Screenwriter and novelist
Novelist, screenwriter and director specialising in contemporary suspense. Born in Salford, Lancashire on the 13th October, 1954. Former Northern Chair of the Writers' Guild of Great Britain.
I studied drama and English at Hull in the mid-70s and made a couple of (terrible) student films. Then I worked briefly as a documentaries researcher for YTV, then in Granada TV's presentation department with the aim of becoming a drama director. While I was there I made amateur 16mm movies and sold radio plays to ILR for bargain-basement production.
I sold a spinoff novelisation of one of the radio serials and then, having gained some craft and confidence, wrote Chimera, my first novel. In the same period wrote a string of 90-minute Saturday Night Theatres for Radio 4 and four-part stories for two consecutive TV seasons of Doctor Who. I quit Granada to go freelance in 1980.
I then worked flat-out for the next few years, mostly making sales to radio and to American fiction magazines, but making very little progress until joining Curtis Brown in the mid-80s. There I was represented by Leah Schmidt for all media and by Imogen Parker for publishing. Instant career turnaround. When Imogen moved to AP Watt, my representation was split so the dual relationship could continue.
Beginning with Valley of Lights for the next decade I published a novel a year, saw each of them optioned either for film or TV, and wrote all the screenplays. At one point it looked as if Zenith (Scott Meek and Archie Tait) were out to buy up everything I might produce. Out of this relationship came a 4-part adaptation of Chimera for ITV. The unmade novel-based Zenith projects included a Down River feature, and Rain, intended as my directing debut for the BBC's Screen One, all but greenlit when nobbled by a management reshuffle. Zenith also underwrote development of Victorian Gothic, an original screen idea. Other optioned but unmade projects from this period included a feature film based on Oktober.
Meanwhile I was closely involved with the setting-up of Chiller, YTV's highly-rated but short-lived horror anthology series, and Carnival Films' BUGS, on which I wrote 10 out of 30 shows and was script consultant on series 2 and 3. Optioned but unmade novel-based projects for this period include The Boat House (Sarah Curtis, Iain Softley and Robert Jones), and Nightmare, with Angel (Phyllis Carlyle).
An approach involving Kevin Loader at the BBC led me to revive the Oktober adaptation, and when the BBC initiative foundered due to Controller apathy I took it to ITV Network Centre and, thanks to the intervention of Jenny Reeks, got an indication of interest. Armed with this, I involved Brian Eastman at Carnival, attaching myself as director on the way. ITV played hard-to-get until Stephen Tompkinson committed to the project, at which point we were greenlit. I made the show in late '97 and it was broadcast in '98.
Subsequent projects included a 90-minute Murder Rooms episode and two feature-length Rosemary and Thyme specials followed by Life Line, a supernatural two-parter for BBC1. I spent most of 2008 as lead writer on Crusoe for NBC and started 2009 with a couple of scripts for the US version of Eleventh Hour, the series I created for ITV in 2006. The more recent novels included The Painted Bride, The Spirit Box, and The Kingdom of Bones.
2010 found me in Los Angeles as co-executive producer on ABC's The Forgotten. For the rest of that year and most of the next I was developing material for JBTV and, in separate projects, pilots for NBCU and Fox TV. The Bedlam Detective was published in 2012 and I completed a 2-part Silent Witness for the BBC, to be broadcast in 2013. I'm now working on another Sebastian Becker novel.