'Things are changing': Succession writer Lucy Prebble on the writers' strike and getting older

Succession writer Lucy Prebble sits down with ITV News' Arts Editor Nina Nannar

Once you have a hit TV show on your hands, what comes next?

For Lucy Prebble, a co-executive writer and producer on HBO's Emmy-winning Succession, it's turning her attention back to theatre and the return to London's West End of one of her hit plays.

The Effect, which first opened in November 2012, is a play about love, depression and mental health.

It is set to star Taylor Russell, of Luca Guadagnino's Bones and All, and British star Paapa Essiedu.

Prebble's impressive resume spans decades - she first wrote the critically acclaimed Enron in her 20s.

Succession writer Lucy Prebble sits down with ITV News' Arts Editor Nina Nannar

Now, the award-winning playwright, 42, sits down with ITV News' Arts Editor Nina Nannar to talk about how far women have come in the industry, and why the ongoing WGA writers' strike marks a pivotal moment in Hollywood.

"Things are changing, what with the strike right now," Prebble said.

"I would say that there is a relationship between how writers work on (Succession) - given an extremely long writers' room period of months, and months and months.

"And present on set every single day, multiple writers - always helping and guiding the show, changing the script and its level of quality.

"There is a relationship between the value that is placed on writers and the quality of the show.

"And I don't know how you can prove that more than the reaction to Succession."

The series, created by Jesse Armstrong and starring Brian Cox, Jeremy Strong, Sarah Snook, Kieran Culkin, and Matthew Macfadyen, bowed out after four seasons at the end of May.

Its multitude of awards demonstrates the importance of writers and their presence on set, and there is no sign of a deal agreed in Hollywood.

However, WGA leaders and the actors' union SAG-Aftra are set to re-enter negotiations with studios and streaming services this week after a dispute over a number of issues including pay and the use of artificial intelligence (AI).

Can AI replicate what writers do?

"However modern and impressive and futuristic it feels, it's always based on something from the past - it's drawing from a huge supply of online material for the most part," Prebble said.

"Yes, you can put into an AI now: 'Write a script in the style of Lucy Prebble' and it will do it.

Lucy Prebble on being mistaken for the director's assistant as a young writer

"But what's seriously problematic about it is - obviously the effect it has on industry - but it's backward facing essentially.

"Can it evolve artistically? What's great about writers and writing is what you're trying to do is say something that hasn't been said before or in a new way."

Prebble also touched on her time as a young producer and how getting older has come to be a benefit in her career.

"What used to happen all the time when I was in the room when we were auditioning or things like that is I was always mistaken for the director's assistant," she said.

"As soon as they realised I was the writer rather than someone who was going to bring tea, there was a very big shift.

"That's what I love about getting older... there's a certain attitude you get treated with when you are younger, I think particularly when you are a woman, that you don't know until it goes.

"And actually, it's lovely when it goes."

The Effect will run until October 7 at the National Theatre in London.

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