Interview with TV and Film Writer Danny Brocklehurst
If you love a good TV drama and watch a lot, chances are that over the years you have watched something that has been written by my blog guest, the very talented Danny Brocklehurst. He is responsible for episodes of Clocking Off, Jimmy McGovern's The Street and Accused and has won a BAFTA for Shameless. He also brought us such dramas as Exile, starring John Simm and Jim Broadbent - which was a magnificent study of familial dysfunction, where secrets are hushed and eventually exposed - and The Driver, starring David Morrissey as a man who makes the wrong choice and ends up way over his head in a dangerous game.
Most recently, Danny brought us the series Ordinary Lies, set in a used car showroom and featuring a different member of its staff each week - a formula that Danny has successfully used before. From drug smuggling, to extra-marital affairs, to underage sex, with lots of undercurrents yet to be explored, each episode a new lie is exposed.
Danny recently took some time out from his busy writing schedule to do this Q and A for me, much to my great excitement and eternal gratitude. I continue to be amazed at how lovely and generous people can be when I ask them to be a part of "My Way by Moonlight". Thanks, Danny!
Congratulations on “Ordinary Lies”, which has kept me and the rest of the nation gripped every week. There are obviously quite a few unanswered questions and characters not yet dealt with. Does this mean that there will be a second series, and if so, when is this likely to be?
I can't officially confirm this yet but the BBC are very keen to do more.
At what age did you realise that you were into writing, and how did you go about expressing it when you were a child?When I was 13 I wrote an episode of “Charlie’s Angels” sadly not commissioned but I had fun anway!! Did you do anything like this, or were you influenced by movies/TV at the time?
I have always written. Ever since I was a small kid I have made stuff up; short stories, lyrics, imaginary worlds... so I suppose I have just found a way to get paid for something that I have always done. It helps if you are a fantasist. Kids these days have their faces stuffed in computers too much. I worry for their imagination.
My first memory of being aware of your writing was with Clocking Off. I ate that series up. How did it feel to be involved with a series that was so popular and to be able to write for great character actors like Ricky Tomlinson?
It was amazing to have that has my first big break. I loved the show and I was incredibly fortunate to get on it. All thanks to Nicola Shindler at Red. And Ricky was one of my favourite actors so it was a dream gig. It won a BAFTA - so to be involved in the next three series really was an honour, and a pleasure. I was spoilt early.
I loved Accused – Stephen’s Story. This was the first time I’d seen John Bishop acting, although I believe it was not his first time. And I am a huge fan of anything that Robert Sheehan does. What is it like working with people who are fantastic actors? Do you know beforehand who is in mind for the role? If so, does it colour the way you write? Do you ever have anyone in mind in any case, when writing, and would this influence the way you develop a character?
I rarely write with actors in mind. The only times I have recently are John Simm in Exile and Dave Morrissey in The Driver. John Bishop is a better comedian than actor, but I think he did really well with what we gave him.
You are known for tackling gritty subjects and not being afraid of pushing buttons and raising awareness of cultural/sexual issues for instance with the episode of The Street that you wrote about the builder who has a homosexual encounter. Or the difficult subject of Alzheimer’s, for example, in Exile. Do you think it is a writer's (particularly a screenwriter’s) job to bring these issues forward, or is it just a case of you writing exactly what you want regardless?
I always try and push issues forward and be as challenging as possible, but never forgetting to tell a good story. It's a writer's job to raise these things. Last year on Ordinary Lies people got upset because I did an underage sex story. They were all shouting "Paedo story! Paedo gets away with it!". But hey, that's life, these things happen.
This is probably like trying to pick a favourite child (which you should never do!) but is there one piece of work throughout your career that you are most proud of?
I usually have several projects on the go at one time. Do you work like that or do you try to concentrate on one thing at a time?
I usually have two or three on the go but I can only really write one thing at a time, actually write. The others will be at different stages
What are you working on at the moment?
The Five for Sky and The Driver USA
What is the next thing in your diary?
Hopefully Ordinary Lies 2.
And finally a cheesy question…. If you could choose one person to write the screenplay of your life, who would it be? And who would you have play you? (Okay, that’s two final questions!!)
I'd make a very boring biopic!
Danny Brocklehurst (born 1971, Hyde, Cheshire, England, U.K.) is a BAFTA and International Emmy winning English screenwriter. Brocklehurst worked as a journalist for several years (as a freelancer for The Guardian, City Life and Manchester Evening News and senior feature writer for The Big Issue) before becoming a full-time screenwriter.
Click here to visit the BBC Writers Room video intertview with Danny
Click here to learn more about Danny on wikipedia