Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Whining About Writing

If you're an actor then it's highly likely that, at some point, you've had a little whine about writing. Maybe you've had a little bitch to one of your fellow cast members about it and joked how you could've done a better job. Maybe you've had a word with your director and you've worked hard together to make the writing work for you. If you're lucky and working alongside a writer then maybe you've politely asked if it could possibly be changed ever so slightly just so it makes a bit more sense. However, unless you're Dennis Waterman, Amanda Redman or Alun Armstrong then it's highly unlikely that you decide to tell the Radio Times how fed up you are with it:


I admit, I've spoken many a time on Twitter about poor writing. When you've received scripts that contain lines such as...

I don't know if all the Spaniards have a so big, big cock. 

I think Paul is gay. He has girlfriends just cos he doesn't want his family knows it. But he is a (pause) poof.

We will not pose for others, you alone know how lingerie is to be worn.

...it's very difficult to stay quiet. But these lines have clearly been written by people who haven't got a clue. Writers of programmes such as New Tricks are professionals and yes, maybe they don't get every single line right but that doesn't mean they deserve having their hard work ripped apart by actors in the press. 

While reading the article, all I could think was just how horribly ungrateful they all sound. They should count themselves lucky that they're part of a long-running, BBC1 primetime show. They should be happy with the exposure that they get and that they get paid to do work in a ridiculously oversubscribed profession. But no. Instead they decide to complain and shown that it's really no wonder that a group of actors is often called a 'whinge.' Perish the thought that they might just say how lucky they are to be in work when budgets are being hacked at more than an unruly hedge. 

As far as I'm aware, no one is making them stay there. If they want to leave, as James Bolam did, then I'm pretty sure that they're free to do so. If the writing is so poor that they feel the need to tell a publication that has a readership of around 2 million (I found this figure by vaguely glancing at Google so my apologies if this is wrong) then why are they still sticking around? Why not give up their roles and let someone else take over? Someone else who might be a little more grateful and has a bit of decency about them. Maybe they're worried they won't get work elsewhere and now they've shown that they're happy to publicly criticise a programme, I imagine their employability rate has clumsily slipped down the ladder somewhat.

The actor I'm most surprised at is Dennis Waterman who, in March allegedly said the eye-opening, mouth-screaming, hair-tearing line:

"It’s not difficult for a woman to make a man hit her. She (Rula Lenska) certainly wasn’t a beaten wife, she was hit and that’s different."

Now that's definitely not a line that a New Tricks writers would pen for you. That's a line that has come straight from the chauvinistic horse's mouth. And I personally think he's bloody lucky to still have a job after making such an admission. Part of his defense was that Rula Lenska was a 'big girl' and could therefore defend herself. This isn't a suitable defense anyway but I've seen Rula Lenska many a time as I used to live around the corner from her and she's everything but a 'big girl.' So you'd think that Waterman would keep his head down and thank his sexist stars that someone is still willing to employ him.

However, instead he's said that this little whiny gang would rather be in Copenhagen working on some 'extraordinary television.'  I know. The idea of Waterman achingly trying to act his way through The Killing is utterly laughable. I'll just give you a moment to have a good ol' think and a good ol' chuckle about that image....... We done? Excellent. Now, talk about biting the hand that feeds you. I'm a big fan of what the Danes have been producing lately and think that Borgen is one of the finest television dramas ever made but that doesn't give these actors the right to be quite so rude to an industry that has been incredibly supportive and has regularly kept them in work. They are in a position where they should be championing British writing and showing a bit of gratitude to an industry that has kept them in employment for the best part of 40 years. I don't really watch New Tricks but I do know that this programme is a rare thing. This is a primetime show where all the leads are over the age of 50. How many other programmes (apart from maybe Waiting for God, Keeping Up Appearances and Last of the Summer Wine) have done such a thing. But all those programmes are over 10 years old. How many TV programmes (and no, Antiques Roadshow doesn't count) that are actually on now are doing that? Very few indeed.

To the writers, I'm sorry. I'm sorry that you've had to write for such ungrateful actors. And, if you want a grateful actor who'll maybe just put out the odd, poorly written complaint on Twitter, then you know where I am...


  1. Thank you, Miss L. And I'm sorry about the Spaniard's line. It looked good on the page. Lxx

  2. I was astounded when I saw the article on the "whiny gang". I agree with you completely. Not only was it enough that they were openly questioning the ability of Writers (those, whom without, they would find themselves very quickly out of employment) in a National Publication, but they then go on to successfully offend all of the nations Screenwriters in the same interview, by claiming they would rather be working overseas.

    It's such a shame that the writers do not get the credit they deserve. Without these guys, there would be no stories, there would be no characters, there would be no dialogue whatsoever, (whether it be good OR bad). So you would think they would be smart enough to bite their tongue, and be grateful of the fact they are in a primetime television programme, and have had the opportunity to work doing what they love, for so long, and so consistently.

    If they ever get in touch with you over an offer to replace them - do feel free to send them my way afterwards...