UK screenwriter and playwright Lucy Prebble, whose credits include HBO’s Succession, was awarded the Wellcome Screenwriting Fellowship in 2019. She reveals who can be trusted for film and TV tips.

Lucy Prebble c Pal Hansen

Source: Pal Hansen

Lucy Prebble

I tend to watch something if four people I like strongly recommend it; no more, no less. If many more than four people recommend it, I begin to resent them and feel told what to do, so then I deliberately won’t watch it. Because I’m an idiot.

I trust a couple of people, close friends and writers, because we have liked similar things, or often just because they have a limited amount of patience for things and are harsher critics than I am. I love a recommendation from someone who it takes a lot to please. The person I look forward to getting recommendations from the most is Jesse Armstrong. There are also people I know who if they recommend something, that’s a useful tip to avoid it.

Billie Piper will sometimes recommend something to me and I know that thing is going to be very dark and very emotional. The last thing was [HBO’s] Euphoria.

I have heard good things about [animated Amazon series] Undone but haven’t watched it yet. I also felt a pressure to watch Joker. But now it has got to the point where I feel like I couldn’t watch the movie without formulating my opinion as I watched it, so I have lost interest. I also have a weird feeling when something has got enough praise that it doesn’t need my praise so I won’t bother seeing it even if it’s good.

I have WhatsApp groups of the casts of plays I have written. The cast of A Very Expensive Poison are often recommending good things that I feel like I should watch but truthfully it begins to feel like another job, the consuming of art, that I’m behind on.

I do listen to a lot of podcasts, things that feel rougher and more personal and less ambitious. Increasingly, I like the feeling of a continuous atmospheric environment that’s created more than sitting down to a discrete narrative story, unless I am going to the cinema and making an outing of it. Then I like to see only big-budget special-effects movies that demand a big screen, or very small indie stuff that needs me to go on opening weekend.

I never pay attention to professional reviewers. They have just as much relevance to me these days as any other stranger who posts an opinion online. I do go to Rotten Tomatoes and pay attention to the rating of a film: 90% and above piques my interest.

I’m often interested in [author/journalist] Ian Leslie’s recommendations on Twitter. He has a contrarian energy. I assume other recommendations are people plugging their friends’ work so I wait until something has multiple, disinterested raves.