Sunday, May 28, 2006

On My Radio (Play)

A nice surprise arrived in the post yesterday - an advance copy of my radio play Ronald, which'll be broadcast by BBC Radio 4 on Wednesday June 7th. It's the third in five linked plays set at a remote spiritual retreat, directed by David Ian Neville. He devised the Island Blue concept and invited five writers to create 15-minute plays to suit the setting. Poet Vicki Feaver leads off the week with Brave New World, followed by Stephen Potts' story Grandmother's Footsteps. Thursday features A Place in the Rain by Jules Horne. She's got a play called Outrageous Avatar being toured round Scotland at the moment by the Traverse Theatre [paste the URL below into your browser to find out more]. Finally, Louise Ironside provides the script for Friday's play, Looking After Billy. Louise is another theatre playwright, but she's also joined the writing stable of Scottish soap River City and had several episodes broadcast.

I feel humbled to have been invited to join such distinguished company, especially as I was a late substitute for whomeveer was meant to be writing the Wednesday Island Blue play. I've now loaded all the plays into iTunes and listened to mine a couple of times. Crawford Logan replies captures the bluff Northern character of Ronald, although he doesn't use the Liverpool accent I'd imagined in my head. Rose McBain is both sympathetic and prim as April, not an easy combination to pull off. Lesley Hart shines as Shonagh and Lucy Patterson doubles up as two characters, Dorothy and Tracy - not easy when they share a scene together.

I've no idea if my script hangs together, having lost all objectivity during the many and various rewrites and tweaks along the way. Certainly it's had a few nips and tucks during editing and post-production to achieve the required length. The script ran to 15 minutes and 56 seconds at the read-through, while the finished version is 13:44, and most of that 44 seconds is intro and outro music. But the edits have been done sympathetically and don't harm the plot. I spent most of my time at the recording finding sequences that could be snipped or topped and tailed for brevity. If all the different scenes I'd written during the drafts had been included to their full length, the play would have been closer to an hour than to quarter of an hour.

The next milestone will be on Tuesday, when the listing for Ronald and all the Island Blue plays appears in the new Radio Times. Come eight on Tuesday morning I'll be stood outside the newsagents, proudly reading and re-reading my name in print. You'd think I'd be used to it after 16 novels and nearly as many Big Finish audio dramas. But this is my first broadcast credit and it means a lot to me. Hopefully, it'll become the first of many, not merely a fluke.

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