Writing heroes? Well, some of the time I think I’d like to be Douglas Adams (but alive). Other times, Steven Moffat. Other times, Russell T Davies. Very frequently, Aaron Sorkin. Occasionally, Joe Keenan, David Nobbs, Richard Curtis or Jonathan Coe. I’ve been known to want to be Mike Bullen... the list goes on, no doubt to be addressed in future bloggerings.
But first on the list is Sally Wainwright. The greatest writer working in TV today. She’s just brilliant. At everything. Plots, character, dialogue, comedy, drama. Imaginative, daring, compassionate and wise. She’s never put a foot wrong, except possibly with the Re-Telling of The Taming Of The Shrew – but, hey, Shakespeare couldn’t get a decent story out of that plot either.
Her first thing, after working on a show called Children’s Ward (a show which seems to have been massively influential but which passed me by completely) was At Home With The Braithwaites, featuring my future wife, Sarah Smart, and making a star of Julie Graham. It was genius. Followed by Jane Hall, The Amazing Mrs Pritchard, Bonkers and now Unforgiven, which I haven’t seen (has anyone ever got ITV player to work?) but will no-doubt get on DVD.
Common factors? Series ending on precipitous cliff-hangers –a great idea, though one that unfortunately doesn’t seem to guarantee a second series commission. Plus high concepts, great, gutsy, fallible-but-strong parts for actresses, and vast amounts of sex. Everyone is in love with someone who they’re not shagging with whilst not being in love with the person they are.
But what really shines through – what makes her scripts so great – is her love for her characters, and a joyful but scandalously naughty world-view.
That’s why she’s writing hero number one. Please let the rumours about her taking over Robin Hood be true.