Master of TV drama Jed Mercurio shares scriptwriting secrets

Fri, 07 Dec 2018 14:13:00 GMT

Line of Duty creator Jed Mercurio and Scots actor Martin Compston took time out from filming the latest series of the BBC thriller to meet the next generation of scriptwriting talent at Glasgow Caledonian University.

Mercurio, British television’s most successful writer whose credits include the smash-hit drama Bodyguard, visited the campus to take part in a live question-and-answer session and meet students on GCU’s MA TV Fiction Writing course.

The writer, producer, director and novelist was joined by Line of Duty star Compston, who plays DS Steve Arnott in the police drama, which is currently filming in Belfast.

During a Q&A in front of an audience of 250, Mercurio talked about the success of Bodyguard, Line of Duty and the process behind producing the biggest shows on TV.

He said: "I think it's really important if you're going to write or you're going to act to do it and keep doing it. Don't just do one piece and spend the rest of your days trying to get it made because you need to be going on to the next project constantly.

"If you keep generating work, and you work hard and have talent, you will succeed."

Compston, who received an honorary degree from GCU in the summer, talked about auditioning for the role of DS Arnott.

He said: “My friend Craig Parkinson, who played the Caddy in the show, asked me if I was going up for it and said it was the best thing he had ever read.

"I owe my whole career to Ken Loach, who took a chance on me, and Jed, who put me in front of a wide audience. I never thought I'd be cast as a lead in a primetime BBC show, I just never thought I'd be someone Middle England would respond to.

"For every great job I've had, I've had at least 20 or 30 rejections, so you've got to be thick skinned and you've got to enjoy it."

GCU is celebrating the 10th anniversary of its MA TV Fiction Writing programme this year. Graduates have worked on some of Britain’s most popular shows, including EastEnders, Casualty, and Holby City.

Professor Ann Marie Di Mambro, who teaches on the course, said: "Jed's visit was an incredible opportunity for our students to get insight and inspiration from one of the best writers in the UK.

"It was also invaluable for them to ask someone of Martin Compston's standing what actors look for in a script and what they bring to it."