Press had to be rewritten because it was too close to real life

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Mike Bartlett’s Press, an upcoming BBC One drama about a left-leaning broadsheet battle against a right-leaning tabloid, had to be rewritten when real-life events echoed the contents of its script.

Speaking at a launch event for the series, which is set to premiere on September 6th at 9pm, Bartlett said this to Digital Spy:

“It was early days, but there was one or two things that were in the script that then actually happened in real life and we couldn’t then use it because it was too close to reality.”

Here’s one example: Bartlett went on to explain that he had written in an early draft of the script, years ago, that a bomb had gone off at Parsons Green station. Then, in September 2017, the exact same thing happened in real life. The decision was made to rewrite the show and remove the scene.

Charlotte Riley, who stars alongside Ben Chaplin in the show, described Bartlett as “spooky” and a “witch” because of his knack for crafting plot points that become reality.

Bartlett has been pitching this show to broadcasters for years, but none of them wanted to pick it up – not until matters of the press became such a hot button topic. At the launch event, Bartlett recalled the moments where that perception of the media changed:

“[The] Leveson [Inquiry] happened, and hacking, and suddenly it became clear the public actually was very interested in where their news comes from.

“We need facts more than ever and therefore we need journalists finding those facts. How we get that – who pays for it, how we receive it, how they do it, and, crucially, who we trust, where we choose to get our facts from and how they earn that trust – is a big question mark for the whole industry at the moment but also for us.”

We’ll bring you more news on Press as we hear it. We’re certainly looking forward to seeing how Bartlett presents the media, and just how compelling a drama he manages to wring from the ever-dramatic newspaper business.