Tony Jordan – In Conversation

For almost thirty years, Tony Jordan has been responsible for some of Britain’s finest dramatic televisual moments taking him from serial drama to the latest in experimental television. The former east end market trader swapped selling stock for taking stock when he joined the BBC soap Eastenders in 1989 and consequently went on to become one of Britain’s leading television screenwriters. Coming to scriptwriting at the relatively late age of 33, Jordan had already seen a lot of what life could offer which he believes has informed the majority of his repertoire. Being a market trader, he truly identified with the characters in Albert Square as he’d known those types of people and drunk in pubs like The Queen Vic. Therefore this wasn’t fiction for Jordan, it was essentially the re-telling of the characters from his childhood.

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As he states, if Eastenders is done right, it is quintessentially about “clans” and the connections between different families within a small tight-nit estate in the east end of London. This formula lends itself to the ability to play out classic tales ranging from Romeo and Juliet to The Canterbury Tales all inside Soapland. This may be the closest we can get in discovering the secret behind Eastenders’ success.

Leaving the BBC soap in 2003, Tony Jordan established his own production company, Red Planet Pictures. Since then a plethora of hit television drama has risen from this creative hotbed including Life On Mars, Moving Wallpaper and Death In Paradise. Yet his passion vehicle definitely has to be the period drama Dickensian, the drama surrounding the nineteenth century author’s most popular characters. The other aspect which sets this drama apart from it’s contemporaries is the episodic structure in which it’s written. Each episode is 30 minutes in length and the dramatic scenes that take place have a similar feel to a serial drama. But of course the obvious difference being the huge cultural and literary references which surround it, making it possible for there to be dramatic scenes between Scrooge and Oliver Twist… Most writers idea of linguistic heaven!

Jordan remains adamant that Red Planet Pictures shouldn’t just be all about Tony Jordan and is constantly on the lookout for fresh young writers to join this creative establishment. He is merely the figurehead of the company and allows his writers the freedom to explore their own concepts. Yet even at the ever so tender age of 59, Tony Jordan is still writing and in his words, “still trying to write that something that will get the whole world talking”. It felt so great to spend the afternoon with someone who obviously remains in love with what he does.


Thank you Tony, it was an absolute pleasure to meet and chat with you.

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