A mandatory component of my degree course is the preparation of an industry analysis. This is to gain some insight into the writing industry and working practices. Fair enough; it seems like a useful activity that should provide worthwhile experience and contacts.
But is life ever so simple?
There is a shortage of writers. Why? A growing number of television channels, soaps (or serialised dramas) that run into five episodes a week, long-running dramas such as New Tricks, Spooks and Silent Witness that all need new ideas, and all the new productions needing scripts means that scriptwriters are in huge demand in this growing industry.
So why is it so damned difficult to get to speak with TV writers?
I mean no disrespect to the very market I want to enter, but why is it that certain "soaps" are so cagey about "future storylines" that to enter their offices requires security clearance so strict that it puts to shame the typical CRB check that would licence you to work with children? And I've lost count of the number of stamped self-addressed envelopes I've sent off, none of which were returned, and having producers' assistants setting hurdles for me to jump whilst they do a runner in the opposite direction.
And then, just as I'm about to pack in the degree and save a year's university fees – after all, no industry analysis means no pass – I find one particular writer who has no problem speaking with new people.
He writes for a serialised drama (amongst other things), his attitude is welcoming and I see that his ideas are imaginative and diverse. In fact, his whole attitude is refreshing.
How did I find him? A contact through my son. Simple. Why didn't I think of that in the first place?