I've always loved writing. Whether I'm any good at it remains to be seen but I've always enjoyed it. Back when I was a boy I'd write stories with my gran on rainy afternoons in Oldham - little collaborative half-a-pagers that usually revolved around an incident at a local haberdashery or the hunt for a crumpet. Even when I started acting, writing was never far away. There would always be slivers of stories in my back pocket, tiny imaginings etched on the back of bus receipts.


A lot of people now ask me how I've found the change from acting to writing. As an actor you sort of join the process halfway through, unaware that the writer has been shut in a windowless box for three years, getting notes from all and sundry on structure, character and plot. As an actor you turn up, put your gear on, say your lines, then swing by The Swan and Three for a rack of self-congratulatory pints. It's all very different.

I should say that acting is still where my heart is, but writing is something I've been burning to do for years.

When I approached production company SISTER, I had an idea for a story that I felt I hadn't seen before. Something that combined several worlds, several genres. I've always been drawn to shows that lure us into a false sense of familiar, then slap us with the unknown. Shows like Ben Mendelsohn's The Outsider, Fargo, True Detective, The OA, Stranger Things. They take something known, something traditional, and shake it, oddify it.

The seed for Passenger came from growing up in the North West. I grew up in Bolton, have family in Oldham and have mates in small villages dotted across the Pennines. There's a magic to these places. A warmth. A shorthand to the way people act and speak. In every corner of every pub, anecdotes are the antidote. Whatever the hardship, whatever the struggle, people fight back with stories. With wit. No matter how dark or desperate the situation, they flatten it with humour, make light of life.

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It was these characters that gave me the idea for Passenger. I wanted to create a fictional northern community and puncture it with something obscure and other-worldly, something that would detonate as much humour as possible and push their reactions to the limit. A small, grounded community colliding with something they've never seen before.

Andrew Buchan smiling
Andrew Buchan. Jamie Simonds/BAFTA via Getty Images

I knew where I wanted the story to start and I knew where I wanted it to end, and I had a rough sketch of all the inbetweens. Obviously there were days when putting it onto the page was a sod. I had many a morning where I wrote two or three words then came to an abrupt stop. I suppose one of the biggest lessons for me was if the dialogue wasn't free-flowing then I was probably disappearing down the cul-de-sac of a rubbish idea. Also, having acted for some wonderful writers over the years, one of the big takeaways was that they were rarely precious about their work. Confident in their story and their characters, phenomenally skilled at writing, but also happy to change the script if it wasn't quite working on the day. I'd say that's one of the biggest lessons for me: believing in the idea, but not being too welded to the text.

The whole process of writing it has been a complete joy. Seeing every facet of every idea brought to life has far exceeded my expectations. However, I need to mention that this has been a huge, collaborative effort. The team at SISTER went above and beyond to help make it what it is. And we were fortunate to get the most brilliant set of actors. Dedicated, imaginative, heartbreaking and hilarious. I'd sit down and watch the rushes every night in complete awe and genuinely, I feel forever in their debt.

So please don’t watch it for my writing, watch it for how the cast bring the story to life. In these unrelenting winter months they'll take you on a magical and unexpected journey.

Passenger starring Wunmi Mosaku will launch on ITV1 and ITVX on Sunday 24th March. Check out more of our Drama coverage or visit our TV Guide and Streaming Guide to see what's on tonight.


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