Media: Enter the New Drama Queen ; Nicola Shindler Raised Hackles with Channel 4's Queer as Folk. Now the BBC Is Hoping Her New Prime-Time Drama, Linda Green, Will Be the Hit of the Season. She Talks to Louise Jury
Jury, Louise, The Independent (London, England)
THOUGH JUST 33, Nicola Shindler is the producer behind some of the most acclaimed drama on British television in the three years since she founded her company, Red.
First there was Queer as Folk, which exploded on to Channel 4 in a blaze of headlines with its "controversial" tale of young gay men in Manchester. It was immediately followed by Love in the 21st Century, six stories about sex, love and relationships under titles such as Masturbation and Threesomes.
Less explicit, though sometimes equally controversial, series have followed - notably Bob and Rose for ITV, about a gay man who falls for a woman. And now Shindler has a prime-time BBC1 series, Linda Green, starting tonight. It stars Liza Tarbuck as a working- class girl with a string of ill-fated relationships and no intention of settling down. Inspired by American comedies such as Roseanne and Rhoda, which are based on strong central women, it has a more immediate mainstream feel than some of Shindler's previous productions. But what it shares with them is the writing.
If Shindler is prepared to take any credit at all for her successes, it is in her attention to words. When she left Cambridge University, she went to work at the Royal Court Theatre in London and initially wanted to be a theatre director. But she realised she enjoyed working on scripts, so she became a script-reader at the Royal Court and then at the BBC. Since then, the writing has been the thing. "I will work only on something I think is good, and then I work very hard to make it as good as possible," she says.
"It is, to me, the most important thing to get right. If you don't, the production will suffer. Everything comes from the script. When you're a script-reader, most of what you read is absolute dross but the BBC was a great learning experience. Everyone should be made to do that before they are allowed to work on anything good."
From this starting-point, she is always on the look-out for people whose writing she admires. "I'm not a great originator of original ideas; I work with writers I like."
Russell Davies, who wrote Queer as Folk and Bob and Rose, was someone she met briefly when she was working at Granada on programmes including the award-winning Hillsborough by Jimmy McGovern and Prime Suspect V. …