Born in Portsmouth in 1964, my first 17 years were pretty happy ones, spent attempting to grow up just enough. I passed enough exams at my school in Southsea to take me via my sixth form college in Havant to Southampton University to study Accountancy and Economics; thinking with my head rather than my heart.
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But a closer squint at the fine print of a career in business, promised a corporate culture with regular hours in an office and being one in a group of many. That didn't fill me with an overwhelming sense of joy - a future devoid of fun. But that's what we did in the 1980's. Got a job with prospects.
I took a year off after my degree in 1986 and travelled to Asia, seeking inspiration as how to break into television production, which from an early age was my one true love. Ending my months of travel in a vineyard, watching journalist friends plan their next assignment - each day something different - was exciting, I knew I would have to shun the life of a potential bean counter in the city. I returned home to unsmiling parental faces and the grim reality that my destiny lay with me alone. No careers officer could really help me. An advert in a magazine led me to a BBC interview and to eighteen months writing reports by day and hanging around the studios and film sets by night. A summer attachment on the drama Howard's Way sealed my fate, and the road to becoming a drama producer.
Persistent nagging led to the offer of a 6 month attachment in Drama Series, as a runner - fetching and carrying for the actors - on Lovejoy featuring Ian McShane (Deadwood) and Phyllis Logan as Lady Jane Felsham (a mere 20 years before she became Mrs Hughes in Downton Abbey). Further contracts followed on EastEnders, Miss Marple, Spender, Inspector Alleyn, Out of the Blue and Born to Run, before I was given the chance to produce Casualty in 1999.
I left the BBC the following year to spearhead Channel 4's breakaway show Teachers. I remember Andrew Lincoln with fond affection, who is now rather popular and doing ever-so-well in The Walking Dead, cycling into school over and over again, for the various different opening title sequences trying not to skid too close to us and create a pile up destined for A & E. A whirl of shows followed; shooting in Romania, France, Ireland, Australia and all parts of the UK.
Around the start of 2008, I took on Primeval a dinosaur hunting adventure series which exercised the science-fiction/time-travelling escapist tendencies within my brain Diictodons, T-Rex's and Giganotosaurus' wrestled alongside Camouflage beasts and Fungus creatures as they strayed through anomalies in space, beamed from their time into ours. Perhaps it was because of my working in this particularly creative space that tripped my mind back to when I was a young and impressionable 8 year-old, wandering bored and tired around Hampton Court Palace on a Sunday outing. My parents flustered, hastily protecting the various exhibits from my clumsy greetings. The idea formed for Arnie Jenks and the House of Strangers. Where history does come to life and with that - excitement and adventure!
I developed the idea and drafted a manuscript. While this was being re-worked and sent subsequently to various agents, I signed up for Death in Paradise, which in 2013 introduced Kris Marshall as Humphrey Goodman after the demise of Ben Miller's character DI Richard Poole. Demanding work though it was; Guadeloupe in the Lesser Antilles had its compensations though. Green baize lawns, sparkling azure-tinted seas, and golden sun-kissed beaches. But even paradise can become tiresome, and so a return to the UK's rainy landscape eventually beckoned, with the news that publication of Arnie Jenks would be granted that August. Mixing marketing and publicity together with a new television drama project, Unforgotten for ITV, would keep me busy throughout 2015. Transmission in October delivered extraordinary reviews and the announcing of a second series, which, as of writing (March 2016) will be shot this summer.