Obituary: Jean McConnell 1928-2015

on Friday, 16 January 2015 16:18. Posted in General

Jean McConnell, a founder member of WGGB and a member of the Crime Writers’ Association, died on 6 January 2015 in Tunbridge Wells.

Jean was also a Vice President and former Chair of the Society of Women Writers & Journalists.

Her funeral will be held at 12 noon on Thursday 22 January 2015 at Tunbridge Wells Cemetery Chapel, Benham Mill Road, Tunbridge Wells, TN2 5JJ, followed by a wake at the Oast Theatre, London Road, Tonbridge TN10 3AN.

Donations in memory of Jean, for the continued work of the Oast Theatre, where many of her plays were previewed, or to a charity of choice.

Obituary: Brian Clemens 1931-2015

on Monday, 12 January 2015 16:25. Posted in General

By Gail Renard

Brian Clemens, screenwriter and long-standing WGGB member, died on Saturday 10 January 2015. His prolific career spanned decades.

Clemens started as a messenger boy at advertising company J. Walter Thompson and, whilst there, sold his first thriller screenplay, Valid for Single Journey Only, to the BBC. He went on to write many of the most popular ITC drama series, including Danger Man, The Persuaders and The Professionals. Clemens also wrote the pilot of the original The Avengers television series, and went on to be its script editor, associate producer and lead writer for eight years. His output was so vast he often used the pseudonym Tony O'Grady.

Clemens also worked in America on the Father Dowling Mysteries, Perry Mason and Diagnosis: Murder.

It's not surprising that writing formed a large part of Brian Clemens' DNA. He was related to Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens). In recognition of his contribution to British television and film, Brian Clemens was honoured with an OBE.

His work was the background for many of our childhoods. Brian Clemens was a unique writer. Our sympathies to his wife Janet and family.

Charlie Hebdo: We must protect free speech

on Thursday, 08 January 2015 12:15. Posted in General

Bernie Corbett, General Secretary of WGGB, said: “We deplore the shocking murders of 10 journalists and two police officers in the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris.

“While journalism is not the prime concern of the WGGB, nevertheless all writers, whether dramatists, novelists, poets or whatever, need the oxygen of free speech to deliver meaningful and significant work.

“It is not free speech to say that we can publish only material that will not offend or upset anyone. The whole point about free speech is that anyone can say anything they like, whether it is unkind, offensive, satirical, obscene, defamatory or even plain untrue.

“In our society, we have those rights and we must protect them. Of course we have to accept the consequences of exercising those rights. If what we write is against the law of the land we can be prosecuted. If it is defamatory we can be sued. If it offends a particular group, then we must be prepared for them to exercise their own right of free speech and argue against us and perhaps even demonstrate against us in the streets. But murder is simply a crime, and the ultimate denial of free speech.

“The guiding principle is that there must be no prior restraint, no censorship, no arbitrary limits. If we can’t uphold that principle, free speech will be extinct.”

The Federation of Screenwriters in Europe, which WGGB is affiliated to, has issued the following statement:

"European screenwriters, represented by the Federation of Screenwriters in Europe, are horrified by the cowardly, murderous attack on the creators and editors of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris on January 7th. As screenwriters we are shocked by this assault on our freedom to speak our minds, our freedom to create. Freedom of Expression is the essential prerequisite of creativity. The slaughter in Paris is an attack on our right to speak, to voice our opinions, to tell our stories. In solidarity with those who lost their lives, we reject terror, silence and submission."

Tinniswood Award 2014: shortlist announced

on Tuesday, 06 January 2015 10:00. Posted in Radio

The Tinniswood Award 2014 is presented to the best original radio drama script by any writer broadcast in the UK from 1 October 2013 to 31 October 2014. 

The Award is jointly administered by the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain and the Society of Authors, with the prize of £1,500 sponsored by the Authors’ Licencing and Collecting Society. The judges this year were Sue Teddern, Amanda Whittington and Kate Chapman.

The winner will be announced on Sunday 1 February 2015 at the BBC Audio Drama Awards, alongside the Society of Authors’ Imison Award and the Audio Drama Awards categories.

The shortlist is as follows:

Goodbye by Morwenna Banks

Produced by Heather Larmour, BBC Northern Ireland, 75’, BBC R4

Morwenna Banks.finalLizzie and Jen have shared everything. When Lizzie is diagnosed with cancer their worlds are turned upside down. Together the friends negotiate the stages of her treatment and see their friendship tested and redefined in ways they could not have predicted. And when they learn that Lizzie doesn't have much time left, they struggle to do the hardest thing of all. To say Goodbye.

The judges said: A skilled combination of funny, moving, achingly sad and extraordinarily life-enhancing, despite the subject at its heart.

Morwenna Banks (left) is well-known as an actor and writer. Her first feature The Announcement won several awards and her latest feature film Miss You Already, directed by Catherine Hardwicke, is set for release in 2015. Current projects include the comedy Damned for Sky Arts television (co-written with Jo Brand); Shush, a new Radio 4 series co-starring and co-written with Rebecca Front; a further new Radio 4 series reprising cult sketch show Absolutely, winner of the 2014 BBC Audio Drama Award for Best Scripted Comedy (Live Audience); and a new series of Up the Women for BBC 2.

The Good Listener by Fin Kennedy

Produced by Boz Temple-Morris, Holy Mountain, 45’, BBC R4

FinKennedy.finalIntelligence agents at GCHQ (Government Communications Headquarters) are tracking three young British Muslims as they head for Syria. Henry Morcombe, an experienced GCHQ analyst, is tasked with establishing whether they intend to deliver humanitarian aid or join the armed conflict. How to protect the public, while keeping within legal and ethical boundaries, is far from straightforward, and tensions emerge as the team responds to unfolding events.

