W1A’s John Morton on ending the show - and why he's writing a romantic film next
This current series of the BBC comedy about itself is almost certainly going to be the last – and the writer has his heart set on a very different project next
Exclusive: W1A writer John Morton has decided that his next project is going to be…a romantic film.
The writer has made clear the current third series of W1A is almost certainly the last time we visit Hugh Bonneville's Ian Fletcher and the rest of the idiots of (the fictional) Broadcasting House for the painfully funny comedy. And he says that he wants to take a completely different tack for his next project.
“As usual I have taken the least sensible route,” he tells RadioTimes.com. "If I had my head screwed on I would be trying my hand at W1A the movie but I am not. If it happens my new film will be a quite gentle, quite grown-up love story, and won’t be marketed as a comedy. And therefore, probably quite hard to get off the ground because there are no car chases and no one pulls a gun on anyone. But I would love it to happen.”
He declined to reveal any more details but said that after eight year of making W1A and its predecessor, the Olympic-themed Twenty Twelve he is turning his back on faux documentary - for a while at least.
“The W1A/Twenty Twelve thing has taken up eight years of my life – not every waking hour but a lot of it. I need to start again and I would like to be more ambitious. Not in terms of scale. But it would be nice to do something that is still funny that doesn’t comedy so firmly on the tin, something that wasn’t a faux documentary."
Explaining the difficulties of writing such shows he added: “With these shows, running in such close parallel to a real world that people know about does feel like inching along a very narrow ledge. Some stories that are true can feel a bit dull or detailed and stories that are funny I often think I don’t believe it. You’re constantly rejecting story ideas because they fail a test in one way or another. It would be nice to feel liberated in a way, having a storyline where you can have people doing things because you want them to do them.”
As for the end of W1A he wrote this series as the last, with its various adventures involving Fletcher, head of output Anna Rampton (Sarah Parish), Hugh Skinner's Will and jargon-spewing PR Siobhan Sharpe (Jessica Hynes) among others taking place during a charter renewal period.
“From the first scene of series three I was conscious I was wiring it to a conclusion," adds Morton. "As far as I know, it’s finished.
“There’s no plane crash, they’re all still alive. And the world is full of people who say they aren’t going to do something and then years go by and they do. So I won’t be so foolhardy to say I’ll never ever do it again.”
Two years ago, Hugh Bonneville, the Downton Abbey star who plays hapless head of values Ian Fletcher, told RadioTimes.com he would like to see his character in a new setting, possibly working tor the army. But this doesn't appear to be an idea that Morton is keen on tackling.
“I haven’t had any thoughts about. I don’t know whether I could find another institution that would work. There is an overlap between the Olympics and the BBC and it is that thing of public funding. The NHS I suppose is one avenue, but that’s been done. Also the army would be hard… people do die in combat.
“I have thought a lot about it and I haven’t thought of a precinct that would fit.”
But what about W1A the movie? He's the one who brought it up. Could that ever happen?
“I have never thought about it really. It doesn’t present itself to me as a very movie like idea. I am not sure a 90-minute version of it would be three times as funny as a thirty minute version. In fact it runs the risk of being a third as funny. But I might have an idea in time, who knows….”