Belfast Telegraph

I wanted to hide under the sofa when it aired, says The Missing writer

The brothers behind the hit show told how they were close to throwing the towel in before The Missing.

The brothers and creators behind acclaimed mystery series The Missing have confessed they predicted the hit mystery drama could spell the end of their screenwriting careers.

Harry Williams said he even wanted to hide under the sofa rather than tune into the first episode in 2014, expecting it to be slated by viewers.

But the dark drama – starring James Nesbitt as the desperate father whose five-year-old son vanishes while on a family holiday in France – quickly proved to be a national hit, securing Bafta nominations and a second run last year.

“I thought it would go down horribly,” Harry admitted to the Radio Times, “because that response was all I knew.

“As soon as it aired, I just wanted to hide under the sofa. We loved what we’d done but we were scared.”

Brother and co-writer Jack said that the show’s success “changed everything” for their flailing hopes as comedy creators, adding: “Just before The Missing we wondered if we should stop – we couldn’t really afford to keep going.”

While working with a sibling may seem like a recipe for disaster for some, it proved to be the secret to success for the Williams brothers.

Explaining how they began working together on 2007’s single-season sitcom, Roman’s Empire, Jack continued: “Harry kept telling me to rewrite it and I lost the will to live so I got him involved.

“Then an actress who shall remain nameless said to me after we’d done the rewrite, ‘You should never ever work with your brother again’.

“The irony is delicious now, but for a few years after that sitcom we couldn’t even get arrested.”

Harry added: “We finally realised we weren’t funny and stopped trying to make sitcoms.

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Liar stars Joanne Froggatt.

“While we were trying to make comedies we were just watching dramas because that’s what we love. I’m not sure why we didn’t do it earlier.”

Their latest work has seen them create dramas Liar (starring Joanne Froggatt and Ioan Gruffudd) for ITV, and Rellik (Reece Ritchie and Jodi Balfour) for the BBC, which will both air at the same time.

Commenting on how they can keep up the pace when writing material together, Harry said: “It’s much better because you get guilt, which is my prime motivation in writing.

“You think, ‘Oh God he’s got five pages, I’ve got two, I need to not be behind’.”

But with two hit writers in one family, talk of the next big project can dominate the dinner table conversation.

Jack admitted: “Our dad’s a writer and mum’s a producer so they enjoy it all but my wife occasionally says, ‘Shut up!’

“At Christmas we do try to talk about other things – but we struggle.”

Read the full interview in this week’s Radio Times magazine.

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