The Banshees of Inisherin – Review and Review of Reviews

I am not overly familiar with Martin McDonagh’s stage plays – I’ve only seen one, and haven’t read any of them. I have however, seen all of his films – In Bruges, Seven Psychopaths and Three Billboards… and I can say with confidence that I am a fan.

Having said that, I was unprepared for just how wonderful I found Banshees to be. This isn’t going to be a super in-depth breakdown of the thing, as I feel unqualified and uninspired to write about the socio-historical background of the Irish Civil War which serves as a subtle backdrop to the piece. Indeed, more knowledgeable writers have drawn parallels between the central conflict of the two main characters and the historical conflict happening in Ireland at the time (1922-23), and knowing a bit more about it will deepen your appreciation of McDonagh’s narrative choices, especially the divisive ending.

So instead, I will reflect on my personal response to the film, and I have to say I believe it to be a masterpiece. It is certainly one of my favourite films of the year, which will surely not be a controversial stance when the major film journalists out there draw up their own definitive lists. It is beautifully shot, with the cinematography often choosing to focus on a more distant shot to enforce the emotional distance of the characters and a great deal of beautiful yet bleak western Irish landscapes highlighting the loneliness of Farrell’s Padraic and the longed-for isolation of Gleason’s Colm. It is subtly symbolic without hitting you over the head with that symbolism, and does great work of using the visuals to better anchor the themes that the characters struggle with.

The four leads are all, as far as my opinion is concerned, perfect. Sure, it doesn’t make a lot of sense how Colm chooses to go about enacting his decision – no explanation given (at first) and no grace period granted, when he should be fully aware that Padraic would struggle with this decision; and when he doesn’t, the drastic measures to make it happen that Colm is prepared to take seem extreme and very quickly arrived at (One of my most laugh-out-loud moments had Padraic stating as much immediately after finding out Colm’s plan) – but Gleason sells it with an unmalicious weariness that is utterly believable despite the unbelievable situation. His performance is understated, soulful and confident even as his character is (arguable) patronising, insulting and selfish.

Barry Keoghan as Dominic, in what is sure to be seen as a scene stealer by many (and I’d be hard pressed to argue that point) is of a higher energy, but equally nuanced. Dominic is rather uneducated, quite naive in his view of the world – especially of women – and surprisingly insightful, played with a sense of bewilderment and acceptance, and an almost attention-deficit level of energy. He’s a foul mouthed, randy little sprat but I couldn’t help but love him. I was on edge every moment he was on screen, thinking he was about to turn dark at any moment, which made his final scene with Siobhan and his characters ambiguous resolution even more touching and heart breaking. The writing was sublime, and in Keoghan’s more-than-capable hands, his character and his arc will stay with me for a long time.

Speaking of Siobhan – Kerry Condon has the ‘straight man’ role as the most sensible person on the Island, and one of only three women with a speaking role (the others being: a malicious gossip of a shopkeep; and an elderly lady who is – if a particular reading is to be made – a banshee herself). As Padraic’s wannabe-librarian sister, she is warm, honest, tender and assertive, giving us plenty of very funny moments as well as some of the most touching (the aforementioned encounter with Dominic). Though she absolutely plays third fiddle to Farrel and Gleason, the role couldn’t be said to be ‘supporting’ as much as it is the glue that holds so much of the narrative together and Condon relishes the different brushes the script gives her to work with. I’m hoping for at least an Oscar nod for her, though I can’t say I can imagine many performances this year being ‘better’.

Colin Farrell gives a career-best performance as Padraic – the protagonist of the story, and one of life’s ‘good guys’. In a role that isn’t a million miles from Forrest Gump – simple, not terrible cerebral but amiable at all times (at least for the first two acts) – it could have been easy for this character to be rather facile and ‘likeable’ but Farrell swings from pleasant to wounded to vengeful so quickly and so easily, you never grow complacent with Padraic nor forget him in favour of the other (wonderfully portrayed) characters. Every reaction, every thought that Padraic has, every confusion and decision flickers across his wonderful face (with some of the best eyebrows in the business) with such dexterity and clarity that I truly felt empathy for this man in a way I rarely do. The character is, as with Colm, self absorbed and immature, but through Farrell’s performance I was willing to forgive him and genuinely felt animosity towards Colm for not being more gentle with his decision.

