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
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. ▼
Bored with your outgoing message? Friends stopped calling you? Liven things up with any of the following:
1. To be delivered with tremendous Shakespearean gusto. The last four words must be bellowed at the top of the voice:
"Once more unto the answerphone, dear friends, once more, and leave it filled with your excelling message. When I am in, there nothing more becomes you than modest stillness and humility, but when the blast of a recording sounds in your ears, imitate the action of the foghorn, hold hard the breath and bend up every spirit – onward you noble caller! Now you wait, like a greyhound in the slips, straining upon the start. The game's afoot! And upon this beep, cry god for [Name], ENGLAND AND SAINT GEORGE!"
2. To be delivered in the manner of Rowley Birkin QC, a character from The Fast Show - an old man who sits by the fire and recounts astounding autobiographical tales, in a rather incoherent way:
"I was arundala aye ee wehcuzzin in unarul zna Malaya, when unfshunin welundle min aghgina wz completely covered in hair. A nyway I said to in ah ahringalily cos ee fingaliring irr a lessenthrotee thee Hargreaves, you see? Next thing, whizzundilee nonagromits an BANG! Anez rul in tumigroolee, groolee 'AH!' And he came running out hazingstockin an crepret arkers shouting '[Name]! [Name]! Run for your life!' Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. I'm afraid I was very very drunk."
3. To be read with a slight growly/ill voice:
"Hello, I'm sorry but I can't get to the phone right now, I'm afraid I'm laid up in bed with a rather severe waitress and just can't get away. Please leave a message."
4. To be read in a very calm corporate voice:
"Hello, [Name] here, and thank you for calling the Royal Artillery Forward Observer Helpline. For range-finding and geostationary positioning, press one. If you are about to be over-run by the enemy, press two. For counter-battery fire, press three. To report the annihilation of your unit, press four, or you can hold to leave a message." [add some muzak for a few seconds before the beep]
5. To be delivered in the voice of Merlin from the film Excalibur:
"There was a time, when the world was young, when bird and beast and flower were one with Man, and Death was but a dream. Now, there are answerphones. It is the way of things, alas."
6. To be read with upbeat advert voice-over intonation:
[Opening spectacular music/fanfare] "Welcome caller, and congratulations for reaching this the final round of our competition. Answers to previous rounds were: 'Twenty-five', 'The Palace of Westminster', and 'No.' I'm afraid that three other callers have got all these correct as well, so now you have to answer a tie-breaker. Complete the following sentence: '[Name] should under no circumstances shave off his beard because... '"(If you have no beard, then change the last sentence to 'should urgently grow a beard because... ')
7. This one requires two voices. The first is a Star Wars Imperial officer, the voice for which is traditionally an
exaggerated English accent. The second is Darth Vader, whose voice is easy to imitate by speaking into an empty
OFFICER: You are to be interrogated by Lord Vader.
[Heavy breathing noises]
VADER: So, I have you now. Do not act so surprised caller, you are part of the rebel alliance, and a traitor. Several transmissions have been monitored on this line. I want to know what has been done with the stolen plans. You will tell me now what message you have for [Name].
8. To be read as realistically as possible, in your own normal voice:
"Hello?... Hello?... Hello is there- oh no! Wait! No don't hang up. No I am in. No, I'm sorry, I mean I'm not in, er... How can I say that I'm not in? That's ridiculous. No, er, look, I've got one of those answer-machine thingies, and so what you're listening to now, no, I mean, what you will be listening to this now, no, er, is a recording. There isn't really a tense in English to cope with this is there? Obviously I am in now, but in what to me will be the future, and is now as you listen to this be the present, I am or will not be in. Blimey, and I thought talking to other peoples' answer-machines was difficult."
9. To be read in the gravel-laden voice of that man who does the voice-overs for about two thirds of all Hollywood film trailers:
"It was just an ordinary 'phone call, on an ordinary day, and he [or she, or Name] was just an ordinary guy. But then, one man was plunged into his ultimate nightmare in: The Answerphone!"
10. To be read in the voices of Father Ted and his junior Priest Dougal:
DOUGAL: Hello? Hello? I'm telling you Ted, there nobody there.
TED: For the last time, Dougal, you're recording the outgoing message.
DOUGAL: So you keep saying, Ted, but there's nobody listening.
TED: Look just say that [Name]... oh will you just say that there's nobody in?!
DOUGAL: Go on, Go away wid'ja Ted. They'll know I'm here as soon as they here my voice.
TED: I'm sorry Dougal.
DOUGAL: Oh right.
11. To be read in a quiet discreet voice:
"Hello, er, I'm afraid that [Name] can't speak to you right now. He is in, but he's hiding. I think it's best for you to leave a message for now, and perhaps he'll get back to you when he's in a better state of mind for that sort of thing."
12. Good military voices:
SERGEANT: 'Shun! LeftRightLeftRightLeftRightLeftRightLeftRight! Halt! Salute the officer! Hat off!
CAPTAIN: All right, stand easy. Captain [Name] here. Now then, let's hear what you've got to say for yourself.
13. Good-news advertising man voice:
"Welcome to the final round of the Leave-A-Message-For-[Name] Competition, 2001! In a moment, you are going to leave your entry, which could win you a holiday in Bermuda with the Spice Girls! Remember, the judges will only consider entries that rhyme."
14. Get someone else, preferably of the opposite sex, to record this one for you. They should speak, without any
hesitation, in their normal voice, and sound totally unlike you.
"Hello, this is [Name]. Yes, I know this might not sound like my usual voice, but I'm afraid I've got a bit of a cold. Now, you are going to leave a message, and remember: it won't mean a thing, if it ain't got that swing."
15. In your normal voice. This one has two false endings. Two is irritating enough. Three would really be pushing it.
"Hello, this is [Name]. I can't of anything fancy this time, so just leave a message after the tone [make a tone noise somehow e.g. by whistling a note, then pause for a few seconds]... as soon as you hear the tone, leave a message. Obviously, that wasn't it. [Make another, more convincing, tone noise, and pause again, slightly longer this time ]... Anything you feel I ought to know, you just go right ahead and tell me."
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.
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. A n 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
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. A nother reason to abandon it was that writing it was quite hard work.