So a few weeks ago we had our launch at The Charlotte Street Hotel for Assistive Devices, my new comedy series about the relationship between a disabled woman and her PA. Since then I’ve been getting loads of emails about the show and my writing process, so I’m going to try to address some of those questions here.
It seems like a lot of writers feel the need to reinvent the wheel when they put disability in a story and for the life of me I cannot comprehend why. The tried and true storytelling techniques work for everybody. In Assistive Devices I was looking to use a literary tool which has been used for centuries for comedic effect, the servant / master relationship. This was easy to put in a character with a physical disability. OK, so they can’t trade clothes and pretend to be each other like they would in Shakespeare, but one need only to look at P. G. Wodehouse stories to start to imagine a comedic relationship between someone and their carer.
It was also important to me in creating a comedy to make a Frasier like character who was very set in her ways, almost snotty. This would do two things. First as a dramatic technique it would give Winnie (the PA) more to bump against in trying to win her boss over. Secondly, I wanted to create a character with a disability who was classy and enjoyed the finer things in life. The media really doesn’t show people with disabilities who aren’t struggling to get by. I wanted to create someone who had fine art and style. When the media starts creating characters who are worthy of us being a little jealous of, it’ll be a huge breakthrough.
Finally as I was writing the series I knew I was working on a tiny budget and a with camera man / director / editor whose time could not be wasted. We had to get things right in one take. We had no crew, no support, and only a few very special locations. And then I had to come up with situations that took very little explanation. As a writer and filmmaker my job is always to keep the shots as simple as possible. Only then can I story I really want to tell.
Because it’s a brave new world out there. Every Day.