The musis is suitable beautiful and helps to underscore the emotional journey of the film – I feel I need to hear more of it to truly do it justice. Colm’s composition, the titular ‘Banshees of Inisherin’, is a very good piece of music but is it good enough to justify hurting so many people? Will it be remembered in three hundred years?

This is a film which precedes every heartbreak or shocking moment with chains of mirth and incredulousness with expert aplomb – it never gets too silly or too sentimental, but the ebbing and flowing rhythm of the comedy/tragedy tide sweeps you in and out so well that when the final frame arrives, it feels perfect.

Slight spoiler alert in this paragraph – you have been warned. Many critics – though not all, by any standard – have mentioned that the ending is disappointing, or that the unresolved nature of the quarrel that is the main plot ends feeling hollow. I could not disagree more. I felt that where Padraic is left, and the destruction that has been wrought on both men (and indeed on Dominic and Siobhan), was a beautiful ellipsis on which to step away from the story. Sure, it isn’t resolved – but it feels like it doesn’t need a resolution, indeed I can’t imagine a resolution that would have been more satisfying that what actually happened. Should they have patched things up? Should their relationship be permanently ended (as their friendship surely is)? Should Padraic have left? Should Colm? Nothing feels right except what was there – the relationship is irrevocably changed by Colm’s decision, Padraic’s reaction, Siobhan’s future and Dominic’s fate, but nothing is tied up in a neat bow.

It is a sad, beautiful, funny, subtle black comedy/comedy drama that matches a whip-smart script with four of the finest performances this year – and if there were any justice in the world, it would make all the money, win all the awards, or better yet… both.


5 Ways To Improve The Omnichannel Customer Experience

We have all been in situations where a particular purchase that we have attempted has had a spanner thrown in the works by a variety of factors. Omnichannel systems allows a great number of those situations – such as ordering something online only to find out later that it is out of stock – to be avoided. However, the world of Omnichannel business is still in its relative infancy, and there are some ways that improvements can still be made.

1) Point of contact – Many people, especially those who are a little longer in the tooth, or a little more technophobic, prefer a single point of contact when dealing with a vendor or supplier, and this is often not the case with omnichannel systems. As multiple points of contact exist within the operational structure, it is usually not the same person who acts as a representative to the customer when dealing with any issues that may need attention. If each customer, or at least each sale, could be tagged to a particular customer representative – someone who could then access the points of contact across the omnichannel network on behalf of the customer – that sense of reliability and relatability might be a little stronger and ensure customer loyalty.

2) Personability – Omnichannel systems can often feel a little impersonal. Because dealing with one of several points of contact within a business does not allow 

3) Personalization – It might seem like a small matter, but something as innocuous as ‘hold music’ can have a huge impact on customer satisfaction and retention. When a customer contacts a business, because of an Omnichannel approach, their preferences could be set and carried over into each interaction. So, regardless of whether the person is contacting sales or customer service, complaints or repairs, they would have a homogenous and much more comfortable interaction if they were able to make certain personalized choices to their service.

4) Accessibility – Omnichannel systems provides a great way for businesses to maximize the efficient flow of work, so that nodes in the network aren’t constantly having to wait for others to get in contact. However, this is not always apparent to a service user, and the benefits that can be enjoyed are not always shared because of this. Allow the service used to see the ‘nuts and bolts’ of the business, so that they can appreciate how the processes are working for them.

5) Finally… don’t forget the details! Omnichannel systems can often do a much better job when looking at ‘the big picture’ of how to serve a customer’s needs, but it needs to make sure it doesn’t lose sight of the details in the process. A good customer is a repeat customer, and a repeat customer is a customer who wants to come back. Customers don’t give up on a business because of a mistake – they give up because they feel the business doesn’t care. A customer wants to feel valued, and an Omnichannel system needs to let the customer feel like they are a part of the process. Don’t keep things hidden away, don’t let an order status sit on “processing” for days on end. Make the customer feel like they are being worked with and for, not just a body sitting at the end of a computer link, counting their breaths until their business is dealt with.

