Paul Ashton - Development Producer | BBC Writersroom

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WHY SHOULD YOU LISTEN TO HIM…? Because he finds, nurtures and promotes writers for the BBC.  He’s the guy who could open that first door for you.

WHO HE’S WORKED WITH… BBC, FilmFour, Spice Factory and UKFC.


Paul Ashton is the Development Producer at BBC Writersroom where he finds, nurtures and promotes drama and comedy writers across all BBC platforms. He oversees the BBC unsolicited script system, development schemes and competitions, industry partnerships and the Writersroom website.

Paul previously freelanced in script and writer development for various BBC departments, FilmFour, Spice Factory, Arts Council, UKFC, and was Literary Associate at Theatre & Beyond. He has taught scriptwriting at the University of Sussex, and directed new work for Liverpool Everyman and Paines Plough.

He has also had stage plays and shorts produced and has a feature slogging it's way around development purgatory. His first book THE CALLING CARD SCRIPT will be published by Methuen in 2011.

Q:  What was your favourite film as a kid?

A:  Probably STAR WARS.

Q:  Who inspired you when you were starting out?
A:  Alan Bleasdale and Shakespeare.

Q:  What was your big break?
A:  Working on an extremely ambitious new play called SCOUSE by Andy Cullen at the Liverpool Everyman Theatre with some amazing actors. I learned a huge amount and even got to meet Alan Bleasdale. (Unfortunately, I never got to meet Shakespeare…)

Q:  What was the best day in your career?
A:   I sincerely hope it hasn't happened yet...!

Q:  What has been your most important lesson?
A:  Never take the loudest, nastiest, most virulent slatings too personally - but measured, reasoned criticism is always worth heeding. Be as sensitive and respectful with others as you would wish others to be with you - especially writers.

Q:  If a niece or nephew wanted to be in the business, what would you advise them?
A:  Do it for love, not for money.

Q:  What is the hardest part of your job and how do you overcome it?
A:  Rejecting a writer's work. The only way to overcome it is by being as sensitive as possible - but the only way to do it meaningfully is also by being honest.

Q:  What do you feel is a writers’ or filmmakers' key responsibility?
A:  Only that they don't lazily, knowingly or deliberately produce crap. Everyone produces crap at some point but if you know it is and plough ahead anyway without caring or trying harder, that's pretty unforgivable isn't it?

Q:  What mistakes do you see writers or film makers making over and over?
A:  Trying to second guess what producers/commissioners want (it's impossible). Self-indulgence (it's boring). Forgetting there's a paying audience out there (it's shortsighted). Being bitter and resentful (it's suicidal).

Q:  What advice would you offer a writer or film maker?
A:  It never gets any easier. If you can learn to embrace the difficulty each time you set out to create something, then the effort will always have been worth it - and you will probably get better and better.