Important as F**k


Peter Capaldi as Malcolm Tucker in The Thick of It

Today my opinion, mood and judgement were changed by a word.

I was on my regular bus route to work and I happened to time it so that I was engulfed by the mass of pushchairs, mothers and children on the way home from school. A young mother with a brood managed to leave behind a mischievous daughter in the madness of her five minute journey and exit from the bus. She realised just as the bus left and rapped desperately on the window; the driver stopped, opened the door and up until this point it was a slightly amusing but heart-warming scene. The mother was obviously distressed and the daughter was pushing boundaries, It was a little snapshot of the difficulties of having your hands full with family life.

Then the mother said to her daughter “move when I fucking tell you to move!”.

I went from amused and warmed to disgusted in 0.5 seconds.


The reason I tell you this is to highlight the importance of words.

 If the mother had said “move when I tell you to move”, the bus load of people listening wouldn’t have batted an eyelid. We would have thought…

...‘my goodness, doesn’t she have a lot to deal with but isn’t she doing well’

BUT with the addition of that four letter word the mood changed and the new thought was more like…

‘oh, the poor child, I bet the mother drinks and blows smoke rings in her children’s faces ‘

Yes it is a short sighted, snap judgement without any evidence but that is what people do and when you are creating a script every word you use will be helping to create an impression upon your audience. Acting, setting, style, content and music are all contributing factors but the words you give your characters breathe life and bear witness to the thoughts and feelings you want your audience to have.


I think we should also highlight the importance of swearing in particular. It needs to be there, it really does. Things have changed since the fifties and swearing is part of everyday life, I use it, the rest of the 3 Runners use it…my mum uses it. Swearing is one of the clearest ways of expressing yourself and it allows you to stress your point whether joyful, angry or in any other strongly emotive fashion and if you pick your moment, some well-chosen expletives can give you a damn fine comedy moment. The best example of this is the writing for the character Malcom Tucker in the political comedy series The Thick Of It. For example…

“Feet off the furniture you Oxbridge twat, you’re not on a punt now.” (telling the character of junior adviser Ollie Reeder to respect government property)

If you fancy some more of Malcom Tucker’s fine use of the English language, here is a link for you

Malcom Tucker quotes -The Guardian 

In our next meeting we will finish the outline of the plot and will be moving on to writing down storyboards and script. So the importance of words will become, well, more important.

As always, I will keep you updated.


All the best,

Ellen Waghorn – Producer


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