Wednesday, 4 August 2021

Gone in 20160 Minutes - Ciaran Murtagh

I spent 18 months working on a new cartoon  -Ninja Express -  between 2018 and 2020 and it got released on CBBC last month. 

In days of old you might get a new episode once a week. Bagpuss only had 13 episodes EVER for example. You want to make those last. 

These days episodes usually comes in bundles of 52 and you get a new episode every day, sometimes two.  So something that took up a good chunk of your life to create is released into the world in the space of two weeks and then it's gone. 

Only of course, it's never really gone, it sits happily on iPlayer and YouTube for all eternity, but you get my point...

I'm proud of my work and it's lovely to share it with people, I like to announce new shows and, god love my family, they're keen to be supportive - but even they've stopped asking when they can see new stuff from me, when the answer is twice a day, 8am and 4pm for the next two weeks - it's quite a commitment! 

I liked writing Crackerjack because it became appointment to view TV. Much easier to tell people to watch 6pm on a Friday (not 5 to 5 anymore grandma!) rather than say 'anytime really, just click away'. People like to make a time to see things, if you tell them 'whenever' they rarely watch. 

I'm not sure what I'm railing against here. Kids love to binge watch cartoons as much as grown ups love to binge watch episodes of The Crown, why delay something people want - give it to them when they want it right? 

Well yes and no. It's hard to build up a fanbase or even awareness of a new show if there's nothing to look forward to. If it's all there, where do you begin, it's daunting and unfamiliar, best stick with something you know... 

That's why 'heritage brands' like Mr Bean, Dennis the Menace, Danger Mouse, The Clangers and Crackerjack keep coming back - the work's been done by previous generations. They're a name you can trust. You know what you're getting. 

You often hear people complaining that there are no new ideas in the world. There are. They're just playing 40 years of catch up. When your kid is kicking off and you're frantically trying to navigate the mass of content on your streaming service of choice, do you take a punt on something you've never heard of or stick on Bob the Builder? 

I think for all writers, be it TV or books, we sometimes feel like we're releasing our work into a void of indifference. The only way that'll change is if we leave space for the new as well as take pleasure in the comfort blanket of the familiar. 

After a month of releasing new work, twice daily for a month, the indifference starts to sting! 

1 comment:

Penny Dolan said...

Ouch! Those odds do sound painful. Writing for the screen always seems more glamorous and exciting than plodding away on a novel but that's a fierce situation for your new series to face.

Wishing it and you good luck!