DQ asks some of the people who make TV around the world which writers are crafting the most compelling scripts and complex characters in today’s drama series.
Ron Leshem and Amit Cohen
Leshem has written Israeli dramas Euphoria and The Gordin Cell, as well as their US remakes, Eurphoria and Allegiance, respectively. Cohen’s credits also include The Gordin Cell and Allegiance, while the pair have also partnered on thriller No Man’s Land.
Red Arrow Studios International’s exec VP of commercial strategy, scripted, Carlo Dusi, says: “Not only are Leshem and Cohen both incredible creators in their own right – Ron with Euphoria as well as recent feature Incitement to his name, and Amit as co-creator of False Flag – but their creative partnership continues to go from strength to strength, and this year saw them follow their brilliant Gordin Cell with No Man’s Land for Hulu and the miniseries Valley of Tears, set in Israel.
“Always masterful at combining gripping entertainment with real insight into world politics, as well as a deep understanding of the human psyche, Leshem and Cohen consistently deliver work that engages, challenges and stimulates debate. I can’t wait to see what they are going to do next.
Jeff Pope and James Graham
Pope has become known for factual dramas such as Mrs Biggs, Cilla, Little Boy Blue, Hatton Garden and A Confession, about a detective’s pursuit of a murderer that ultimately ends his career. Graham, meanwhile, is a playwright who has come to prominence on TV for single drama Brexit: The Uncivil War and three-parter Quiz (pictured top), based on his own play about the infamous ‘coughing’ scandal on UK gameshow Who Wants to be a Millionaire?.
Royal Television Society CEO Theresa Wise says: “I am a massive Jeff Pope and James Graham fan. And I am a bit of a sucker for fact-based drama. Jeff and James’ understated, evidence-based approach to the fact-based drama genre draws me in every time. I loved Quiz by James Graham and also A Confession by Jeff Pope. The pacing on A Confession was masterful as the slow, inexorable build-up to the unthinkable for the main character, Stephen Fulcher, unfolded.”
Harry and Jack Williams
The writers behind UK production company Two Brothers Pictures have become known for compelling thrillers such as The Missing, Liar, The Widow, One of Us and Baptiste.
UKTV drama commissioner Philippa Collie Cousins says: “Liar season two was a triumph. Jack and Harry constructed an ever-surprising story to be the equal and better of season one. It kept you guessing, revealing twists and turns so all the ground from season one was stripped away. It was masterclass in suspense making you question whether you can believe your own eyes or anybody in this drama – gripping and taut.
“I have heard it said they had to film the final episode of Liar before they had actually finished the script, and then had to spend time writing to and earning the ending they had already written. If that is the case, I think they are geniuses, and this gives us a new way to write a series. In fact, Stendhal and Dickens have both written this way. Well done Jack and Harry for bringing it to television.
Jesse Armstrong, Daisy Haggard and Laura Solon
Armstrong, co-creator of popular British comedy Peep Show, has risen to new heights with HBO drama Successsion, while Haggard and Solon co-wrote dark comedy drama Back to Life, in which Haggard also starred.
Buccaneer Media joint CEO Tony Wood says: “Firstly, Jesse Armstrong’s Succession puts him right at the top. To place such theatricality and dark humour in a drama driven by such incisive political and moral dilemmas is utterly superb.
“Second, Daisy Haggard and Laura Solon’s Back to Life was a revelation. It was recommended to me and I watched almost all of it in one sitting. The dexterity in subtly drawing a picture of stoicism, emotional collapse and a character looking so deeply into the darkness while trying to maintain optimism was a fantastic piece of writing.”
Wainwright has won multiple Bafta Awards for hit series including Happy Valley, Last Tango in Halifax, Scott & Bailey and Gentleman Jack.
APC Studios co-CEO Emmanuelle Guilbart says: “She has a unique capacity to craft beautiful and uniquely authentic series while exploring different genres each time. From Last Tango in Halifax and Happy Valley to Gentleman Jack, she never fails to impress.”