Wednesday, November 14, 2012

19. Direction

If one thing had been bugging Steve, other than the slightly nervous feeling he had about why no one from LTV had chased him up about his absence in the last week, it was trying to understand what had been happening to the guests on Tony's show.

He had booked Stephen Fry. He had booked the girls from Wild About Animals. He had signed contracts, but when he arrived other people were in their dressing rooms.

Not only was someone at the station undermining him, they were doing so in a way that was deliberately aimed at turning Tony against him.

Whilst he and Tony weren't exactly the best of friends, Steve had always prided himself on being an honest person, someone who told things as they were and didn't manipulate people. Yet here he was looking like the bad guy.

Steve had been looking after shows for LTV for 6 years, holding the directorial reigns on some of their most famous output. His recent drama series Western Chapel had won a boatload of awards. He had wondered exactly how many awards would fit into a boat, especially when the size of the said boat was not specified, he presumed it was a fair few though.

Steve was born and raised in Manchester by a well respected Jewish family. Whilst he was not particularly religious, he was always seen at the family home for religious or family occasions. His limited knowledge of Hebrew rapidly revised and rehearsed the week before.

Steve had started out acting in local theatre shows, including performing an amateur production of King Lear on the night of the legendary 'Ice Cream Riots'. After a few brief appearances in bigger local shows, it became apparent to him that his skills lay in production and direction. Which of course is a polite way of saying his overacting was so notoriously bad as to cause Brian Blessed to storm out of a matinee performance of Starlight Express.

Behind the camera, or curtain, on the other hand, Steve was a master of precision and perfection, working with difficult actors and, at times, hopeless stage hands to get performances far beyond those of other directors. The stunning results he dragged out of mediocre ensembles won enough praise to see him move, first to the West End, and then to TV within six years.

Steve had initially won Tony's respect after he had discovered Steve was the director behind Robert Nordstrom's last great original play 'Life After Cynthia', the tale of a middle aged divorcee who becomes a poet in order to fund his child's private education.

Steve had been racking his brains to work out what had happened with the show guests. Who had enough access to the show, and would have been party to both the listed guests schedule and the one that Gerald had clearly been pushing?

As he walked through the first few weeks shows in his mind, the answer came to him.


Nigel was a bit of an unknown to the rest of the crew. He had joined as Steve's assistant on his last show, and had done a good enough job to warrant keeping on. Yet he had always kept his personal life completely silent, even in an industry that thrived on gossip and rumour.

A few times Steve had asked Nigel about his past and his career, but Nigel had never provided more than a few token stories. The only one of note describing his attempts to get his second job with the independent production company Ubiquity.

Nigel walked into the super shiny office, covered head to toe in gloss white. Following a promising start working with the Scottish production house Eye Media, he had moved down to London in hopes of working on some larger projects. He had been invited to an interview for an assistant role with their Head of Regional Production, Gary White.

“Thank you for coming in Nigel. We are glad you would like to join us here at Ubiquity.”

“Very happy to be here Mr White, you produce some great shows.” Nigel replied, before lying. “I love Born in Sussex and Mackem County.”

“Excellent, you'd be surprised how many people start here and are unable to name a single of our programmes.”

Nigel laughed.

“They all watch them, they just don't pay any attention.” Gary continued with no visible glimpse of humour.

After a few basic questions, Gary got to the heart of the interview.

“So Nigel. What experience do you have?”

“Well, I've spent a eighteen months working at Eye Media, assisting the directors in a range of programmes including two of the best rated Scottish shows this year.”

“I see.” Gary looked thoughtful. “So what about here in London?”

“Well.” Nigel explained. “I've just moved here in order to gain more experience and challenge myself, with the aim of developing into a director one day.”

“I see. So you haven't done any work here in London then?”

“Not yet no.”

“Well that makes things difficult you see, if you haven't worked in London we can't really take a risk on you.”

“But I've got great references and a big list of skills from Eye Media, including those two incredibly popular Scottish shows.”

“Yes.” Gary explained. “But they are in Scotland, we are in London.”

“How is that different?”

“Well you see, the way things work here aren't the same.”

“In what way?”

“Well, you see we work in London, and..”

“But you are the head of regional shows?” Nigel interrupted in frustration.

“Yes, but we don't actually do any work outside of London. That would be stupid.”

Nigel looked bemused. “None?”

“Not really no.”

“So Made in Sussex?” Nigel enquired.

“Filmed in Dagenham.”

“Mackem County?”

“Shot in Clapham.”

“Well that's just ridiculous.” Gary remarked in anger.

“I'm afraid that's just the way it is.” Nigel shrugged.

“Well why can't you change it?”

“That's just the way things are.”

“You said that, but why?”

“Because... ooh, hang on a minute.” Gary's eyes lit up. “Where were you born?”


“Bugger. So very close.”

“Hang on, are you saying if I was born ten miles North you would be able to hire me?”

“I don't make the rules I'm afraid.”

“But you are the head of...”

“Nothing I can do.” Gary interrupted.

“But wait. How am I supposed to get experience in a London production company if you only hire people who already have London experience?”

“There are plenty of rubbish companies who'll hire any old so and so.” Gary remarked with an air of irritation.

“So you are saying you would rather I had worked at a shit company in London than a great one somewhere else?” Nigel asked, nearing the end of his tether.

“We do things differently in London.” Gary parroted.

“So I see. I'll show myself out.” Nigel growled before slamming the thin glass door, shattering it into 500 small pieces.

Gary tutted to himself. If Nigel had worked in London that door would still be in one piece.

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