Writing for Television

Writing for Television – Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran

Laurence Marks

Laurence Marks

Maurice Gran

Maurice Gran
Between them, Lawrence Marks and Maurice Gran have 25 years experience of writing for the small screen. Their many TV comedy hits include Birds of a Feather, The New Statesman and Love Hurts, and so the assembled audience knew to expect a thoroughly entertaining afternoon crammed with expert insight.

As much of a double act in real life as in the creative sphere, the duo took turns at the lectern discussing with the audience the steps by which they achieved their success, and imparting nuggets of wisdom to those aspiring writers for the ever-expanding medium of TV.

In the beginning, we learnt, the pair would both take a day off work in order to hammer out a half hour script – and were rewarded for their pains with rejection after rejection. However, their breakthrough came about simply from ‘sticking at it’, realising that if they could make each other laugh there was a good chance someone else would too – and soon they were writing plays for radio. Unsurprisingly, they recommended writing in a pair, welcoming the opportunity to bounce ideas off each other and considering that if they “could make each other laugh, there was a good chance someone else would too.”

Tips included testing out your work with reading groups and friends, and always being alert to those crucial good ideas which, once executed, needed only to be sold to the right person. They acknowledged that there was an element of luck in any ‘big break’ – but also, that an aspiring writer should look for ideas within him- or herself as well as in their immediate surroundings – Maurice confessing that he ‘discovered’ Sharon and Tracy, the main characters in Birds of a Feather, standing in front of him in a queue one day – a little creative imagination added to the mix, the characters were born.

In a Masterclass that combined plenty of audience participation – with participants invited to dissect and discuss clips of an episode of Birds of a Feather – with personal insights, Marks and Gran cemented their status as kings of British TV comedy and proved themselves most affable and generous tutors. PEN thanks them wholeheartedly for giving their time and energy and sharing their knowledge.

Report by Tanya Andrews

Back to Creative Writing Masterclasses 2004

Originally posted with the url: www.englishpen.org/events/reportsonrecentevents/creativewritingmasterclasses20/writingfortelevision/

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