The judges said: An ever-relevant subject, treated with wit, pace and a real understanding of the craft. Highly compelling radio.

Fin Kennedy (left) is an award-winning playwright, freelance dramaturg and producer and Co-Artistic Director of Tamasha, where he will become Artistic Director in 2015. He has written for Soho Theatre, Sheffield Crucible, Southwark Playhouse, Half Moon, The Red Room and BBC Radio 4, and his plays are also produced internationally. He is writer-in-residence at Mulberry School in east London and founder of Schoolwrights, the UK's first playwrights-in-schools training scheme.

Men Who Sleep In Cars by Michael Symmons Roberts

Produced by Susan Roberts, BBC Radio Drama North, 44’, BBC R4

Michael Symmons Roberts.finalOne night in the week preceding England’s first World Cup fixture, three men whose lives have been turned upside down by the recession sleep in their cars on the streets of Manchester. They listen to the radio for company, hearing the build-up to the World Cup, where some of the most powerful men in the world of sport compete on the world stage. As the play develops we gradually learn how these three came to this, and how their lives interconnect.

The judges said: Timely, visceral and lyrical, this play examined the underbelly of contemporary urban life in surprising ways.

Michael Symmons Roberts (left) is one of Britain’s leading poets. His six poetry collections and his work for radio and as an opera librettist have won him many awards. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and of the English Association. The Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy has described him as “the clearest and purest voice currently sounding in British poetry”. He is Professor of Poetry at Manchester Metropolitan University.

Previous winners of the Tinniswood Award, established in memory of English radio and TV comedy scriptwriter Peter Tinniswood, who died in 2003, have included Hannah Silva, Colin Teevan, Murray Gold, Mike Bartlett and Rachel Joyce.

Obituary: Robert Adams 1944-2014

on Tuesday, 06 January 2015 09:02. Posted in General

Robert 2jpg

 Robert V. Adams, Chair of the WGGB Books Committee from 2004 to 2009, and also a member of the Guild’s Executive Committee, died on New Year’s Eve at the age of 70.

He had a marvellous career, starting work as a gardener, hotel cellarman and prison officer at Pentonville, but before long becoming governor of a young offenders' institution, resigning to become director of a Barnardo's community project keeping young people out of the criminal justice system. He became an academic and held several professorial positions relating to social work.

Robert Adams edited and wrote many books about crime, protest, empowerment, social work and complementary health. But he also wrote children’s books, poetry, short stories and novels, under different names. His novel Antman was published in 2005 and is a psychological thriller about a man who uses ants to kill people. He also wrote the crime novel The Really Dreadful Crime Company and was a member of the Crime Writers' Association.

Many of his books are centred on Hull and East Yorkshire, where he lived with his wife Yasmeen in a house they designed and built, with a garden running into unspoilt woodland, on the outskirts of the ancient town of Hessle, a stone's throw from the Humber Bridge.

As Chair of the WGGB Books Committee, Robert was enthralled by the possibilities of new technology in publishing, and his big project was to set up the Writers’ Guild Books Co-operative, intended to help authors to publish their own works as ebooks and by print-on-demand. Unfortunately the project foundered, as most participants wanted the WGGB to be their publisher, rather than participating in a true co-operative, which was Robert’s vision.

But even when he became ill, Robert was still enthusiastically working out new ways to regenerate the idea of the co-operative.

WGGB General Secretary Bernie Corbett said: “Only a few months ago Robert was phoning me and emailing me, keen to get working on some new projects. We have lost a truly original and committed author. Everybody who knew him in one part of his multi-faceted life is amazed to learn how many other lives he was leading simultaneously. What an inspiring colleague we have lost.”

Robert Adams’s funeral will take place at 1.30 p.m. on Friday 16 January 2015 at Haltemprice Crematorium, Main Street, Hull HU10 6NS. Afterwards, Tranby Lane, Anlaby, for burial; at 3 p.m. a reception at the East Riding Rooms on the Weir in Hessle.

Sheila MacLeod, former Chair of WGGB, said of Robert V. Adams:

"I was really saddened to learn of the death of Robert Adams, whom I knew from the Books Committee, of which he was Chair for several years – beyond the call of duty, it seemed to me.

"We had a really good committee (again it seems to me) in that we all liked and respected one another. Robert was the sort of person you instinctively trusted to take charge, whatever the situation might be. And whatever that situation might be, his integrity shone through and won the day.

"We did argue, but nothing ever got nasty or out of hand, thanks to the ever-temperate and judicious supervision of our Chair. Being of a more cynical turn of mind than Robert (and having been lobbied by many of our me-me-me members), I felt from the beginning that the publishing co-operative wasn't going to work, but I really regret for his sake and for all the others who got involved that it foundered.

"On a personal level (which in fact probably comes down to a few conversations in the pub along with other colleagues after our meetings) I have to say that Robert was consistently sympathetic, responsive and friendly. I may have made him sound humourless in being such a good person (which he undoubtedly was) but in fact he was always witty and that twinkle in his extraordinarily blue eyes had us all captivated.

"RIP, cher collègue. I'm glad and privileged to have known you."

 

Hope: a play by Writers' Guild member Jack Thorne, at the Royal Court Theatre

on Monday, 15 December 2014 10:07. Posted in Theatre

Hope, a political comedy by Writers' Guild member Jack Thorne, is running at the Royal Court Theatre, London, until 10 January 2015. Watch the video trailer: