May we begin the first blog we have written since the middle of June with an apology. For what? For not having kept you up-to-date with what has been going on, but we really have been pushed this fine summer writing eight new episodes of Birds of a Feather. Oh, and Laurence has been looking around North Korea too, and there was no guarantee that the socialist dictatorship would ever let him go.
But they did, and last week was just like old times, going on location with Birds of a Feather. It has been fifteen years since we were hanging out with Tracey, Sharon and Dorien, but last week there they were, twenty years older, though hardly changed, in World of Quid, where both Sharon and Dorien will find themselves working. Yes, Dorien too! Mind you, she is the manager of the store – for reasons that will become apparent when you watch the new series.
We are told it will be transmitted in late January on ITV, but let’s wait and see. What we are sure about is that we begin recording the eight episodes on September 28, at ITV’s South Bank Studios, right next door to the National Theatre. And if you want to be there and see it for yourself you should go to www.sroaudiences.com and apply for tickets.
Sitting with Linda Robson, Pauline Quirke and Lesley Joseph this week we spoke about how very strange it is for them (and we too) to re-clothe themselves in the personas of Tracey, Sharon and Dorien, but watching them filming sequences for the new series we knew immediately that all the magic and star quality was evident. Mind you, we knew this during the two national theatre tours of 2012 and 2013, when every night Birds of a Feather wowed packed houses, no matter where in the country the tour turned up. We are hoping that the enormous Birds following will catch the show in its new ITV incarnation early next year.
We are sharing the writing of the new series with Gary Lawson and John Phelps, who were our senior writers on the 20th century series, and the four us agreed that sitting down to draft each episode was as though the show had never been away. The girls’ voices are as clear to us today as ever they were, and although television critics feel that there shouldn’t be comedy revivals, we would like to believe that the new Birds of A Feather will be fresh, original and very much set in today’s world.
But you judge for yourselves.