After last week’s big announcements, I wanted to start introducing you to the production team for the A Discovery of Witches television adaptation. First up is Kate Brooke, our showrunner and head writer.What is a showrunner, you ask? Kate wears a hundred hats, but her most important one has to do with keeping a steady hand on the creative rudder of the entire show. That’s a big job, and it takes a formidable set of skills. First, she has to be an excellent writer, because the showrunner is the head writer for the project. In this case, Kate is scheduled to write half of the episodes for our first season including the first and last episodes. Second, she has to be a great manager, because she oversees the writers’ room. Television shows are seldom written by one person; instead there are lots of writers at work, and they move in and out of the project. The showrunner, however, is a fixture for the whole season. At the moment, Kate has three writers in the room, as well as a script editor (you’ll meet them all here one day!). Kate makes sure all the scripts are consistent in tone, manages work flow, and makes sure that all the other departments involved in the production have what they need to do their particular jobs.
Kate is an experienced screenwriter and showrunner with a background in English literature. For the curious, yes, she did graduate from Oxford so she knows Diana’s world and the city very well. Since her time at university, Kate has done impressive work for several broadcasters in the UK. Her most recent success was as writer and showrunner for Mr. Selfridge, the hugely popular period drama that was screened on ITV and PBS. Kate also wrote for many other television films and series including Case Sensitive, The Making of a Lady, The Ice Cream Girls, and The Forsyte Saga.
I’ve learned so much about screenwriting working with Kate, and its been such a privilege to have her on the project. Kate has an amazing ability to grasp character and to imagine creative ways to bring a character from page to screen. Take Diana. In the books, Diana shares a lot of her journey with us through reflection—something that doesn’t work so well on tv or in film unless most of what you see has a voice over! Kate is able to bring Diana’s transformation to vivid, visual life by placing her in new situations, sharpening dialogue so that we can hear what Diana is thinking, and leaving enough room in the scripts for the director and actors to do their part in making the words come alive with emotion and power.
In addition, Kate and I have had many, many conversations about how we can enrich the viewing experience of the television show while still remaining faithful to the spirit of the book. After all, the books are mostly told from Diana’s perspective. We only know what she knows, with a few exceptions. Adapting the books for television allows Kate to develop other perspectives—whether it be what Knox was doing before he comes to Oxford and meets Diana, or what Miriam and Marcus are doing in the lab, or what Sarah and Em are eating for breakfast in Madison. It’s been enormous fun to bring a wider view to the screen, and to work with Kate to share what I knew was happening elsewhere when Diana and Matthew were getting to know each other in Oxford.
You can follow Kate on Twitter at the handle @KateBrooke2 if you want to welcome her to the All Souls family.