Ultra Violet

My first thoughts are of a Sanisette, a time machine, or the Orgasmatron from Sleeper. The nurse slides the door open and I step in to familiarise myself. The cabin isn’t bigger on the inside. It is seven-sided, and each side has six floor-to-ceiling UV tubular light bulbs. She shuts me in to check that I don’t get the screaming hab-dabs in the small space. (I don’t.) There are a number of handrails at different heights I can choose from, but once treatment starts I will have to assume the same position every time. Dark googles and a black sock (to cover my genitals) will be compulsory. After the nurse talks some more I decide that wearing a visor will be a good idea, too.

When I step back into the room she examines the MED test (Minimal Erythema Dose) they performed on my back yesterday. From this, she can gauge how strong the UV light should be when I go into the cabin for real. Then we go through some paperwork. She asks me if I’m aware of the very small risk of a big side-effect (skin cancer). I say I probably saw it in all the notes I’ve been given but invite her to go through it again – at which point the student nurse who’s sitting in suppresses a giggle.

Today is the follow-up to the assessment I had the day before. Since my GP referral came to the top of the pile I’ve seen a consultant, had blood tests and been photographed near-naked from a number of angles while striking Vitruvian Man poses. And I’ve seen the photos. It’s disturbing enough to see my less-than-lovely body and my condition, psoriasis, so starkly captured. But long ago, I worked in academic publishing: I see myself transformed into a series of illustrations for a medical textbook (Figure 1.1, 1.2 etc.) I imagine the head shots with my eyes blacked out.

We run through a few more do’s and don’ts after which the nurse declares me good-to-go for phototherapy. They’d like to start on Monday. I can’t, I say. I’ll be in studio recording the fourth series of Annika Stranded. So it will be the Monday after that: the first of three sessions per week, for ten weeks.

Why am I telling you this? My condition is neither life-threatening nor debilitating. Phototherapy sessions last for no more than a few minutes. But I’ve had psoriasis for about twenty-five years. In recent times it has spread, and I find it both more morale-sapping and damaging to self-esteem than I once did. I’m curious both to see if the treatment works at all and find out if my preoccupations change in the coming weeks. Perhaps I’ll develop a new relationship with my body beyond the ‘Oh, it’s you’ terms that have sufficed for so long. Perhaps I’ll think of nothing more pressing than whether Pickford or Butland should keep goal for England. Or maybe I’ll find something of interest to others who, like me, have the recurring – if irrational – fear of waking up one morning to find themselves transformed into Michael Gambon in The Singing Detective.

To be continued.


Postscript: In between times I hope to resume Geezer-posting about more familiar subjects, too. In the meantime, here’s a nod to those talented people I might have celebrated during the silent months:

Daniela Denby-Ashe; Cameron Raynes; Richard Brennan; Matt Haig; Tom Hollander; Alison MacLeod; Indira Varma; Alex Preston; Joe Sims; Julie Mayhew; Bryony Hannah; Hannah Silva; Hattie Morahan; Sophie Hannah; Monica Dolan; Louise Erdrich and Cherrelle Skeete.

Particular apologies to A.M. Bakalar and Agnieszka Dale whose books – Children Of Our Age and Fox Season respectively – I would have blogged about but for time pressure and maybe a loss of nerve.






Posted in A.M. Bakalar, Agnieszka Dale, Alex Preston, Alison MacLeod, Annika Stranded, BBC, Book at Bedtime, Bryony Hannah, Cameron Raynes, Cherrelle Skeete, Children Of Our Age, Daniela Denby-Ashe, Fox Season, Hannah Silva, Hattie Morahan, Indira Varma, Joe Sims, Julie Mayhew, Louise Erdrich, Matt Haig, MED test, Michael Gambon, Monica Dolan, Orgasmatron, phototherapy, psoriasis, radio, Radio 4, Radio 4Extra, Richard Brennan, Sanisette, short stories, Sleeper, Sweet Talk, The Singi, The Singing Detective, Tom Hollander, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Susmita Reclaims Her Voice: My Chemo Brain

Susmita [photo by Rohini Bhattacharya]

So what happened to me? I became a writer who could not write anymore.

