Roy Clarke On Characters

There’s not much of Roy Clarke, the writer of Last Of The Summer Wine, Keeping Up Appearances, and Open All Hours to be found on YouTube.

Here he is talking about his approach to developing sitcoms around characters.

I had a thought the other day, that if Edie in LOTSW is the prototype for Hyacinth Bucket, how many other characters did Clarke develop in LOTSW with a view to making a sitcom. Indeed, were there any backdoor pilots in the long run of that show?

I asked this on Twitter, and got some interesting responses, including this one.

Chris helpfully and brilliant followed up with this link. It mentions that Alan JW Bell had been up to Holmfirth to shoot some test scenes with the two actors. I would love to see that, if anyone knows where to find it.

Katy Brand Welcomes Careful Drivers

I recently completed my long overdue re-watch of the BBC era Red Dwarf, and it made me want to pick up the books again. I had read the smeg out of Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers and Better Than Life, and I didn’t quite appreciate how much they had informed my love of the show as a youngling.

And on re-reading them in the past few weeks, I didn’t appreciate how much they had informed me as a writer either (in the same way that coming back to Tom Sharpe had made me realise his influence).

So, it was lovely to find this Rule Of Three podcast with Katy Brand, which is really worth listening to, not only as a celebration of the great first book, but as a brilliant insight into storytelling.

I am currently on Last Human, which I was convinced I had read before, but I seem to be mistaken. Then it will be Backwards.


Scene Breakdown: Darling Fascist Bully Boy

The more I think about the scene in The Young Ones where they write a letter to the bank manager, the more I think it’s one of the best scenes in the whole series. Let’s have a look at it.

So what makes it so good?

It barely advances the plot, but it does do a lot of exposition work, expertly hidden. Everything a character says is funny, but more importantly, those lines come from that character’s perspective. None of those jokes would fit in other people’s mouths. That’s good writing, and that writing informs even better performances. There’s conflict, but not the bickering kind, and it reaches a satisfying punchline.

I wonder if it might be a good exercise when developing your own characters to re-create this scene with them, and see how the letter ends up. Could be fun, and enlightening.


I’m re-reading some Tom Sharpe at the moment, and I’d forgotten, or never quite realised, just how informative he has been of my own writing. As a bonus, I watched the movie version of Wilt, which was adapted by Andrew Marshall and David Renwick (rather well too), and I had equally forgotten how many of the lines from the movie have slipped into my lexicon.

Tom Sharpe eventually ended up living in Spain, and here’s a long interview he did with a Spanish broadcaster (in Spanish).