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Sunday, 14 November 2010

Rory's Reivers do Ambridge!

I am very proud to announce Radio Lentil's latest contribution to the broadband world. Light listening for the masses!

This blog post can be read at

We decided to 'do' Ambridge aka Asby because we have been trying to feed rural and community broadband stories to Radio 4 plus the TV soaps for years. Almost ten years, in fact. Having tried various routes and got nowhere, it finally dawned on us that technology was now perfectly advanced to let us make our own version.

We are all ready to admit that the final cut of our first episode could be more polished, but we learned many lessons and are ready to put them into practice in the following episodes. And boy, was it fun making it!!!

Here is how it happened:

Lindsey has late night idea, runs it past a couple of people with the necessary skills and enthusiasm – Mark Holdstock, former BBC presenter; John Popham, blogger/social media/citizen journo; and Chris Conder – who needs no intro!

Draft script gets sent round, written hurriedly as a first draft, but, as ever, no-one really has time to think it through or do more than make passing comments.

All arrive in Great Asby for the Reivers Broadband Conference for Cumbrian communities, organised by Rory Stewart MP. Having had John Popham to stay overnight, plus picking up Chris at the station on the return from Doc/Fest in Sheffield, we have ¾ of the cast present. Or so we think!

Take up residence in the Three Greyhounds, as after all the episode is set in the pub. John looks constantly at his watch as he is filming, livestreaming, photographing and reporting live from the event which begins at 2pm. It is now 1.30pm. No-one has even seen the script for two weeks, let alone read through it. We finally pull it out of the cloud over the GAB network to display it on Mark's laptop.

Recording begins, with zero rehearsal whatsoever and a few strays sitting around the table who are being gesticulated at “Can you read this line?”. Knowing nothing about writing a radio script, different characters are indicated with the marginally casual – Some1, Some2, Some3!

Short of Cumbrian voices, we drag the landlady from behind the bar and force her to overcome her stage fright to read a line. Next line says “single mum”. A what?! Look out the window and spot a female wandering towards the event. Cyberdoyle rushes out, explains breathlessly what is required and drags her into the bar. My Radio 4 hoody and Mark's professional recording kit convince her this is for real. No point bursting that bubble just yet – she reads her line perfectly and takes up position to capture the event on her camera! (Turns out later, this is Nicky @getgood from@talkaboutlocal – a speaker at the event).

We duck and dive around the table and bar, thrusting the mike into anyone's face just to get all this recorded before the main event of the day. We reach the penultimate line – we need a Parish Council Chairman. In the door walks Rory Stewart, MP. Oh sweet! “Rory, Rory, please, just read this into the mike”. He looks at us, somewhat bemused, and then realises it's his Reivers. You can see the look of resignation. Whatever we are up to now, he knows it is “for the cause”.

Several of us cannot hide our grins of delight as our MP becomes “victim” and contributor to our latest mad idea. We couldn't have arranged this if we'd wanted to, so the BDUK reps look on, waiting for his attention, whilst he makes at least one constituent supremely happy.

“It's a wrap”. We've collared people in and out of the pub, recorded at least enough to make it work (ish!) and the job is done.

Grab our laptops, bags, recording equipment, thank the locals who have put up with us this last half hour and rush to the Village Hall for the real thing.

With many thanks to Mark Holdstock for editing, Chris Conder for putting together the Youtube video/slideshow, Ian Bankhurst; John Popham; Nicky @getgood; the landlord and landlady of the Three Greyhounds, Great Asby; Bill Conder aka Eddie; Rory Stewart, MP; and the Archers/Corrers/Emmerdale teams for refusing all these years to listen and forcing us to make our own soap!

The next episodes will follow communities in the Big Society vanguard and BDUK area of Eden, as well as other communities elsewhere, as we all try to solve the problems inherent in getting next gen into rural areas for businesses, citizens and communities.

If you have script ideas, want to take part, or wish to offer advice on how to improve on our first effort, please do get in touch! Sponsorship and product placement opportunities also exist ;o)

Suffice to say, we are highly critical and equally delighted that we JFDI! Enjoy....


Cyberdoyle said...

Its been a hoot.
Really enjoyed the whole thing and laughed a lot.
Keep having good ideas Lins, you Um it and the reivers ul play it eh? teamwork.

helen said...


GuyJ said...

Such a cool idea and clever way to get that Big Society in action message out there - well done all!

louis said...

is it just me or does the 'parish chairman's voice sound just like Ed Miliband's?

Can't wait for episode 2!