In the spring of 2015 I had a Skype-chat with Susmita Bhattacharya. I needed to record some pronunciations before taking her story The Summer Of Learning into studio. Susmita had not long finished another round of chemotherapy following surgery for breast cancer the previous year. I wasn’t to mind her ‘punk look’, she warned me.

Pronunciations captured, we talked mostly about raga – something I knew little about – and what type might be appropriate to underscore her story musically. Beyond the fact that she was recovering, we didn’t really discuss her illness. Now that her treatment was over, now that her prognosis was good, now that she was ‘better’, I guessed Susmita’s main challenge would be fatigue.

Which shows how much I knew.

Awareness about breast cancer itself has, thankfully, increased in recent years. Less is widely-known about its aftermath, what’s really going on when people like me think someone is better, and it’s this that Susmita addresses in her creative non-fiction piece for Radio 4, My Chemo Brain. I don’t want to give away too much more now because I’d rather you listened instead.

In studio [photo by Jeremy Osborne]

Our radio experiments in ‘creative non-fiction’  – an elusive thing neither essay nor documentary – are still at the ‘playing in the sandpit’ stage. Though it required a lot of work from the writers to make it work, our first attempt – Comics, War And Ordinary Miracles by Adnan Mahmutovic and Lucy Durneen – came largely ready-made conceptually. And we haven’t done enough of these pieces yet to formulate ‘rules’ for them. Susmita had explored her territory in more factual essays addressing the effect of illness on her work, but we wanted something more personal, something that gave her licence to create again.

A character evolved: a young girl about whom Susmita planned to write once she had reclaimed her writing brain from her chemo brain. In the text around her, the recurring editorial note to Susmita in the drafts of the piece was ‘more of you, please.’

And Susmita gave more of herself. A lot of herself. This is the hardest thing to ask of anyone.

She also reads, beautifully.

My Chemo Brain goes out on BBC Radio 4 on Friday, 3.45 pm on Friday 29 September. Available for 30 days thereafter on BBC iPlayer.





Posted in Adnan Mahmutovic, BBC, breast cancer, chemotherapy, creative non-fiction, Lucy Durneen, My Chemo Brain, radio, Radio 4, raga, Short Works, storytelling, Susmita Bhattacharya, Sweet Talk, The Summer Of Learning, Uncategorized, War & Ordinary Miracles | Leave a comment

Cut And Paste by Anya Lipska

“She’d never had any truck with the supernatural, but now and again she did sense something in the air around the dead … a faint fizzing. The last trace of the energy that had animated them for a lifetime, perhaps, hanging there like unspent static.”

Cassie Raven is a mortuary attendant with a sense of vocation. The people in her care may be dead but they are still people, and Cassie is their dedicated custodian. She prepares them for post-mortem analysis as carefully as a nurse tends the living on a hospital ward. She helps the pathologist, as she puts it, to “try to give [their families] some answers.” And Cassie sometimes comes up with answers of her own.

Anya Lipska [photo by Martyna Przybysz]

Cassie is the protagonist of Cut And Pastea short crime story by Anya Lipska, which goes out on Radio 4 this afternoon.

I’ve been increasingly drawn to crime lately. For another project, I’ve been trying to source published crime stories that might fit, or could be made to fit, the strict parameters of the ‘radio short’. They are out there, but – given that even short crime works tend to rely on the twist and turn – finding them is harder than you think. Far better, then, to commission a bespoke tale: easier for me but still a real challenge for the writer. Anya Lipska has risen to it. Cut And Paste a rounded tale driven less by detection than the need to find evidence. This would be impressive enough. But she has also created a vibrant character and an entire ‘precinct’ – all in just 13 minutes.

