I'm dreaming of a place holder...
Monday, 22 December 2014
I'm dreaming of a place holder...
Posted by John Finnemore at 11:33 pm
Sunday, 21 December 2014
More on Xinzhou here.
You remember how, way back in the Cremona bear facts, I said that we would come to the most difficult to write episode of all eventually? Well... welcome to Xinzhou. Xinzhou was an absolute nightmare to write, or rather to rewrite, culminating in a marathon 36 hour rewriting session through the night up to the very morning of the recording, during which heroic producer David got a sleeping bag sent to him from home so he could sleep in the Pozzitive office while I wrote, and also … the thing for which he has never quite forgiven me… was forced to eat a sandwich from Subway.
There were three main things that made it so hard. Firstly, it was another bottle episode, like Fitton and Limerick, which as I've said elsewhere I find the hardest to write. Secondly, separately it also had quite a lot of hard work to do getting all the characters set up for Yverdon, and restating the stakes: Martin cannot go on as he is at MJN. But MJN cannot continue without Martin. Eventually, the way I found to do this without having everyone just sit around telling each other things they already know, was to put the focus on Douglas. And indeed, in a quiet way, this is an episode all about Douglas - the others all have fairly basic Wants about getting to sleep or fixing the plane; but it's Douglas who goes on an important journey from discouraging Martin from leaving, so as to save his own job; to realising it's his duty to encourage him. And, of course, to fix everyone's problems by doing something clever… by finally making Martin give him his hat.
The third problem, though, was entirely my own fault. Once I got the 'stuck on Gerti overnight' idea, I initially thought this would be more like Limerick - constantly flicking between various games and conversations as they tried to keep themselves amused. And I had a lot of ideas in my various notebooks and early drafts of other episodes for games and stupid 'how many otter…' style conversations that I'd never used. So why not, I thought to myself, gather them all together, and make an episode out of them? Because, I ought to have immediately answered myself, whilst kicking myself hard for even asking such a stupid question, that NEVER WORKS. On two other non-CP-related occasions I've tried to write something by assembling various bits cut from other shows or drafts and trying to stitch them together into a sort of Frankenstein's monster, and on both occasions it's gone about as well as it went for Dr. Frankenstein. And the same thing happened this time. The bits had been written at different times, they had subtly different moods, they involved different stages of the characters (Series 2 non-Arthur characters, as I've been saying a lot in these posts, do not act the same way as series 4 characters) , and no matter how I tried to rewrite and finesse them, it didn't work. It wasn't like an episode of Cabin Pressure - it was like one of those clip show episodes US sitcoms sometimes do. So, after a crisis meeting with producer David… I threw out almost everything, and started again. Hence the mad scramble to the very brink of the deadline, and beyond, as I ran quite chronically out of time. So… you can imagine how delighted I am that when a fan site did a poll, Xinzhou was voted their favourite episode of series 4 - and I know a lot of people have it as their favourite overall. Believe me, that did not seem a likely scenario at 5am on January 6th 2013...
DELETED (OR I THINK AMENDED, TECHNICALLY) SCENE
Posted by John Finnemore at 11:58 pm
We interrupt this stream of Bear Facts to let you know that, by coincidence, I am doing something you can listen to, or even watch, over each of the next four days.
22nd December. Two today. In the morning, m'Souvenir Programme colleague Carrie Quinlan and I will be doing a short and Christmassy sketch during the Today programme. This, and all the things listed here, will be available on iPlayer once they've been aired. I'm not going to do links, because you're all terribly clever people, and can find them for yourself.
In the evening, I make my second appearance in this series of one of my favourite shows, I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue. (I stepped in at short notice for an indisposed Barry Cryer, by the way, which is why I'm not credited - but don't worry, he's absolutely fine.)
23rd December. There's this sitcom I write called 'Cabin Pressure', about pilots. Anyway, the first part of the two part show finale will go out at 6.30 on Radio 4. Incidentally, there are spoilers absolutely everywhere. The audience who saw the recording in February have diligently and heroically kept quiet for ten months. The papers previewing the show… not so much. If you haven't been spoilt yet, and don't want to be, I advise you not to read or listen to anything you see promoting the show. Except this. This is fine.
Christmas Eve. The second part airs. For what it's worth, I don't think I've seen any spoilers relating to events in this half. For instance, the scene the BBC has put out is from part one, and if you've seen the cast list, all of those characters have made their appearance by the end of part one. So, even if you've seen spoilers, you still have some surprises in store.
Christmas Day. m'Souvenir Programme Colleague Margaret Cabourn-Smith and I make a (brief) final appearance as Miranda's annoying friends Chris and Alison in 'Miranda' on BBC1.
Boxing Day. Blessed relief for the nation - the plague of relentless festive Finnemore appearances is over.
Posted by John Finnemore at 11:28 pm
Saturday, 20 December 2014
Posted by John Finnemore at 10:30 pm
More on Vaduz here.
Princess Theresa was a real risk. Introducing a new romantic interest for a main character, only four episodes from the end, and expecting the audience to care, and to want them to get together, was quite a tall order; and giving her such a high-concept identity as a foreign Princess even more so. I felt there was a definite risk of shark-jumping. 'Oh, right, so Martin's going out with a Princess now? Fine…'
In the end, though, I haven't heard many complaints about Theresa, and I have heard quite a lot of enthusiasm, which I think is largely down to Matilda Ziegler's fantastic, warm, intelligent, amused performance. The other thing that helps, though, is that though the character is new; the situation is set up in Newcastle - Theresa is quite a lot like Linda Fairburn, but with the crucial differences that a) Theresa quite fancies Martin and b) Martin has changed between N and V. He's still going to make a stammering fool of himself, of course, but… well, he truly does earn that medal for teasing recognition. Speaking of which, here is a Deleted Medal:
Posted by John Finnemore at 2:15 am
Thursday, 18 December 2014
…As previously discussed here, complete with entire deleted final scene. Which reminds me, that deleted scene will be one of several, such as the bit from St. Petersburg in which Martin and Douglas talk about their fathers, included as a bonus track on the complete CDs, which will be released on January 15th, but which is available for pre-order here.
DOUGLAS Martin … Good Lord, you’re soaking wet.
MARTIN Yes, well, it’s raining outside. Look …
DOUGLAS What happened to your uniform?
MARTIN I tore it falling out of a tree …
DOUGLAS Yes, but what’s that all over it?
MARTIN Oh, er, goose droppings, but …
DOUGLAS Is your hand okay?
MARTIN No, a bee stung me …
DOUGLAS What are you carrying?
MARTIN What does it look like?! A stuffed sheep!
DOUGLAS You see, Arthur? The master.
Posted by John Finnemore at 5:06 pm