Steptoe & Son

‘Dialogue Is Not Conversation’

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This is a nugget of wisdom that I vaguely recall comes from the marvellous Kenneth Tynan (although I may be wrong – he delivered far too many bon mots). I was thinking about this because I’m writing a dialogue-heavy book at the moment, and also posted Maggie Armitage’s texts, which I trimmed for content but […]

Script Ends: Goodbye Alan, And Thank You

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It’s pretty clear to me now that without Alan Simpson and his writing partner Ray Galton I would not have started writing. I first found them listed on the back of an LP (that’s cool vinyl, kids – oh, you’re interested now aren’t you?). It was Tony Hancock’s first album, ‘This Is Hancock’ (I should […]

Must Fiction Accurately Reflect The Past? Part One

It’s a problem besetting any writer working in a period setting. How far do you go to recreate the past? Only a decade or two has to pass before the past becomes almost unrecognisable. Go a little further back and it becomes almost impossible to render accurately. This problem is particularly pronounced in film. The […]

The Horror of English Humour

English newspapers have a habit of producing rather good TV critics. Clive James, Victor Lewis-Smith and Charlie Brooker have all managed to produce regular columns that balance the odd insight with cruel hilarity, so I was pleased to read Heidi Stephens’ Guardian blog on the bottom-feeding entrants to the Big Brother house, the thing that […]

Dying Is Easy, Comedy Is Hard

There’s been a lot of talk recently about awards going to books with comedy elements. The Booker, always famously po-faced about its selections, is lightening up – so is comedy finally to be accepted as a valid artistic tool? I’m a proud past winner of the Last Laugh award for the year’s best comedy crime […]