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Topic: Q&A With Writer Tom Grieves

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Q&A With Writer Tom Grieves

This week, the forum was lucky enough to hold a question and answer session with Being Human Writer Tom Grieves who penned the episodes ‘Hold the Front Page’ and ‘A Spectre Calls’ from series 4 of our beloved show. Here’s what the man himself had to say....


When did you first realise you had a passion for writing?


I always liked writing and wanted to do it when I was a kid.  I used to tell people that I was going to be an author without having a clue what that actually meant!  


You have a new book coming out on January the 16th, Can you tell us a bit about it?


It's called A CRY IN THE NIGHT. At first you might think it's a crime novel because it begins with the disappearance of two children from a remote village in the Lake District. However, once the cops arrive, they learn that the village has a historical connection with witches and that there may be a connection with this case to others where women have been convicted for the murder of the children in their care. The lead detective, Sam, begins to suspect that there is a ring of modern-day witches, working together to hurt children and escape unharmed...


How much guidance does Toby give his writers?  Are there rules?  Must do and don’t dos?  Or do you just have to write sitting under a giant photo of the man himself facing west and wearing an evening suit...


They're very kind because they do provide the evening suit (although you have to return it once you've finished and mine had some very odd stains on it). Toby and I are old friends (I exec produced a single comedy pilot of his for channel 4 with Martin Freeman in the lead.) so he's very generous with me, although obviously he's a MONSTER to the other writers. No, I'm kidding. We're all terrified of him.


Basically, Toby said - I want you to write episode four and in it I want a ghost to come to the house who is a serial killer. He then talked about influences for the idea (a book) and maybe his name (I can't remember where Kirby came from). I then did some thinking and together (along with Phil and Laura, the producer and script editor) we grappled with the story until it came good. Then I went off and wrote the script. Fortunately they were very happy with it so it was an easy process from then on in (and also meant I was invited to write another).  


There are rules but they're generated by the show, not a rule book or anything like that. A lot of the time we'd be scratching our heads because of something that happened in series 2, for example.  


One other thing - as brilliant as Toby is (and annoyingly, yes, he is rather good) - you mustn't forget Laura and Phil (and also Rob Pursey) because they had a huge input into the show and I'm sure Toby would be the first to say this.


Were you a fan of Being Human before you were invited to write for the show?


Yes. I loved it and would chat to Toby about it a lot. My problem was that I was on an exclusive contract for a long time to Company Pictures (who were responsible for Shameless, Skins, Wild At Heart, George Gently, The Devil's Whore and many more). When I finally left, I contacted Toby, hoping I'd get a chance to work on the show and he was kind enough to bring me in straight away.

Adam had a lot of “special qualities” (we like to call them Adamisms) How much of that was written and how much was Craig Robert's influence?


He never deviated from the script but Craig is such a unique actor that he gives any line a wonderful originality. Actually, thinking about it, all the hand gestures came from him! Interestingly, the biggest problem for us was that the previous episode with him had been SO good that it was hard to think about how to bring him back. So when someone suggested he fell in love, well, we laughed and laughed for days planning that one.

 What’s your favourite Being Human episode – after your own?


I think the last episode of series 4 sticks in my mind because it's Annie's exit. I love the comedy and madness of the show but I knew that Toby was going to have to kill a baby and I kept thinking this would be very problematic (say...) But the end has such a wonderful poignancy to it.

What appeals to you about the gothic genre and have you always had an interest in that area?


Well, sex is always interesting and repressed sexual urges are manna from heaven for dramatists. I am more a fan of modern-day drama but I love the scope and scale and pure theatre that you can draw on here.

How does writing a book differ to writing a script for a tv show?


Lots of obvious differences - a book takes forever, it's just me and a computer for months at a time, the money's terrible and there's no one to talk to. Scripts are faster, with lots of other people's opinions (most of which are very welcome). But actually there are more similarities than differences - you want to engage the reader in just the same way as an audience; make them care about the characters and the plot and hopefully keep bringing them back for more.


How do you feel when you see your scripts come to life on the screen? Did you feel that your Being Human episodes had come to life the way you had intended?


I was delighted with both. I normally feel very disappointed by the finished product but they had a great team on Being Human (from top to bottom). I think I was surprised by the Kirby episode. It scared me! James Lance brought something to Kirby that I hadn't expected (in my head he was a little more weedy and pathetic) and the episode was all the better for it.


Do you have any hobbies?  


I run a bit (to help me think). Most of my time is happily spent with my wife and three NOISY boys.  But I've just had an email from Toby so I guess I should add 'going to the pub' to that.


What do you think of fanfiction? Have you read any?


I never have so I'm pathetically ignorant to answer.  But in my mind, any writing is good writing.  The urge to create is too strong to avoid!

Do you have anything you’d like to say to the Being Human bloggers?


Well, I am the tiniest cog in the mighty wheel that is Being Human but I do know how much everyone who worked on the show appreciated the interest and downright devotion that many of you gave and shared with others.  As a writer, 99% of our time is spent staring at a screen, worrying.  You guys gave the show a much-needed validation and we can't thank you enough for that. 


Tom’s new book CRY IN THE NIGHT is available from January 16th and can be purchased online via the following links:

A Cry in the Night UK:


A Cry in the Night USA:


You can read a short extract from the book here ~

With special thanks to Tom Grieves for taking the time to answer our questions and to @mancvamp for organising this Q&A session.

-- Edited by little blue star on Saturday 11th of January 2014 04:30:21 PM

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That's brilliant - thank you Tom, Manc, Admin and Mods all!

It's great to know that Tom was already a fan of the show before he wrote for it.....and I've always wondered how much 'guidance' tv series script writers are given so I'm glad you asked him that!  I guess I'd better buy his book then......


But there was this.

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I'd like to add my own thanks to Tom for doing this exclusive Q&A for the forum. Plus a thank you to Manc for organising it! I always find a behind the scenes peek fascinating and Tom's answers show what a team effort making BH was. And it's lovely to hear that Tom was already a fan of BH!

I recommend having a read of the book extract, it's intriguing!


In this little enclave of the lost I witnessed the very best of being human.

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