Category Archives: Naked Apes


Monday 27th of June – Channel 4, 10pm – Sirens

Tonight Channel 4 are showing the first episode (of six) of Sirens, the TV series based upon my books.

I am quite nervous.

I can’t quite put my finger on what it is that is making me nervous though. To be honest I’ve had very little to do with the actual production besides writing the books and blog that it is based on.  My role has largely been to cast my eye over the draft scripts and make some suggestions, some of which have actually turned up in the finished programmes.

Certainly I like the scripts that I’ve been sent, and I like the first two episodes that I’ve seen and I think that the writers have nailed the ambulance experience.

So if it is received well then I can bask in some reflected glory, and if it is panned, then I can distance myself and say ‘Nuffink to do with me guv’. Additionally I get paid whether it does well or not – and hopefully it’ll sell more of my books (For which there is a TV tie-in omnibus edition)

But I hope that it does well, because everyone who I’ve met around this production has been really nice and I think that they deserve it.


There is one thing that is building my nervousness, and that is how it’s been marketed by Channel 4. Don’t get me wrong, I love the little teaser trailers that they have made for the programme, but I imagine that it is easy to think that the programme is similar to Campus or Green Wing, which it really isn’t.  It’s a drama with some comedy in it but that is a subject for another blogpost.

Script Reading

The production company kindly invited me to the first script read through of Naked Apes, this is incredibly kind of them as, while they have been sending me scripts to read through and comment on, I’ve no creative power here.

For those that don’t know how it works, I write a book, then I sell the rights for it to be commercially ‘exploited’ to a publisher. The publisher then gambles that they’ll make some money and prints a load up*, they then publicise it and look around to see if anyone else would like to change it into another format just so long as they cut us in on a piece of the action.

Some time ago the rights for the TV adaptation were sold to Daybreak Pictures (their most recent work would be C4’s The Promise) and I thought that this would be the last I heard of it.

Then, seemingly out of the blue, they phoned me up and told me that Channel 4 wanted it made into a TV show.

After a couple of months I was sent some draft scripts to see what I thought – and I really enjoyed them…

So, some time later, I found myself on a train to Leeds with the cast and crew for the first script reading.

(I’ve signed an NDA, so I have to be a bit obtuse here).

A script reading is, I believe, a chance for everyone to meet and for the actors to read through the scripts so that the writers, director, producers and the rest of the crew can get a feel for the performance and to see what bits work or not.

It was only when I walked into the huge meeting hall at the hotel we were using that it finally hit me that all these people were there because someone wanted to see my book on TV.

Which, I don’t care how cool you are, is pants-wettingly exciting.

I mean, there was always a part of my brain that thought that there was no way this was actually going to happen, that it was all a big soap bubble that would soon burst in disappointment.  It was only when I saw those sixty or so people sitting around the room that it actually became real.

Just like the first day of college, we went around the room all introducing ourselves, from the actors, the writers, the producers, the costume people, the PR people, the set and lighting people and… me.

I got a round of applause.

Which, is weird, and embarrassing and most unexpected. But then, I suppose that I’ve given them all work to do, which is nice because work helps pay the rent.

(And if it shows up in the DVD extras, you’ll see me blush, and flap my hands around a bit, and thankfully I won’t be in the room with you to see it and get all embarrassed again).

The script readthrough sounded excellent – I really like the scripts and the actors were excellent, and the funny bits were very funny. Which is handy. I also learnt a tip from a professional writer on how to get through these sorts of things, when everyone is looking for flaws in your work, although I suspect that it wasn’t needed.

And then I was on my way home, for I had work the next morning, while the cast and crew stayed up in Leeds ready to start making the thing.

Later, I got to go on a set visit to watch some filming, but that was a different day.


*While also doing all the boring stuff  such as making it look pretty, checking that I haven’t libelled anyone and that I’ve not made any horrendous grammatical mistakes.

Naked Apes

Channel 4 has commissioned two new drama series for 2011, as part of the broadcaster’s commitment to double its output of original drama from next year.

Camilla Campbell, Channel 4 head of drama, said the series had been commissioned using money freed up from the cancellation of Big Brother, which has seen the drama department benefit from a £20 million boost to its budget.

The new series announced today are Naked Apes, which will air on Channel 4, and Beaver Falls, for E4.

Naked Apes is penned by Brian Fillis, who wrote Fear of Fanny and The Curse of Steptoe for BBC Four, and is inspired by Tom Reynolds’ book, Blood, Sweat and Tea.

It follows a group of paramedics and is being made by Daybreak Pictures, which produced Britz for Channel 4.


I had lunch with one of the producers earlier this week where he told me that the chances of this actually making this to screen are pretty good. Although, as in all things TV, there is also a chance that it will all fall through.

At some point in the near future I'll be having a meeting with the writer and producers.

I haven't seen the script yet, although it is a *drama* based on my book rather than a literal filming of the episodes. TV, and drama as a whole, works in it's own way so there have got to be a lot of changes in order to turn the book into interesting television. Also it has to be something that will be interesting to the Channel 4 demographic.

So I'm not going to be precious about it.

This is now Daybreak Pictures baby and I'm interested in what they are going to do with the source material. It should be fun.