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Ken Blakeson Interview

Posted on 19 October 2004. © Copyright 2004-2018 WriteWords
A longer version of this interview is available to WriteWords Full and Community Members.
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WriteWords talks to screenwriter, radio and stage writer Ken Blakeson, whose credits range from award winning radio plays to Coronation Street

Tell us something about your background.

I was born in Yorkshire. Worked as a farm labourer, milkman, insurance clerk, teacher, radio presenter, disc jockey and producer and been a full time writer since 1981.

Part of the award winning team writing “Coronation Street” for fifteen years, clocking up 126 episodes. Current commissions include a new stage play “Godsworth Field” for Hampstead Theatre and a TV film, Close to Home” for Granada .

Last stage play “True Brit” was commissioned by Birmingham Rep, and was staged to critical success in 1997. Credits include the comedy film, “The Bare Necessities” for Granada Television, about 5 redundant miners who take to the road as male strippers. “May and June” two Ruth Rendell Mystery films which he adapted for Blue Heaven Productions and were screened in 1998. Three series of the highly successful "September Song", produced by Granada and starring Michael Williams and Russ Abbot, screened in 1992-5 and nominated for the Writers Guild Award for Best Television Series 1993. Written and contributed to many television series and in excess of thirty plays for radio including the much praised "Gospel According to Judas". Controversial play about army wives, "Excess Baggage" broadcast in 1988, became the focal point of much debate within the BBC and press when it was denied its customary repeat. It went on to win the 1989 Society of Authors/Sony Award for Best Original Script and a 1989 Giles Cooper Award.

First stage commission, "Homeland", directed by Anthony Clark, opened at the Contact Theatre Manchester and subsequently won the Manchester Evening News Best New Play Award for 1989.

Most recent radio play "Lost for Words", commissioned by BBC World Service and subsequently repeated on Radio 4, won the Bronze Medal at the New York Radio Festival 1992 and went on to win the Radio Times Comedy and Drama Awards, Play of the Year 1992. It was nominated for the 1993 Society of Authors/Sony Award for Best Original Script, receiving the Bronze Award.

How did you start writing?

As a child. Into my teens writing poetry. Started playwriting in 1977.

Why did you choose screenwriting- what appealed to you?

The money – I had two kids. My screenwriting was always TV.

Who are your favourite writers and why?

Leo Tolstoy – great storyteller, mammoth canvas. Joseph Heller – great wit and irony.

How did you get your first commission?

I was placed third in a BBC radio drama competition organised by the late great Alfred Bradley. The play was subsequently broadcast and I was paid £200.

What's the worst thing about writing?

Rewriting and bad script editors + it’s hard work if you do it properly

And the best?

Getting the commission and finishing the last rewrite



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






Comments by other Members



JohnG at 19:45 on 20 October 2004  Report this post
Ken's advice is sound - I know because I've already benefited from it. Once, after seeing a workshopped stage play of mine, Ken tactfully suggested my future might lie in radio. I took his advice and have had modest success (Week Ending sketches, one six-part sitcom, a Saturday Play). So cheers, Ken, and thanks for the tip.

John

andyccn at 17:31 on 28 October 2004  Report this post
Excellent advice, Ken--thanks!

Definitely inspires me to keep the pen firmly within my grasp!

Andy


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