Producers of factual and formats will be in much demand when the national lockdown is over, says Steven D Wright
So how do I write about getting ahead in TV when the entire industry is on pause? What can I possibly advise when all my colleagues are sitting at home doing nothing except looking wistfully out of the window like listless puppies waiting for their daily walk?
Even worse is the cruel irony that, for the first time in years, everyone else is obsessively watching TV and shows are suddenly rating through the roof. By the way, one tip for producers and schedulers tweeting their delight: it’s a little tone deaf to boast of your record ratings when the entire country is being forced to watch. It’s hardly a sign of quality, is it?
Hopefully, this rabid TV consumption does at least point to one thing: light at the end of the tunnel. Or rather, when the content pipe of shows runs out and the constant repeats begin to cause riots, the virus-ravaged TV industry might be allowed to climb out of the grave and live again.
Already some of the more far-sighted channel commissioners have begun calling indies and asking for formats that could be made without breaking the lockdown. They know this golden age of captive audiences will evaporate soon – and need the ideas asap.
As someone who has been in development for 17 years, I feel my time has finally come. No longer are we the creatures from the dark recesses who toil away in the gloom (I’m not being nasty – ALL development creatives are, without exception, weirdos).
Like a dream come true, suddenly we maladjusted malcontents are just as valued as those glamorous drama types with their starry Hollywood lunches and million-pound series.
Although it’s taken a deadly worldwide crisis, the hard lesson all those sneery commissioners (who previously enjoyed rejecting our ideas without a backward glance) need to learn is that without us and our ideas, there is no new TV. None.
So make hay, development nerds. Enjoy your moment as all those cancelled expensive dramas will take ages to get going again – while our much cheaper fact ent, features and factual formats can be on air asap.
You never know, the networks might even realise they don’t need to have a new drama on every night to compete with the SVODs and could instead start taking risks and showcasing new ideas. It could even spark a new TV renaissance.
The other glaring lockdown lesson is all those well-meaning celebrities posting their own original content on YouTube are just nauseating narcissists without a writer, producer or editor to trim, reorder and reshape their artistic efforts.
Even though a naked Madonna in a bath delivering homilies sounds fun, it really wasn’t. And bored Hollywood stars, never again suggest your A-list chums get together to sing off-key covers of Beatles songs on their iPhones. It’s a surprise so many celebs never realised we backroom workers make them look good – and keep their mystique protected.
But what next? Do we all quit and become supermarket shelf-stackers (lower wages but more job satisfaction) or do we wait to emerge from our cocoons into the light and stun the commissioners with our creativity?
Now, must dash as I am finishing my fast-turnaround treatment of 100 Greatest Virus Moments Of The Year before I have to start writing my screenplay.
It’s set in a dystopian world where a vampire bat bites a YouTube influencer, kicking off a virus that eventually kills off all those commissioning editors who rejected my ideas. But is that enough of a happy ending, I wonder?
- Steven D Wright used to be a TV producer