As I explain in my book, Eclipsed, all comics and most people I meet in show-biz are in the process of writing or ‘developing’ some project or other. In order of ambition; a screenplay, TV sit-com, radio sit-com or play, TV treatment, a children’s book… and in the main, with absolutely zero success.
And so when I encounter such people it is with a wry look and heavy heart that I give them my weary thumbs up. This happened recently when playing golf with a chap I had just met. A ‘writer’ by trade, who to be fair to him, had got some of his stuff made. He referenced a few of his successes but none of them register with me. It wasn’t like he’d written Broadchurch or The Wire.
Nice chap though and clearly bright - or at least, much brighter than me. I conclude this when we somehow we got on to Stephen Hawking and he stated casually that he had read Hawking’s book - you know, the one that famously nobody has ever actually read. I suppose that I was suspicious of his claim and not that I could call him out at all but I did ask him for the salient points and immediately regretted it. Golf is hard enough already without being bamboozled with physics. No question, this was not a guy pretending to have read and understood the work of the world’s most famous scientist. I looked at him a little oddly…
‘Bloody hell, how do you know all this shit?’ I asked.
Now it was his turn to look at me a little oddly. After all, we were half way in to our round of golf and I hadn’t made him laugh, nor impressed him with my game and now I admitting to be thick.
It tuns out that he was a doctor no less. And not some naff PhD but an actual doctor - as in, white coat and stethoscope. He’d practiced in hospital for a number of years but then gave it up to pursue a career in TV drama - as you do.
Now there is a long line of medics who have turned to show-biz and it must be said with grating success. But as bright as this chap was I did wonder if he hadn’t made a huge mistake.
‘What was the name of your latest drama again?’ I asked. ‘The one you’re currently working on?’
Still it didn’t register with me and now I was certain. He was chasing a folly and was mad to forego what might have been a stellar medical career. In my learned opinion, he has his finger firmly on the wrong pulse.
I can’t remember who won our game now but I have since learned that if I am not a loser - then this bloke is unquestionably a winner.
Because his series happens to be LINE OF DUTY - only the biggest thing on UK TV and unsurprisingly I have managed to completely miss…
When (if) I see him again, it will be too late to congratulate him but I will do so anyway. Fingers on pulses and all that…