The benefits of Omnichannel systems are clear, but the customer experience still needs to be at the forefront of development and improvement. A company, in some ways, is their customer base.

After all, a customer who feels cared for is a customer for life.

It’s been a minute…

Yes, Will, it has been a minute. Now, as a white, (begrudgingly) middle class, cishet gentleman, please do not allow me to commandeer any words or phrases of AAVE, but also language is a constantly evolving mistress and so I would beg the readers indulgence in my use of this particular phrase.

It’s been a minute. It’s been a few years, actually! What’s happened? Oh, a great deal (obviously) but let’s narrow it down.

  1. I moved jobs.
  2. I moved house.
  3. I’ve been involved with a few theatrical productions, and a few commercial ones.
  4. I’ve suffered some devastating losses.
  5. Lockdown! COVID-19! Remember that? Some say it’s still going on, but only if you look at the numbers. I mean, really, what is a ‘variant’?

It became clear to me fairly recently that life will not simply drop opportunities in my lap – in the words of another white man who has shamelessly purloined African-American culture, “when opportunity knocks, you don’t send someone else to go get it” (I may be paraphrasing). So, I have decided to start keeping my blog again. I don’t know how long I’ll be able to do it for, if I don’t know whether anyone is reading or not, but I shall try. I will be putting up thoughts (random blog posts), articles (if and when I feel I have something worth saying – whether you, dear reader, agree or not!), movie reviews (possibly in the form of a dialogue with a figment of my imagination) and whatever else I think might make me look like a half-employable writer.

I invite you to comment, whether you are friend, follower, or randomly stumble upon this post and have read this far. And most of all, I thank any of you who wish to join me on this rambling journey.


FantasticA – Character Bios

Below are brief Character biographies for the cast of FantasticA.

If you don’t know what that means, go here;

Douglas Flynn – Douglas is from our world, a low level advertising copywriter who ends up transported through mystical means in the fantastical world of FantasticA. He is less than impressed, and doesn’t mind voicing his miserable outlook on the adventuring life, though he’s generally a good egg.

Bradwick – Bradwick is a peasant of the village of Mudpile. He is naive, honest and thoroughly pleasant. He is uneducated, but not unintelligent, and harbours a long standing love for Princess Nivea, though he never once believes that it could go anywhere.

Princess Nivea – Nivea (pronounced Nuh-VAY-uh) is the heir to the throne. She is intelligent, educated and somewhat impulsive. She believes in social equality, which sometimes puts her at loggerheads with her somewhat more ‘traditional’ mother.

The Queen – The Queen of FantasticA is a wise, well loved and formidable leader. While she is ‘one of the good ones’ she is a little regressive, especially when it comes to social class. She loves her daughter more than anything, but realises that duty is of paramount importance.

The Knight Captain – The Knight Captain is from a long line of aristocratic warriors who have protected the Monarchy and the Castle from threats stretching back long into FantasticA’s past. He has little more than contempt for the lower classes, and a short temper.

Kenneth – A lonely old man who lives in a cave.

The High Priest – School master of the only school in FantasticA, s/he despises young people for their lack of respect to his position. He is a worming toady who craves power above all else.

Messenger – a messenger.

Baron Brackish – a jovial and mercurial aristocrat, friendly and generous but… well, there’s something about him.

Liam Liesmith – He has tremendous respect for women and ethnic people. He has the best numbers. He is more popular and healthier than any other old man in FantasticA. He is bigly impressive and knows all the best words.

The Ogre – A sensitive and loquacious creature, lonely in the extreme but wise and gentle at the same time. It is a shame he looks so fearsome, because all he really wants is to curl up beside a comfy fire and have a cup of cocoa over a good book.

Ensemble roles;



This is the end…

Well, nearly, anyway.

My final submission is in and now it is just a waiting game (well, as this blog also accounts for 15% of my final grade, I’m gonna keep up with this). The last few weeks have been really eye-opening when it comes to my writers process. How?

