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Max Richter’s Sleep: revisited

4  1/2 years ago, back in a world that feels at once both distant and close, 8 hours of live music was broadcast overnight from the British Library, scoring the soundtrack to a nation’s dreams as they slept. 

Easter Saturday / Sunday 2020 – Max Richter’s ‘Lullaby for a frenetic world’ was repated for a UK  in lockdown from Covid 19:

A nation clapping every Thursday for the NHS, the carers and the key workers

A  nation needing a lullaby now more than ever to comfort it while it sleeps

A nation holding its breath

Waiting to see what kind of country emerges the other side.

 

 

 

 

My first time doing a live radio interview…

As a producer, I’m used to being on one side of the microphone. But during the course of BBC Music Get Playing, an opportunity presented itself for me to do a live radio interview.

I met Miranda Rae through Sound Women. Miranda presents her own show called The Word on Ujima Radio in Bristol. Her programme goes out live every Friday from 1400 to 1600 and is a wonderfully varied mix of art, culture and music.

The Virtual Orchestra deadline was fast approaching and I was trying to get as many people as possible to upload their videos of themselves playing Bizet’s Toreador Song. Miranda asked me if I’d like to go onto the programme to invite her listeners to join the Virtual Orchestra.

At first, I must confess I was was tempted to ask for a pre-recorded interview but soon decided to go for it.

Miranda has interviewed many people during her career including Massive Attack, Roni Size, Neneh Cherry…and now me.

I really enjoyed my first live radio experience and you can hear the interview here.

And you can follow Miranda on Mixcloud and hear more interviews here.

Useful Links

Ujima Radio

Sound Women

Beckett Blindfolded: All that Fall

‘I’m going to see a play tonight,’ I told my friends. ‘Except I won’t actually see it -I’ll be wearing a blindfold.’

Their response was confused – but inquisitive. ‘Eh? Why are you wearing a blindfold?’

Because I was going to see Out of Joint’s production of All That Fall. This was Beckett’s lush, lyrical radio play that I read at university and had wanted to ‘see’ for years. I loved the rhythm and flow of the words, the story of Mrs Rooney travelling to the station to collect her blind husband as a surprise on his birthday.

All That Fall - programme cover

Despite being one of Beckett’s more naturalistic plays, All That Fall is not very well known as the playwright was firmly opposed to his radio plays being adapted for the stage or screen. Beckett believed a radio play was ‘for voices not bodies’ and ‘to “act” it is to kill it.’

Theatre company Out of Joint’s answer to this is simple: blindfold the audience.

Stripped of sight, the play is a very intimate, immersive experience. All That Fall takes place in the low lit Victorian brick surroundings of Wilton’s Music Hall. Within a few seconds, I found the music hall was merging with a country Irish road populated with larger than life characters.

Mrs Rooney is a complex woman. She is funny and full of self-pity; she is also determined and loving.  Maddy Rooney will get to the station to collect her husband, no matter what setbacks may befall her on the way.

There are many wonderful 3D sound effects. A bicycle weaving through country lanes, a horse very reluctantly starting to pull its dung cart and a train speeding through the station, so close I could almost feel the wind on my face as it sped by.

The actors move among the audience all the time. Sometimes they are on the opposite side of the auditorium, sometimes they are right next to me, creating long shots and close ups inside my head. This dynamism means each audience member gets a different experience and perhaps an alternative perspective on what did – or didn’t – happen on the train.

Out of Joint has made a great radio play into a wonderful stage production while remaining true to Beckett’s vision of the play. As the director, Max Stafford-Clark says, ‘…there was no vision at all. Beckett’s instruction was that the voices come “as from the void”.’

This aural-only landscape provides both slapstick humour and darkness.  There’s Mrs Rooney the ‘big fat jelly’ being hoisted up into Mr Slocumb’s car. And the train is delayed – for a tragic reason. Go to All That Fall and see what happens in your mind’s eye. Decide how big – or not – Mrs Rooney is – and decide for yourselves whether the very dark end to the play really did occur.

The 6 Music Festival and Madonna falling off the stage at The BRITS

February 2016 was a month packed with music.

6 Music Festival

Savages, John Grant and Laura Marling were just some of my personal highlights from the 6 Music Festival in Bristol.

I spent a great weekend working with the web team back in London. I was photo-editing,  deciding which images should be used where on the website – including the single track image, 30 minute set image and the main promotional hero image. I also curated article pages, selecting the best photos which I then used to produce the Highlights article page in Isite2 -for example, Sunday Night’s Best Photos.

Radio 1 

The Monday after the 6 Music Festival, I was in the Pop Hub (which covers Radio 1, 1Xtra, 2, 6 Music and the Asian Network).

I wrote my first article for Radio 1 – One Love at Radio 1 – which included dating advice from A-List celebrities Rebel Wilson, Dakota Johnson and Ryan Reynolds.

On Friday, Ant and Dec were on the Radio 1 Breakfast Show. I listened to the broadcast then selected the most shareable clip. As The BRITS are next Wednesday, I chose Ant and Dec’s memories of The BRITS 2015 – which included missing Madonna falling off the stage. I put Ant and Dec’s clip in the Radio 1 Guests Collection and got it featured on the BBC Homepage on Sunday 21 February.

