Jamie Mathieson
 

i done some other stuff

Here is where you'll be able to find all about it.

On the mantel below; four years on Being Human reduced to a small photo. One episode of Dirk Gently living it large next to it. That film I made with Chris O'Dowd. Me as a young whippersnapper telling jokes.

The current items have been rehomed from an earlier blog. But there's every chance I'll add new stuff. There are always more stories to tell...

 
Being Human Square.jpg
Dirk Gently Square.jpg
FAQ Square.jpg
Stand Up Square.jpg

 

i know it's over

(posted 25/2/13)

So. Being Human is over. Ish.

Obviously for the viewing public, there are still two episodes to air but for anyone involved behind the scenes, it's always a series of little deaths; the last day of shooting, the wrap party, the breaking of the sets.

The writers have their own little landmarks; the last time they type a line of script, meet with production staff or an actor says a line they wrote up on screen.

I've had some fairly ropey writing jobs over the years. Being Human wasn't one of them. It was the first adult drama I was asked to write for and it proved to be a joy. More than that, I would go so far as to say that it was the best job I've ever had. Which sounds a little child-like in it's simplicity. But it's also true.

The best part of the job for me was story lining. Which basically involved sitting in a room with some combination of Toby Whithouse, Phil Trethowan, Polly Buckle and Laura Cotton. And saying 'What if....' for an entire day. And laughing. And debating. And arguing. And laughing some more. And imagining exactly how our vampire, werewolf or ghost would behave in the insane situation we had just dreamt up. And then going home and marvelling at the fact that I was being paid to do this.

In a writer's room, it's wise to keep to the maxim 'best idea wins'. And my scripts benefitted immeasurably from the mighty brains in that room. Notes on my scripts invariably pointed out real problems and offered canny solutions. Which believe me, is not always the case with notes.

That's not to say that the job was always a bed of roses. Being Human is a show that spins a lot of plates and sometimes entire plotlines would be have to be abandoned or massively changed. But this was never done in a capricious or casual way. We all understood that this was a necessary evil, a side effect of never settling for 'just good enough'. Always striving to make the show better.

I considered doing a big list of 'thank you's', naming everyone involved, but I feel that would be a little bit self aggrandising. I've not won a fucking Oscar. I just wrote an episode per series. So I'll end by saying a big thank you to everyone both in front of and behind the camera who helped make this show the success that it is. You know who you are.

And to Lord Tobester himself (yes, that is your name now, suck it up): thanks putting up with four years of my compulsive wise cracking, for letting me turn George all sweary, for giving me a zombie to play with and for letting me bond Tom and Hal over a discussion about virginity. But most of all thanks for taking a chance on a new writer, a little green behind the ears with a knotted hanky on a stick and a dream in his heart.

Thank you.


 

tears of a nerd

I keep trying to sneak nerdy shout-outs into my scripts. None of them ever make it to the screen and it hurts my soul every time that I fail.

Let me give you a little run down of my failures:

In 'FAQ About Time Travel' Pete's lighter has 'FUCK COMMUNISM' stencilled on it. Like the one in the comic 'Preacher' and later in the comic 'Y-The Last Man'. I even wrote a scene where you saw a close up of the lighter. But as I was the only comic reading nerd on the production, the idea was met with blank looks of incomprehension and the shot never made the final cut.

In last year's episode of Being Human that I wrote, 'The Graveyard Shift' I suggested in the script that gothic Vampire wannabee Michaela should have ankh eye make-up, like Neil Gaiman's Death character. I soon learnt that suggestions to the make-up department is like suggesting camera angles to the director. And so it never happened. But imagine the squeals of nerd delight had it come to pass...

And in this year's episode of Being Human that I wrote, 'Pie and Prejudice', at the point when Tom comes running downstairs to tell Alex that 'Hal's got a girlfriend', we wanted Alex to be reading something when he entered. I wrote in the script that she was reading the comic 2000AD. We went as far as writing off to them to get a few copies and their approval.

