BBC Writersroom interviews: Nicole Taylor

I’d never written any script any
play anything like that till I was 27 I hadn’t even considered it
I had always been writing and always been writing down wee bits of dialogue
and I just done it all my life but never with a view to writing plays or
screenwriting because I was a kind of swotty person at school and if you were a
swotty person at school and rubbish at science you would be funnelled into law
so I was duly funnelled into law and became a solicitor a very miserable one
and once I qualified I quit and that’s when I took the notion that I was going
to finally write but I thought I was going to write a novel and to support myself
I got a part-time job at the BBC writing quiz show development things and while I
was there I saw on the predecessor to BBC writers room that BBC
Scotland was running a competition for a new children’s drama so I thought I’d
have a crack at it as soon as I started writing and in that form I just knew
that I’d found something that I love Well I won that week competition
I couldn’t believe it because that first moment where someone affirms that it’s
ok you can do this and you should be doing this and just do it
I was just elated like nothing could probably ever match that and that script
having having a script that somebody else had recognized was good meant that
well I could sort of take myself seriously as maybe trying to have a shot
at this and then what happens if you’re from a small part of Glasgow is that
your parents tell everyone that you won this wee competition and somedy knows
somebody who knows somebody who’s a Glasgow producer now based
in London we wonderful Roanna Benn late of Tiger now runs Drama Republic so my
aunt sent my scripts her saying Nicole has won a competition and Roanna
liked it and she invited me in and she offered me a job on the first series of
Secret Diary of a Call Girl and I didn’t have an agent and she recommended a
couple of people to write to and the first one was Joe Phillips at Curtis Brown
and I met him and we fell in love in a professional sense and
I’m still with him so that’s how it got started. Well if you get an agent apart
from just the sheer thrill of being like I’ve got an agent it helps you take
yourself more seriously they then send you out to meet everybody and that’s
amazing because then job offers come from that so having an agent it’s like
opening a door for you and then ushering you through it and then you get
to have this moment where you’re this like hot new writer and everybody wants
to hear your chat it’s great get an agent. I think most things with me start
with somebody’s voice and there’s a person who feels real to me who then
starts chatting away and I certainly didn’t know anything about structure at
that time I didn’t really know anything about anything I just had an idea for a
character and started to write what that character would say and then if it just
came out and then anything I now know about structure which sometimes doesn’t
feel like a lot I’ve learned just by job job to job and just figuring it out. The
main positive is getting the opportunity to do it in
the first place it’s such a wonderful opportunity to go to Hollywood and sit
with other writers and learn how they do it there and it’s such a minority
interest here it feels you sit by yourself in your pants day and day out
you barely know any other writers and then suddenly there every second person
you meet is a writer and you can just geek out talking to them about
everything that you’re passionate about so that is that was wonderful I would
say that I don’t particularly enjoy sitting in a room coming up with ideas
that’s just not the way I think I like too much as I’ve just mentioned the
fact that I spent so I spent so much time by myself actually I need to I
can’t just generate things sort of on the spot and also it was funny because I
was in a room with two British writers and the rest were American and we Brits
are just not that good at the sort of thing it’s not in us and that show and tell
thing I find it very strange to just chime in
I like to think things through however I loved being there and hearing people
talk about the craft of writing and learning all these terms of arts that
I’d never heard of before like you’re using too much shoe leather or you don’t
have enough real estate between these scenes and yeah it was a wonderful
experience I loved it. At that stage I was getting sent books like quite often
and that one even just reading the back the voice of the character just appealed
to me and although I was a little bit daunted that this was a memoir about
cancer and once I started to read it you know I couldn’t unknow what was in there
you know it wasn’t immediately something you want to tear through and yet that’s
exactly what I did I was sitting in a cafe I just read the whole thing and I
thought this is incredible I have to I have to get this job I had her
blog and I had my relationship with Lisa and that was amazing and I met her
family and we were the same age and from the same kind of background I always
think of her as a northerner but she was from the Midlands but nonetheless
just the chat was there and the warmth was there so I suppose structurally what
can I say I mean it was there it I could find it in the book the challenge came
when I’d written a draft of it where she goes back to normal life having had this
experience and then there was a long period where she was well and then the
cancer came back and then she died and then the BBC wanted to make it and her
family wanted it to be made but they wanted me to change the ending so that
was extremely challenging. The people involved with three girls from the
outset Sue Hogg Simon Lewis Philippa Lowthorpe the director they had made
together five daughters with another writer an amazing writer
I think he’s called Steven Butchard and I love that drama
