HI Wireless Radio drama 'Eden' will broadcast at 1.30pm today on BBC Radio Scotland
By Jan Patience
“This is heaven!”
“Not quite. But you’re close...”
This is heaven, 21st century style and these two lines represent an opening exchange between 'God' and his first lady, 'Adama', in Eden, a new comedy set in a contemporary version of the Garden of Eden.
Fresh from the pen of Plockton-based newcomer, Jan Storie, the heavenly (and hilarious) radio drama airs on Friday 9th October on BBC Radio Scotland at 1.30pm.
With a high-profile cast which includes Still Game’s Gavin Mitchell as God and Jayd Johnson, BAFTA-winning star of The Field of Blood, as Adama, it has been brought to life thanks to Hi Wireless, a unique training initiative for emerging writers across the Highlands and Islands.
In Storie’s version of Eden, God is micro-managed by Archangel Gabriella (Linda Jane Devlin) against a backdrop of trilling phones and voices. Back on earth as birds tweet, bees buzz and the odd angels’ chorus intervenes, Adama may sound like an innocent abroad, but she’s a fast-learner.
“Part of your remit is to name everything in the garden,” a magisterial Mitchell proclaims. “You, Adama, are the mother of all living things. That means you have to procreate – a lot!”
Cue a knockabout sex scene towards the end of this allotted half-hour radio life-span between Adama and Yves (played in high-camp Franglais by Mark Prendergast).
According to Storie, who has lived in Plockton since moving there from Lanarkshire in the late 1980s, the support she received to develop her late-flowering writing career has been a revelation.
“I first got really interested in writing around 2000,” she says. “I had always written but I started to write pieces for local primary schools and amateur dramatics companies. I found out about The Writers’ Factory Screenwriting Express courses, Scottish Screen used to run in Edinburgh and did that. I was hooked.
“Then, in 2007, I met Amanda Millen, who runs Highlands and Islands screen and broadcast support body, ScreenHI. I quickly realised there was a lot of support available to aspiring writers in the Highlands and have since met people from all over Scotland who are amazed at the opportunities in the Highlands.”
It was through ScreenHI that Storie started to hear about training opportunities for writers. She was even offered the chance to work with the team behind the Children’s BAFTA award-winning Katie Morag series and went on to receive a joint writing credit on one of the episodes. Storie juggled her writing career with a job as a guide on a tourist boat during the summer months. Last year, thanks to a ScreenHI scholarship, she graduated with an MA in TV Fiction Writing from Glasgow Caledonian University.
Storie’s involvement with Hi Wireless goes back to 2011 when she responded to a call looking for aspiring writers. The plan was initially to record dramas written by 11 writers and put them online, but Millen, a former BBC drama producer, who also heads up the annual Inverness-based XpoNorth creative industries festival, took the scheme to another level.
“We decided to record the 11 dramas properly and the BBC offered access to their studios in Glasgow. We brought in well-known writers, Colin Macdonald and Chris Dolan, to mentor our scriptwriters, while Alan de Pellette, who has a strong track record with developing hit shows such Off The Ball, Chewin’ The Fat and Still Game was appointed director. I produced them all. Support came from ScreenHI via Highlands & Islands Enterprise and the European Regional Development Fund with additional funds from Creative Scotland.
“It’s taken a while but we’ve now got 11 really well-produced radio dramas featuring household names. As well as Gavin and Jayd, we have stars such as Paul Young, Daniela Nardini, Sharon Rooney and Gary Lewis star in the other dramas."
According to director, Alan de Pellette, Eden was great fun from start to finish. He explained: “Jan and I spent a lot of time finessing the story and the balance of humour and drama. I love that process of bouncing ideas back and forth. There’s a lot of ambition in the script and our cast did full justice to it; adding even more nuances in the studio.
“It’s been great to be part of a project that encourages new writers and invests in the process to make them as good as they can be.”
Now, when most people her age are contemplating retiral, Storie has a late-flowering career as a writer.
“Eden represents a wonderful calling card for me,” she says. “It’s a great opportunity for someone with no track record. I have another radio comedy drama in development and I’m also working on a six-part series set in the Highlands. This would never have happened without ScreenHI.”
Watch this airwave...
Eden can be heard on BBC Radio Scotland on Friday 9th October at 1.30pm and thereafter on BBC iPlayer
For more information, see http://screenhi.co.uk/blogs/80/high-drama-from-hi-wireless