April 2019 Competition Results: Mark Straker – Adjudicator

The April competition was judged by actor Mark Straker, known for the Channel 4 and Netflix  Drama, ‘Kiss Me First’, and BBC Radio Drama Company Productions.  The brief was to write the outline of a plot for a TV drama in 300 words.

And the winners were:

First Place:  The Sons of Erin by George Rodger   

Second Place: A Green and Pleasant Life by Doryn Herbst

Third Place: Insurgence by Summer Quigley    

Highly Commended: Rough Diamond by Kate Salkild 

Highly Commended: Dog of War by Damon Wakes     

April Winners
Highly Commended, Damon Wakes; Third Place, Summer Quigley; Highly Commended, Kate Salkild and First Place, George Rodger

   Photo by Alex Carter

First Place: The Sons of Erin by George Rodger

‘I enjoyed the presentation, It was clear and simply presented. Reminiscent of the style of films such as, Brassed Off, The Full Monty, and Fisherman’s Friends. The use of well-liked music, camaraderie, comedy, and a hint of danger are all good selling points, that would be expanded and would stimulate the reader and later possible the viewers interest. A family drama that would appeal to a good cross section of the public.’

Logline – Three talented Country Music pub musicians attempt to win a lucrative Irish music gig by misrepresentation.

***

Country music night in the back room of a London pub. Customers leave their seats as they crowd the bar for Last Orders. Three musicians dressed as cowboys step down and sit at a table at the front. A barmaid brings across two lagers and an orange juice. The band is the “Sons of Nashville”: Aiden and Sean Sullivan and their bassist, Andy Todd. Andy is not allowed alcohol. Two girls sitting nearby try to catch the attention of Sean who is devastatingly handsome. Sean, ever careful, looks around. Two hardmen at the bar, wearing Arsenal shirts, are watching their girlfriends proprietorially. They don’t look like music fans. Eyes down, Sean sips his lager.

Mick Sullivan, their erstwhile father and unofficial manager, joins them. He places a couple of Guinnesses in front of the boys and toasts a well-dressed man who is just leaving. Mick explains he is Brian Kennedy, owner of a large local construction company. Kennedy’s daughter is getting married and needs an Irish Ceilidh band for her wedding. Kennedy, offering good money, insists upon only genuine Irishmen and

Mick has assured Kennedy that the boys are Irish. Which they aren’t. This lie will cause problems.

Mick has arranged for Kennedy to come back in six weeks to hear them do some diddledee-dee, as he calls it. They decide to ask their Grandfather, Cathal, a former All-Irish fiddler, to help them.

Sean still lives with his mother, Erin Sullivan. Divorced from Mick, she lives a quiet life. She calls her father and soon the boys are rehearsing Irish songs with Granda in the pub back room.

Six weeks later, after problems within the band, including Sean having a finger broken by a jealous boyfriend, the pub holds an Irish night. They play superbly and their appearance at Kennedy’s wedding is confirmed.

*

Now to get Aiden’s temperamental van, with their instruments, up to a stately home in Hertfordshire in time for the reception…

Second Place: A Green and Pleasant Life by Doryn Herbst 

A clear presentation, well thought out. Of a more serious nature, the style reminiscent of Joanna Trollope’s novels which have proved popular on television. Woman in midlife crisis would find a sympathetic audience, plus the husband riding to the rescue would also satisfy some male egos!  

Good female lead character, looking at the nature of midlife, and our expectations.’

Elsa, aged 57, married to Jeremy, living in London, has recently taken early retirement as a bookkeeper for a middle-sized firm.  She is dissatisfied with her lot.

She gives up all her current activities in the city – dinner club, book club, theatre club and finds a cottage to rent in a small market town in Somerset. She intends to live there only during the week. The weekends are to be spent with Jeremy in London. Elsa assures Jeremy that she still loves him and that this is not a break-up but that she needs to make some temporary changes to re-direct her life.

In Somerset, Elsa becomes involved in a local campaign to limit development on a piece of Green Belt Land and to leave the adjacent floodplain untouched. She spends more and more weekends in Somerset. Jeremy wonders whether she is having an affair.

Planning permission has been made for an estate of executive eco-passive houses. The houses are green but the total land use is not ecologically sound. Some councillors who support the development are suspected of corruption.

Elsa meets Michael Smith, a Parish Councillor who is against the new development. Michael tries to woo Elsa into an affair and she is subjected to malicious gossip from village inhabitants.

Elsa learns that the grass is not always greener on the other side of the fence. Jeremy discovers that Michael is not who he says he is. The name is correct but he has stolen someone´s identity. Jeremy goes to Somerset to win Elsa back and comes to realise that she has remained faithful to him.

Those councillors suspected of corruption are shown to be innocent. The new estate is scaled down to a smaller and more sustainable development and part of the estate is reserved for affordable housing. Jeremy finds a reconnection to Elsa and they both move to Somerset. Michael is prosecuted for fraud.

Third Place: Insurgence by Summer Quigley

‘An exciting psycho drama! As pointed out by the writer Broadchurch, Strangers, and a touch of The Bridge, plus, of course, Killing Eve!  I loved the revenge angle, with the detective facing her own flashbacks……The lead would be played by a trans actress?’

