After the writers strike of 2008, I decided to accept a long-standing invitation from British producer Stephen Garrett to make a series in London. I approached Gillian Anderson, who said what she really wanted to play was a spy, and so Hunted came into being.
By the time the series was greenlit by the BBC, however, Gillian was no longer available, so into Sam Hunter’s shoes stepped Melissa George. Melissa brilliantly led a terrific cast, assembled by our equally brilliant pilot director, S.J. Clarkson.
One of the challenges of writing the show was that its characters were virtually all British. I had visited the United Kingdom as a tourist, of course, but as an American I lacked the depth of understanding needed to capture the voices of these characters. And so I went about assembling a writers room.
Writers rooms were the standard way of working in Hollywood. At that time they were not only utterly foreign to British television, but met with deep skepticism. In fact, one BBC commissioner told me that British writers were incapable of collaborating with each other.
Nonetheless, I assembled a room and – without realizing it – helped begin what would become a huge change in the way British, and later European, television was written.
While it may never be the norm, dozens upon dozens of writers room are now operating on this side of the pond, proving writers from Britain and Europe are every bit as capable of collaborating with each other as writers back in Hollywood.