A Novel Journey Pt 1 [how ‘nasty’ Nick Cotton helped]

I’m going to blog first about how I came to be a writer, and the journey to where I am today.

Writing has come in many shapes and sizes. I’ve written articles for magazines and press, adverts for television, radio, press, billboard and web. I’ve also written scripts and storylines for television dramas in the UK and abroad; and two recent novels, the first of which is available soon.

My writing career started back in the 1990’s, following a meeting with the producer of BBC’s Eastenders. I had previously worked in the criminal law arena and they were looking for someone to become the programmes legal advisor. They were about to embark on a storyline which would culminate in a murder trial for the character Nick Cotton… tv’s original ‘Nasty Nick’. My job was to advise on the script and set, and make sure that within the parameters of dramatic license the trial was as authentic as possible.

It was a first for me as I’d never previously been involved in television drama. I had though always had an interest in writing, and can still remember spending many a maths lesson at school writing a ‘secret script’ under my desk. I’ve no idea now what it was about, but can recall furtively passing it around the back row to a few other mates who would contribute some character lines. I was never over enamoured with the tedium of academic study, and was often on the lookout for a creative outlet… as soon as I walked onto the set at Elstree I knew that burning desire to write would be ignited again.

I wasn’t there to write though, I was there to advise, but I took every opportunity to talk to actors and writers about how to get into the business of writing for tv. I spent a fair bit of time with John Altman who plays ‘Nasty Nick’, the lead role for that particular story. John was really helpful, as was his ‘screen mum’ June Brown who introduced me to a few other Eastenders’ regulars. After a while I was introduced to one of the shows principal writers and got a few tips about how to go about pitching for an episode of the show.

At around the same time, and on advice from the very same writer, I submitted a draft script to The Bill as well. It was an equally popular show and one I felt a touch more comfortable with as I was used to dealing with the police through my old criminal law clerking days. As it transpired The Bill replied to me quicker than Eastenders, so it was off to their studios in Merton, South London for an interview with the show’s producer. From there I submitted a further original trial script and some storyline ideas and after a couple of months found myself penning my first ever episode of broadcast tv drama.

TJCooke’s debut novel – ‘Kiss and Tell’ – out soon.


2 Responses to “A Novel Journey Pt 1 [how ‘nasty’ Nick Cotton helped]”

  1. Tina Orr Munro Says:

    I loved the bill, especially the earlier episodes. It was really gritty stuff. I miss it!

  2. timscribe Says:

    Ah, the earlier episodes, that must include mine… yes it was a good show that tackled many an issue. Many people preferred the self contained half hour eps to the more ‘serial’ nature of the show which developed later… BTW, your blog ‘Smoking, I was fuming’ has just made me dribble coffee with laughter!

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