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Writer Tony Basgallop On His Gripping New Series The Consultant

February 19, 2023
8 min read time

Creator and showrunner, Tony Basgallop, well known for his Apple+ series Servant, brings another engaging series to the screen with The Consultant starring Christoph Waltz, Brittany OGrady and Nat Wolff. 

Basgallop explains, “Its a series set in a mobile gaming studio in Los Angeles where theres been a tragedy to the CEO. In walks Christoph Waltz as a mysterious consultant who says hes got a contract that says hes now in charge and so he pulls everyone back into the office post this tragedy.”

As for the heart of the story, Basgallop shares, “Its about taking a group of millennials who are very comfortable in their jobs and then making them very uncomfortable by taking away their luxuries and just getting back to the brass tacks of what a company needs to do, which is make money.”

Based on a 2015 novel by Bentley Little, Basgallop found a concept set in a world he was looking to explore. He elaborates, "For me personally, because I had just written a show thats exclusively set inside a suburban house for a few years, as I writer I wanted to get out. I wanted to kind of break out and try something in a different environment. Thats what drew me to wanting to do something in an office.”

Basgallop continues, “Its such a beautiful way into an office thriller. This antagonist from hell in a sense. It just felt like theres so much material here. Theres so much opportunity to satirize the workplace now.”

With so many people having experienced the shift from being at the office, then working remotely and now having to return to the confines of an office, Basgallop believes there’s a lot in this series viewers will relate to. He adds, “I think its going to strike a chord with people. Particularly the sense that the good working times are over. We can still enjoy our lives very much, but our relationship with our boss is going to change. Its going to become harder. The Consultant is the sort of show that deals with that head on.”

FD Tony B THE CONSULTANT photo

In writing the series, Basgallop found himself being inspired by the situation comedies of his youth like the British shows Porridge, Steptoe and Son, Butterflies, The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin, all shows that he still goes back and watches from time to time.

He notes, “I recognized when I was starting to do this that it had a very sitcom format. It was thirty minutes, mostly set in an office and about that kind of work/boss tension. Instead of going for laughs every couple of pages, I wanted to just go for tension. I wanted to go for something unsettling happens.”

When it comes to the tone of the series, Basgallop relates, “I like the absurd. Whenever something feels absurd, Ill lean in towards that. I think thats why things come out as dark comedies, but I never sit down and go, this needs to be funnier. Sometimes I feel like this needs to be more tense. This needs to be more unsettling for the audience, but never, never funny.”

Although Basgallop calls the experience of adapting Little’s novel a pleasure, the first efforts to tackle the pilot episode did bring about a challenge as he completely threw out his original first ten pages. He observes, “It didnt feel authentic enough. It wasnt gripping enough. There wasnt anything in there. I always feel like in the first ten pages, if you havent hooked the audience, then youre never going to.”

The series benefits from a trio of dynamic and distinct lead characters which Basgallop could build upon from their foundations in the novel. He reveals, “I think Regus Patoff was introduced beautifully in the book. One of the things about Patoff as a character is that the less you know, the better. Its never about giving backstory. That ruins the illusion. He could be anything.”

The Consultant 2

To build out his characters, Basgallop always looks at each character’s point of view and examines what their trajectories are. He asserts, “Where are they now and where do I want to take them. Thats really how I start with character. Everything in between is the joy of work.”

Basgallop took a big jump when after over fifteen years of working for all the channels in the UK, he decided to relocate to Los Angeles. It was a restart of his writing career. He admits, “I was in the UK and everyone sort of knew what I did and knew who I was. When I came to America no one had any idea. I found that really exciting.”

Looking at the evolution and success of his career both back in the UK and now in the US, Basgallop realizes, “Once Ive done something, its like what can I do thats different? What can I do next? Never feeling like Ive achieved anything is very helpful. I think thats what drives me.”

The biggest challenge of making the transition to writing in the US was working in a writers’ room. He recalls, “I think I struggled with it for a long time because I was used to the system where, okay, youre the writer. Go ahead on your own and do it. Lock yourself in a room. Come up with a story. Figure out how youre going to tell it. Write the script. Then give it to someone and then rewrite it several times.”

Reflecting back on advice that has guided him through his writing journey, Basgallop details, “One of the things somebody said to me very early on was know the rules before you break them. Thats probably a bit of a cliche, but I think Ive always been that sort of person that wants to just do it differently. Sometimes that gets you into trouble. You have to do it genuinely before you can subvert it.”

There is some advice that Basgallop wished he had encountered earlier in his career and that he now passes on to younger writers he mentors. He remarks, “No one else knows anything. You have to go your own way. Try to please yourself.”

He knows this can be a really hard lesson, especially for new writers who often see pleasing other people as a means to getting work. Basgallop encourages, “Try and do something different. Try and be unique and stand out.”

While Basgallop enjoys the whole process of bringing a show together from concept to writing to casting and seeing the project come to life, writing has always been his favorite part of the storytelling process. He proclaims, “Just sitting at the desk, on your own with the keyboard, thinking what the hell is going to happen next, for me, thats the best stuff.”

To up-and-coming writers, Basgallop offers practical advice to make an impact with your writing. He suggests, “Write a short script. Dont write a 130 page movie, because if you want someone to read your work, theyre going to buy it in the first ten pages or not at all.”

He emphasizes, “Give them the easiest reasons to say yes. Its short. Its fantastic on page one. Then people are going to be intrigued. Theyre going to pass it around.”

Basgallop stresses, “The scripts you send, theyre samples of your work. Dont always look at it as this is the next big show. Or this is the next big movie. Its not. Its an example of what you can do, so keep it short and snappy and the best it can ever be.”

The Consultant debuts on Prime Video on February 24th. The 8 episode series is a twisted, dark comedic thriller that explores the sinister relationship between boss and employee.

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