Captain Moonlight's Notebook: And the forecast is very wild weather

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The Independent Online
EVER got bored watching the weather forecast on television? I mean reeeaaally bored? Ever wished a force 10 gale would just blow Michael Fish straight to heaven? Then Merrick Casanova is your man.

The 15-year-old schoolboy from Walthamstow has submitted a script to Channel 4 that has got producers jumping up and down with excitement. The submission is one of hundreds sent in to the Lloyds Bank Film Challenge, a nationwide competition launched three months ago in conjunction with Channel 4.

The competition called for programme ideas and scripts from anyone aged 11-19 who had ever wanted to see their work on screen. Casanova's submission is an adaptation of the weather forecast.

'The weather is a very very British institution; it's almost a national joke,' says Madeleine French, managing director of Compulsive Viewing, the production company that will film the six best scripts. 'Merrick's taken an ordinary idea and blasted it out of the screen.'

A bizarre all-action pyrotechnic conflation of Apocalypse Now and Brazil, Casanova's weather forecast would replace the affable Mr Fish and his funny tie with squadrons of assault forces and helicopter gunships, sketching out weather symbols on a giant concrete tower block illuminated with images of England, backed by a military operations commentary carried on against crackling radio static. You can't get wilder weather than that]

Casanova's eight-page proposal, complete with hand-drawn illustrations, sets the scene thus: 'Haunting music, misty cobbled streets shot from low angles. As the music fades, you hear footsteps getting louder, as a figure in a long grey coat - face shrouded by an oversized trilby hat - emerges from the mist. In the background is a massive wall. He stops. The camera circles around to the front, and zooms in as a match flares. The figure looks hard into the distance, as the camera - slowly at first, then picking up speed - spirals vertically upward looking down on the man's upturned face.

'In the background, growing louder, is the sound of three helicopters . . . A voice commences reading the weather. As it is announced, figures on a rope spiral out of the helicopters with big spray cans. They spray graffiti weather signs on a map of the UK and Ireland that is projected on the wall. As the forecast is concluded the helicopters turn and skimmer off.'

An avid comic reader, Casanova spent three months scribbling down ideas and honing his proposal. 'I really wanted to make it as good as I could before I sent it in,' he says. 'If it wins, I'll see my weather on TV instead of the boring old crap I usually watch.'

The challenge organisers say his entry stands a good chance of making it on to the shortlist. Let's hope they advise him on how to copyright his ideas.

(Photograph omitted)