Why today's screenwriters are going for the Young Jungs

I have been lobbied in the past few weeks, though in nothing like the style in which I should like to be lobbied. No television producer yet seems to have grasped the simple principle that a weekend in the Hotel George V, all expenses paid, would provide exactly the sort of seclusion in which I could properly consider the merits of their programme. Perhaps they feel that this would be improper, in which case I can assure them that I would feel under no obligation whatever to deliver the goods.

Unfortunately I just get letters and the odd newspaper clipping, most recently about BBC School's Scene (BBC2), a series of specially commissioned half-hour dramas. At a time when the extinction of the one-off drama is being lamented in mainstream broadcasting, Scene has included new works by writers such as Willy Russell, Tom Stoppard, Fay Weldon and, last Friday, Howard Schuman, whose 'Young Jung' was drawn to my attention by several correspondents.

Strictly speaking, his script wasn't new, having been looking for a slot for some time before Richard Langridge, Scene's executive producer, snapped it up. This hovers somewhere between a scandal or a cause for celebration; either it's disgraceful that writers of this calibre are reduced to school's programming to get single dramas on screen, or we should throw up a great cheer that our children are being nourished by the best available.

'Young Jung' pushed you towards the latter. I thought it was great, but it didn't exactly have the feel of an exile from the evening schedules.

Encouraged by a Jungian grandmother to exploit her talent for advising her classmates ('don't hate them, help them. But don't forget to charge') Rosa Rosenband sets up as an amateur analyst, aided by yellow Post-it notes scrawled with Jungian imperatives. She eventually resolves the problem of Emma H, a trust-funded 15-year-old with an addiction to shopping in New York. It was funny, instructive, and stylishly produced - a reminder of Schuman's wit and of the fact that studio-based drama can look as if it wanted to be there all along, rather than pining to be out on location. What about some for the evening schedules too? As Rosa's mother said in a sly post-credit joke, 'Do you take adults?'

Battle of Wills (BBC2) was an amusing survey of the Shakespearian identity crisis - presented with exemplary good manners. The person doing the rough-cut voiceover had trouble keeping a straight voice at some of the more lunatic moments but by transmission all was dispassionate and measured.

Stratfordians, Baconians, Oxfordians and Marlowe enthusiasts (Deptfordians?) were allowed to present their various cases, without any nudging or sniggering from the director.

Not that you needed it exactly - this is a world of conspiracy, of suppressed evidence, terrified academics, establishment cover-ups. It is a world in which Atlantology and the Rosicrucians have walk-on parts, in which the tiniest detail bears ponderous meaning but the most obvious objections are ignored, in which phrases like 'so-called' and 'no coincidence' recur.

At times it is hilarious, as when one dignified gentleman revealed, with the help of some fudging, that the name Francis Bacon is concealed in the inscription of William Shakespeare's memorial in Poet's Corner. It would be astounding if it wasn't, given the commonness of the letters and the length of the inscription; in fact I can now reveal that the names Salman Rushdie and Babar the Elephant are in there too. It is all harmless I suppose, but it does seem a pity that the sound of the poetry should be drowned out for these people by the insistent rattle of loose screws.

Arts and Entertainment

game of thrones reviewWarning: spoilers

Arts and Entertainment
The original Star Wars trio of Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill

George Osborne confirms Star Wars 8 will film at Pinewood Studios in time for 4 May

film

Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’

North London meets The Exorcist in eerie suburban drama

TV

Arts and Entertainment

Filming to begin on two new series due to be aired on Dave from next year

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Kit Harington plays MI5 agent Will Holloway in Spooks: The Greater Good

'You can't count on anyone making it out alive'film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living