Well, here goes – I’ve gone through upwards of twenty drafts over three episodes of my final project and I’ve received feedback which has been absolutely invaluable from some very helpful friends. I’ve not actioned all of it for several reasons – personal taste, time availablility, etc. – but I’ve ended up with something that I’m really proud of. Could it be better? Yes, everything could be. All art can be improved upon, but it can also be ruined by too much tinkering. How it is right now – maybe not its final form forever – is what I wanted to create and a little bit more.

What have I learned? Well, many things and I’m not going to be able to get it all down in one blog post but I’m going to attempt a succinct, hopefully revealing snapshot of the major things.

Planning – some writers just sit down and start to write. A famous example is JRR Tolkien when writing The Lord of the Rings. There are other examples from within the scriptwriting milieu. Well, it can work but – like Jazz music – may only really be effective to those who are extremely well versed in structure and character and plot. Even Tolkien redrafted almost the complete book several times and, unless you’re already earning a living by writing, who has the time? So, planning – creating outlines, treatments and so forth is hugely helpful and redrafting a treatment or an outline will cut down on redundant tinkering later.

Feedback – everyone likes different things. There is no right or wrong. Two different, equally trustworthy and knowledgeable people will give you two very different pieces of feedback or will like different aspects of your script. Scriptwriting, at my level, has to be tailored to a specific audience. I cannot write for myself just yet, maybe never. So when writing, drafting and editing it has to be for a specific audience, whether that is from a single person (I.e. A marker) or a theoretical target audience (when working on a piece of genre fiction). I will make sure that when I seek feedback, I try and make sure it is from the audience that I am aiming at.

Art and comedy – Comedy can be art. Comedy IS art. Just because I write something that is, hopefully, funny that does not mean that it is not a legitimate piece of artistic craft. It requires the same level of care – which I’ve always tried to give – but I need to make sure I do not get paranoid that people will think less of it because it is comedy.

There’s more, of course there is more. But I think these three points are short and pithy enough to do for now.

So where does my career go now? First, I must build up my slate and my back catalogue of completed works. Thankfully, I still love writing so that should be fine. Secondly, I must get my stuff out there. Cometitions are one way to do that, so now my MA is over I can focus on that. Another way is to produce my script. I have two more scripts to finish of FantasticA’s first season, then I’m going to gather a troupe and record it, then get it online. Then, on to the next thing. I’m really looking forward to it.

What to do with this blog? It shall remain as an online calling card, or a repository of my current and past work. I might also create a separate page as a kind of online/public notepad detailing the progress of FantasticA, a project that is dear to my heart and that I do not intend to put aside.

Finally, I like writing for radio. Well, Audio. The Podcast is the new Radio, but the word Radio works better. Like ‘taping a programme’ even though tape is rarely if ever used these days.

I’m waffling now, so I’m going to stop, think about what I’ve done and learned, and post again soon.


Final Residential – What comes next?

So, our final residential weekend has occurred. My scripts have been read by professional actors. And it was… brilliant. Mostly.

I wouldn’t be doing my job on this introspective blog if I didn’t record the failings of my work (absolutely fine, I’m still in draft) and I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t overreact and blame myself for all the ills of the world because of some things I’ve done wrong (in relation to what I wanted to do).

I am the patriarchy. I am Gamergate. I am a misogynistic man-writer who forgets that women are more than props. Alison Bechdel would be ashamed of me.

No, not really. I’m not a misogynist, I can keep my ‘Social Justice Warrior’ badge and the Left half of twitter aren’t going to come and ‘dox’ me.

However, one thing was clear and apparent – especially thanks to the wonderful work of Carrie and Seren – and that is that women are underserved in my script. This is the main focus of my redraft.

It was weird sitting around the table for the readthrough, hearing professional actors speaking my lines. I’ve been there, I’ve been the actor, but I’ve never had professional actors with, like, opinions and stuff, read and then analyse my work. It really allowed me to hear my story as an audience would/will. What really stood out for me, as an area for improvement, was how little there was for the women to do. I was keenly aware, more and more so as the time ticked on, that they were sitting waiting for far longer than I had intended.

