‘Real people’s lives rarely fall into a three-act structure’: Writing biographical drama for British television

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    Abstract

    This article combines primary material based on interviews with British screenwriters who have written prominent dramas based on real lives with biography theory and screenwriting praxis. It seeks to analyse some of the solutions screenwriters have found to the unique challenges of writing drama based on real lives, specifically by comparing it with the developing field of biography theory. These issues are analysed in the light of the recommendations of well-known screenwriting theorist/practitioners on the creation of character and its relationship with story. The article considers some of the specific challenges for British screenwriters in creating biographical drama, given the context of public service broadcasting and its associated pressure for accuracy and fairness.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)41-56
    JournalJournal of Screenwriting
    Volume9
    Issue number1
    Early online date1 Mar 2018
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2018

    Keywords

    • British television drama
    • biography
    • public service broadcasting
    • research
    • screenwriting
    • television drama

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