Friday, 20 June 2008

Getting Heavy - Episode 5

The official blurb said:

Getting Heavy
Hut 33's record is the worst in the complex. Charles is mortified with shame, Archie is desperate to prove himself and Gordon wants to impress a girl he has just met. They break into Hut 7b to get extra information on a message they are decoding, which turns out not to be a good idea.

Getting Heavy, the episode of Hut 33 that aired on Wednesday 18th June, was easily the mot difficult episode to write. It happens every series I've ever done. You write episodes 1 to 4 fairly easily as you're fresh and excited about a new series and bursting with ideas. Episode 5 is like pulling teeth. It takes lots of drafts and just doesn't want to settle down. And Episode 6 comes together extremely quickly (see last blog post).

So Getting Heavy was one of those tricky ones that took six full drafts to crack. It was only in the fifth draft that I deleted a whole plot strand about radioactivity. That was what I wanted to do an episode about - our characters not really understanding Uranium, touching some and then being bundled in a van and taken off to some secret facility where they would be tested, poked and prodded. There was even a part where they thought they might have special super-powers as a result of the exposure to radiation - which sounds rather preposterous but let's not forget that in 1941, not an awful lot was widely known about radiation. The first H-Bomb was still to be invented In the end, we had a Quarantine episode in a different show, so the idea of being sealed off was covered in the series.

What I was able to retain, however, was the rivalry about sex-lives between Archie and Charles - and then Gordon. Archie is full of bravado, but short on delivery. Charles is aloof and unimpressed by innuendo, but has finally given into Mrs Best's pestering. Then step forward Gordon, who becomes the star of this show. Once he finds his woman, loses his virginity - he thinks - he becomes a man.

Two parallels spring to mind. One is Arnold Rimmer's alter-ego in Red Dwarf who is known as Ace - and says 'Smoke me a kipper. I'll be back for breakfast' played by the splendid Chris Barrie. The other is Harry Enfield's whining Kevin character, the teenager who hangs around with Kevin and complains about everything. He radically transforms once he's had sex, becoming polite to his parents and very contented.

I should add that I don't share this view about losing one's virginity. It doesn't 'make you a man' or turn you into a contented polite person. We're back to the theme of myself as the writer having different views from the characters that I write. I hope, if anything, that this episode demonstrates that the hypocrisy and lying that goes on around sex is rather feeble and very pervasive. And let's be honest about this. The War was a time of pre-marital and extra-marital sex on a large scale. I don't condone it. I hope to painting a picture of Wartime Britain as it was rather than how we would chose to remember it. With a few jokes along with way.