Monday, 26 August 2013

Far From the Fogs

 I know, I know, but I'll do anything for a few more listeners! Here I am on the cover of the Saturday supplements of the Eastern Daily Press and Norwich Evening News at the weekend.

I’ve mentioned before on this blog how one of the aspects of my job as a radio producer that I most enjoy is the occasional opportunity it affords me to make documentaries. Pieces you can take more time over than the cut-and-thrust of live radio allows; something you can really work at and craft and get right, much like a piece of writing.

Today, my station – BBC Radio Norfolk – broadcast a programme I’ve been working on since the late spring. It’s a documentary called Far From the Fogs, and it looks at the connections between the character of Sherlock Holmes and the county of Norfolk.

I was quite pleased with how it turned out, and lots of people have been very nice about it. But what’s also something of an added bonus is the fact that making the programme has allowed me to do another little bit of professional writing for a change.

My boss at the radio station, David Clayton, suggested to his opposite number at the Eastern Daily Press (effectively Norfolk’s ‘national newspaper’) that a tie-in feature article would be a good idea. They liked the idea, and thanks to the editor Nigel Pickover and the features editor Trevor Heaton, I ended up not only writing a 1200-word piece for the weekend (or Weekend) supplement in Saturday’s edition of the paper, but also looking slightly silly on the cover of the supplement in a cape and deerstalker borrowed from the Maddermarket Theatre!

The piece also appeared in the EDP’s sister title, the Evening News. It’s probably the largest number of readers I’ve had for anything I’ve written since my broadcasting features for The Stage back in the day. Truly, I am now a proper member of the Norfolk media Mafia!

 My piece in the EDP.

What’s especially rewarding is the fact that nothing much seems to have been done to the article since I submitted it. Being a bit out of practice writing features of this kind, I had expected it to be cut to ribbons by a sub-editor, but it actually appeared in the paper pretty much word-for-word as written. Which means it must have been to a decent enough standard, which is a very nice thought.

I’m also pleased with the fact that I managed to write a completely different, shorter article for my colleagues at BBC News Online, for which opportunity I must thank Martin Barber. Whereas the EDP piece was a more authored article looking at the broad range of topics covered in the programme, the BBC News piece was shorter, more neutral and less authored in style, and focused on one particular aspect of the documentary.

 Top news for Norfolk!

So, not fiction, but nice to have a couple more professional credits to my name. Even if it does reinforce my belief that, rather sadly, I’m probably much better at writing non-fiction than I am fiction. I need to come up with an idea for a novel that I can write as if it were a piece of non-fiction, perhaps – as if reporting in a journalistic fashion on events which never actually happened.