Scriptwriting: The Perfect Job for an Anxious Person
Millie Porter, Journalism Undergraduate, University of Roehampton
As she signed a copy of her new memoir, My Mess Is A Bit Of A Life: Adventures In Anxiety, screen writer Georgia Pritchett told me the title was actually something she’d said by mistake. But of course, part of being a multi-award winning writer – whose screen credits include smash-hits Succession, Veep, Miranda, Smack The Pony and The Thick of It – is knowing when to make those words work for you.
Georgia Pritchett also told me that she didn’t consider herself a funny person, but her memoire, screen hits and this event in front of the Wimbledon Bookfest audience were a joyful collection of hilarious, witty anecdotes and observations
Sister of Telegraph cartoonist Matt and daughter of columnist Oliver Pritchett, although an inherent worrier, Georgia Pritchett always knew she wanted to be a writer. Inspired by Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders and Victoria Woods, she was eager to enter the comedy scene.
But in the 80s there were not many female comedians: Radio 4’s Week Ending (for which she was paid £8 each joke that was used) even credited her as George, partly to encourage the audience to accept her funniness. In fact it was twenty-five years before Pritchett worked with a fellow female comedian: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, in Veep.
Georgia explained that in Britain, it wasn’t a question of ‘are women funny?’, it was more that comedians that got anywhere in British comedy came from the same circles of Oxford and Cambridge. When you have Nerdy awkward mumbly men in charge, they only want to work with other nerdy awkward mumbly men, Pritchett explained. America was more accepting of females and in Pritchett’s experience didn’t discriminate in the same sexist way.
In her Bookfest event, Pritchett described the writers’ rooms in America for Succession and Veep as ego-free and lovely yet thrilling and terrifying. Ideas bounce erratically off each other during the initial scriptwriting process.
In the UK, a writer's process is more solitary. However, when I asked about Miranda, Pritchett described snacking around Miranda Hart’s kitchen as they confessed awkward moments and sob stories, inspiring the scripts that would make the comedy of my childhood.
On stage in the Billie Gifford tent, Pritchett’s slightly awkward yet engaging demeanor reflected that of a true comedy writer. She joked about wearing the same jumper as on the big screen, because all her jumpers look the same.
Writing scripts is the perfect job for an anxious person because you get to literally put words in other people's mouths and only express yourself through stealth. To suddenly write something so personal and direct seems like a massive misstep, said Pritchett. Her memoire is about how bad she is at discussing her feelings. It covers everything from dying pets and imaginary friends, to tips for introverts, and her experience as a socially inadequate and emotionally uninvolved British person and writer. In short, Pritchett gives us honest, hilarious hope, relating to all of us in the funniest ways.