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Tuesday 13th June 2006

Today was a big day. We were doing a reading of the latest script of my sit-com "You Can Choose Your Friends..." for the BBC top brass. The Controllers of both BBC1 and BBC2 as well as several other bigwigs were going to come and sit in a room while me and a load of top actors read the thing out loud to them. We had assembled a stellar cast for this including Timothy West, Julia Mckenzie, Robert Bathhurst, Rebecca Front, Louise Delamere and Paul Putner, which was quite impressive given that this was quite a low key affair. We only had a couple of hours to prepare before the read-off and the initial rehearsal seemed pretty good and we made a few little changes that would hopefully improve things, but the actors were complimentary and all well suited to their parts. I allowed myself to be hopeful that things would go well. But at the back of my mind I knew that it was unlikely to be a very pleasurable experience. It's an artificial situation and I am not convinced that you get anything more from a script by having it read to you than you would by reading it yourself. I could only hope that they would be impressed by the calibre of actor who had agreed to come along.
As I suspected the actual event was a bit tortuous and strange. We read things out to near silence and things did not gel quite as well as they had in the initial reading. It was fine and I couldn't fault any of the actors (with the possible exception of myself - the comedian inside me hoped that by pushing the jokes a bit harder I would get some laughs, but it didn't really work). Everyone was perfectly pleasant afterwards, but I was left with no idea of what the people that mattered thought about it. There were a few comments and a few congratulations, but everyone had to leave pretty much straight away and I was left feeling a bit dissatisfied and empty. I think everyone acknowledged that it was an impossible situation to read a situation comedy in, but I walked out of the BBC feeling slightly sick and disorientated. I have put so much into this script and seen it improve. The intial draft that I cobbled together last year is almost totally different than what we read today and I've put in a lot of work in the last fortnight to get it to a place where I was suddenly happy with it and actually thought it was pretty good. Had they turned down the first draft I wouldn't have been all that surprised, but now if they decide not to go ahead with this I am going to be quite unhappy. Luckily I am going to be going away the day after tomorrow so won't have too much time to think about it and in any case the decision should come pretty soon. Fingers crossed now.

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