Thursday 4 July 2019

Funny's Funny - Ciaran Murtagh

Last year I spent a good few months writing an unashamedly British TV show - Danny and Mick. It's currently going out on CBBC and will be on the iplayer forever. I wrote ten episodes and script edited ten more and it makes a virtue of it's constraints in a way that you don't see too often.

Usually, in kids TV, we are being asked to write for the widest possible market. PJ Masks has to play as well in Doha as it does in Dudley. The budgets and costs reflect that, but so too do the editorial and creative choices. Danny and Mick is a live action TV show, so the costs are less. It's also been designed to do one thing and one thing only - make children from the UK laugh. That means, for the first time in quite some time, I was free to focus on one audience.

Danny and Mick shares a great debt to classic British kids TV staples - gunge, slapstick, pantomime. But it had two great assets in it's stars. Danny and Mick really are brothers and they have spent a life time in the circus. Their Dad is Clive Webb - formerly of Tiswas -  and they know what makes kids roar with laughter. They also had buckets of routines they could pull out to enhance any script.

With live action TV the thing that usually gets squeezed is rehearsal time. It means that there isn't time to work out a complicated sequence and often you have to cheat it when it comes to filming. These guys had classic routines in their DNA. Watching them work was like watching a ballet or a wrestling match, they knew how to respond to each other's movements to build something special. It was who they were and was something they've been doing all their lives.

Sometimes we would ask what routines or props they had lying around and build a story around that set piece. Sometimes we would script an idea and they would suggest a routine they knew would work. It's rare for scripting to be so symbiotic, but we all knew we only had one thing to do - make kids laugh.

Take a look at the show, and if you get the chance to see them live then grab it. I'm moving onto write Crackerjack with Sam and Mark next. It seems like great British humour is making a come back, and this Irishman couldn't be happier!

2 comments: said...
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Sue Purkiss said...

Sounds like one for the grandchildren!