Okay so here it is, drum roll, rising expectation, the envelope has been opened and the winner of the competition is announced – Coconut Republic by Rebecca Bain & Alex Garrick Wright. Thanks for this, and thanks to James Cary for helping me choose the winner.
I’ve judged competitions in the past and it’s usually fairly easy to eliminate a bunch of entries early on, and for a small number to stand out from the rest. With this competition I had so many entries that achieved many of the things I had been asking for. It was only reading through all of them when I realised I had asked for so much.
I set up this competition for a number of reasons. The main one, if you’ll forgive me, was the constraint of time. I knew I was going to be reading all the entries alone, and wouldn’t have time to read anything longer.
Grabbed by the Coconuts
I was also keen to see how straightforward it might be to land in the middle of a previously unknown sitcom. The hope was to simulate the experience we used to have in pre-streaming times when you plonked yourself in front of the telly and flicked through the channels. You’d settle on a sitcom you were vaguely curious about that had already been running for five minutes.
Could it grab you in that fleeting moment, the way Gilmore Girls grabbed me when I caught a random exchange several episodes into season two and knew I would have to watch the whole show from start to finish?
The answer was yes. And it was that feeling in the end that became the strongest determinant of which entries I would choose. Not that that was lacking in the other entries. There were at least another ten scripts that had loads going for them. A 1930s detective trapped in the world of English stately homes whose dreams are fuelled by the great gumshoes of American literature. A hotel in a Martian mining community. A football souvenir shop where the staff hit on the idea of bottling the atmosphere from classic games.
The Book of the Movie
And the jokes, some real crackers. A middle-aged man, leaving his wife, asks her for help bringing his suitcases down the stairs. An out of touch young girl who so loves the Harry Potter movies she has an idea to turn them into books.
I could pick holes in the winning entries, and if you entered and didn’t make the short list I’m sure you’re already doing that. I don’t learn a huge amount about the characters kidnapped in Coconut Republic, there’s a bit too much jumping around story in Gains, even though Joel and Joel may well argue “What do you expect? It’s set in a gym.”
There was a lovely scene from a sitcom about runners on a TV show. Unluckily for the writer I’d just finished watching Call My Agent and it felt too similar to that. A funny scene set during a pub quiz had some sparkling lines but with apologies to the writer that was the fourth pub quiz script I’d read this year. (By the way that doesn’t mean you should abandon your own pub quiz sitcom – just make sure the quiz itself isn’t as important as the characters you’re writing about.)
Other scenes stood out. A truly wacky one in a Doctor’s surgery and another involving the accidental slaughter of a much-loved pet will stay with me for a while. But in both cases there was no relation anything to do with what might happen before or after.
I’d like to thank
I’d like to thank everyone who took part, I really appreciate all the work you did. But as James pointed out in our previous podcast, there’s an awful lot of competition out there.
It’s important not to be disheartened if you failed to make the cut, but my message to all of you is keep writing, keep learning and keep entering competitions.