amazing grace – bbc radio 4 drama

3, July 2010

As some of you may know I’ve recently been exploring opportunities in writing for radio. From what I’ve learnt thus far it seems to be a great way for newbie writers to cut their teeth, get a commission and generally learn about the practicalities of writing for production and a real audience.

I’m so pleased that the BBC have been keeping this medium alive because I recently came across a new radio mini-series on BBC Radio 4’s Women’s Hour called Amazing Grace that really captivated me:

When Grace’s Sudanese village is attacked, she scoops up her four young children and they flee, running for their lives.  Safety is within reach, and a truck full of displaced villagers lets her on board. She loads her two daughters on to the truck and turns to lift the boys up – but they aren’t there. And the truck must go. Grace must make any parent’s most feared decision. A choice that is no choice – to save the children she has with her or abandon them to look for the two who are left behind. This is the story of Grace – now living in the UK – and her battle to find and bring back her missing children.

you’ve got til the 5th of July to listen to the ep’s on iPlayer so please do go check it out.

And if like me you’re interested in the behind-the-scene stuff check out Michelle Litpon’s (writer) and Justine Potter’s (producer-Savvy Productions) blogs. Michelle has been kind enough to post up the scripts for the series and Justine has plenty of posts about the process as well as hints and tips on radio and transmedia production.

What I think Amazing Grace does well is tell a compelling story in short 15 minute episodes that does what any great narrative should do – it takes you into the story via the characters and opens you up to their world.

You should also listen to it for the music and sound design. Both paint such a vivid picture of the world of the story and transport you from Urban London to war-torn Sudan and back again with such easy. Hearing how much could be achieved and how rich it made the story has really opened my eyes/ears to the power of radio.

Being a fan of episodic storytelling I thought the 15 minute ep’s worked beautifully as well. The writer was able to skip any unnecessary transitions and pick up each new ep not necessarily at where the last one left off but at the next most compelling moment in the story.

So as a famous Aussie music reviewer is known for saying, do yourself a favour and go check it out.

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