Ellie Kendrick [photo by Jeremy Osborne]

Ellie Kendrick is probably best-known for her role as Anne in a BBC adaptation of The Diary Of Anne Frank some years ago, and recently as Meera Reed in Game Of Thrones. Cut And Paste is written, mostly, from Cassie’s point of view, but it isn’t a first person narrative. Some radio readers ‘read’ their stories, others ‘inhabit’ them – both these approaches can yield fine results. But Ellie seems to go beyond this, not so much reading this story as becoming it, to the extent that it was difficult not to call her Cassie while we were recording – and at one point someone did just that. She is a special talent.

Anya Lipska is the author of the ‘Kiszka and Kershaw’ trilogy, crime novels set in the Polish community in London’s East End: Where The Devil Can’t Go; Death Can’t Take A Joke and A Devil Under The Skin. We produced a Kiszka ‘prequel’ – Another Kind Of Man – as part of our Angielski season for Radio 4 in 2015.

Cassie is leading her by the hand into new and beguiling territory …

Cut And Paste by Anya Lipska will TX at 3.45 pm on Friday 18 August 2017 on BBC Radio 4. It will available for 30 days thereafter on BBCiPlayer.


See also: http://www.sweettalkproductions.co.uk; Angielski; and an interview with Ellie Kendrick in the Daily Telegraph education pages this week: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/university-checklist/ellie-kendrick-interview/



Posted in A Devil Under The Skin, Angielski, Another Kind Of Man, Anya Lipska, BBC, Cassie Raven, crime fiction, Cut And Paste, Death Can't Take A Joke, Ellie Kendrick, Game Of Thrones, janusz Kiszka, Martyna Przybysz, Meera Reed, radio, Radio 4, short stories, Short Works, storytelling, Sweet Talk, The Diary Of Anne Frank, Uncategorized, Where The Devil Can't Go | Leave a comment

Stories With Music: The New World by Federica Lugaresi

There is a lot of music in this story.

Photo by Alice Borgatti

Gustav is an ageing violinist based in London but originally from Prague. He sits in a concert hall on the South Bank and loses himself in the music – , naturally – and in good memories from his youth. At the end he steps out into the warm London night, still in good spirits and lost in music. But then things start to go wrong.

So begins The New World by Federica Lugaresi, read by Jonathan Coy, which goes out on Radio 4 tomorrow. You’ll have to listen to find out what happens to Gustav thereafter.

Federica. [Photo by Alberto Mantovani]

Our long-running new writing showcase The Time Being may have come to end – at least for now – but we are still on the lookout for new writers when and where we can. Where did we find Federica? Not for the first time over the years we are in the debt of the excellent creative writing department at Birkbeck College, London. In this instance, Toby Litt shared Federica’s ‘Roundabout’ – a colourful tale but emotionally nicely understated – on social media. Months later, The New World is about to hit the airwaves.

A producer’s pulse quickens when he or she reads a story that calls out for musical colour. It’s an invitation to play, a chance to be creative. But it’s also a challenge to keep it under control. Once you underscore one mood with music, another mood demands you counter with something else (in this story Shostakovich makes a sudden, unscripted appearance for this very reason.) It’s difficult to start running Smetana’s Vltava under anything and know when to say ‘Enough!’

Years ago, I went to see an exhibition of Holbein’s work. The pictures that interested me most were some exquisite pencil drawings of members of King Henry’s court – occasionally heightened by small patches of colour wash. What producers do is ‘the wash’ – it can enhance, but the line is still the thing.

Maybe it’s serendipity that The New World is going out on the same day as the first night of the Proms …

The New World by Federica Lugaresi will TX on BBC Radio 4 on 14 July at 3.45 pm. Available on iPlayer thereafter for 30 days.


