TBI has partnered with LA- and London-based drama consultancy MediaXchange to get under the skin of some of the best showrunners in the business and find out what makes them tick. Here, we speak to Peter Blake, the Emmy-nominated writer, producer and showrunner, who has most recently served as an executive producer on ABC’s medical drama The Good Doctor.
New York-based Blake also wrote for House, M.D. for eight seasons, as well as for series including The Practice, Elementary, Gotham and Billions, among other shows. He is the creator and showrunner of El Candidato, a Mexican political thriller set and filmed in Mexico City that premiered on Amazon Prime Video in July 2020.
In two sentences, tell us how you became a showrunner, writer/producer and why.
I had been writing and producing for years, and had gotten one pilot made, when I was approached by some producers who wanted to make a political thriller series set in Mexico City. It sounded fun and challenging, and it was.
What’s the hardest part of your job?
Finding a balance between making a solid show and having a life outside work.
What’s the best part of being a showrunner, writer/producer?
Seeing a talented crew and a talented cast bring your ideas to life.
What single action most helped you to become a showrunner, writer/producer?
There wasn’t one – it was a process of slowly gaining knowledge via writing and producing on other people’s shows.
What is the biggest single challenge facing the industry?
The collapse of the old network model without the creation (yet) of a new model that is fair to the majority of writers.
How can the industry improve diversity off-screen?
By cementing the realization that increased diversity has already led to better TV.
Name your favourite show of your lifetime?
Best show to be cancelled too soon?
I’ll stretch the meaning of “cancelled,” but… Breaking Bad.
Which show nailed its finale and why?
This is getting repetitious but… Breaking Bad (and The Shield, M*A*S*H, Cheers…)
What has been your proudest moment in the industry?
It’s all a blur. A long, beautiful blur.
Peter Blake spoke at MediaXchange’s virtual webinar series, Showrunners Breaking The Mould. MediaXchange’s Showrunner TV Drama Exchange will return to LA this March and September for a week-long meeting schedule of insights into the US creative and development process. Click here for more info.