Sitting in my hotel bar with a pint, reflecting on a day which has both frazzled and exhilarated me. I've been babbling about this weekend on Twitter - using the hastag #TAPSdiary, if you're interested - but I had so much to quack about this evening, that only a blog would do.
We had a full day of rehearsal on my TAPS script Ghost Writer at ITV Yorkshire, with the five-actor cast going through the whole thing twice - firstly in chronological script order, and then in shoot-order (literally the order in which it'll be shot tomorrow morning, grouping all the scenes together in terms of their set, in order to save valuable time).
Director Guy Slater is a veteran, and brings every bit of that experience to bear on the production. He's fantastic: a walking cauldron of persistence, perspective, ingenuity and cut-glass vowels. I love the fact that he so clearly 'gets' Ghost Writer, and wants to bring it to the screen in as intact a form as possible. I had my laptop with me today, along with a print-out of the script. As we went along, I made notes on that print-out with a red pen, but a new draft of the script wasn't deemed necessary. On a couple of occasions, I spoke to an actor about a line-change and they then simply made the adjustment to their own script. Simple. Phew. Not that I'd mind making more extensive changes - I'm primarily here to learn, after all - but let's be honest, it's much nicer when it just works. Actors also made minor changes to lines, in order to make themselves more comfortable, which is great, because provided the meaning isn't changed, it just comes across as more natural.
The actors are fantastic, and today has seen me gain an even greater appreciation for thesps in general. Barrie Ryan English, who plays Ghost Writer's main character Darren, deserves special mention. Not only does he go through the emotional wringer during this story, but he's in all 21 scenes, which puts tremendous pressure on him. But he was great today, delivering the Darren I had in mind, and more besides. The outrageously delightful Fiona Wass (previously seen in the series Grownups) plays Sadie to a tee; hard Manc fella Giles Ford (The Bill, Corrie, Emmerdale) is perfect for brash laddish bloke Corin; bee-yewtiful Lisa Brookes (Casualty 1909) is just great as Helen; and Seamus O'Neill (from Dead Man's Shoes - one of my favourite films, hooray) rocks the house as cafe owner Ron. I feel truly spoilt to have a cast without a single weak link in sight. I also feel terrible that one of the characters dies in a heartbreaking fashion, after comparatively little screen-time.
Christ. I've turned into a luvvie.
In fairness, it's hard not to. When you sit through a full day of rehearsal and see how much work everyone puts in, how many different variables they need to constantly bear in mind, and how damn good they are at doing so, you'd be a madman to speak about them with anything less than the highest praise.
Tomorrow morning, over the course of four-and-a-bit hours from 8.30am, Ghost Writer will be shot on four interior Emmerdale sets. We took a lunchtime look at those sets today, in order to familiarise ourselves with them - for the rest of the day we were in a rehearsal space, constantly moving furniture about to simulate the different sets. I can't wait to see it all committed to film: Ghost Writer means a lot to me, and this is the best Christmas present I could hope for.
Tonight, I think, will be all about beer, takeaway pizza and brain-numbing TV of the highest order. Hello X Factor...