See also http://www.sweettalkproductions.co.uk





Posted in Alberto Mantovani, Alice Borgatti, BBC, Birkbeck College, Dvořák, Federica Lugaresi, Holbein, Jonathan Coy, Proms, radio, Radio 4, Roundabout, short stories, Shostakovich, Smetana, storytelling, Sweet Talk, The New World, Toby Litt, Uncategorized, Vltava | 2 Comments

What The Short Story Is For: Companions by Adam Marek

I first came across Adam Marek in a cemetery, where he was reading a story by torchlight.

It was a dark unstormy night in November. In the chapel at Earlsfield Cemetery – lights dimmed for post-Halloween ambience – Adam read to audience at a Word Factory gathering called ‘Hauntings’, while I sat in the corner of the back pew. This was in 2013. Adam’s first collection came out in 2007 so he was already a belated discovery, especially for the likes of me whose job it is not to discover writers like Adam belatedly. A number of people had said ‘You really should read …’ But I was slow off the mark. I refuse to link those two statements …

So Adam read and I listened. And then I started to read. Early in 2014, we produced a series for Radio 4Extra entitled ‘The Stories Of Adam Marek’, selecting five tales from his published collections Instruction Manual For Swallowing and The Stone Thrower, and featuring perhaps his best-known piece, ‘The 40-Litre Monkey’. Later that year, Adam wrote ‘The Bullet Racers’ for our series Short Rides In Fast Machines, a tale in which a journalist investigates claims that a teenage boy ran faster than a gunshot in a village’s annual event.

What’s with the fox? You’ll have to listen.

Adam’s latest story, ‘Companions’, went out on Radio 4 on Friday 9 June (even this post is ‘belated’ – I’m rubbish at what I do) but please, please find it on iPlayer over the next 30 days. A young man is having problems in his relationship and confides in his grandmother. Nothing unusual there, except that his grandmother is long dead (he communes with her in dreams) and the woman in his life is a robot. Thankfully – for his sake – Alicia Vikander in Ex Machina it ain’t. Granted, it has been programmed to have moods, to be unpredictable, but nevertheless it is devoted to him. Even so …

Lee Ingleby is a fine actor and finds all the nuances, all the humour and the underlying darkness in his reading.

Currently, a writer friend of mine is collating responses to the question ‘What’s the point of short stories?’ I’m not going to take this on here – I’ll refer you to her when she’s ready. But Adam’s work is a coruscating example of what the short story can do, using the freedom of the form to entertain and disturb the reader or listener in equal measure. He takes ideas or random events or very strange things and drops them like paint bombs into the everyday. Once we’ve processed the massive splats and wiped our eyes, what we see in front of us is the all-too-human in high-vis colours. When you’ve assimilated the idea of creatures being quantified this way, the crazed pet-shop owner of the 40-litre monkey begins to look a bit like an insecure, hyper-motivated parent: obsessive and abusive, certainly, but also with a strange kind of love. While ‘Companions’ has a futuristic/sci-fi setting, it’s really a tale about loneliness, self-doubt and family shadows.

What’s the point of a short story? You might as well ask what a blackbird is for, or a monkey of unspecified volume. Whether you’re already a fan of Adam’s work or would like to discover him, I hope you’ll listen.

‘Companions’ by Adam Marek is available on BBC Radio 4 via BBC iPlayer.


See also: Speed Merchants: Short Rides In Fast Machines


photo credit: Martin Cathrae <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/34067077@N00/5764381831″>Parental Fox</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;






Posted in Adam Marek, Alicia Vikander, BBC, Companions, Ex Machina, Hauntings, Instruction Manual For Swallowing, Lee Ingleby, radio, Radio 4, Radio 4Extra, Short Rides In Fast Machines, short stories, storytelling, Sweet Talk, The 40-Litre Monkey, The Bullet Racers, The Stone Thrower, The Stories Of Adam Marek, Uncategorized, Word Factory | Leave a comment

Edna Returns: Roots And Wings by Carys Bray

Edna meets her friend Pearl most Tuesday afternoons for conversation fuelled by gin and orange squash. If you’ve had the good fortune to read Carys Bray‘s novel The Museum Of You, you will already know this. Edna Mackerel features prominently as young Clover Quinn’s next-door neighbour. She is known for her plain-speaking. Investigating a racket next-door to find Becky, Clover’s mother, on all fours and yelling in pain, Edna exhorted her to “SHUT HER GOB and OPEN HER LEGS!”, before delivering Clover on the kitchen floor (which afterwards she mopped). She also has a tendency to mix up her words. But while Edna and Pearl may be elderly, they both have all their ‘facilities’.