I just just loved that drama it’s one of the best that I’ve ever seen so I
desperately wanted to work with Philippa and I’d work with Sue on the c-word so I
wanted to do it but I was afraid of doing it so initially I said no. My
partner challenged me why are you not doing this isn’t your turning away based
on the same discomfort and not wanting it to be true that caused everyone
involved to to turn away and I felt like that sort of punctured some of my pious
reasons for not not wanting to go there so yeah I went for it I knew it would be
difficult and it was but entirely worth it
so you want me to help you yeah we do when you never help me why would I do
that because you come here and you sit being
nice to me baby why don’t you try taking me to McDonald’s or is it just social
workers who do that I just want to talk to you Holly the police just want to
talk to you I’ve talked to him I’ve talked to him and talked to him and
talked to him and talked to him and then they turn around and call me a liar Yeah
absolutely we were up and down to Rochdale up and down to Manchester we’re
working loads with Maggie Oliver the real Maggie Oliver who’s played by
Leslie sharp in the drama and Sarah Rowbotham played by Maxine Peake they
were both invaluable I spent so much time with them I spent time with the
girls it’s amazing to have well just have the real voices not even telling
the story but just being around me and hearing how they spoke because there was
so much humor and you know the Rochdale banter and it made me think about
Glasgow and I just I loved being there and I loved listening to them and that
was very helpful in writing the characters to say nothing of the
research even apart from that the voice being there was extremely helpful Well
they were the voices that meant I was a solicitor started to go on about being a
solicitor mum dad I’ve accepted it I’m not getting at you but I really feel
like that lack of confidence meant that I didn’t even give it a go and I love it
and it’s everything to me and still now I really struggle with it’s bloody hard and
it take I feel like it takes me is such a long time to do everything and I
was hoping at the stage that I’d have this amazing you know wee kit bag
of Dramatic tools that can be deployed almost you know with the degree of
leisure but it’s just not like that and it feels like it’s so difficult every
time like you’re excavating something and you’re basically knee-deep in
until you’ve got got it and then it reveals itself to you and I’m amazed
that it’s such a mysterious process still but it is and I think you know the
self doubt hits all the time but at this point I work with people
who really encourage me and really inspire me like Sue Hogg is a wonderful
human being and she has seen something in me way back from the C word I have
never seen in myself and she just somehow motivates me and even when I
think I can’t do it and I tell her that I can’t do it she knows that I can do it
and then I do it. I think it’s so easy to be intimidated by other people who are
doing what you really secretly want to do but can’t imagine yourself doing and
I always go on about the fact that when I went to university that the entire
time I was there there was so many opportunities that I could have taken to
write and whatever but I just didn’t go near them because I was so intimidated
by the people going around with copies of Beckett
under their arm and that made me think that writing
is not for you working in television it’s not for you
these are the people who are going to do that thing these are the dazzling
footlights type people who are gonna do that and I was convinced of that and I
left University thinking well it’s too late now you had all the opportunities
while you were there you didn’t take advantage of them so you know get to
your corporate job and never mind and it was I had to hit peak misery in that job
to just be like right I’m sacking this off and I’m going to give this a go and
if I’ve got any advice it’s just that you’re never not going to feel
intimidated at times that you don’t know what you’re doing and other people do
but all those can I say dickheads all those dickheads with the plays under
their arms like wafting about the quads and stuff like that they’re doing boring
boring shit now and I get to do this and I I love it all the more for how much I
never imagined getting to do it I’d have the complete works of Victoria Wood
because she’s the greatest British writer who
ever lived drama as well as comedy Housewife 49 I would take the film Margaret by Kenneth Lonergan because I think it’s perfect and the way he gets inside that
girl’s head that’s what I always aspire to whenever I’m writing myself maybe it
would be Lars and the Real Girl or Tootsie to cheer myself up yeah one of
those two yeah and I’ve written a film called country music I don’t know if it
will make it to cinemas called country music I doubt it and it’s it’s about
a girl from Glasgow who wants to get the hell out of Glasgow and make it to Nashville
as a country singer but she’s got two or three obstacles in the shape of two
young children and a mum who wants her to just get a normal job and just get on
with it it’s been my wee passion project for
years it’s I started writing it an embarrassing number of years ago
probably seven or eight years ago and it was just filmed in Glasgow and
Nashville in the summer so that’s pretty exciting but it’s a very different
process to TV

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  1. I was there Tuesday 18th December 2018- Nicole Taylor was great. Shame the BBC staff beforehand were completely clueless got sent all around the Wrekin looking for where the event was to be held. Ended up in the place we all first went to. They need some re-training and some manners would not go amiss either and for God's sake cheer up!

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