Sharing Audio Description

My reasons for sharing audio description scripts.

A small, round photo of a smiling man with a mop of dark hair and a pointy nose.

by Brett Coulstock. .

I don't think I've ever seen an audio-description script that I didn't write.

Where are all the audio description scripts?

The closest I found was included on the CD of some of the BBC Audio Doctor Who Original Television Soundtracks included “linking” scripts, such as Doctor Who: The Daleks' Master Plan.

Title music

V/O 11.0
The Daleks’ Master Plan. Episode Eleven.

Title music (fade)

(...pull the main switch!)

V/O 11.1
There is a blinding flash of light, and smoke fills the console room as the TARDIS lurches out of control...

[over atmos]

V/O 11.2
The Abandoned Planet. Written by Dennis Spooner, from an idea by Terry Nation.


[over Dalek Time Machine demat SFX]

V/O 11.3
The Daleks' time machine returns to the control room on Kembel, and Chen emerges to report his triumph to the Dalek Supreme.

(...address them presently.)

V/O 11.4
Chen leaves the control room. A Dalek approaches to make its report to the Dalek Supreme.

[natural scene break]
Doctor Who - The Daleks’ Master Plan by Terry Nation & Dennis Spooner, Linking Script written by Sue Cowley.

There are no time-codes, and the placement is guided by dialogue / sound and music effect cues.

I read those and I thought: “I can do that”.

And I did. It's commendable of the BBC to include those. They also release a number of radio-drama and television scripts via their BBC writers' room, which is a fantastic resource.

But no audio description scripts.

But it's crazy when you think about it. If you want to write for film or television or radio or stage, one of the best ways to teach yourself is to read as many scripts as you can get your hands on.

Part of the problem is, of course, copyright and licencing. If the rights-holders don't release them, you'll never see them in wild. The companies that produce the audio description are under strict contracts and cannot release the scripts independently even if they wanted to.

Another problem is that audio description scripts don't stand by themselves. They're something like a film script with all the dialogue taken out.

But still, it's one way to soak up the rhythms of the language, the conventions, the sometimes graceful, sometimes clumsy economy of the writing.

So I resolve — where it is legally possible — to share my own independent audio description scripts and related material, ideally under a creative-commons attribution license.

And, lastly, if you write a script yourself, please consider publishing it. Better still if it's under a permissive, open license. It encourages and builds talent, and creates more opportunities and work for people in the future. It might help more works be translated from and to other languages.

It'll make the world, in a small way, a better place.

Post Script

I heard from someone doing a translation project:

This is fantastic. I took your Aliens script and imported it into a Google spreadsheet, then used a built in Google Translate function to translate it into half a dozen languages in less than 10 minutes. I'll still have native speakers check the translations, but starting with this is such a huge help.
Filed under: Accessibility