Writer Tony Schumacher has revealed the inspiration and influences behind his newest drama “The Responder” on BBC One.
During a talk to Screen Writing students at Liverpool John Moores University, Schumacher said his own experiences of being in the police and growing up in Huyton, alongside the want to present the struggles of certain classes in society, inspired the storyline in the show.
The show, which follows main characters Chris, Casey and Marco, sheds a light on what Schumacher refers to as the “underclass” and presents the honest struggles police officers on the beat are faced with every shift.
When referring to the characters Casey and Marco, who struggle with drug addiction in the show, Tony said: “Most people are good people in bad situations.
“Originally, Casey and Marco were not going to be main characters, but I thought I just have to explore this more.”
Tony spoke about what people refer to as “the underclass” within society which Casey and Marco fall into. He said it is highly important for these people to be seen within society as their struggles often go unnoticed.
He revealed how he felt highly invested in the characters he has created and said: “I go to bed and it’s there; I wake up in the morning and it’s there. You can’t just shut it down.
“When I walk the dog, I’ll talk to the characters out loud, I’m lucky that most of the people where I live know that I write.”
Improving Police Funding
Tony also spoke about the lack of funding available to the police at present and how this needs to be tackled in order to provide better support to police officers who are struggling with the pressures of the Job.
When speaking about how his writing was influenced by his own experiences in the police, he said: “One of the reasons why I’m doing this is to shine a light on policing because it a hard job and some people use that as an excuse to do bad things.
“If we fund that job a bit better and if we have better conversations with police officers then we’ll get a better calibre of people doing the job.”
Mental Health Struggles
When speaking about his own struggles with mental health, following a cumulative breakdown which ended in him becoming homeless at one point, he said: “You just don’t know what is around the corner.
“For me it felt like my skull was just getting thinner and thinner and thinner.”
“I’ve always wanted to be a writer but it wasn’t until whatever it was that broke, that enabled me to do that. It’s those emotions that you’re dipping your pen into.”
“We’re brought up to bury those emotions, but the minute you can’t control them you realise how powerful they are, and that’s what I use to write.”
Second series of The responder
A second series of The Responder has been commissioned, after which Tony says he will be done with the writing of the show, adding it may be a case of somebody else writing the following series if the BBC wanted to continue the show after series two.
He also told of techniques he has to keep him on track with his writing, including how he has notes on his wall at home one saying “you won’t be beaten” and another “F the audience” in the context of do not give the audience everything they want, as the minute they get it they don’t want it anymore. You have to leave them wanting more.”