Bob Servant author nominated for top award

© DC Thomson
Writer Neil Forsyth.

Broughty Ferry writer Neil Forysth has been nominated for a top award for his television work.

The Bob Servant author has been nominated for a Best Short Drama in the Writers’ Guild Awards for his Sky Arts comedy drama Andre and Me.

Part of the Urban Myths series, it explored the relationship between Irish playwright Samuel Beckett and French teenager André Roussimoff, who found fame as an adult as the wrestling legend and actor André the Giant.

The nomination caps a busy year for the writer whose latest drama, “Eric, Ernie and Me”, will be screened on BBC4 on Friday.

It explore the career of Eddie Braben, the relatively-unknown writer who worked with arguably the UK’s most popular comedy double act Morecambe and Wise.

The one-off drama explores Braben’s career and how he helped transform Morecambe and Wise into the act so fondly remembered today – and how he helped mastermind the duo’s legendary 1977 Christmas special.

Neil said he was fascinated by how much work Braben – and Morecambe and Wise – put into their shows in order to make them appear effortless.

He said: “Eddie (who died in 2013) was very open about how painful he found writing and the pressure he put himself under.

“Most people won’t know Morecambe and Wise had a writer – they think they wrote it themselves or made it up on the spot but that was the result of very extensive rehearsals and Eddie’s writing.

“Some people might recognise the name but it’s not a well known story.”

In the drama, Braben is played by Stephen Tomkinson with Mark Bonnar and Neil Maskell playing Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise respectively.

Neil said the idea for the drama came to him when reading Brabens autobiography The Book What I Wrote last year.

And he said dramatising true stories has its advantages over creating stories from scratch.

He said: “I find it easier than just sitting and staring at a blank page.”

Neil also met comedy writer Barry Cryer, who also worked with Morecambe and Wise and a host of other comedy legends, as part of his research.

But more dauntingly, he had to get approval from Braben’s widow Dee.

“We went down to Wales and gave her a copy of the first draft and I went out for a walk on the beach while she read it,” he said.

“That was pretty scary but she and Eddie’s girls have all been fantastically supportive.”

Neil said he is now concentrating on television work and is preparing two more scripts for Sky Arts’ Urban Myths series in 2018.

Eric, Ernie and Me is on BBC4 at 9pm on December 29.

Winners of The Writers’ Guild Awards will be announced on January 15.

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