Death in Paradise is a new BBC/FTV drama series that starts shooting today, on location in Guadeloupe . What's especially great about this news is that it's a Red Planet production (Tony Jordan) and from the brainchild of one Robert Thorogood (who so totes lives up to his surname).
But here's the best bit: Robert was one of the runners-up in the very first Red Planet Prize in 2007/08, and Death in Paradise is a direct consequence of being part of the competition! Wahey!
So, so, so proud of this, as this was always my intention when setting up the competition: to find new writers and help them develop proper opportunities to advance their careers. It's tough for us new writers out there, so we got to do what we can to support each other and make the industry sit up and take notice.
But the competition would be nothing without Tony Jordan (The Guv) and his Red Planet team. Huge thanks and respect to The Guv and Simon Winstone for maintaining the Prize with their genuine passion and commitment to new writers. To have a success story from the first year, well, it brings a tear to my eye, I tells ya.
I'm also proud to say that Robert is a script reading mate from back in the day (we got seriously sozzled on cosmos at a Working Title Christmas party one year). Coincidentally, I was the one who read his 1st ten pages when he entered the Red Planet Prize. I didn't want to be too biased for the 2nd round, so I got someone else to read his full script. Happily, Robert easily made the final shortlist.
After Tony gathers the winner and runners-up together, he encourages everyone to send in ideas/pitches/scripts, and this is how the ball got rolling on Death in Paradise. But this is important: much kudos to Robert for his exceptional hard work to step up to the plate and knock one out of the park (as our American cousins would say) because the transition from unproduced writer to lead writer on a major BBC series is huge. The pressure and expectation would crush other writers. Not so with Mr Thorogood. Nice one, sir!
The Red Planet Prize will run again this year. 'Ave it!
PS: The awesome Liana del Giudice (who edited my very first short and was Associate Producer on Origin) is also editing a block of episodes of Death in Paradise, completely coincidentally, as she's top of her game and much in demand (having done Dr Who, Dirk Gently, Grandma's House etc etc). It's a small, small world!