Minder, Boon, Thief Takers, The Vanishing Man.
Where the Heart Is, City Central, Hustle and Life on Mars.
Not to mention a gazillion episodes of EastEnders, including the infamous Slater scenario: “You’re not my mother!”…”Yes I am!”
His work and reputation approaches legendary status, if he hasn’t achieved it already. The man of course is TV writer extraordinaire Tony Jordan. How does he do it? How did he get his first break? I threw a few questions at him to find out…
What was your first break in TV?
I wrote a spec script and sent it into the BBC, they invited me in to new writer seminars with established writers, discussion groups and the like. Then someone gave a copy of my spec script to the Producer of EastEnders and even though I’d never written anything, they took a punt on me.
Was writing a long-held ambition before you started writing for EastEnders?
Not really, I was just a market trader trying to make a few quid, I didn’t realise I enjoyed writing until I started doing it, if you know what I mean…A bit like sex.
Once you started writing for the show, and earning a living from writing, was it difficult to find your feet in the process or did it feel like a natural segue into something you were born to do?
I carried on working on the markets for my first eighteen months as an EastEnders writer, not believing it would last long. I felt a bit out of place, I used to sit in meetings waiting to be exposed as a fraud. I still do.
What do you think of the “snobbery” towards soap or is just a case of people not wanting to admit that they watch and like them?
There’s always been a kind of “snobbery” towards soaps and popular drama in general, but it usually comes from idiots who know nothing about television, or drama.
What angers or frustrates you about the TV system?
I don’t think writers get the kind of recognition they deserve, it’s not just in television, it’s throughout the industry.
Ever been tempted or paid to write a movie for cinematic release?
Just about to start!
With so much success in your career, how do you keep grounded and hungry to create more?
Six kids. And the fact that there are still things I want to write, secrets I need to share!
What are you most proud of in your work?
That I’ve managed to work in series drama, yet still hold on to my individual writer’s voice.
What are you working on at the moment?
Hustle season four and development projects for my new indie, Red Planet.
Was Life on Mars as much fun to write as it was to watch?
Life On Mars is a hard show to write; Matthew Graham did most of them and how he stayed sane is a mystery to me. But he’s a brilliant writer as is the third co-creator Ashley Pharoah. I just like being in a room with both of them and I think we all make each other better.
What’s your next broadcast work and when’s it going to be on screen?
I’m writing a new BBC 1 cop show, so I’m not sure if that airs before the next series of Hustle. But both will be early next year.
And finally… which would you prefer, a desert island with only ITV reception or a prison cell locked up with David Brent from The Office?
A desert island with ITV reception and a DVD player with Curb Your Enthusiasm box set