The Shipping Out Broadcast
All good things must come to an end and never is this more true than when that good thing is made even better by being free of charge.
The Berwick Broadcasting Corporation, the pro-am theatre company which has been delighting audiences at The Maltings for the last three years, will cease broadcasting as from January 2013. There will be much lamenting and rending of hair as this company, with its irreverent take on the radio shows of the Forties and Fifties, seeks a new direction.
I caught up with Rob Wilkinson, general Berwick Broadcasting Corp bloke-in-charge and fellow scriptwriter.
So, Bobster, there are a lot of pissed off fans out there.
RW: After three years, we’ve a lot of new fans and a core of stalwarts who have been with us from the very beginning avidly following the trials and tribulations of old favourites such as ‘The Sticks’, ‘Reverend Peter Meliah’, and ‘Fighting Friday’. We want to leave them wanting, rather than force-feeding them more. The weight of having to produce an entirely new show every month is ever present. It’s a big responsibility because these shows are loved by a lot of people. We want each show to be the best it can be, and finding the time to ensure quality control is becoming an issue.
So basically you’re saying the cast and writers have had a better offer?
RW: Well, we all have new projects we want to invest in – some acting, some writing. You, for example, are making the move into writing for ‘real’ radio for the ‘real’ BBC, and I’ve a lot of time invested in the Tideline Runners Theatre Company, with two shows next year – Love or Money & Other Stories in February 2013, and The Word in the Wires sometime next summer.
Good times though, eh? The laughs. The complaints…
RW: We have courted controversy over the years, but once you explain to people where the joke lies they settle down. It’s a very kind-natured show in spite of its mockery – we pick our targets well. The 1940s filter that we employ is more than just a cosmetic choice – it harkens back to a time when ‘-isms’ were prevalent throughout the whole of society – racism, sexism, etc. We hold our carnival mirror up to these dated attitudes and reflect them back as grotesques. Some people haven’t really understood that and they saw our shows as racist/sexist/homophobic.
Going out with a whimper or a bang?
RW: We plan on ending the 2012 run on a high… in 2013. We didn’t want to call time at Christmas because then that episode would have to serve too many masters. By ending at the beginning of the new year we can lead straight into the new format.
Ah. Gone but not forgotten entirely?
RW: Exactly. Instead of a monthly show, we’re going to do a series of one-hour specials at various points throughout the year, celebrations of holidays and national events kind of thing. We’ll also be performing in new spaces, though keeping to Northumberland and the Borders.
So dry your eyes, all you fans of nostalgic innuendo. It looks as if there’s some life left yet flickering in Fanny’s meat.