My big TV break was Birds of a Feather. Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran realised that a TV sitcom about three women would benefit from a regular woman on the team. That was me! Other TV commissions followed and I wrote a lot of scripts that never got made. Or were made but never broadcast. One was Mad and Sandie, starring Haydn Gwynne, Kelly Hunter and Alistair McGowan, about 30-something best friends who reunite years after falling out. It eventually became an ITV comedy-drama pilot called Happy Together, about two 50-something best friends who reunite years after falling out. It starred Sue Johnston, Lynda Bellingham and Bill Paterson.
I wrote a sitcom with Jo Brand, called Sister Frances. She played the eponymous nun, with Arthur Smith and Brian Sewell supplying the voice(s) of God. It was never broadcast so you won’t have seen it.
When I wasn’t writing, I did a fair bit of script editing of comedy and kids’ TV shows. My favourite was Manchild, by Nick Fisher, starring Nigel Havers and Anthony Head.
Homefront (ITV, 2012)
Starring Clare Higgins, Antonia Thomas, Claire Skinner & Nicola Stephenson
While working as a Royal Literary Fund Fellow at the University of Essex in Colchester, I met an occupational therapy student who came to me for help with essay writing. She told me her squaddie husband had left her for a woman soldier he’d met in Afghanistan. ‘Army wives’ suddenly seemed like a great idea for a TV drama so I met with her again, plus a bunch of her friends, to find out more. A couple of years later, Homefront was broadcast on ITV, with a fantastic cast and some very strong storylines. Homefront was an unforgettable experience.