Weekend in Ambridge – 22 March 2016

This month the blog comes from RED‘s Ambridge correspondent Aimee Powell:

After receiving my welcome letter to Ambridge, I made my way to the BBC Birmingham studios late afternoon on a cold Saturday in March.  Walking past the happy shoppers in the Mailbox, I finally found myself at my destination.  The last time I had been here was for one of those “general casting” auditions, so to be here on a job felt good.  Up the stairs and down the hallway where photographs of The Archers characters filled the walls, I found myself spending more time gawping at these than actually looking where I was going.

In the green room where I meet a few of the other actors I would be working with, including a series regular.  Straight away he makes everyone feel right at home, telling us all about the studio that has essentially been his home for the past year and a half, the cast, previous storylines and most useful for me as this is my first radio job, what to expect when you get in there.  He also tells us how to turn your page silently, which I mastered and is now part of my special skills section on Spotlight.  He calms the atmosphere whilst we all wait to be called in.  Our director Sean O’Connor enters and after a few brief introductions we are led back down the hallway to the studio itself.

I’m amazed at the level of attention to detail the studio has.

We step into Blossom Hill Cottage and for a few seconds I’m taken aback.  I’m amazed at the level of attention to detail the studio has.  I’m not quite sure what I expected, but it wasn’t quite this.  I only had one previous experience of doing voice work, it was on an audio play and the set-up there was stand and deliver lines straight into the mic in what was a fully equipped but basic recording studio.  But this isn’t just any ordinary studio, we’re in Ambridge.  There is a fully working kitchen, living room, front door which leads out on to the concrete path and staircase with wooden, metal and carpeted steps.  In almost every direction that you look there are microphones.

We get introduced to two more regulars, go for a practice run with the director and then we’re ready for our first take.   The scene unfolds.  We get notes and go for a few more takes.  That’s the end of the first day.  Due to one of the actors being rushed to hospital earlier on in the day (nothing too serious) the day had been delayed by about an hour and the production team did not want us to be there too late.  Bright and early next morning we arrive back at Blossom Hill Cottage where we’re introduced to three more long standing regulars and pick up from where we left off.  Understandably, I am unable to disclose any details regarding the storyline, however, what I can say is that the recording process was a lot quicker than I had anticipated it to be.  There was plenty of time for re-takes if needed and the general running of the day ran swift and smooth.

Mid Sunday morning we’re all done and it’s time to say farewell to the cast, creative’s and the studio.

Mid Sunday morning we’re all done and it’s time to say farewell to the cast, creative’s and the studio.  As I made my way back through the corridors looking at more stills from the different series BBC Birmingham has produced, Doctors, WPC 56, Father Brown and Homefront, I can’t help but feel a little sad that my weekend there is over.  We are hearing all too often how much Birmingham and the Midlands is constantly being overlooked when it comes to the arts and this is true, there is very little going on here, but when you consider what is being produced in the city it is quite exciting.  I for one can say that I never expected a girl from the Black Country to have had the opportunity to be part of (no matter how brief) one of the longest running series on radio that has come from our brilliant city and for that I am very thankful and extremely proud!

Aimee Powell

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