Edna also collects cottage ornaments:

“…  Every surface – windowsill, television stand, a small display cabinet and the mantelpiece – is decorated with them, all slightly different but essentially the same: whitewashed walls and thatched roofs with tiny flower-filled gardens wrapped by hedges. The houses have names like Rose Cottage, Thistle Cottage and Midnight Cottage. Clover used to line them up on the carpet when she was younger, deciding which she liked best, which she would live in if she were a centimetre tall. […] this particular collection mystifies Clover. Mrs Mackerel […] would hate living in the countryside – if anything from outdoors ever sneaks inside she takes off her slipper and fights it to the death. “

Carys Bray. [photo by Colin McPherson]

But how does an apparently unsentimental woman accumulate so much kitsch? In her own – sometimes gloriously misspoken – words, Edna sheds some light on this in Roots And Wings, Carys Bray’s wry and tender story which broadcasts tomorrow on Radio 4. Edna also has plenty to say on bereavement, parenthood and the shortcomings of municipal refuse collection.

Susan Jameson did fine work before and has done a lot more since, but in my head she was fixed as ‘Jessie Seaton’ from When The Boat Comes In. As a teenager in the 70s, watching the series on our black-and-white TV, I had no inkling that one day I would get to work with her. So there was a layer of childish delight when she agreed to read Roots And Wings. Needless to say, she brings Edna  to life on air completely, finding not only the humour and resilience but also a spirituality that I suspect Edna keeps hidden in her everyday dealings with the world.

While this is Edna’s story, do not underestimate her friend Pearl. She “caught more than a hundred shoplifters when she worked as a store detective!” And her “coffee walnut cake was the best in Merseyside!” Pearl has unorthodox views about funeral cover. And she used to have a saying taped to her fridge: “To our children we give two things, one is roots, the other wings.”

But to find out what Edna makes of that, you’ll have to tune in.

Roots And Wings by Carys Bray will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4, Friday 5 May 2017, and available for 30 days thereafter on BBC iPlayer.


photo credit: tubblesnap <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/7317295@N04/14200298695″>Lilliput Lane</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

Posted in BBC, Carys Bray, Clover Quinn, Edna Mackerel, radio, Radio 4, Roots And Wings, short stories, storytelling, Sweet Talk, The Museum Of You, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Angela Readman Kills The Witch …

… Or does she?

“Hansel still swears it was the sweetest cottage he ever saw, and the peeling paint on the door looked like frosty angelica. I’m not so sure.”

Script and red radio. [Photo by Angela Readman]

Script and red radio. [Photo by Angela Readman]

These words are spoken by Gretel, and come from Angela Readman’s forthcoming radio story, The Night We Killed The WitchUnlike many re-workings of fairy tales, this relies on neither a shift to the present nor to a fantasy future. (Thankfully, Hansel And Gretel: Witchhunters this ain’t.) Instead the setting is timeless and the language connects entirely naturally with the living earth: it reaches out, albeit from a distance, to the spirit of the Brothers Grimm version, or even the medieval tale – developed out of the Great Famine – that some believe was their original source. Equally, you can find modern resonances in tales of refugees, and the story is shot through with a contemporary emotional intelligence.

I’ll give you a small spoiler: Hansel and Gretel’s parents – usually depicted as a weak father and evil stepmother – more closely resemble the rest of us, except that they are caught between a large granite boulder and well-hard hard place. To find out the rest, please listen.

