script writing
Fanny & Elvis

The Script Factory

Kay Mellor wrote the controversial, critically acclaimed Band Of Gold television series. Moving from its gritty drama to BBC's classic, Jane Eyre, and now to the big screen, she will speak about her new script, with a rehearsed preview, as part of the BFI Script Factory project.

"I thought it was a strange choice ... But, in a way, they are about the same thing - a woman striving, a survivor, a fighter," says Kay Mellor.

Mellor has now gone from period television drama to a modern dilemma as feature film. is a romantic comedy set at the cusp of the millennium. When Kate Dickson's husband runs off with one of his students she has to cope with that little bomb, and also the tick-tock in her womb; she has a year to become pregnant.

"It's wonderful to have Kay," says Charlotte Macleod, director of the Script Factory. "She is a well-known name, but it is still important for her to hear it being read." will be performed by Tony Slattery, John McArdle, Dawn French and Lesley Sharp, and will also feature her daughter, Gaynor Faye (who plays Judy Mallett in Coronation Street), with Kay as narrator.

The idea for the Script Factory came from America's 5th Night programme, set in downtown New York. It makes a radical break from scenes such as those described in Robert Altman's film The Player, where writers spin their stories in a desperately won five minutes.

The scripts are chosen by a committee of established producers, writers, agents, film devel- opers and actors. Casting directors are then told to cast as if filming begins the next day; all participants work for free. Though at present the Factory doesn't have the resources to be open to everyone, the committee is in touch with other organisations that can recommend scripts.

In The Player, plugging a script leads to murder and mayhem. The Script Factory is a more civilised way for writers to showcase their work and read audience reaction. "We have been overwhelmed with the range, diversity and originality of the products this year," says Charlotte Macleod. "It proves once again Britain's deserved reputation for producing great screenwriting talent."

`' at the British Film Institute's Script Factory, the October Gallery, 24 Gloucester Street, WC1. Tickets pounds 12 (inc supper and drinks). Box office: 0171-928 3232

Jennifer Rodger