In the actual episode, she has some magazine open on her lap, which could literally have been anything. Possibly even the galaxy's greatest comic. I couldn't tell you. I was too busy weeping hot salty tears as I failed yet again to shout out to my nerd brethren.

Still, I had a little cameo. Which is probably the nerdiest thing anyone could possibly do. I think you can just see my head in the screenshot below.


writer's guild of great britain awards 2014

"Best TV Drama Series: Being Human - Toby Whithouse, Tom Grieves, John Jackson, Lisa McGee, Jamie Mathieson"

So I won an award. Which was nice. Well, technically, on eighth of an award. As I wrote one episode in an eight ep run.

Toby has already won two solo Writer's Guild awards for Being Human. I think we can all see the burning resentment in his eyes at having to share the stage this time around.

As we left the stage, I mentioned that he'd already got two of these things cluttering his mantel, so maybe he should... Toby finished my sentence for me. 'You're absolutely right. I'll leave it with Touchpaper.' (The production company)


being human - the graveyard shift

The new series of Being Human is almost upon us. I wrote episode three, 'The Graveyard Shift'. I am inordinately proud of the fact that I also came up with the title for my episode, which wasn't the case last year (damn you Laura Cotton). Obviously I wouldn't dream of spoiling any of the plot points other than to say that it is funny and shocking in a roughly 70/30 percent split. I am very proud of it and would like to publicly thank all involved.

This was my third year in a row writing for Being Human and boy has the time flown. It seems like only yesterday that Lord Toby was urging me to drink the virgin blood from the Hollow Skull of The Fettered Man and swear fealty to the Horned Onesy. Since then I've written 'That One with Tourettes George and the Cage', and 'That One with the Zombie and Mitchell's Cornish Stalker' as well as pitching quite a few lousy ideas that Toby has wisely vetoed. (Evil Morris Dancers? Anyone?)

Hope you enjoy it.


douglas adams rewired my brain

If you were to remove the top of my head and look inside, I'd probably die from shock and blood loss. So don't do that. But if you were to do it metaphorically, and chose to picture my formative creative influences as a series of geographical features, then you would find a pretty big mountain range named 'Douglas Adams'. Probably with a dead whale lying next to it.

I was ten years old when I saw the Hitchhiker's television series. On a family holiday in the same year, I found the first two Hitchhiker's books sitting on a spinner in the caravan site shop. Their influence on my tiny forming mush-like brain was seismic. Ideas that were funny. Jokes that made you think. Concepts pursued to their illogical conclusion. Dry British stoicism in the face of interplanetary insanity. Arthur. Ford. Zaphod. Trillian. Marvin. Slartibartfast.

Much of where I am now, who I am now, what I do for a living now, I owe to the worlds he created.

And now I find myself, thirty one years later, writing an episode of Dirk Gently for the BBC. My seasoned forty one year old self is calmly typing the words, building the episode, structuring the jokes. This is what I do for a living. It's just another gig.

But somewhere deep inside my ten year old self just did a little wee and passed out.

However tangentially, I am adding to the legacy of Douglas Adams. I am putting words in the mouths of characters he helped create. But more than that, the reason I am able to, the reason I got the gig in the first place, the reason that working in this world feels so damn natural to me, is that Douglas Adams rewired my brain as a child. I am simply putting into practice what he taught me.

Thanks for everything, Douglas. I hope you enjoy the episode.


being human - type 4

The second episode of Being Human wot I wrote airs this week. Spoilers beyond this point, so go away and watch it then come back. Titled “Type 4” it was a blast to write and I hope everyone found it a blast to watch. I got to introduce zombies to the Being Human universe! Quite a responsibility. And I got Mitchell and Annie to make out. And I set George and Nina on the road to having a little hairy baby. All fairly big Being Human milestones.

Sasha the zombie's character came from a few places, not least of which was my past life as a stand up comic. I used to spend my weekends on stage attempting to talk over gaggles of drunken Hens, a fair few times in Cardiff. Little did I realise that my onstage fantasising about killing gobby women then digging them up would later prove creatively useful.


being human series 3

I am writing the third episode in season three. I report this at this late juncture as they're begun filming my episode and paid me for writing it. Which in this business is this only point at which you can be sure it's actually going to happen. Probably.

