The Write Stuff – Report

Posted on: Friday 03 July 2015 7:14am by Tom Jordan


  • Producers like writers. They especially like writers who are nice people.
  • Writers should always be open to working collaboratively.
  • Producers are open to receiving scripts on-spec.
  • Producers, script editors and writers are all on the same page ­– to make the best show possible.


A brilliant session for writers took place on Thursday afternoon in Hub C, with four highly experienced writers, producers, and writer-producers discussing everything anyone ever wanted to know about writing for TV, plus a few other things besides (including which of them was born in Idi Amin’s office, and who on the panel once stood in for Sean Bean on horse-back – that kind of thing).

The panel consisted of: Andrew Burell (CBBC), Lucy Martin (CBBC), Dan Berlinka (writer, director, producer) and Mellie Buse (Adastra Development). Julian Scott hosted the debate, and drew out some great insights into how producers value writers, what they look for in a good writer, and their attitudes to the creative process and finding new talent.

Some useful bits of practical advice were given by the panel, and perhaps the most positive theme that emerged for ‘new’ writers is that all said they were enthusiastically open to reading spec scripts and tried to respond to submissions quickly.

A listen to the podcast of the full session is highly recommended, but some key nuggets of information on various topics included:

  • Producers are not headmasters to be feared, they want to help writers do the best they can, and make the best show possible. They really do value writers.
  • However… writers need to leave their ego at the door, and embrace collaboration in the writing and production process. A friendly writer who is open and receptive to notes really does appeal to a producer.
  • Having writers involved in the production process is a good thing: it can help them to understand limitations on a production, help them to avoid writing scenes or dialogue that are difficult to produce, and also allow writers to talk directly to designers, location managers and other production people and make sure what they imagined in their writing transfers across clearly.
  • A good script editor will make their writers feel valued, and help smooth the note-giving process so that their writers do not feel overwhelmed.
  • If a writer gets positive feedback from a spec script, they should always respond by suggesting a coffee with the producer. That face-to-face meeting helps the producer to remember them when opportunities come up in the future (as long as they were nice over the coffee, of course…).

In conclusion, producers love good writers, producers need good writers, and writers can become even better writers by working with good producers.

For details of the session, check the session guide.

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Tom Jordan

About the author

Tom Jordan

Freelance, Writer

Tom is a freelance writer and editor based in Sheffield. He has over a decade of experience in travel publishing, writing for National Geographic Traveller, Sunday Times Travel Magazine and CNN, among others, and editing for travel guide books. His recent focus has also been as a development editor in… Read more