypes. Never produced, despite being rather good. An unknown writer's getting a television play commissioned is so rare as to be near enough unknown. Our chances of success with this one were probably lower than winning the lottery, but it may prove a useful thing to have in the back-catalogue. One fine day, a commissioner might actually commission something of mine and then say, "Have you got anything else?" and I could then dust off scripts like this one, and discover that they are in fact excellent, and not the unusable rubbish they had earlier been deemed to be.
- JP Jones - Adventures in the Future
A childrens' cartoon series, written to order. For a while, it looked as though it might get commissioned, but then it didn't.
- Athavian Woven Stories
Unfinished. I started this years ago, a series of fantasy scripts all woven together in a cunning and rather original way. I abandoned the project when it became all too obvious that I would never get this commissioned, because it would require a commissioner with bravery, originality, money, and faith in me, and no such person could exist. Another reason to abandon it was that writing it was quite hard work.