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BBC scriptwriter reveals stories behind the soaps

Creative Writing students from The Priory's Sixth Form learned the art of a professional's trade during a visit by BBC scriptwriter Ann Gallivan.

 Creative Writing students from The Priory learned the art of a professional's trade during a visit by BBC scriptwriter Ann Gallivan.

The two-hour session with 14 students from Years 12 and 13 was both interesting and enlightening, informing us of the intricacies of an industry that we knew very little about.

Ann, who has worked for the BBC as both a script supervisor and writer, has worked on shows including The Bill, Holby City, Midsomer Murders and Doctors, as well as the BBC Scotland soap opera River City. Now a freelance writer, Ann's current projects include writing her own eight-part series.

The purpose of Ann’s visit was not only to inform us about the art of being a scriptwriter but to give us an insight into the workings of the television and film industry.

Her vast experience, having worked on the sets of not only television programmes but also feature films, allowed us the opportunity to ask her questions about the path to being a scriptwriter and the rigorous process that every script goes through before the finished product ios filmed.

It was an informative talk with the whole class getting the opportunity to learn (from someone with experience) about a style of writing that we have not studied before.

It was fascinating to hear about her work, the way that plots and sub-plots surround the various characters and the strict guidelines by which scriptwriters have to abide. She spoke eloquently about the rigorous process involved in becoming writer and how she herself had worked her way up through the media industry.

It was incredibly interesting to hear about some of her experiences, from her work in documentaries and travelling the world to her research for the various shows and films she has worked on.

James Blanchard, a talented member of the creative writing class who has a keen interest in scriptwriting, explained: "Hearing about the technical side of TV was great. I had no idea how intense the process could be, especially working in serials."

Elizabeth Bainbridge, another gifted writer in the class, expressed how helpful and interesting the visit was. “For those of us who knew nothing about scriptwriting, she explained the process very thoroughly and gave us lots of helpful tips when writing in lots of different styles.”

Towards the end of the session, we were given a prompt and were encouraged to write a script based around that idea. The class took their completed scripts and filmed their friends' performances to show in the next lesson and to give each other feedback; we hope to send a few of the videos to Ann. The whole task was hugely successful, with many of the scenes said to be worthy of Eastenders or Coronation Street.

This was an incredible opportunity and we are very grateful to Ann for giving up her time to come and speak to us. We also thank Dr Gallivan (Ann’s nephew) for organising the visit; to have someone who writes scripts for a living come and share her experiences and pass on her knowledge was a privilege.

Laura Williamson
Year 13