Angela Readman first blinked on our radar a while ago when she submitted a story for our Time Being new writing showcase. She was earmarked for broadcast, only for the series to be decommissioned. But a reading of the title story from her recent collection Don’t Try This At Home – in which a woman subdivides her boyfriend like a worm under a sharp spade – was enough to be reminded that her radio debut was long overdue.

Photo by Wolf Marloh. [By permission of Bryony Hannah]

Photo by Wolf Marloh. [By permission of Bryony Hannah]

The Night We Killed The Witch is read by Bryony Hannah. As I’ve said before – Bryony is already a byword for reading excellence, as her previous work with us more than demonstrates (Closer by C.D.Rose; The Last Train by Jo Baker; No-one Belongs Here More Than You by Miranda July and We Have Always Lived In The Castle by Shirley Jackson). Here, she not only grasps Angela’s emotional intelligence but adds another layer of her own.

At a time when more (not less) is more; when the world seems to be dominated by those who shout or those who respond to the shouting, it has never been more important to defend small things like the short story and to keep our ears pricked for the softer sounds of quiet intelligence and heart. Whether with live radio or using iPlayer I hope you’ll ring-fence a quiet space to listen to this, and let two superior storytellers transport you.

The Night We Killed The Witch – specially-commissioned by Sweet Talk Productions for BBC Radio 4 – goes out on 3 March at 3.45 pm and is available thereafter on BBC iPlayer for 30 days.


Posted in Angela Readman, BBC, Brothers Grimm, Bryony Hannah, C.D. Rose, Don't Try This At Home, Hansel and Gretel, Jo Baker, Miranda July, No-one Belongs Here More Than You, radio, Radio 4, Shirley Jackson, short stories, storytelling, The Last Train, The Time Being, Uncategorized, We Have Always Lived In The Castle | Leave a comment

Room Service by Heidi Amsinck



A blizzard sweeps across Copenhagen. Warm and secure in the hotel kitchen, Bent spends his night shift as he always does, mostly drunk, mostly asleep – until something disturbs him from his boozy slumbers …

Add an antique rotary telephone, some old portraits and Lobster Thermidor into the mix and you have most of the ingredients for ‘Room Service’, Heidi Amsinck’s latest radio story.

2588334987_1fd075ec13I thought Heidi’s last series of stories – Copenhagen Curios in 2015 – were her best radio work to date. But ‘Room Service’ – only a one-off tale, sadly – is every bit as strong. The world is familiar: the cobwebbed elegance of ‘Old Europe’, minimal daylight and that inherent creepiness which can make an oak-panelled room sinister simply because it’s an oak-panelled room. But with every outing, Heidi’s storytelling increasingly matches the elegance of her settings.

Tim [photo by Jeremy Osborne]

Tim [photo by Jeremy Osborne]

Tim McInnerny has read a number of Heidi’s previous stories and ‘Room Service’ was written specifically for him. Not only does he tell the tale with his usual class but he is better at being a Danish old lady than any actual Danish old lady.

Old ladies? Oh sorry, forgot to mention that earlier. Yes, there’s one of Heidi’s old ladies (albeit with a difference.) You have been warned.

Happy New Year.

‘Room Service’, a Sweet Talk production for BBC Radio 4, broadcasts on Friday, 6 January 2017 at 3.45 pm. Available thereafter for 30 days on BBC iPlayer.


See also: Wonderful, Creepy Copenhagen: the stories of Heidi Amsinck


photo credit: ccaviness <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/15767043@N00/2588334987″>Lobster Thermidor at Andre’s, Las Vegas</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a>photo credit: ccaviness <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/15767043@N00/2588334987″>Lobster Thermidor at Andre’s, Las Vegas</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

Posted in BBC, Copenhagen, Copenhagen Curios, Heidi Amsinck, radio, Radio 4, Room Service, short stories, storytelling, Tim McInnerny, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Annika Speaks! (Reprise)

Do not mess with this detective [photo by Jeremy Osborne]

Do not mess with this detective [photo by Jeremy Osborne]

‘Vertigo’, the last story from the third season of Annika Stranded, goes out tomorrow at 7.45pm on BBC Radio 4. Thereafter you can catch the whole series on BBCiPlayer. In case you missed it when it first appeared on the Sweet Talk Productions Facebook page, below is a short interview with the voice of Annika, Nicola Walker.

