YOU can usually spot the writer at TV launches.
They’re the one sat at the back being mostly ignored while the stars of the show grab the headlines.
And yet there’s one thing all actors agree on – the script is the most important part of the entire project.
You can have the best production, direction, acting and theme tune in the world.
But without a good script, you’re lost.
The critics, predictably, didn’t much like Wild At Heart when it made its ITV1 debut.
That’s because it’s aimed at real viewers who want to relax with a spot of escapist family drama on a Sunday night.
Over 10m of them watched that first episode, and the success story has continued.
Series three arrives on ITV1 tonight – the last to star Amanda Holden as Sarah Trevanion, alongside Stephen Tompkinson as husband Danny.
Fans who look out for such things will know that Wild At Heart was created by Ashley Pharoah.
He’s also an executive producer and wrote tonight’s first episode, as well as the dramatic finale of episodes seven and eight, featuring Amanda’s exit.
And, yes, that’s the same Ashley Pharoah who – along with Matthew Graham – collected an Emmy for Life On Mars.
He was one of the co-creators of the acclaimed drama which brought us Gene Hunt and Sam Tyler.
And he’s also the co-creator of follow up Ashes To Ashes, coming to a screen near you early next month.
I’ve written about many of Ashley’s projects over the years.
He created the ITV1 Sunday night drama series Where The Heart Is, which ran from 1997 to 2006.
It featured some of Britain’s top acting talent, from Sarah Lancashire at the start to Shobna Gulati at the end.
Other credits include EastEnders, Casualty, Paradise Heights, Anchor Me and the screenplay for Tom Brown’s Schooldays, starring Stephen Fry and Alex Pettyfer.
A year after that last project, ITV1 followed it up with Under The Greenwood Tree.
Ashley adapted the novel by his favourite author Thomas Hardy, who partly inspired his own decision to become a writer.
The Christmas film featured James Murray – currently starring in Primeval – as Dick Dewy.
It also starred a certain Keeley Hawes in the central role of Fancy Day.
That’s the same Keeley Hawes about to make a big impact as DI Alex Drake in Ashes To Ashes.
As it happens, Under The Greenwood Tree was filmed on location at one of my favourite places on the island of Jersey – Hamptonne.
I caught up with Ashley again recently, when he agreed that some Wild At Heart viewers would probably be amazed that he also writes that “weird time-travelling stuff”.
He added: “And I’m sure Life On Mars fans are very baffled. But, as a writer, I really like doing that, I like doing different things.”
Click on the audio links below for more from Ashley on Wild At Heart:
Was it a problem knowing that Amanda Holden was leaving?
Ashley’s thoughts on the series.
The appeal of Wild At Heart.
The location in the South African bush.
Wild At Heart: Amanda Holden
Amanda’s Tearful Jungle Farewell
Under The Greenwood Tree
Tom Brown’s Schooldays