Stephen Tompkinson: ‘Put the emphasis on writers, not stars’

Actor Stephen Tompkinson has urged broadcasters to put the emphasis on writers rather than star names for TV dramas.

The Wild At Heart star said it was a misconception that audiences could not handle smart scripts with lengthy sections of speech.

Stephen voiced his concerns in an interview with Radio Times in which he praised the creator of his new BBC1 series, Truckers – acclaimed screenwriter William Ivory.

The actor said: “With most other TV drama nowadays, you’re lucky if a big scene is three pages long. Billy will do six-and-a-half pages without thinking. So the only thing to do is to deliver it at Jimmy Cagney pace.

“There is a misconception that audiences can’t cope if you talk too fast or too long. And I just think, ‘Well, they always used to be able to cope’. Look at the dialogue in all those old films from the 1930s and 40s.

“They never patronised the audience and they’re the films we still watch and adore. Put the emphasis on the writers, not on the stars.”

He added: “No matter how pretty your house looks, without solid foundations it will blow down in the first storm. So start from the foundations.”

Stephen’s comments come a few days after the BBC announced it had commissioned a new detective drama from the writer of The Iron Lady, Abi Morgan, who last week won an Emmy for her axed series The Hour. Her new series River is due to be screened in 2015.


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