A Writing Lesson from…..ITV!

Posted on January 12, 2013 in Blog

I was lucky enough to be asked down to Elstree Studios on Sunday 6th January for the live ITV televised Dancing on Ice opening show. Taking a break from writing, I drove down with my (heavily pregnant) sister who filled my modest boot with copious hospital supplies and medical papers ‘just in case’ bump decided to kick off early!

I was keen to see my brother-in-law Mark Hanretty, who is one of the DOI professional ice-dancers, perform in the opening number and to see him with his celebrity partner, House of Lords member, the lovely Baroness Oona King….who has real skating potential!

I was also intrigued to see how a prime time show is put together for mass viewing and this was the really interesting bit from an authorial point of view.

Once I’d ran barefoot from the hotel reception back to the room for my make-up bag and then held on to my sister while walking outside to the taxi in my 6-inch heels – under the convenient guise of keeping HER stable and upright – we headed off to Elstree Studios.

We got fab front-row studio seats and when Kate tweeted this pic, fellow tweeters informed us we were sat in front of Corrie star Charlie Condou. Having given up watching soaps five years ago when I started my degree, I hadn’t a clue I was in the presence of such greatness!

Yes, I got to see and meet people like Pamela Anderson, Joe Pasquale, Anthea Turner, pop singer Shane Ward and TOWIE babe Lauren Goodger – as well as the very lovely presenter Christine Bleakley – and all that was fab. But as an author, I found the way the production team put together initially fractured and non-linear pieces, resulting in a smooth and thrilling final televised show, was somewhat of an analogy for the writing process.

For the opening sequence, Jane Torvill was filmed several times doing a brave jumping-from-a-great-height move (I’m sure there’s a technical term but I don’t know it) and then the professional skaters performed a dance before bringing on their respective celeb-partners. Phillip Schofield and Christine Bleakley did a couple of takes of their seemingly simple opening greeting and introduction.

In between all these takes, the lights came on, people stopped skating and the production team fussed around. Not very exciting, very disjointed and not particularly thrilling. So it was a great surprise to see on the big screen the live version, where everything ran smoothly, looked fantastic and with a complete change of order, was thrilling to watch.

I thought about the process of writing and how writers approach it differently. Personally, I am learning not to be afraid of starting in a different place to where I left the day before, if the mood takes me. Sometimes I find, even though not chronological to the plot, it can be far more productive to write a section that is to come much later in the book, depending on my mood and which character voices are strongest in my head. It’s okay to do rewrites if the initial prose isn’t up to scratch…I am a terrible perfectionist when it comes to my writing like many authors.

Thanks ITV for the valuable writing lesson….and good luck to Mark and Oona, who perform their first skate together tomorrow night (Sun 13th Jan), Dancing on Ice live on ITV 6.15pm.

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