Desert Island Dramas – Sarah Phelps
In a series of fun, short interviews, we wanted to find out which television dramas inspired our team and the screenwriters they admire; what would they choose as their Desert Island Dramas?
So, as you jump onto a life raft for one, you can grab three dramas/comedies to take to the nearby island you will paddle to. And, you must also choose one programme to feed to the circling sharks.
Let’s kick off with the inimitable screenwriter Sarah Phelps;
I’m a sulky teen, glued to the The Mallens, an Eighties adaptation of Catherine Cookson’s series of books about the sins of the fathers being visited down the generations, the key sinner being the goatish Squire Mallen with his streak of white hair. I loved it, a cracking tale of sex and repression and shagging on the moors and in later series, doomed passion and tenderness. I particularly remember a scene between two young lovers which was simply them looking at each other, in total silence. No words, just birdsong and the sound of the breeze. They couldn’t take their eyes off each other. Gorgeous and golden and tender and utterly damned. Which is, essentially, my bag.
Queer as Folk by Russell T Davies. I remember as though it was yesterday the verve and cheek of the thing bursting out at the time it did. The passion and urgency and the sheer chutzpah of ‘yeah, this is rimming and WHAT’! You’d scarcely breathe watching it and your heart twisted and lurched for those characters. You were absolutely in the moment with them. Bloody marvellous. Russell T is the Boss.
EastEnders. My beloved EastEnders. When I first started writing on it we were taken for a tour of the set and I stood on the spot where Tiffany met her maker on the bonnet of Frank Butcher’s car and it was like Spinal Tap at Graceland. Every single inch of that lot and those sets live with story. And those characters. The ones you’ve known for years. How I love them. Two blonde matriarchs in a room with a bottle of gin is all you need for a stinger of an episode. Some are dismissive of soaps but I tell you what, when EastEnders sings, or Corrie, or Emmerdale or the long runners like Casualty, when they hit their note, nothing can touch them. Nothing.
So far nothing for the sharks!
Sarah Phelps is an acclaimed screenwriter and playwright, best known for ‘Dublin Murders’, ‘The Crimson Field’, ‘The Casual Vacancy’, ‘Dickensian’, ‘EastEnders’ and her adaptations of Agatha Christie novels ‘And Then There Were None’, ‘The A.B.C Murders’, ‘The Witness for the Prosecution’ and ‘Ordeal by Innocence’.
Her most recent adaptation, of Agatha Christie’s ‘The Pale Horse’, stars Rufus Sewell and airs in the UK on BBC One from 9th February 2020, and worldwide on Amazon Prime from 13th March 2020.