How long does it take to create an episode of Offspring? The short answer is that it’s a lot longer that you might expect.
We’ve often wondered just what it takes to make one hour of amazing TV. How long do the writers plan in advance? Do the actors have a say in their lines? What happens if, on the day of shooting, a scene isn’t working?
And so, on behalf of Offspring fans around the world, we picked the brains of Offspring writers Debra Oswald and Michael Lucas to find out everything you’ve ever wanted to know about how an episode is made from start to finish.
Their answers are fantastic.
MM: When it comes to writing a TV show, how far in advance do you plan story lines? Were you thinking about what could happen in season 3 when you were writing season 1?
Debra Oswald: Writing the telemovie pilot, I had no idea we would get to make a series, let alone five series!
Then again, when you dream up a group of characters for a drama, they’re all sort of humming with potential and you hope you’ll have the chance to see their stories play out over a long time.
We (the writers) know and love these characters and could see potential for where their lives might go in future series. We always wanted the characters to develop and change. The world of Offspring is not static from series to series because the characters have new challenges thrown at them all the time, for example Nina’s pregnancy at the end of series 3, Jimmy’s growing maturity over 5 series, Nina and Billie’s relationship being shaken and then strengthened in series 4.
We have always ended the writing of each series buzzing with story we were keen to try in the next season. That’s the glorious thing about making long-form drama.
MM: How long does an episode take to write? Can you talk us through start to finish and what happens along the way? How much of the planning and writing process is collaborative and how much is done individually?
Michael Lucas: At the start of every season, Deb will arrive having made lots of notes about the overall story arc, and the individual character arcs. Then the three key writers (the two of us and the brilliant Jonathan Gavin), plus producers John Edwards and Imogen Banks, will do about five days of ‘series brainstorming’: mapping out the big events of the season, scrawling over whiteboards and jumbo post-its, trying to avoid chocolate binges at 3pm.