Ant and Dec Homepage

Sovereign – BBC Radio 4 15 Minute Drama

Henry VIII and his Great Progress passed by Radio 4 in October 2015.

Colin MacDonald’s adaptation of C.J.Sansom’s Sovereign is bloody, gripping and full of intrigue. It’s a safe place from which to experience the terror of life in Henry VIII’s court where friends are hard to distinguish from enemies and careless talk can cost you your tongue and maybe your head too.

Instead of Henry as the central character, overshadowing all around him, this story follows lawyer detective Matthew Shardlake as he takes a dangerous conspirator from York back to London for questioning.

Tudor Social

Drama director Kirsteen Cameron put me in contact with Colin so we could produce an article which could be shared across social platforms and encourage catch up listening.

The result was 11 Things you didn’t know about King Henry VIII’s Progress 

I created shareable assets for Twitter and Facebook which linked back to the article.

Tudors tend to do very well on Radio 4’s social accounts. Matthew Shardlake and his experiences of the paranoid Progress were no exception.

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Ray Bradbury’s Martian Chronicles – BBC Radio 4

“All those years dreaming of first contact. Now we knew we weren’t alone. We almost wished we were…”  Captain Wilder, Ray Bradbury’s Martian Chronicles

Ray Bradbury’s haunting Martian Chronicles is one of my favourite books. A series of beautifully written, linked short stories describing the doomed attempts to colonise Mars, The Martian Chronicles were adapted for BBC Radio 4’s Dangerous Visions series last year. If you missed it first time around, you can listen to it for the next 30 days.

I helped Senior Producer Liz Jaynes with bespoke assets for syndication across social media platforms. I produced this Martian Chronicles promo that was published ahead of the original broadcast and uploaded clips and other content including Stuart Maconie’s Dystopian Playlist – a wonderfully dark and fitting musical accompaniment to the dramas.

Another Ray Bradbury classic, The Illustrated Man is also available. This compellingly scary tale stars Iain Glen as the restless Illustrated Man and is a warning for all those seeking to know their future…

BBC Introducing: Vizii

The BBC’s Make it Digital Campaign is inspiring a new generation of coders, programmers and digital producers.

The season launched on 8th September 2015 with bespoke content from TV, Radio and Online.

One of the new digital platforms is mixital. Aimed at teenagers, mixital provides the tools and the users the imagination.  EastEnders, Doctor Who and Strictly Come Dancing are just some of the big BBC brands waiting to see what people will create.

BBC Introducing and Vizii

Vizii is the music strand of mixital where users produce their own music videos.

I helped Jon Howard, Executive Producer of the team behind mixital and Manish Pradhan, Senior Content Producer, Radio Multiplatform  with the final touches.

BBC Introducing specially selected the tracks they thought would work the best and I managed the relationships with the bands, checking they were happy to be involved and collecting their biographies, assets and logos that they wanted to be included.

BBC Introducing have set down this week’s challenge: ‘Make some visuals that feel like a live gig’.

It’s fantastic to see so much creativity in such a short space of time and I’m looking forward to seeing how it develops over the next few months.

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Symphinity: a new way to meet classical composers

I don’t know that much about classical music.

Symphinity is a gorgeous way to learn. Its various playlists take me on many musical journeys; introducing me to various composers and the worlds in which they lived.

The carefully curated playlists by  Chris Barstow consist of recently recorded music for Radio 3 – including selections from this year’s Proms.

I have been helping spread the word about Symphinity: Radio 3 Breakfast presenter Martin Handley talked about it, BBC Arts have featured it on their homepage  and various social media channels have shared the URL along with with specially created bespoke assets.

Symphinity will run for another month on BBC Taster and feedback so far has been very positive.

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A day with Jeremy Vine

Thought provoking and energetic – Jeremy Vine attracts over 7 million listeners each week with his programme’s unique blend of fast paced news and music.

I love listening to the programme and jumped at the chance to spend a day with the team to discover how it’s all put together.

The day begins at 730am with the team scouring suitable stories.

At 8am there is a production meeting where approximately twenty stories get whittled down to the four that will make it to air in just a few hours time.

The team often have a couple of stories already set up ‘but these are subject to change if something else comes in,’ says Tim Collins, who is editing the programme the day I’m there.

By 915 am, the once quiet office is buzzing with people typing and talking to possible guests.

The producers write thorough briefing notes and a cue for Jeremy.

Tim keeps an eye over all the stories as they develop over the course of the morning. He writes the headlines and fills out the running order, looking at the scripts as they develop.

At 11am, it’s time to brief Jeremy Vine on today’s stories.

At approximately 1120am, Jeremy goes on air to say what’s coming up and calls quickly begin coming in afterwards.

At midday, Jeremy Vine is broadcasting to the nation. The big news stories today are the same as those the day before – the migrants in Calais and Cecil the lion. This provides the chance to explore different angles: how is life in Kent being affected by what’s going on over the channel and is the best way to save animals from extinction to hunt them?

A feature on the proposed closure of Penn School in Buckinghamshire has two very powerful callers – mothers who describe the bullying their children faced in mainstream education and their fears on what will happen if the school closes.

At 2pm it’s all over for another day and it’s time to hit the phones again to find out what’s going to be in the show tomorrow…

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Tim Johns produces, reports and sometimes edits The Jeremy Vine Show and appears in my Social Media and the Law podcast.