At the beginning of this year, I started drafting a radio sitcom. It was about a pedantic local historian giving guided tours of a small town with nothing interesting about it.
I gave up after six pages and wrote something completely different, because it just didn't feel funny.
Yesterday, a friend sent me this:
New BBC Radio Comedy: Too Much Information!
A new comedy series about a Tourist Information Centre in a town with no tourist attractions whatsoever!
The ancient northern town of Waft appears in the Doomsday Book: "1 cow, diseased. Don't bother" and more recently in the Lonely Planet Guide: "Don't bother". It's twinned with a town near Chernobyl and is the perfect place to stop off on the way to Alton Towers to ask the way to Alton Towers - or to just use the toilet.
Tourist Information Centre Manager Warren, a passionate local history nut, is so sick of people just stopping off to spend a penny that he's taking a Zero Tolerance approach to visitors with his new leaflet "Enjoy the fascinating local area, or get lost". So tourists are somewhat rare. But local aristocrat on his uppers, Douglas Waft (Malcolm Tierney of TV's 'Lovejoy' and 'Brookside') is desperate to swell numbers by any means - opening the Sylvia Plath Guesthouse and Beatrix Potter Tearooms even though neither ever set foot in Waft.
Warren is horrified at Douglas's distortions of Waft history and hopes that his new highly qualified Tourism Assistant Lucy will draw the crowds honestly. But city-girl Lucy has only taken the job for a quiet life after a breakdown, and is now caught in the crossfire of Warren's stultifying facts and Douglas's outrageous fictions!
My script had a city-girl in it as well, but her role was more that of the aristocrat in this one. I didn't, however, steal the "Mostly harmless" joke from HitchHiker's Guide as this writer has.
Just think: if I'd finished my script and sent it to the Beeb, I could have got my hands on one of those letters they send out saying "Thanks for your proposal, but we already have something very similar in development".