Nikki Wilson, ‘Casualty’ series producer

Over a long career, Nikki Wilson has managed shows as diverse as Doctor Who and Upstairs Downstairs, but we spoke to her when she was Series Producer on Casualty.

The way these shows are set up mean that the responsibility for just about every decision on the show - including which writers to hire! – ultimately rests on the shoulders of the Series Producer. Nikki's words are therefore well worth considering! 

Q. How many writers do you employ a year at Casualty?
A. It varies, but on average around 25-40

Q. How many script editors/story liners/researchers do you manage at the moment?
A. 1 script producer, 1 story producer, 3 script editors, 1 assistant script editor, 1 story assistant, 1 researcher (plus a team of medical advisors)

Q. If you’re building a career as a screenwriter in the UK, how important is getting hired by Casualty, (and long running drama series in general)?
A. Long running dramas are a great way for writers to cut their teeth and find out where their strengths lie. All the shows are quite different and require different skills. For Casualty we need writers who can create robust guest stories with 3-dimensional characters which can weave with the serial stores for our medics. The soaps require more in-depth knowledge of the regular characters and their voices.

Q. Where do you find your new writers?
A. We have a constant dialogue with literary agents who send us sample scripts from clients they think would be suited to the show. We also run our own shadow scheme where brand new writers are given a chance to work with a script editor to write a half-hour episode of the show. We have given several brand new writers an episode of the main show after writing a successful shadow scheme script. 

Q. What’s the best way for a new writer to attract your eye? Write a brand new original spec script? Or write a terrific spec episode of Casualty?
A. Definitely write an original script about a subject that you’re passionate about.

Q. Have you any tips for new writers trying to launch themselves?
A. Write about subjects that inspire you. Don’t write just one spec script and rely on this to open doors – keep writing, write something every day, and keep notes on people/subjects that interest you. Make a conscious effort to meet people from all walks of life and talk to them about their lives – inspiration can come from the most unlikely of sources. Don’t watch American dramas and steal story ideas!

That's it from Nikki, but it's worth remembering that, over the last 30 years Casualty has been a major employer of creative talent in the UK. It’s got to be one of your top targets if you want to write for TV.

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