This is a blog piece about my first television credit, how it came about and seeing my name speeding up the screen.
I mentioned in a previous post how I imagined by first televised content would feel, but that is more wrapped up the fantasy of having an entire project commissioned, in the can and waiting for the very first time that content is released onto the waiting world. What I've realised is that if that is to ever happen, then there are many more milestones and steps on the way that are equally important. After all, it took thirty years for Morecambe and Wise to become an 'Overnight Success'. Friday 29th November 2019 was another of those 'personal milestones'. My first proper television credit.
"Breaking The News" is a BBC Scotland show. Living in deepest, darkest Surrey (home of 'Oxshot's Sir Andy Murray' and yes, that is how is referred to on local radio here), I got to hear about it through some of my fellow News Dumpers (yes, yet another example of how The News Dump has been a fabulously positive experience this year). "Breaking The News" (or BTN as we writers like to refer to it) does that wonderful thing of accepting submissions from an established writers mailing list, rather than totally relying on a closed writers room. It's a topical news comedy show in the "Have I Got News For You"/"Mock The Week" format, although I describe it as gentler and more light-hearted, particularly as the radio edit of the show airs at 1:30pm on a Friday. The show is currently in its fourteenth season and has recently been transposed to television, where it is currently in its second season airing at 10pm on a Friday night. The two versions are edited differently and the gags do vary. For those of you outside of the BBC Scotland area, I recommend checking it out on iPlayer and whilst there, have a look at some of the other programming that BBC Scotland puts out, there are some real gems in there.
So at the start of the summer I contacted BTN, explained who I was and what I was doing and they very kindly added me to their mailing list and explained the process, which involves me receiving a brief every Tuesday and Wednesday the show is on air and getting a response in the following day. This means I have deadlines. In fact a few weeks ago when I had three assignments to look at from White Label Comedy, several US radio ads to submit (blog piece to follow on that one, for sure) and BTN, this writing game really felt like a 'proper job'. I will say that even just getting a brief from a radio show is such a buzz.
So two submissions a week, plus a 'last call to arms' on Thursday morning for any gaps and then the wait.
Unlike BBC Radio 4 Extra's Newsjack, BTN doesn't send out an advance warning of material being in the show, so 1:30pm on Friday I tune in on BBC Sounds to listen to BBC Radio Scotland live. Many of the gags are based on an existing news headline. For example "Royal Mint unveils its biggest ever coin – 5 Kilos – worth £5000. " to which I added "In response DFS have announced their biggest ever sofa , for the coin to fall down the back of.", so when presenter Des Clarke reads the first part of the gag, the writer sits there waiting, just hoping for their words to be quoted, only often it's someone else with a far funnier punchline. That happens a lot.
But two weeks ago I got a gag about Rod Stewart on. The first part was read out and then 'hey wait. That's my punchline', and then I heard people laughing. That gag didn't make the TV edit and I was disappointed, but I did get some other fabulous news that weekend (see my previous post) but last week I had a one gag that made the radio and TV edit .
So Friday nights are now consisting of setting up iplayer to watch BBC One Scotland. On the radio my gag was second to last, so how surprised was I when Des opened the TV show with it. I could now relax. I was finally going to get to see that "my name in the credits" moment, for the first time. But I wanted more. I wondered if I'd get another gag on and sure enough, last gag of the show was mine too (the Coin/Sofa one above actually).
The credits rolled up the screen and there I was, for a few fleeting seconds, but that felt good and it's a little recognition that I maybe starting to make a dent in this world of comedy now.
There is a lot of knocking the BBC in this country at the moment and I'm writing a piece about how wonderful they are currently, but to pre-empt if I may, the BBC still provides a platform for creatives to get started and still gives creatives little champagne moments like I had last Friday. Thank you BBC.
I can't finish this piece without telling you all how fabulous my network of writers are. We all celebrate each other's successes, both on social media and in our private virtual writers rooms and to get the comments, messages and likes from them has meant an awful lot. You all know who you are and you a great bunch.