As with my experience last year, the development and writing process has been a joy. And not in a 'DVD extras, fixed grin, let's not get sued' kind of a way, but in a real, 'deep joy, wow, didn't we make something good, let's all pat each other on the back until we bleed' kind of way.

For the curious, my episode is the one where the werewolf/vampire hybrid steals the Necronomicon eggs and pollutes the water supply of Cardiff with the ghost virus.

Some of that may be untrue.

But not all of it.

(The new series is set in Cardiff.)


being human read through

I got a train from Nottingham to Bristol, where Being Human is shot. The weirdness began at Bristol train station, when I spotted Kemp, or at least Donald Sumpter, the actor that plays him. I introduced myself and he revealed something of a history with Nottingham, (where I live) having performed at the Nottingham playhouse. He was a thoroughly nice man, which proves he's an actor and not evil.

Relax, I told myself. You're a professional. You're cool with this.

It turned out that several more actors were due to arrive by train, at which point they would all be ferried onto the read through in a mini van thoughtfully provided by Touchpaper. By chance there was a spare seat for me.

Now I am not by nature a superstitious person. Nor am I one of these writers that believes that I create people as I type, breathing life into my creations by will alone. I understand that these people are simply actors, paid to pretend, in the same way that I am a writer, paid to make things up.

But here's the thing: I soon found myself sharing a mini van full of actors, playing characters I had been thinking about and inventing words for, pretty much constantly, for the past three months. For them it was no big deal, some of them knew one another – there was gossip to catch up on, old jokes to revisit. For me, however, it was like travelling along in my own head.

There was Sam (Lucy Gaskell) who's romance with George I had kindled, there was Sykes (Brain Dick), whose first words on screen I had invented, and there was Lucy (Lyndsey Marshal), who I had written a nice little flirty scene for with Mitchell. I felt like leaping to my feet and screaming “I gave you life, do you hear me? Life!” and then leaping out of the window into the road. But I didn't.

Directly in front of me, in the passenger seat, sat Paul Rhys, the actor who plays Ivan. Now his character is dangerous, unpredictable and scary. The actor himself, however, is a thoroughly nice chap, who also professed a Nottingham connection, having lived in outlying villages as a child. He turned around in his seat and spoke to me during the journey. But between us was a head rest, one of those square padded ones, like a hoop with a hole in the centre. And he was talking to me through the hole. At any one time, I could see his eye, his nose or his mouth. But never all three at the same time.

And part of my brain was making conversation and sharing knowledge of Nottingham. Chatty. Light hearted. Professional.

And another part of my brain was going: “Oh my God. It's Ivan. He's talking to me through the back of a chair.

And he knows where I live.”


being human

Being Human Cast.jpg

I am writing an episode of Being Human.

For those of you who don't know what this is, it's basically the current jewel in the crown of BBC 3 and you can read all about it here. In a nutshell, it's a flatshare drama with a difference, namely that the flatmates are a vampire, a werewolf and a ghost. And laughable though the premise sounds, it works. Very well indeed.

It was an honour to be asked. I'd auditioned for season one, failed, forgotten all about it, then got offered an episode of season two. This was partly, I understand, in response to another fantasy spec script that I wrote that was floating around the various production companies of London. It didn't get commissioned, but it's more than paid for the time it took me to write it in getting me this gig.

I've had a few meetings with the creator Toby Whithouse and the producers and was stoked when I discovered the plotlines they were entrusting me to execute. Big juicy stuff that I could really get my teeth into. And I was also stoked by the gaps in the storylines that they were entrusting me to invent.

Obviously, it's nothing that I can divulge here. But in the wake of my episode I'm expecting nothing less than a BAFTA. I also expect to be given Toby's job when he passes on the Being Human torch, in the manner of Russell T Davies passing on Dr Who to Steven Moffat. My episode will be that good.

And if it isn't, I will blame everyone else, from the actors to the tea lady on set. For I am a writer and that's what we do.