Among the vast array of items that we store in the Admiral Document Storage facility in the West Midlands, I was recently surprised to find that we have a collection of scripts for TV series.
This is something of a new development and one that reflects the fact that (as I recently discovered) several new TV channels become available in the UK every month of the year.
As a result of this growth each of these new channels requires new programmes.
Some of the channels, of course, are very specialist. Unless you are an aficionado you might not know that there are three 24 hour a day channels that show animated horse races in which different numbered horses win at random, and on which you can bet. Hard to believe if you are not a viewer, but they are most certainly out there.
Of course, such channels are run totally by computer, but there are many, many more that show actual proper series with actual proper actors – series that don’t necessarily make the big time, but which occasionally do.
The dream of each one of these stations is that it will find, and sign up the exclusive rights to, one such successful series. Their profits come, it seems, not from the advertising or the subscriptions that they get, but from the occasional sell on to one of the bigger channels or studios.
This in turn has challenged the makers of these new programmes (most of whom work on incredibly small budgets) to find writers who are not currently signed up to existing shows.
And so it seems that a new breed of writer has emerged: one who will knock out a few episodes of a series for a modest sum, hoping (along with the producers and the TV channel itself) that the idea of the series will suddenly become a hit.
But these writers have a problem as they are working for very limited sums (their reward coming if the series is sold on, even if they don’t write further episodes) and they need to work fast. And so they need ideas.
The logic, as explained to me, was this. Just because a TV series doesn’t make the grade, it doesn’t mean the idea and the basic scripting was no good. It could be the production, or the acting, or the direction that failed to grab attention. So getting hold of the scripts of TV series that were quickly cancelled or never even made it to air, could be quite an investment.
The problem is that these scripts will never be found on the internet, nor are they for sale. You have to grab them when they are no longer needed by the studio making the series and then hold onto them until such time as you might need one.
This is not to suggest that a writer will actually copy someone else’s work – that of course would be illegal. But there is no copyright on ideas, and so the idea of a particular character acting in a particular way in a certain setting can give rise to a similar character doing similar things but with different words in different settings. Having earlier scripts can save the writer a lot of time searching for a character or a situation.
And thus there is a demand for scripts of unknown and even cancelled shows made for minority TV channels. Using these scripts writers who are waiting for their big break can develop ideas and options, all created while staying within the law.
It is one of those very strange developments that one would never know about unless one was told about it.
Which is why, when any company storing anything at Admiral Document Storage wants to talk to me about what we’ve got here, I always, always, listen.
You can find more information on our facilities on our website at www. archive-document-storage. co. uk. Alternatively you can call us on 0800 810 1125.