Paul Dodgson is a talented writer, radio producer, composer and teacher who has written and produced extensively for the BBC in the UK. He has written fourteen radio plays for BBC radio, the latest two ‘Home’ and ‘You drive Me Crazy’ have been radio memoirs. Paul has directed and produced more than 400 programmes for all BBC radio networks.
Do you have an underlying theme to your writing? Do you write across genres?
In the last few years I have been writing radio plays based on personal experience in which I feature as a narrator, reflecting an interest I have in memoir, but over the years I have written across different genres. I also write for theatre and in the last twelve months have written a large cast adaptation of Robin Hood, two plays for young people about the First World War and a children’s show devised with the performer Kid Carpet.
Melanie Harris set up the northern base of BBC writers room developing talent for TV, film, new media and radio for four years there. Melanie now makes award-winning programmes for all BBC radio networks, at Spark Lab Productions, as well as audio books, audio trails and audio for arts projects. She was awarded the Sony Bronze for RIP boy (2011).
Are there themes in mind when you look for new writing? Or do you wait to be grabbed by something?
We rarely commission new writing. The Radio 4 drama commissioner wants ‘something different from indies’, i.e. ‘high end’ writers. He commissions most of the new work through in-house teams.
I have decided to focus on writing two radio plays as my final project for my MA, my theme is ‘anarchic feminist and embodiment’. While travelling down the road of where to pitch, all signposts point to ‘The Writers Room‘. It clearly states that there are two opportunities in 2015 to send in un-solicited scripts, one in Spring and one in Autumn. I called them up and spoke to Michelle who told me there weren’t any guarantees that there will be the same openings next year. There are various opportunities on the site, it’s worth having a look every now and then. I found it interesting to hear that within this process, the writers room are actually seeking the writer rather than looking for a specific script. The process is set up for writers that do not already have agents. If a radio script writer wanted to approach a production company instead, usually they would have an agent, but this isn’t always necessary, a writer could contact a production company themselves. However, an agent would get in touch with a production company and they in turn would link up with BBC drama. For a writer to find a production company, ‘The Knowledge’ and ‘KFTV.com’, were recommended. Personally I found those sites quite overwhelming to look at, I comforted myself by chatting to, Katherine Mitchell, a successful Gloucester based writer, she told me:
I’m a sucker for a good story and when I say good, I mean a story that moves me, one that touches and makes me feel something. My first go to pod-casts when I want to listen to listen to a story that will provoke my mind are ‘This American life’ and ‘The Moth’, these are both mainly non-fiction stories. I have others for fiction stories that I dip into, the obvious is ‘Radio Four drama‘ and ‘Audible’. How I listen to stories is very similar to how I watch films or television, actively choosing what I want to engage with; for example I don’t simply turn on the radio or TV and just see what’s on, I go to Netflix or use a catch-up service. Markets are changing, consumers have more choice than ever with the rise of self publications in all formats, whether they be radio, film or the written word.