The Next Mad Men? Why Writers, Directors and TV Execs are Desperate to Depict the Media

20/10/2011 23:51 BST | Updated 20/12/2011 10:12 GMT

Creative people. You know them. They sit around in warehouse conversions writing things or editing videos in the middle of the night. Or they slouch around in cafes, talking... wearing a fez.

Right now these people are making all kinds of art which is inspired by the media.

I interviewed some people in the know about this, and they told me that.

In fact the media, in all its glorious shades - from brown... to black - seems to be flavour of the month for everyone from playwrights to novelists.

(While you're reading this post, can you also note that the voice you hear in your head speaking my words from the screen right now is actually the voice of Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham, from ITV's Downton Abbey - played by Dame Maggie Smith. I have absolutely no idea why this is.)


Page Two: Inside The Lynn News

Me: "My dear! There are working clarrse people on the Abbey's croquet lawn! I mean... can you tell me why anyone would want to make a film about a newspaper?

Casppar Fzzzf, film critic: "This movie slices and dices its way through a struggling rural newspaper (motto: All the news about West Norfolk that's fit to print) like a knife through cows**t. We follow star farming reporter Arnold Thomas as he investigates tractor theft, EU subsidies, bean prices and cattle-rustling. It's the love interest between 96 year-old Arnold and work experience girl Kelly, 18, that really sizzles though. Sparks fly when Kelly gives Arnold his first pill and they go on a bender along King's Lynn's dizzying nocturnal strip, Norfolk Street."


Silicon Roundabout Scandal Club

Me: "Let me get this straight. This is a drama based in a Shoreditch office building where a social networking startup, a peer recommendation and reviews website, and an apps development business are based. And it's set in the 1950s?"

Jeremy Fukbaskaets, media journalist: "By setting a series about the lives and loves of hip youngsters working in new media in the 1950s, Channel 4 are really breaking new ground. I guarantee you won't see any other TV shows featuring the working lives of community managers, multimedia producers and content editors set in the 1950s."


B.L.O.G. - by Teatro Tres Gatos Muertos

Me: "Go on then..."

Thorn Thorenson, playwright: "The blogger Oulu Franchester-Hellcombe wrote me a blog post, which I turned into my play for Teatro Tres Gatos Muertos. Then she'll write anther blog post about the play that was based on her blog post. Then I turn that blog post into my next night's play. Then she writes about that play, then I turn it into material for my following night's play. There's no end to my play. Isn't it beautiful?"


Like A Sort Of Modern Day Mad Men

Me: "So this one is like a sort of modern day Mad Men?"

Vilchetta Clamproof, arts editor of a national newspaper: "Precisely. Doesn't it ever strike you that Don Draper is like Euripedes in so many ways? This series portrays average advertising agency office life today rather than in the 1960s - or in Ancient Greece. Witness creatives sucking the blood of actual Cambodian babies, managers' recreational usage of heroin, and a lifesize Bill Hicks cut-out in the corner. 'That cut-out of Bill,' says account executive Josh Toshua, winking uncontrollably at one point, is 'ironic.'"


Spinning Round In Circles

Me: "This book sounds f***ing awful."

Chazory Greenfingers, literary agent: "Yes dear, it really is. Can you imagine who would want to read such a thing. A book about PRs and journalists? Written by someone who is a hack. Yes, really. It really and truly boasts - if that's the right word - a narrative supposedly satirising loads of horrendous journalists and horrific PRs. About as funny as gout. Juvenile in the extreme. Pass me my smelling salts and my George Eliot biography, if you will."