Crivens, has it been that long since I've been here? I've been busy, busy, busy. Writing reviews, writing short stories, poems and parts of novels, and, ahem, writing my dissertation - honest!

Another thing that kept me busy was having a place on a Scottish Book Trust/BBC writing lab for Children's BBC. To get a place you had to send a writing CV and details of the children's books and television programmes you liked to read and watch, and why. I think taking the kids to see the Chuckle Brothers live on stage years ago swung it for me, as well as all those Singing Kettle shows we endured. "Sprout, handbag, leg of chicken, what's inside the singing teapot!" That's close enough for jazz. You know what I mean if you are a Scottish parent with children of a certain age, although I should talk, I've actually been to their shop in Kingskettle in Fife, and have to admit that their version of "I Had a Hen" is a deranged, fiddling masterpiece  Ah, many times on the long drive to Skye we belted that out with Cilla, Artie and the gang as we curled our way around the side of another loch.

There were ten of us on the lab, from all parts of Scotland, with varying screen writing experience - or not!

The first day consisted of a meet and greet and a tour of BBC Scotland at Pacific Quay in Glasgow. Before that we were told about the CBBC brand - who watches it, what ages they are, what are the BIG shows, like "Deadly 60" and "Horrible Histories" and "M.I. High" and anything with "Tracy Beaker" in it. We learned that the CBEEB aren't really looking for a new supernatural drama - it's done, but who knows.....Never say never. But they need a sitcom. Comedy should not be subtle or full of irony, but full of slapstick with adults "getting it". There are also reconstructed factual dramas, shows that are a mixture of real-life and scripted parts, and things like "Ooglies" which is story-boarded animation with a punchline. They also need more shows with girl experts/role-models, and something set in Scotland that isn't overly Scottish. Easy, huh?

We got a tour of the studios and a tour of the editing suites (and I got an idea for a crime story in the sound suite), then we sat down and went through the dos and don'ts about making a good pitch. After that we brainstormed some ideas for shows among ourselves - adventure shows, reviews shows, shows about being haunted or being in ghostly places,  a children's secret millionnaire type show, hotel investiagtors, murder mystery dinner party, a girl's Olympics/martial arts/ballet/pop band/junior vet show!  Mad Men for kids, my little brother is a robot, make over your parents or your teachers....and the list went on and on and on. We were on fire.

The flames quickly went out as we had to pitch those ideas to some real children for a nearby primary school. "Bor-ing!" they shouted. "Rubbish!" they cried, and gave us their ideas - skateboard challenge, falling into the future, saving endangered animals, living in a crazy house, guess the child, something that writes in French (Eh? My thoughts exactly). Dragons, Medusa, the Loch Ness Monster, something about real spies, the world turns into chocolate and melts!

And that was it, end of day one, and the task for day two? Come up with ten ideas for shows, a paragraph for each one, using something we had discussed today, but preferably not. And not as easy as you might think.


By: Ian Hunter On Saturday, 07 April 2012 Comment Comments( 0 ) Hits Views(5665)