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I have to go back to early September 2010 where for nearly a week the cast and crew lived and worked in Robin Hood Bay recording Shedtown on location before the weather broke too much. Ha ha, the British weather kept us on our toes and made umpteen schedules out of date almost before they had come out of the printer.
The frst episode is called “Something is Gonna Change….
“Who hasn’t thought about running away from it all at some time or other? Throwing caution to the wind, wrenching oneself out of a long established orbit to head for the deep space of the unknown?
Barry (Tony Pitts) and Jimmy (Kevin Eldon) haven’t. Until now. Friends since school days in a small town, they find themselves slipping inexorably and almost unconsciously into middle age. Shedtown is a dream born out of quiet desperation. Throughout the series our wooden icon of escape and isolation ‘the shed’ becomes a symbol of possibility and change; a new community by the sea where our heroes can circumnavigate the mundane, once and for all. It’s the works day out for the workers of Blakeley Industrial Museum – and something’s got to change.”
We had to record 4 episodes in 4 days across a range of locations, not least of which was finding a shed to record in. Of course we couldn’t find a shed by the beach to record in so what did we do, well you will have to wait until next week before the second episode. I don’t want to give the game away!
One of the challenges recording on location was to find a shed to record all the ‘shed actoring’ in. Sally Harrison, the producer had done some research and found 2 possible candidates. One was a small shed in the village itself, and the second was the score board hut at the local cricket club. Both had their merits so we decided to use them both for different scenes. The one in the village we used when Barry gets kicked out of the house and decides to live in the shed in the garden with his dog. But because it was in the village and it was full of visitors we had the fun of getting a complete take in without too many people in the background. We decided to use the cricket club shed for the sheds that become “Shedtown” on the beach. However part way through recording the shed scenes a local farmer decided to plough a field close to the cricket club so we had to time the ‘takes’ when he was at the far end of his field. However we were loosing too much time, so we abandoned the session and went and recorded some other scenes. The next time we returned to the cricket club, the farmer had gone but instead, not long after after starting again, we had a pitch invasion! A number of young people had been tasked to tidy up the ground and they had to do it that date. So we then had to search for yet another shed! We found one that belonged to the ice cream seller on the beach and he kindly cleared it out and so his shed enabled us to complete all the shed scenes for the series in one session and helped us get back on track.
The closing scene where the council send in bulldozers to demolish Shedtown was fun to create for radio. First a building storm through the episode then the arrival of the bulldozers, all normal stuff for a radio drama but then add the ice cream van pushing a shed into its hole and finally the storm rolling the bulldozer over and over with the council official Deborah Dearden inside was fun to create. Needless to say lots of layers in there but the break through sound was the sound of a steel rolling mill which gave me heavy rhythmic clanking as the steel went back and forth through the rollers. I then processed Emma’s screams so they span round and round.
However there is another scene that is worthy of a little reveal into the magic of radio drama. It is where Dave and Diane are playing with their latest toy a ‘metal detective’ and they decide to bury Dave in sand using a snokel so he can breathe. The plan is that Diane will be able to find him because “there is metal in his fillings and foil in his cigarette packet”. Being radio of course we don’t actually need to bury Shaun, but some seroius acting was called for from them both as you can see from the pictures….
Barry …… Tony Pitts
Jimmy & Johnny ….. Kevin Eldon
Colin ….. Johnny Vegas
Diane ….. Suranne Jones
Dave ….. Shaun Dooley
Eleanor ….. Ronni Ancona
Maureen ….. Emma Fryer
William ….. Adrian Manfredi
Nicky ….. Caron May Carly
Yvonne ….. Jessica Knappett
Father Michael ….. James Quinn
Wes …… Warren Brown
Narrator ….. Maxine Peake
Music ….. Paul Heaton
Sound Design ….. Mike Thornton
Written and created by Tony Pitts
Directed by Jim Poyser
Producer: Sally Harrison
A Woolyback Production for BBC Radio 4.
We’re half way through Tony Pitts’s blackly comic series, about a strange seaside place where odd people live. At three in the morning someone is screaming. It’s the kind of thing that happens in Shedtown down by the bay, where dogs arrive as parcels in the post. It’s a bit like Under Milk Wood with touches of Father Ted. And it’s curiously addictive, the vivid, dreamlike script given life by a marvellous cast, including Suranne Jones, Ronni Ancona and Johnny Vegas as Colin (a thoughtful melancholic). Tonight: a puppet show about 9/11.
The Daily Telegraph
Shedtown, a new programme from Johnny Vegas’s production company, was far from ranty: a strange drama/comedy/soundscape, narrated by Maxine Peake, it took advantage of its 11pm slot to offer something much more dreamy and hilarious than the usual wait-for-the-laughter Radio 4 fare. It’s about the final works trip for the staff of a failed museum. They go to the seaside. The jokes came in under the radar: “What can I get you?” asked the barmaid. “Peace of mind,” said Barry. “I want a pint, me,” said Dave. The barmaid talked them through the new menu, which included chicken catch-a-Tory.
I am proud that she used ‘soundscape’ in her description of Shedtown as I worked hard to provide an aural wash of sound to support the narrative.
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