29 August 11
Hello! Tom here, writing another BAFTA blog. In my first post I promised that my co-writer Pete would eventually contribute, and guess what! He’s "busy". So once again I'm forced to forge ahead on my own, like a brave little Saif Gaddafi waving a machine gun over his head, surrounded by crowds of angry Libyan blog readers, while Colonel Muammar al-Bowden has buggered off to “do more important things" in wherever the Libyan equivalent of a Mancunian Wetherspoons is. I'm writing this post (again, on my own, because Pete is a flakey little mole-man) to talk about the most recent development in the BAFTA/ Rocliffe NY TV Sitcom saga: my newspaper interview.
Me dapper, Pete Kenneth Williamsesque in the arms of Colin MurrayA fortnight ago, BAFTA emailed. They said "Hey Tom, the Hammersmith and Fulham Chronicle want to interview you! You'll be in the paper! How cool is that?" and I said "Pretty cool! Let's do this!!!" and then I slam-dunked a basketball. This was all v exciting. I'd never been interviewed before. My experience with the press has always been as a journo. After we won 'Best Magazine' at the GSMAs 09 (see left for pic of us accepting award), I did a week's work experience at G2 , the Guardian's daily comment/ culture/ flimflam supplement.
For two days I sat behind an iMac and was ignored. On the third day they sent me out to conduct a survey to discover if British men wore speedos at the beach. Notepad in hand, I bravely set off. The first person I asked was French. He didn't understand me. The next person stared at me like I was a sex pest. He refused to talk to me. The next person said "You work for the Guardian? Do you have any ID?" I didn’t. After an hour of this, I gave up and returned to the office to write up what turned out to be the third most-read article on the Guardian website about speedos that day: ' Will British men ever be convinced to wear Speedos? '
Hey Tom, the Fulham Chronicle want to interview you! You'll be in the paper! How cool is that?
None of this really prepared me for an actual newspaper interview, but I ploughed ahead. It was only once I'd agreed to do the interview that I realised why they wanted to talk to me. They thought I was from Hammersmith. They thought I was a local boy done good, someone the people of Hammersmith could read about and say "Look, this lad from Hammersmith wrote a sitcom, and now he’s going to New York, which is a long way from Hammersmith, his home. Hammersmith."
Hammersmith Vs Upper HallifordNow. I don't live in Hammersmith. I've never lived in Hammersmith. I live in Upper Halliford, which is nothing like Hammersmith. Fair enough, the words "he originally comes from Hammersmith" in the press release may have suggested otherwise, but Hammersmith only entered the equation because BAFTA were booking plane tickets and needed to confirm I was from Britain, so they phoned up and said "Where are you from?" and I panicked and said "Hammersmith" because I was born in a hospital there. A hospital that’s since been knocked down. So it’s my fault and I suppose the statement "he originally comes from Hammersmith" is technically correct, but come on. I spent six days there, tops.
I was hoping that the whole Hammersmith thing wouldn't come up in the interview, but if it did, well, no worries, I'm a pretty smooth customer, I could subtly steer the conversation away from it. Days passed, the phone rang. Showtime.
First question: "So, just to confirm, you live in Hammersmith, right?"
"Oh, uh, no, I used to live there, but now I live... somewhere else."
Second question: “So where in Hammersmith did you originally live?"
I panicked. My elaborately-constructed house of cards of lies was crumbling around my ears. Maybe I could just confess? But no. I was in too deep, up to my ears in deception. It was too late. Why was this happening to me? Why couldn't the Upper Halliford Chronicle interview me instead? I'd be perfect for them - nothing interesting has ever happened in Upper Halliford. In the past decade, the most exciting thing I've seen was a kid throwing a scotch egg at a bus. I’d be front-page news! But noooooo, it had to be the HAMMERSMITH Chronicle, because my inconsiderate mother had to give birth to me in stupid South West London. Anyway, I kicked off my career by immediately lying to the press.
"Oh, yeah, I lived just down from... the station?"
"So central Hammersmith, then?"
The question of my Hammersmith residency settled, the interview moved onto the actual script, but by then I was in the grip of a major panic attack and can't remember what else was said. I’m sure it was as lucid and well-thought-out as you’d expect of me. The interview ended. I waited. I considered going to Hammersmith to pick up a copy of the paper, but didn’t, because
a: in case you didn't catch it from the above, I don’t live in Hammersmith. It’s miles away.
b: I was afraid that if I did go there, the residents of Hammersmith would see me for the fraud I am and hunt me down like a dog, drag me through the streets of Hammersmith to the middle of Hammersmith square (does Hammersmith even have a square? I literally don't know, I've never been there) and kill me with hammers.
'An aspiring Hammersmith comedy writer' really?Luckily for everyone, the article also appeared online ' Hammersmith comedy writer set for Big Apple after scooping BAFTA prize. ' The verdict?
I realise now that this post has contained nothing of interest for readers looking to learn about comedy screenwriting, talking to the press, New York, BAFTA, or anything. On the other hand, it does offer a pretty incisive look at the mindset of somebody who wants to write sitcoms for a living, so I'd say, all-in-all: pretty illuminating.