Thursday, May 13, 2010

Radio drama: slow, slow - quick!

Been a while since I've written any radio drama, but that's changed in the last month or two. Happily, I can talk about the writing process for this now as my script goes into the studio for recording next week. I've written the second ep of a two-parter called Legacy, with Louise Ironside at the controls for the first half. It's for BBC7, likely to be broadcast in August this year.

[An aside: Waaaay back in February 2006, I sat alongside Louise at an Adrian Mead seminar. She had just joined the River City writing team, so I picked her brains. By chance we both ended up writing later that year on Island Blue, the Radio 4 drama that secured my first broadcast. Fast forward to 2010 and we're writing together again. It's a small world, this writing game.]

The Legacy project was born out of an online game for the visually impaired [though the two things share no narrative DNA]. Last May I was having a natter with BBC Scotland radio producer David Ian Neville and he asked if I wanted to be part of a brainstorming session. I went along the following week, as did Louise, people from various BBC areas and an outside company.

We had a fun half-day throwing round ideas, with no particular pressure attached. [Louise also got paid for attending, and a nice lunch too - bargain.] Then it all went quiet, as these things often do. In January this year the Legacy project was revived for another brainstorming session. We arrived to hear it had been commissioned as a two-part radio drama for BBC7. Nice.

Since then it's been a plethora of scene by scenes, conference calls, and writing to find a story that worked across two very different narrative platforms. [I won't get into the non-radio element just yet, if you don't mind.] The challenge was creating a story that worked well if you only experienced it on one platform, but which was a richer narrative across both.

Happily, Legacy takes places in a genre where I've got form, so that sat comfortably with me. But it'd been four years since my last radio drama work for the BBC, so there was some rustiness to shake off. I'd like to think I'm a better writer than I was back in 2006, so the scripting process has been much smoother. [Sigh, I really shouldn't incite hubris like that.]

There's more work to be done with the other narrative platform for the Legacy project, but for now I can feel the weight of one deadline lifting from my shoulders. Just as well, since I'm writing a scene by scene this week, got a one-page pitch for another project due on Tuesday and it's day two of the CBeebies Lab this Saturday in Edinburgh. Busy, busy, busy. Onwards!

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