Saturday, March 17, 2007

Mercurio on adaptations

Jed Mercurio (creator of Bodies) talks about adapting literary properties to the small screen:

Cynics argue that drama adaptations for television demonstrate a lack of enthusiasm for original material or, worse, a lack of quality in original scripts. I disagree with both propositions. Commissioners crave original drama, and many (if not most) writers prefer to create their own material, and most (if not all) of them feel more attached to their original script than an adaptation. But marketing original drama isn't easy. I've created four original series so far, and every single one felt more of a challenge to promote than to write. The audience doesn't know the story or the characters. That's hard to explain in a trailer or a billboard poster.

Tonys Grounds and Marchant, Stephen Moffat, Russell T Davies, Darren Star, Stephen Bocho and Simon Nye chip in.


  1. Lee, thanks for the heads up. Good article. Obviously adaptations are certainly easier to sell because a percentage of the audience should be aware of the source material.

    Some of the policiers have pointed me in the direction of novels and writers I was unaware of.

    My only beef with adaptations for TV is when we get versions of Austen and Bronte novels - or any other carriage and corset dramas - appearing on screen only (what seems like) a few years after a previous adaptation of the same source material. But then we get the likes of Trollope's He Knew He Was Right and The Way We Live Now, and the brilliant version of Bleak House.

    And of course one good thing about drama adaptations on television is that they will do more justice to the books than a film version. Especially if it's a big doorstep of a novel that would have to be completely gutted to put it into an average two hours.

    I think I'm right in saying that Anthony Mingella wrote his adaptation of The English Patient based on his memory of reading the book. It means there are quite extreme differences but then it means that the book is the book and the film is the film. You can like both or one or the other. Great way of doing it.

  2. Great article, Lee...thx for pointing.