Plotting And Planning A New Sitcom
Then writing it in just two days ...
POSTED BY DAVID PIBWORTH ON 18/10/2016 @ 8:00AM
This isn't a boast as one has to be practical about the chances of getting a sitcom on TV, and I'm aware that many people are writing sitcoms in the hope that it will be the next 'Only Fools and Horses' when in reality, it's unlikely to get past the first script read ...
Although the writing of a sitcom may not take long, there's a lot of thinking beforehand.
copyright: rodjulian / 123rf stock photo (licensee)
However, on the plus side, I have studied British sitcoms in some depth, and have worked with Galton and Simpson on adapting countless episodes of Steptoe and Son, and Hancock's Half Hour from the TV to the stage.
"I listened to everything they told me when we chatted and took note."
I've also been lucky enough to talk to other successful sitcom writers and again took down what I heard. Writers, especially successful ones, are quite happy to give you tips on how they went about it.
It takes some time to write a sitcom. You need to create a history for the characters. You need a solid plot line which can last for at least 2 series, and you need to be aware that TV production companies detest outside filming or expensive sets.
You need to think about the title and indeed the theme music, Although that isn't really the writer's concern, but it's something I believe is important.
I've written comedy sketches, speeches and articles, and even had a hand in the occasional panto, but most of those can be done with relative ease. With the sitcom, however, I think you really have to sit down, away from the phone ringing in the office and everything else that goes on around you if you are in business.
I jump from one thing to the next quite happily most of the time, but I need some proper time put aside for this and time is scarce.
However I'm off on holiday this week, so I'll have a bit of 'sitting on the balcony doing sod all' time then, and in December I'm in panto. Once you've cracked the rehearsals in panto and are on the show, there's plenty of time to get down to other things, and as I'm in the Isle of Wight again, I can't really just pop home.
"It's easy to put these things off, but
now is the time."
I have a splendid idea, which I shan't divulge at present, and am consistently jotting down more notes on it, on my Samsung - hoping to hell it doesn't catch fire.
Two things stick in my mind with regard to writing, and they were both notable people who said them. One was Peter Cook. When someone said to him "I'm going to write a book," he replied "Really, how fascinating. Neither am I."
The second was Alan Ayckbourn who when asked how long it took him to write a play said "Oh, about two days." There was an astonished silence and then he said "But about six months to plot it all out before I start writing."
So there you have it, I'm finally onto it. I shall keep you informed on how it's going. My next missive will be done from a balcony in Lanzarote where, in between scuba diving and chugging down gallons of champagne, I shall be scribbling away.
To be perfectly honest with you, I don't actually drink alcohol. I used to be quite a heavy sipper (although never champagne which is ghastly stuff), but that's for another blog. I just pretend to drink now. It's a sort of Alcoholics Anonymous reversal.
"People seem to think that drinkers are real characters."
I have to go along with it sometimes and make sure I have a glass of ginger ale, which looks a bit like whisky, and knock it back in one. Repeat 5 or 6 times, glaze my eyes over a bit, tell random people that I love them, then dance to songs by ABBA on a table with my willy out.
It's quite a slog sometimes I can tell you, but that's showbiz. Funny old world isn't it? See you in Lanzarote ...
Until next time ...
David is the owner of David Pibworth Productions (DPP) which provide corporate entertainment and also actors for corporate training and development.
Having worked in the Light Entertainment field for many years and produced shows for Al Murray & Joe Pasquale amongst others, David is in a position to advise on well-known comedy and musical acts. DPP also represent Ray Galton and Alan Simpson's scripts which include Hancock's Half Hour and Steptoe and Son.
He is the director of MK Theatre of Comedy who are very well known locally for their stage adaptations of classic comedy scripts such as Fawlty Towers, The Vicar of Dibley, Allo Allo and many others.
He is a long-standing member of Equity and the Directors Guild of Great Britain and has acted in, and directed, many productions over the years, mainly in Light Entertainment, but with occasional forays into Shakespeare etc. Every Christmas he is contracted as an Ugly Sister in Cinderella, currently with 'That's Entertainment' who also use him as a director.
He teaches eccentric magic for The Pauline Quirke Academy and MKTOC also run a youth drama school in Olney from the DPP offices.
David maintains his busy lifestyle is a surefire way to avoid being on any committees. He is married to Julie, and they have one daughter, Esther and live in Clifton Reynes, surrounded by dogs, cats and horses. They live so close to the church that David has instructed his daughter - when he dies and not before - to fire him over the wall from a circus cannon.