How did you react when you read the scripts for the first series of Annika Stranded?

I fell in love with Annika immediately. She just jumped at me off the page! Straight away it was obvious that Nick [Walker] had created this woman who was fabulously complicated, funny and totally unique. And she’s ‘difficult’ in the most appealing way, I love difficult women.

In the bubble of the studio, the boundaries between where Nicola ends and Annika begins seem ever more blurred. In what ways do you identify with Annika Strandhed?

Annika is definitely my fantasy alter-ego! Her work and her private life are mashed up together and she’s never anything less than true to herself. She’s far bolder than me, far less concerned about other people’s opinions, I love that about her. And I love her attitude to the darker, difficult parts of her job and her life. I found similar traits in Stellan Skarsgard actually, he would greet a tricky filming day with a shoulder shrug, a smile and a murmur of “it is what it is, Nicola, it is what it is”.

Annika Stranded evolved out of Nick Walker’s love of ‘Scandi-crime’. In recent times as well as Annika you’ve been DCI Stuart in Unforgotten and Stevie in River. Do you enjoy crime fiction/crime drama as a ‘private citizen’, and if so, what?

When I watch tv crime drama now I’m always trying to suss the end, from the opening credits on, I’m shouting at the telly to the great annoyance of my family. I watched a lot of police documentaries for ‘Unforgotten’, like ’24 hours in police custody’, I’m now addicted to them. But I’ve always admired Gordon Burn’s work, both factual and fictional. And you have to go a long way to beat Joan Smith’s collection ‘Misogynies’, which contains one of the most brilliant and shocking essays on murder crime I’ve ever read.

What are the pleasures of working in radio compared to TV?

Radio is my favourite medium! You can be anyone, do anything and go anywhere. You are not confined by visuals – the possibilities are endless. I sit in the studio on one side of the glass running between three or four different mike stations often and the world is conjured up by three brilliant people on the other side of the glass. There are no physical limitations, we can cross oceans, climb mountains, visit the Reindeer Patrol and then be inside Annika’s head in an instant.

What are you working on now or will be working on soon?

I’m doing more audio drama at the moment, playing Liv Chenka in a new Big Finish Dr. Who story. There’s a Tango Christmas special coming on soon which, as you would expect from Sally Wainwright, is fabulously dark and funny. Then Unforgotten 2 goes out early next year, with Cassie and Sunny handling a completely new case.
After that I am crossing my fingers and toes that we find a way to do more Annika. I miss her already.



Posted in Annika Stranded, Annika Strandhed, BBC, Big Finish, Dr Who, Gordon Burn, Joan Smith, Last Tango In Halifax, Liv Chenka, Nick Walker, Nicola Walker, Oslo, Oslo Police, Oslofjord, radio, Radio 4, River, Scandinavian crime drama, Schumann, short stories, Stellan Starsgard, storytelling, Sweet Talk, Uncategorized, Unforgotten, vertigo | Leave a comment

Annika Speaks!

Annika [photo by Jeremy Osborne]

You can find a short Q & A with Nicola Walker, the voice of Annika Stranded, about the series here on the Sweet Talk Productions Facebook Page.


See also: Reindeer Police Are My Weakness; Motherhood Becomes Her … Sort Of; Annika Stranded.

Posted in Annika Stranded, Annika Strandhed, BBC, Nick Walker, Nicola Walker, Oslo Police, radio, Radio 4, Scandinavian crime drama, storytelling, Sweet Talk, Uncategorized | Leave a comment