Towards the end of my college course in 2004 my regular writing partner and I had a few ideas floating around. One of which was a radio show in which each episode would be the final one in a fictional series. We were all set to run through almost every single genre possible and pick holes. We had convinced ourselves that this was a fantastic idea and worthy of being sent out to producers. This we did with gusto. The responses back were either a polite ‘We don’t feel this idea is for us’ or the deadly sound of silence. One particular letter broke the mould by actually giving us feedback, saying that there was no way such a project would get the green light when it was so disjointed. Nobody would have any emotional investment in the characters if they were changing every week. There would have to be some kind of link between them all. The idea was shelved and we carried on with all the other, game changing ideas we had come up with that would no doubt gain us fame and fortune.
We were young.
I’ve never really ditched any script idea fully in such a fashion that it’s completely forgotten. Ideas morph and alter and sometimes they are stripped for parts and used in new ideas. It took around six years for the link between episodes to be established. If all the episodes were by the same writer then at least that would give some identity to it. The radio script was rewritten quickly in 2010, the name of the writer was ‘Henry Barstow’ which was the name of a fictional Tory MP in Scotland from another abandoned script I wrote. In this script Barstow had become a scriptwriter so desperate for a break he almost kidnaps his first agent. I put him in Eastriggs, simply because it’s the town where my Mum grew up. The episodes rapidly became different (failed) productions in his not so great career. Then I saw a BBC show in which they had actors relive scripts from ‘Round The Horne’, a radio comedy show from the 1950’s featuring Kenneth Williams playing such characters as Rambling Sid Rumpo.
It’s a show my Mum introduced me to when I was young alongside The Goon Show and Hancock’s Half Hour (the radio listening habits of my Mum and I will probably be another blog post all together). This modern day TV return was quite simple, four old style BBC microphones on stage. I rewrote Henry Barstow as a stage play with the only three members of the Henry Barstow Appreciation Society reprising what they consider as some of his greatest work. Essentially it’s a sketch show going through different television and film genres with a cast engaged in constant bickering. Somebody who I used to work with was involved in Carlisle’s Green Room Theatre so it’s actually being performed this September (12th-14th). It won’t be in the theatre itself, more in the bar downstairs. I’ve written in the fact that Barstow was a drunkard in his later life, it seemed the apt thing to do considering the location.
If you’re in the area at the time then feel free to come along. Each performance has space for about 30 people so we have a a fair amount to shift. I’ll probably attend one of the performances under the guise of ‘nervous fellow in the corner with a notepad’.