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Jordan, Tony (1957-)


Main image of Jordan, Tony (1957-)

EastEnders writer and chief storyline consultant Tony Jordan was 32 when he sent off his first unsolicited script to the now defunct BBC script unit; called Channock, it was a semi-autobiographical story about Jordan's days as a market pitcher. It was eventually (after many months) passed over to the EastEnders producers, who called him in for an interview. In between, Jordan had been invited to a BBC writing workshop, hosted by John Sullivan (creator/writer of Only Fools and Horses, BBC, 1981-93) and Carla Lane (creator/writer of Butterflies, BBC 1978-80), and had made the major personal discovery that screenwriters were just normal people.

He has written somewhere over 150 episodes of EastEnders (BBC, 1985- ), as well as multiple episodes of spiv drama Minder (ITV, 1979-85; 1988-94), soap serial Eldorado (BBC, 1992-93), lone avenger drama Boon (ITV, 1986-92), police drama City Central (BBC, 1998-2000; also created), fantasy drama The Vanishing Man (ITV, 1998), crime drama Lock, Stock... (Channel 4, 2000; also script consultant) and, in more recent years, confidence trickster drama Hustle (BBC, 2004- ; also creator).

Television producer John Yorke (later controller of BBC drama) once suggested that Jordan was to EastEnders "what Jimmy McGovern was to Brookside". It was deserved praise, considering that Jordan remains passionate about soap serials as the training ground for the best of British television drama - a justifiable claim, since Paul Abbott came through Coronation Street (ITV, 1960-), just as McGovern came through Brookside (Channel 4, 1982-2003).

In 2006, Yorke approached Jordan to script a new BBC police series. Although Jordan was an admirer of the American approach to cop shows, as exemplified by his favourites Hill Street Blues (1981-87) and NYPD Blue (1993-2005), his early impression of the police was formed by Jack Warner's avuncular PC George Dixon in the long-running Dixon of Dock Green (BBC, 1955-76), a character shown to be a comforting blend of social worker, counsellor and sage.

While Jordan had a nostalgic fondness for the Dixon image, he was also aware of the latter-day, rough-edged Jack Regans (from ITV's The Sweeney, 1975-78) or Gene Hunts (from BBC's Life on Mars, 2006-07). His personal decision came soon after the BBC suggested that he use their 'Holby' brand to create what would be a third arm of the successful Casualty (BBC, 1986- ) and its spin-off Holby City (BBC, 1999- ).

Forming his own production company, Red Planet Pictures, backed by the established Kudos Film and Television, he made the short-lived Holby Blue (BBC, 2007-08) . He decided that his police series would accurately reflect modern society, would be of its time and, naturally, be as slick and pacey as its US counterparts. As its title suggested, Holby Blue would, he hoped, look more like NYPD Blue than The Bill (ITV, 1984- ).

Before turning in more scripts for the popular Hustle, he wrote and produced an ambitious ITV production called Moving Wallpaper (2008-09), a comedy-drama about the production team behind a soap serial cut from similar cloth to the US drama The O.C. (2003-07). Most innovatively, Moving Wallpaper was scheduled alongside the very programme its characters were purportedly making, Echo Beach (ITV, 2008).

In recent years he has concentrated on his Red Planet Pictures company, whose first production since the demise of Moving Wallpaper was a drama for BBC Wales about a group of young doctors at a Cardiff hospital, Crash (2009-).

Tise Vahimagi

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Thumbnail image of EastEnders (1985- )EastEnders (1985- )

The BBC's most successful soap - a serious rival to Coronation Street

Thumbnail image of Eldorado (1992-93)Eldorado (1992-93)

Notoriously short-lived soap intended as a European EastEnders

Thumbnail image of Minder (1979-94)Minder (1979-94)

A nice little earner for George Cole and Dennis Waterman

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Thumbnail image of Soap OperaSoap Opera

Unending stories of everyday life

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