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Writing The Tailor's Last Stand

on Tuesday, 05 March 2013 14:41. Posted in Theatre

Ian Buckley on why he felt compelled to put his Communist father's story on the stage

tailorBeing the son of a Savile Row tailor, and visiting his small Soho workshop over many years (including stairwell and toilet-cleaning duties!), I got to know the trade of high-class tailor very well.

I also got to know Soho very well. The reason? My father worked from a small, somewhat dark, workshop in a well-proportioned Georgian terraced house that had seen better days. When I knew it in the early 1960s, it was full of tailors like my father, working in their often cramped little rooms, for prestigious high-class gentleman tailors whose grand shops were in Savile Row.

My father's employer was one of the most prestigious of these: Henry Poole. Dad's actual workshop was in Broadwick Street, off Wardour Street and, wonder of wonders, it was in the same house that William Blake, the great English poet, had lived in. It had the blue plaque to prove it! Unfortunately this national treasure has not withstood the march of progress. In its place now stands a squat, ugly block named William Blake House - they haven't even bothered to replace the blue plaque.

Like many tailors my father was, and still is, a strong communist (as is my mother). Fighting against Hitler led him to believe communism was the only system that could withstand fascism. He was also a strong trade unionist, joining the NUTGW (National Union of Tailor & Garment Workers) and fighting for better conditions for his fellow tailors. He combined his communist party duties with his obligations as a trade unionist all his life.

Merseyside and Manchester branch meeting

on Thursday, 28 February 2013 11:48. Posted in Events

All welcome - 12th March, Manchester Met University: John Dalton Building, Oxford Road

gail-renardGail Renard, Chair of the Guild's Television Committee, will be speaking to a joint Merseyside and Manchester WGGB branch meeting on Tuesday 12 March from 6.30 - 8.30pm.

Gail will discuss the latest happenings on the current TV scene including the new BBC agreement and how the Guild is protecting you and your future income in the digital world. There will be an open Q & A where writers will be able to share their recent work experiences.

Both WGGB members and non-members are invited.

To sign up for the event visit: http://wggbbbctv.eventbrite.co.uk

For further information please contact: Antony Pickthall on 07809 672452 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The Writer in the Digital Era

on Wednesday, 27 February 2013 14:43. Posted in Events

A free event in Edinburgh on the 5th March, 6-9pm

Venue: The Meeting room, The Place, 34-38 York Place, Edinburgh EH1 3HU

Defined as the New Guttenberg in publishing, the digital age is giving new opportunities for writers, and presenting new challenges . The evening, hosted by the Writers' Guild of Great Britian, offers an open discussion, with presentations by professionals from different areas in the industry to discuss how this is affecting us all.

Roger Williams current chair of WGGB will explain how the Guild has already gone a long way to challenge and create a solution to TV writers getting paid. Speakers will inlcude Allan Guthrie and Marc Lambert.

For further information, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

How radio’s solo parents came alive

on Wednesday, 27 February 2013 10:05. Posted in Radio

Sue Teddern on an idea that keeps on running

soloparents

Writer Sue Teddern (centre) with actors Liz White and Julian Rhind-Tutt

February 2013: I am in Studio 60A at the BBC’s New Broadcasting House and have been instructed by producer David Hunter to swap my comfy Timberlands for a pair of scruffy, strappy stilettoes from the props cupboard. For this is my 'Colin Dexter moment'. I am to play non-speaking Hilary, who must sashay past Tom (Julian Rhind-Tutt) and Rosie (Liz White) in a hotel breakfast room. I sashay with feeling, even though the shoes pinch. If you listen really hard to episode 4 of soloparentpals.com, you might just hear me.

I’ve written a fair amount of radio over the years but soloparentpals.com is my long runner. Series one was broadcast in 2009 and starred Kris Marshall as dumped dad Tom and Maxine Peake as stroppy single mum Rosie who meet online. Top actors are always juggling several choice gigs and, if they’re unavailable, radio’s an easy medium to re-cast, which is why Julian and Liz now have the starring roles. A fifth series will be recorded in August.

Flashback to the late 1980s: I’m attending a class at London’s City Lit in writing for radio. The inspiring tutor, Olwen Wymark, gets us to create a scene starting with: ‘What the hell do you think you’re doing?’ For some reason, I come up with the image of a divorced dad who has his little girl on Saturdays and never knows what to do when she needs to use a public loo. Does he wait outside and look like a pervert? Or does he go in with her … and look like a pervert? His dilemma is solved by a passing mum. And thus are born Tom and Rosie, two emotionally raw single parents looking for love.

They lived in my head for years. After writing 13 episodes of Birds of a Feather, I dusted them off as the central characters of a potential new TV sitcom. Twice. Nothing doing.

BBC TV and radio rates increased

on Saturday, 23 February 2013 09:20. Posted in General

The Writers' Guild has negotiated increases in the minimum fees paid to writers under our collective agreements with BBC TV and radio.

Minimum fees for TV writers have been increased by 1%, in line with the most recent increase in BBC staff salaries. Taking effect from 1 January 2013, this brings the key rate for original teleplays to £10,800 per hour and for series/serials to£9,840.

For radio writers there is also an increase of 1%, effective from 24th January 2013, and in addition the public service fee has also been increased by 2.5% from 10% to 12.5% for all contracts. For writers of archive material repeated on Radio 4 Extra, our agreement has been extended for a further five years, with the key rate for original drama increased to £3.24 per minute and these fees will be increased annually in line with RPI, subject to a cap of 3%.

Full details of the new rates can be downloaded from the Rates and Agreements section. These agreements have been reached in co-operation with the Guild's negotiating partners the Personal Managers' Association and (for radio only) the Society of Authors.

Report counts cost of theatre cuts

on Saturday, 23 February 2013 08:32. Posted in Theatre

Fin Kennedy's snapshot of new play development issues a challenge to Culture Minister Ed Vaizey

A shocking exposé of the devastating effect of spending cuts on live theatre has been published by playwright and Writers' Guild Theatre Committee member Fin Kennedy.

The research, In Battalions, which can be read in full above, reveals:
  • Nearly two-thirds of theatres surveyed have cancelled one or more productions since April 2012
  • Fewer new plays are being produced
  • Theatres are experiencing multiple funding cuts from city and county councils,trusts and foundations, reduced fees from venues and decreased box office revenue
  • There are fewer full play commissions for writers, and cuts to new writing research and development
  • Shorter runs
  • Smaller cast sizes
  • Cutbacks to playwrights’ residencies and attachments and new writer development schemes
  • Lower commission fees to writers
  • More revivals.

The project was born after a conversation between Kennedy and Culture Minister Ed Vaizey at a Writers’ Guild event in Parliament, when the minister said cutbacks were having 'no effect' on the theatre.

In an introduction to the survey, Jack Bradley, former Literary Manager of the National Theatre, writes: 'We are no longer a manufacturing nation; our dependency on financial services is trepidatious to say the least. In only one area do we show the world our heels: the Arts. To cut the Arts is to cut apprenticeship,legacy, invention and evolution.'