Did you see the BAFTAs last night? I was so pleased to see Steven Moffat receive the 2012 Television Special Award. What I really admire about his work is that he writes for everyone and has done much to make family viewing cool again. Yes I know Sherlock is not exactly family viewing but it is the kind of telly I would have badgered my parents to let me stay up after bedtime and watch; the kind of programme that they could’ve held over me as a reward for being good.
Then there’s Doctor Who. Yes yes, Russell T. Davies resurrected it and gave the tardis wings but when I teach screenwriting, it is a Steven Moffat episode that I use to illustrate so many top tips and handy hints.
I remember a particularly cool group of first year film students who decided they knew everything already. They were hard work and I just don’t do cool so hadn’t a hope of establishing a rapport. I soldiered on and showed them the first episode of Doctor Who: The Empty Child. As the titles went up, I could hear the sneers from the back row. I kept watching the screen: I might die in this class but at least the telly was good. That’s when Mr Moffat became my hero: by the end the sneers had turned to silent fear. These hardened twenty one year olds were genuinely moved, surprised and scared by the story. Being a two parter they were desperate to find out what happened next. And, seeing as I had the DVD, I was now their favourite person.
Good writing feeds the mind, stirs the spirit and excites the body; engaging our intellect, our emotions and our hormones. We question, we care, we get an adrenaline rush. When it does all these things, it has that power to engage an audience with other people’s lives, on screen and then in real life. It makes us connect; makes the world a better place.
So congratulations Steven: richly deserved.