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Daniel Lovett: Interview

From youth hostels to the writers’ room, 23-year-old Daniel Lovett talks about how he came to join the writing team on teen drama Skins.

Published on 30 January 2012.

Words by Matthew Bell

Five years ago, Daniel Lovett was living in a hostel while studying for his A-levels in the North Devon town of Ilfracombe. Now – thanks to winning a young writers’ competition – he’s penning episodes of E4’s Skins.

Looking back, could Lovett have imagined that success would come at all, let alone so quickly? “Not at all. When I was living in hostels I was writing, but I didn’t even have a computer so it was old school pen and paper.”

A couple of years later, while studying at Swansea University, Lovett entered E4’s ‘Skins Needs You’ competition. The prize – for a writer, director, production designer and costume designer – was to work with Skins’ producers, Company Pictures, on a short online film.

“I was a fan of the show and thought I’d have a punt,” recalls Lovett. “I was supposed to be going on a weekend away with some mates but my girlfriend said I couldn’t go. I sat at home in a strop and knocked out a 10-page script. I’d written a few short things but I didn’t consider it a thing I could do professionally.”

Lovett won the competition and wrote the short film Brink as his reward, before joining the Skins writers group as a young contributor for series four. “I got really lucky. The online producer at the time, Toby Welch, who’s now graduated to producing the entire show, gave me the chance to sit in on a couple of the writers’ meetings. I told some embarrassing stories about being a yoof and luckily they kept asking me back,” he recalls.

“You can only write if you have things to write that you care about. Get involved in the world; live a bit.”

The young writer penned a couple of online Skins shorts before writing his own TV episode, ‘Alo’ for series five. The BAFTA-winning drama began its sixth run last week and Lovett has contributed an episode, ‘Rich’ (pictured).

Lovett, who is now 23, believes his tough teenage years helped to equip him as a writer. He left home at 16 where, he says, “there were a lot of crazy issues,” and spent a year living on friends’ floors and in squats before finding hostel accommodation, which gave Lovett some much-needed security.

“When you’re a young writer the main thing you’ve got to worry about is having no life experience. But my experiences have set me up for a good few stories,” he says.

Does he believe a writer needs to struggle for his art? “It’s a short cut to depth. Taking a few knocks gives you a slightly less romanticised view of the world. That’s not to say that you need to have tough times, because you can also gain [depth] from inner reflection as well. But for me, it certainly jumped me along a little bit.”

Lovett left university without completing his degree – “I dropped out last year to finish my episode for Skins; it was one or the other’” – and is now writing full time. “It keeps me sane and balanced to have that platform to express myself. And being able to make a living off it is mind-blowing, especially in [tough] times like these,” he says.

What advice would Lovett offer to would-be writers? “More than anything, you need to get involved in the world,” he says. “You only get better at the craft element of writing by doing more and more of it, honing your style. But you’re only going to be able to do that, in my opinion, if you have things to write that you care about. Live a bit – that’s my advice.”