Yesterday I wrote a blog piece explaining the difficult birth of “A Time To Dance” and bemoaning the BBC attitude to its audience; namely that they thought the audience couldn’t tell the difference between fact and fiction and that, unless we scaled back the fake-news aspect of our play, there would be massive complaints.
It turns out the BBC were right (it took a long time to get my fingers to type that sentence!)
We DID scale back the news-aspect of the play, we scaled it back more than you can possibly believe, and we protested every single one of those cuts as loudly as we could.
The resulting play was a weird mix of drama and fake-news that I didn’t think would work because it couldn’t possibly fool or unsettle the audience as much as it was intended to.
Boy, was I wrong. We got a seemingly record number of complaints on the BBC duty log for an Afternoon Play, all of them (barring the one about how we were providing a mind-control manual to Satanists) from people who had heard Robin Lustig’s voice and believed whole-heartedly that there was a dance epidemic spreading around the world and that this was clearly the dawn of the End Times!
On the strength of that evidence, I have to believe that my preferred version of the play would have had people running like lemmings into the sea. That would have been great for me, but I do understand how it would have caused a problem within Radio 4 and, in the current climate, been potentially destructive to BBC radio drama.
I still don’t love how the BBC handled the situation and I’m still not sure how I feel about the finished product, but I was clearly wrong about how the audience would react to it.
I also thought that this new version would disappear without trace, for not being sufficiently different from the run-of-the-mill radio drama. I thought no one would listen. I thought no one would talk about it.
Wrong again. 12,000 hits and counting on Listen Again in the last 24 hours. That’s more, apparently, than most radio drama gets in a week.
So what do I know? See? I don’t know why you all listen to me…
If you haven’t heard “A Time To Dance” yet, it’s on listen again HERE for another 6 days.