FantasticA – my major project – started life as a script for me and a friend to do together to try and get work as actors. This is back in 2003. It grew and evolved in my head over the years and on the recommendation of my lecturer became the focus of my final MA thesis. It has become a proper script, a real story, not just a sequence of jokes and inverted fantasy tropes, but the ‘boys own’ adventure aspect remains and while that does not make it a ‘bad thing’ it is no longer what I want.

There is a character, The Princess, who – in the liberal part of my brain – is the third part of the troika of main characters. However, she appears not to be in the finished script. We spend so much time with the two male characters that The Princess is shoved into a supporting role and I want better.

Everything else got some excellent feedback – the dialogue, the humour, the character and story beats. For that, I am very satisfied.

So, my redraft will be taking my duo and turning them into a trio, giving The Princess the time and treatment she deserves, bringing her forward and making her an integral part of our Heroic Team. Onwards!

Editing, or ‘Killing your darlings’



That has been fucking excruciating.

I want you to do something, please. Take a look at your hands. Both of them. Just now. Now, choose a finger. But wait, before you choose it – here’s what you’re gonna have to do. Cut it off. That’s right, go and get a sharp knife, choose a finger and chop it off. Wait, no, don’t really do it – this is just a blog. Mutilating your own appendages because a blog told you to do it is… madness. It wasn’t fair for me to suggest it. Put the knife away. Good.

Allow me to explain;

So, I can be pretty down on myself sometimes. I realise that I can be high maintenance, and I crave affirmation. I’m trying to work on that.

But I genuinely fucking loved some of those lines. Some were jokes, quips and zingers. Some revealed character. Some were expository (but, hopefully, still quite organic. Eh, who’s gonna know?)

And now they’re dead. I have been forced, by the process of improving my script, to cut off a finger. If this sounds like a massive overreaction, an exaggeration of diva like proportions, that’s because it is. Of course it wasn’t that bad, and of course if I can find a way to work the material in elsewhere it will live again, but…

The purpose of this ramble…

Is that Editing is emotionally draining! I can absolutely see what my tutor was getting at with his recommendations, of course I can. It all makes sense, it improves pacing, and it makes what it hopefully, a more commercially and artistically attractive script.

So, what have I learned? What am I going to do next time, when I am un-enfortuned by the presence of a guiding hand?

Well, some of my scenes (all right, most of my scenes!) have a tendency to ramble on. I enjoy writing that, I enjoy holding those conversations in my head and writing down what my imaginary friends say to one another. But that does not make a good, dramatic or comedic scene. So, going back through and removing as much as you can that does not move the scene forward, is essential. Does that sound obvious? Well, it’s easier said than done if you’ll indulge me an old cliche.

Also, I have to divorce myself from the audience – until I have amassed enough capital to fund my own production (or win a significantly large sum on the lottery) – I have to temper my own preference with what I think a larger audience will enjoy. Not everyone is going to get my sense of humour. If/When I’m more established, perhaps people will trust me, come with me on my journey – but while I’m one of the rank and file, I need to appease more than myself. Sound obvious? Well, yeah. I suppose it is. For every Stanley Kubrick, there are a million Albert Johnson’s. You’ve never heard of Albert Johnson? Exactly.

Finally, there are a few bits in there that are unchanged. Because fuck it, you’ve got to trust yourself sometimes. Right? RIGHT?!


Residential 3

Okay, so my head is officially fried.

Residential weekend 3 was very good, extremely useful in some places and brain mashing in others. The BBC Writers Room held a Writers Festival at the Chapter Arts Centre which was pretty damned cool – was really good listening to Andrew Davies (lovely, interesting man and what a career!) and I particularly enjoyed listening to him talk about the process of working with his script editor and the challenge of working on adaptations with a big production company.

The Radio seminar was also very interesting – there was a very useful piece of advice on how to contact people with a project which I shan’t go into here for fear of increasing my competition. I greatly enjoy writing for the Radio and it seems like a… viable career option, perhaps.

The Comedy/Drama seminar was less useful – didn’t really learn anything useful either towards my writing practice or on a more practical level. Interesting, sure, and the two writers who spoke were great, but it wasn’t as useful.

