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Jim Eldridge Interview

Posted on 03 May 2005. © Copyright 2004-2018 WriteWords
A longer version of this interview is available to WriteWords Full and Community Members.
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Jim Eldridge has written over 250 TV and radio scripts and has sold over 1 million books worldwide.

How do you find writers?

I first started writing for pleasure (poems and stories) as a child. Then, in 1965, I found an audience for the poems I was writing, and became a Performance Poet. I appeared at various venues, and also appeared in 1968 as guest poet on John Peel’s Radio 1 show, before deciding my future lay in scriptwriting.

Who are your favourite writers and why?

I like George Orwell because of his view of society … he bows neither to Right nor Left, but tells it like it is, particularly in “Animal Farm” and “1984”.
Books I reread for pleasure include Georges Simenon’s “Maigret”; and also P G Wodehouse’s “Jeeves and Wooster” books.
I am an avid reader of crime fiction, and am currently enjoying Henning Mankell.

How did you get your first agent/ commission?

In 1970 I sent the manuscript of a novel to a literary agent in London, and they took me on. Although they couldn’t get that novel published (and it remains unpublished) they got me some writing work, writing a thriller (published in 1971) called “Down Payment on Death”..
Also, in 1970 I sent an idea to BBC Radio Light Entertainment Dept about a small rural railway station. It was called “Parsley Sidings” and the BBC cast Arthur Lowe, Ian Lavender, Kenneth Connor & Liz Fraser in it. We recorded a pilot show, which went out on Radio 2, and did well, and I got a series. Then followed a second series. In 1978 I sold an idea for a sitcom to BBCTV. This was called “Time of My Life”. BBC suggested I used an agent who was familiar with TV rather than a book agent. They recommended Sheila Lemon, an experienced agent who had just set up her own agency. I joined Sheila, and since then her agency has expanded to become The Agency. Sadly, Sheila died in 1998, but I remain with the same Agency, and they are invaluable to me.

What's the worst thing about writing?

Working on a new idea, taking it through development, and then finding out that someone else has had the same idea and has got to production/ publication ahead of you … so all that work has been in vain. (Although I usually recycle ideas I love in another format).

And the best?

Being paid for doing something I love.

Tell us what kind of responses you get from audiences\ readers.

When writing for TV and radio, if the audience don’t like the work you have produced they won’t watch/listen to it … which means that producers won’t hire you/ commission you … and so your writing career will vanish.
I have been very lucky: My radio 4 series “King Street Junior” has been running for 20 years, and is still very popular with the audience; and every TV show I’ve either created or worked on for BBCTV’s Children’s Dept over the last 20 years has been in the Top Ten. This has meant I’ve been able to carry on writing for 35 years, and am still working today. So, to answer: I am very influenced by my audience.

What was your breathrough moment?

Getting the commission to write the pilot of “Parsley Sidings” by BBC Radio in 1970.

What inspires you to write?

Everything. I just love doing it. It’s like breathing, I can’t imagine not doing it.

A longer version of this interview is available to WriteWords Full and Community Members.
Click here to learn more about becoming a member.

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