Dan Finelli is a normal teenager from north London; he goes to school, enjoys hanging out with his mates and only occasionally misses his classes. But Dan also happens to be a writer for the popular teen drama, Catch. The second series starts this week and the one-hour episode that Dan wrote, his very first for the show, will be on screen later in the year. This will make him one of the youngest writers of a peak-time drama ever.
‘What’s great about Catch is that the characters are exactly like the people around you,’ says Dan, who also plays the part of Computer Chris in the show. ‘When I’m at school and one of my friends says something funny I write it down in my notebook and use it later in the script. I never tell them I’m doing it. I just want it to sound as real as possible,’ Dan adds.
Catch is about the lives of a group of 16 – 18-year-olds in a sixth-form college. The school doesn’t really exist, but the whole show does feel very true to life. There’s an episode very week and each one concentrates on an individual member of the group and tells his or her story.
The idea for the programme came from an unusual source, a father-and-son pair of writers, Ken Thomas and his son, Callum. They took their idea to a TV company and were very surprised when the company said they were keen to make it. Now, Ken and Callum are central members of the writing team but in order to build that team, Ken had to go to theatre companies and writing groups all over London to find both writers and teens to advise on the stories.
One writer he approached to join the team for the second series was Lizzie Wise. She had never heard of Catch when Ken first invited her to write. But Ken thought she would be right for the show because he’d read one of her plays and thought she was a very strong writer. Lizzie is only nineteen but has lots of valuable theatre experience. She says, ‘I’ve watched much more TV than I’ve ever watched plays, so it wasn’t difficult for me to change to TV writing. What’s most challenging on Catch is the number of scenes in which there’s hardly any talking and where the story’s told through the looks the characters give each other and their body language only. These scenes take a long time to get right but they look great on the screen.’