Tutorial with Stapes was good; nothing earthshaking, no major changes, we’re both happy with the direction and pace of my final project. There is a BBC Writers Room comedy submission deadline coming up, so we’re gonna get a decent (no, EXCELLENT) draft of my radio comedy done in time for the end of April. I’m really excited about the prospect, even if I don’t show it externally.

The next day we had a visit from the Bafta winning Claire Peate (a personal friend of mine) who gave some very practical and useful advice on ‘the industry’ and a rundown of her great success. Can’t wait until she’s a megastar and I can brag to people that I know her. 🙂

Finally, Jesse – man, that dude is a clever guy. We’ve been studying screencraft, and after last session my brain felt like an arrow ready to fly – I was so energised and buzzed after what we’d discussed, I was ready to get on my keyboard and let my fingers gallop across the dusty plains of my keyboard. I felt like I was on the verge of becoming a great writer. Y’know? Like the secrets to the dramatic universe were about to be unlocked. After this session, I feel like a toddler. Like I can barely string together (dramatic) sentences. I’ve thought through NOTHING! I’ve got so much LEFT TO DO!!! I’m over egging the pudding. It was a simple enough exercise, but one which engages the cerebral part of the writer so fully you get exhausted just thinking. I love Jesse.

Anyway, I’m off to go and try and turn my funny little fantasy story into the greatest piece of comedic drama that your ears have ever witnessed. Remember, dear reader, it all started here.

But I’m keeping the narrator.

No, actually – he’s gone.

Y’now what, f*ck it, I’m keeping him.

I’ll maybe decide later.


The Process continues…

Now, this might sounds really obvious – and if it makes me look like a blind idiot, then I beg your forgiveness – but something occurred to me as I rewrote my Major Project treatment today.

The treatment is a sales tool, designed to make someone want to make your story. That much I knew. That’s not it.

I know what some of my scenes are going to look like. I know what my characters are going to sound like (at least in the first draft). I know what my story is, and why people will want to hear it.

What I didn’t realise until today is that the treatment is actually a piece of writing. Now, I know that is the most stupidly obvious thing in the world. I know that know, and if I could go and slap Past Ben’s head in a bit, I would. But I can’t.

It isn’t just a map of the plot. That’s how I’ve been treating it. “Does the reader know what happens next” is not enough. One piece of feedback I’ve been getting is ‘make it more like a short story’ which confused the hell out of me, because I’ve never read a short story that can adequately turn a 30 minute radio comedy into a one page synopsis, but I think I get it now… The word choice, the placement of punctuation, the shape of the piece… it’s like poetry. You have to make your treatment a poem to your story. It has to engage the reader like a poem would, not just detail the events and the character relationships, but it has to engage like a piece of writing unto itself.

Anyway, deadline is monday, I’m glad I finally figured that out.

Unless I’m wrong.

In which case, Damn. I’m sorry Future Ben.



So, I am researching my major project. I predict this will be the most fun part of the whole process.

If I had to categorise what my major project is, here is how I would go about it;

It will be a SERIAL (6X30mins), AUDIO (Radio or Podcast), COMEDY (Satire or surreal), FANTASY (Inverting tropes of the genre), ADVENTURE, aimed at 18-35 y.o. Men and Women with an existing interest in Sci-fi/Fantasy, Comedy and Spoofs/Satires.

What do I not want it to be? Here are some examples of programmes – some of which I like, and some of which I don’t – that I don’t want it to emulate; Little Britain, The Mighty Boosh, Green Wing, Late era Red Dwarf.

I don’t want the characters to ever be aware that they are in a comedy. Even the fish-out-of-water protagonist. I don’t want the world to become inconsistent for the sake of a joke. I don’t want the story to suffer because its meant to be a comedy. I want to write an interesting adventure story that just so happens to be set in an absurd world where things consistently happen the way we wouldn’t expect them to happen in a swords-and-sorcery world.

I am currently in the process of researching similar texts, and I will list them below along with what I want to take from them as inspiration, and what I want to avoid copying;



Hordes of the Things


Krod Mandoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire

Dirk Maggs’ work on H2G2 and Good Omens