Six of the Best: Steve Matthews

Six of the Best: Steve Matthews

January 2, 2024


The former HBO Europe exec, who is now Banijay Group’s content partnerships executive, picks six shows he has worked on across his career, including an Enid Blyton adaptation and a recent Spanish ‘horror mash-up.’

The Famous Five
Matthews served as script editor on the ITV and ZDF coproduction between 1995 and 1997

I remember this lovely Cornwall shoot like those long hot summers of youth and innocence. It was the first show I really worked on right through, and I loved it. I was hooked by the idea of a group of people coming together to make something, and I learned so much working with a generation of great children’s TV writers – Julia Jones, Helen Cresswell and Alan Seymour – not to mention Enid Blyton’s formidable daughter watching over us! It was also the show containing my biggest script editor mistake: getting Timmy the dog in two places at the same time…

Silent Witness
Matthews was script editor on the BBC series from 2004 to 2006

This is where I really learned my craft – the brain-crunching, puzzle-solving work of genre storylining. Yes, there was the forensics and the autopsy stuff, but under that is all the machinery of the crime genre: clues and suspects and red herrings, how much you reveal, how much you keep hidden. It was kind of like doing crossword puzzles for three years. But a nice thing about Silent Witness is that, as it’s not heavily serialised, writers could come in and tell their story, and I was lucky to bring in some new writers like Rhidian Brook.

The Borgias
Matthews was a consulting producer on the Showtime period drama between 2010 and 2012

I will be ever thankful to the late James Flynn for this. My first script meeting with showrunner Neil Jordan was in his house in Dalkey, his Best Screenplay Oscar glaring down at me from a shelf, and I thought, ‘How am I going to give script notes to this guy?’ But it was here that I learned how to work with first-rate talent, and the joy of being part of a world-class team on such a large-scale project. It all came from the scripts: Neil could write beautiful poetic dialogue faster than most writers can type.

Matthews was a producer on the RTÉ series from 2011 to 2014

Stuart Carolan’s Dublin gangster masterpiece couldn’t have been more different from The Borgias. This was stripped-down, low-budget grunge, shooting too many pages a day out of the back of a minibus. But something happened. We got something right and the show hit a post-Tiger Irish consciousness and became a huge phenomenon. Working closely with Stuart, I really learned what a writer does, how to support them, how to keep sight of their vision, and how to communicate and protect and share it. The result is raw, crazy, thrilling, angry, funny, touching, silly and above all honest. This one was special.

Blinded by the Lights
Matthews was an exec producer on the 2018 HBO series

My first Polish show at HBO Europe, Blinded was a thriller from a cool hipster novel with a hot young director – it’s a crazy, trippy gangster epic about a Warsaw drug dealer whose life unravels in the busy days before Christmas. It’s strange, artistic and lyrical, and very local. What I really learned here was about risk and trust: the courage needed to trust talent even if delving into all the layers is challenging. But it worked; it was a big success in Poland. I still don’t fully understand it, but I love it!

30 Coins
Matthews exec produced the Spanish HBO series, which debuted in 2020

I grew up on comics, video nasties and role-playing games, so when I met producer Pokeepsie’s Alex de la Iglesia, it was love at first sight. We shared a delight in pure genre storytelling. 30 Coins was so clear – I knew what it was and what Alex was doing, and Alex trusted me. It’s a super-fast horror mash-up of exorcists, monsters, witches, demons and the Devil himself; a roller coaster, a colourful circus act with Alex as ringmaster. Look out for S2 coming soon: it’s bigger and crazier, and with Paul Giamatti as you’ve never seen him…

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