Screenwriter and novelist
Standalone supernatural drama, in two one-hour episodes for BBC1. Stars Joanne Whalley (Scandal, The Singing Detective), Ray Stevenson (Rome), and Jemima Rooper (Hex, The Black Dahlia).
When an international high-flyer and eligible bachelor takes some time out to rethink his life's goals, a glimpse of an old flame on the streets of London prompts him to try her name in an internet search engine. One tantalising hint of her whereabouts is enough to send him looking, and what he tries to call mere curiosity begins to feel like the drive of destiny when, within twenty-four hours of their "chance" encounter, both have become convinced that their future lies together. Total certainty, total commitment, and the most momentous sex ever.
He may be free, but she isn't. The step's an enormous one and she moves to take it without any hesitation. She breaks up with Jack, her long-time partner, and runs back to meet him. She never even sees the vehicle that kills her.
Our man is devastated. He's gained and lost everything in the space of a couple of days, and his life can never be the same. But he'd made no place in her life, nor she in his. He even has to watch her funeral from afar.
He goes into a downward spiral. Drinks, sleeps in his half-finished flat, finds himself an easy target for street people. In this susceptible state, he finds himself haunted by her elusive presence. When he finds himself at rock bottom, he rings Life Line.
Life Line isn't a straight adaptation of the short story first published in Chris Morgan's Dark Fantasies anthology and subsequently adapted for BBC Radio's FEAR ON FOUR, but is a completely new story spun from the same basic premise.
That's because there was talk in the early stages of developing an entire series of stories, all of them taking an encounter with the haunted chat line as their starting-point.
I've no idea if that will still happen, but I'll be happy to see it thrown open to other writers if it does. For this outing, I'm putting everything I have to say on the subject into these two hours of film.
Directed by Jamie Payne. Producer Tim Bradley, Executive Producer Gareth Neame.