Friday, April 08, 2011

The end of the road for the BBC World Service Drama

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, Apr 8, 2011 at 12:53 PM
Subject: The end of the road for the BBC World Service Drama
To: alokeshgupta

Dear Mr. Alokesh Gupta,


Despite our humble petition campaign's efforts to save the BBC World Service Drama from being cut, we were unable to change the course of events in this regards and the BBC World Service has now stopped the scheduling of regular drama output on its English Language Network as of 31st March 2011.


Our endeavours were well meaning and we would like to say a big thank you for your kind gesture in support of the petition and the campaign's efforts.


We would also like to use this opportunity to extend to you the appended farewell message we recently received from Marion Nancarrow (BBC World Service Executive Producer, Audio Drama) in summing up of what became of the of the BBC World Service Drama.


Thank you once again for your kind support, very much appreciated.


Warmest of regards from us.


Archie Graham & Linda Bergin

Petition Organizers

Save The BBC World Drama




From: Marion Nancarrow
Sent: 01 April 2011 14:01
Subject: World Service Drama (sadly not an April Fool)

Dear Friends
From midnight last night, after 79 years of broadcasting on the network, World Service's regular drama slot came to an end and the team was disbanded.

In its heydey, Drama transmitted 2.5 hours a week. Voices heard across those years included Donald Wolfit, John Gielgud, Rex Harrison, Peggy Ashcroft, Paul Scofield, Trevor Howard, Ian Holm, Judi Dench, Tom Conti, Penelope Wilton, John Kani, Winston Ntshona, Archie Panjabi, Juliet Stevenson, Keeley Hawes, Toby Stephens, Sophie Okonedo, David Suchet, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Bill Nighy, Meera Syal, Ed Asner and Calista Flockhart.   Kenneth Branagh, Daniel Day Lewis and Ewan McGregor did their first radio for the World Service!  Plays by Stoppard, Soyinka, Tremain, Beckett, Bennett, Rushdie, Naipaul, Atta Aidoo, Dove, Oda, Agboluaje, Baldwin and Shakespeare have been heard, winning countless Sonys. The hugely popular - and only global - soap, Westway, attracted a diversity of writing and acting talent and won the CRE Award for Best Soap in 2000 (beating Coronation Street!). The entire 7 years of broadcast was repeated on Radio 7.

Recent judges for the international playwriting competition, now in its 22nd year, included Doris Lessing, Lennie James and Kwame Kwei-Armah. Recent collaborations have been with Shakespeare's Globe, the Royal Court, King's College, The Slade School of Fine Art and, of course, the British Council.

Directors Gordon House and David Hitchinson became household names and the department has always shared its expertise with new writers, directors and actors. Westway became a training ground for writers and producers moving on to Eastenders, Casualty and beyond and the department gave advice, support and training for drama projects set up by the WS Trust, including Rruga Me Pisha in Albania, Story Story in Nigeria and Thabyegone Ywa in Burma, as well as to the Asian network soap, Silver Street. We ran writing and acting workshops in Ghana, Cameroon, Kenya, Zimbabwe, across South Africa, Malawi and the Middle East. We co-founded "Worldplay", an annual season of international collaborations with English-speaking Radio Drama Producers across the world. With the British Council and African Productions, the first ever 2nd language radio writing residency was set up in London. Writers who attended went on to win the Caine Prize, to be shortlisted for the Asian Booker and to have plays premiered off Broadway and at the Royal Court.

And World Drama became the place for new voices from the Sony Gold winner Michael Philip Edwards' one man show Runt, about being Jamaican in America, to plays by 10 year olds from Ghana, Kosovo, Singapore and Bangladesh in Generation Next; from 12 Royal Court Young Writers in 12 countries writing online about water in We Are Water, to young people living with disabilities in Uganda in Beautiful Only at Night. Our last 2 regular broadcasts were a play inspired by the work of a theatre company in Malawi who use drama to change attitudes to HIV/AIDS and a Russian playwright's first commission about climate change, written in the Artic!  In this way, the network gave a platform and an opportunity to celebrate the diversity, imagination and universality of every country of which its audience was comprised.

Of course, we continue to run the BBC/British Council International Playwriting Competition and that is a wonderful and genuine way to continue to bring new voices to the network. And some ad hoc drama will hopefully continue.

I'm incredibly proud of what we've been able to achieve - and lament what our audience and the upcoming generation of talent will lose - but I'm also acutely aware that none of this would have happened without you - our fantastic contributors and supporters, who gave so much to ensure that only the best work was heard on air.  And that really is the point of this long email: I can't thank you enough.  I hope we will find other ways to bring those stories to the world. 

In the meantime, my warmest wishes, as ever,


Executive Producer, Audio Drama     


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