Paul Abbott is a talented guy. He’s written episodes of Cracker, created Touching Evil and Shameless and has more awards than ITV has viewers (give or take). Russell T Davies thinks he’s a God.
Legions of journalists have huge respect for Abbott for creating State of Play, the outstanding 2003 serial that introduced the world to the now much-admired Life on Mars pairing of John Simm and Philip Glenister. Although it portrayed journalists as a lying, shifty bunch, willing to obstruct the course of justice for a good story, we forgave it that slight flaw because we were the heroes who saved the day.
Its depiction of life at a newspaper was actually pretty authentic, except for the bit where Simm is allowed to lay out the page and compose his own headline at the end of the final episode, which would never happen – although he did mess it up, thus demonstrating why reporters don’t get to touch Quark, normally. The bit about who owned the copyright on the story because Simm was on a freelance contract actually makes those of us who are self-employed all giddy with delight (seriously. There was an article in the NUJ newsletter The Journalist about it by one of my old tutors, Humphrey Evans).
If you haven’t seen State of Play, pick up a copy of it on Amazon. You’ll be impressed to see Amelia Bullmore in a straight role and Marc Warren (from Hustle and Doctor Who‘s Love and Monsters) having a crap time of it as the slippery Dominic Foy.
Despite all the plaudits, a sequel has yet to materialise. Hollywood is all set to adapt the original. Last year’s South Bank Show profile of Abbott said filming on the sequel was to begin last June. But three years on, still nothing. The last we heard was in an interview with John Simm in the Daily Telegraph in January:
…and there is talk of a second series of the excellent State of Play. “The last time I saw Paul [Abbott], he was so caught up in writing Shameless that he’d only managed one or two episodes of the next State of Play. God, it would be great to work with him again.”
I hate to say this, but I don’t care about another series of Shameless. How much more is there to say on the subject? I want more State of Play!
What with Stephen Fry backing out of writing a Doctor Who episode, I have to say: “Writers: get your priorities straight. Give us what we want!”