Transgender, Charlie Stredwick, always hated herself in a man’s body, but after the operation to become a woman society still didn’t accept her; women didn’t want her to use the same toilets, and didn’t feel a closeness to share emotions like they naturally would with each other.  Angered by the isolation Charlie was made to feel, she devises a plan to put men behind bars while also clearing the city of London of any women who didn’t accept her in her new body.

Working as a scientist in a Sperm Bank, Charlie secretly collected semen samples, storing them at her private residence. She would seek out unsuspecting young women, gain their trust, then murder them in their own homes; Charlie would create a crime scene to appear as if the women have been sexually assaulted on a one-night-stand, planting semen inside the women to ensure it was men the police were always searching for.

Detective Constable Heather Martin, recently failed Sergeant’s board to become a DS, but has been given the lead on this case as a chance to prove herself. As the case progresses she finds herself questioning whether she’s the right person for the job as memories of a rape she was subjected to as a young girl come flooding back.

This will be a limited series for viewers of programmes such as Broadchurch, Strangers and Butterfly. The eight-part drama will follow Charlie’s crimes as the Met police try to solve the case.

Highly Commended: Rough Diamond by Kate Salkild

‘Aussie Police meets corruption meets Family…good female lead, chasing and facing the Father/Daughter relationship and the demands of loyalty to force and family. With ultimate sacrifice?’

Successful investigations propel Inspector Drake of the NSW Police, Sydney, to a glittering career, but as a constable in the 1970s, corruption was rife. Hardened by a difficult upbringing, his father, a Gallipoli veteran, abandoned Drake’s alcoholic mother when he was ten, Drake’s own wife later deserted him to bring up their daughter alone.

Toni, inspired by her father’s cases qualifies as State Prosecutor, always working by the rules. Despite Drake’s errant ways, Toni proudly stands by her supportive father, a brave policeman and upstanding member of the community.

A recent public enquiry orders the reopening of cases of suspicious deaths of young men at the beach suburb, Manly, in the 1960s. Political pressure and police bias conspired in a cover up originally leading to verdicts of suicide.

Drake, with knowledge of these cases, leads the new investigation, the last before his retirement. Determined to confirm the coroner’s ruling, he is unafraid to cut corners to do so.

Unwell, Drake undertakes a series of medical tests.

During the investigation, Drake has tough questions to answer about lost or contaminated evidence and witness intimidation.

But within months, following diagnosis of terminal cancer, his retirement is brought forward, glittering accolades showered upon him.

Confined to his chair, a morphine drip quelling the pain, Drake’s guilt ridden musings about the case worry Toni, leading her to evidence identifying her father as one of the perpetrators. Unable to reconcile his deathbed confession with the man she knows, with rising anger she realises their life has been a lie.

Darkness descends as they sit quietly together. Awoken from her thoughts by the morphine alarm’s beep, Toni turns to her father to ask if he wants a top up. Taking a deep breath, she squeezes the barrel of the syringe steadily until the vial is empty.

Highly Commended: Dog of War by Damon Wakes 

‘I liked the war setting …. Lassie meets Stalingrad. I found that I was interested to know more about the brothers’ relationship…and after Artyom has died Nickolai’s  relationship with the dog? Transferrence or no?’

Nikolai Petrov is a Red Army soldier fighting to hold back the Nazi advance. In response to the invasion, Soviet generals dedicate more men to the training of anti-tank dogs in Moscow. Nikolai’s brother, Artyom, has Nikolai transferred to work alongside him at the training school, away from the front lines.

Nikolai proves his worth by retraining Inga, an aggressive guard dog. However, the project is flawed. Artyom has taught some dogs to place explosives under decommissioned Soviet tanks tanks, but even the best, Sila, cannot do it reliably. The brothers’ efforts are further hampered by an air raid which damages the facility and kills several dogs.

With Moscow under threat, the Soviet military demands an early demonstration against a captured German tank. During the demonstration, Sila fails to release a live mine. While attempting to disarm it, Artyom is killed. In response, the overseer abandons the idea of teaching the dogs to place mines, instead developing an explosive harness that will detonate on contact.

Though grief-stricken, Nikolai continues his work and realises that Sila’s failure was due to the unfamiliar smell of the German tank’s petrol engine: the Soviets use diesel. He is determined to demonstrate that the dogs need not be sacrificed and succeeds in training Inga to place mines reliably.

Despite Nikolai’s efforts, the project goes ahead. This simplified process proves faster to teach and requires fewer trainers. Many of the staff are sent to the front lines, but Nikolai’s experience allows him to keep his position at the training school.

The dogs are sent into battle, with Nikolai overseeing their use. Ordered to release the animals against approaching tanks, Nikolai sabotages the mine attached to Inga, giving her a slim chance of survival. Letting her go is the closest he can come to escaping the war.

universally acknowledged that a single guy with a good Tinder profile must be the first to swipe right on a girl he likes. That’s how Charlie Bing met Lizzy Bennet. But it wasn’t her he was really interested in.

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