Sunday 31 January 2016

Shami, the BBC Playwright

So, did anyone listen to Shami Chakrabarti's miniature radio play Over Here, Over There on tonight's From Fact to Fiction on Radio 4?

(What do you mean you didn't? Shame on you!)

Here's how the Radio 4 website trailed it:
From Fact to Fiction is an award-winning series in which writers create a fictional response to the week's news. 
In a week that saw politicians debate the conditions in migrant camps and the treatment of Asylum Seekers in UK , Shami Chakrabarti takes us to an imagined future. 
It is 2041. A mother and son argue about his plan to leave the country without permission. She is a settled refugee in her adopted state; the place of his birth. He is a radical; angry at his life of injustice and caught up in his plans to flee, yet he knows very little about his mother's own tale of escape.
I'd describe it as a typical piece of fairly clunky Radio 4 agitprop. It could easily have been slotted into Afternoon Drama on Radio 4 - had it been three times as long (God forbid!) 

It featured Hayley from Corrie as the refugee mother, so it was acted with aplomb - except for her emphatic delivery of the closing line, the final twist of the story (with shades of Planet of the Apes).

I have to say I saw that twist coming a mile off though and, because Hayley from Corrie's delivery of the 'shock punchline' was so emphatic, I laughed out loud. (It gave one left-wing Twitterer a shiver down her spine though (poor woman)).

Many a less-than-subtle point was made throughout - including all the expected ones. Painted migrant doors, wristbands, valuables being confiscated at borders, politicians using words like "swarm". You name it, it was in there. 

And our hearts were tugged and our brows were beaten.

And the take-home message was that we need to be much, much nicer to migrants, including those in Calais: Just imagine if it was you!

Invigorated by all this delightful, one-sided, left-wing preaching on the migrant crisis - and prompted by a comment on an earlier thread (thank you!) - I then treated myself to all three of the other episodes from this series of From Fact to Propaganda. 

Were they cut from much the same cloth, or not? Well...

The first one, by Chris Dolan, was quite funny and well-overacted, but its redemptive tale of a man from Allenby adrift and dying in the Solway Firth as a result of the 2015/16 floods in Cumbria (with only an initially sarcastic Scottish banshee for company) contained such passages as: 
Man: "But refugees out on the open seas, nowhere to go..."
Banshee: "Now you're talking!"
Man: ..."THIS is nothing, in comparison".
and built towards this life-changing climax:
Man: I've had it up to here with floods and drones and greed and people not giving a monkeys. I'll get my wages docked for these mince pies but the bosses and the bankers and politicians will get another bloody bonus. And millionaires and entertainers getting gongs while nurses' wages are capped; care workers, midwives. We're up to our necks in dodgy Chinese and Saudi deals while madmen go beheading innocents and the beaches are littered with the bodies of the desperate and all anyone can talk about is freaking immigration ratios!
Banshee: You're alive again!
It also contained a dig at the SNP and Donald Trump..., yes, that one was cut from the same cloth as Shami's 'play for today'...

...and Donald Trump and his attitude towards Muslims was, you probably won't be surprised to hear, the subject of last week's episode. written by BBC regular Hardeep Singh Kohli. 

It was called 'Top Trumps'. Its heroine was a likeable Muslim woman who's engaged to a Scottish man who shares ancestry with The Donald - and has Mexican ancestry to boot. Boom boom! The baddie, acting for Trump, who demands no Muslims at the airport in Scotland where he's about to arrive, eventually gets transformed too. Her son, James, has changed his name to Jamal. (Oh yes!) And the whole experience with the likeable Muslim woman makes the bad Trump lady change from the kind of American who says "You've got to be extreme to tackle extremism" to the sort who wants to have a drink with her new friend, the likeable Muslim woman.....

...I think you've probably got the picture! 

Ah yes, the sophisticated, in-yer-face whiff of Radio 4-style 'humorous' agitprop in the evening!

The remaining episode, 'Changes' had a mum, dad, son and daughter discussing David Bowie. 

The son wanted his dad to tell them a radical moment. The dad's radical moment involved him putting on mascara after listening to Ashes to Ashes. Men threatened to beat him up, but he got a girlfriend out of it.  

Also, Dad said:
Don't you think he did something for tolerance? World leaders of the Anglican faith are arguing about whether gay people should be ordained right now! Didn't he contribute to that being possible? He was important to people.
This episode, by Graham White, did, however, offer through the character of the daughter a different take - that David Bowie was really just a pop star who was after fame and money; in other words, that all this BBC-type stuff about Bowie is mere projection. It was, however, strongly hinted that she had 'gender identity' or 'sexual preference' issues of her but wouldn't talk about them. Then we heard Starman.

So, yes, it was typical Radio 4 drama all the way here.

Knowing that I can now happily never listen to it again!


  1. Agenda? What agenda? I assume I don't need to listen to any of it to decide for myself if it's as hackneyed and shameless as it all sounds. They're not even trying anymore.

    That David Bowie piece came out (see what I did there) pretty quickly. Must be a result of one of those 24-hour jams the kids do these days. The 'author' is a Beeboid, or someone who was at the BBC for professional reasons the day after Bowie died and wrote down all the inane, solipsistic mewlings from Beeboids declaring their life-long respect for his genius, along with the dopey projections we heard about how Bowie was so influential on things about which in reality he kept his mouth firmly shut. Ironically, he apparently admitted the whole bi-sexual thing was essentially a publicity stunt he took for a ride.

  2. "From Fact to Fiction is an award-winning series in which [exclusively left wing or modish and politically correct] writers create a fictional response to the week's news."

    See what I did there?

  3. There was a little whiff of disappointment I thought in the way the BBC announced today that Bowie had left ALL his money to his wife and children...and no trendy causes at all! He got the last laugh. :)

  4. From Fact To Fiction, I thought that was the purpose of BBC News?

  5. Maybe she could team up with Mr. Pachuri, Nobel Laureate & potboiler scribe par excellence?

  6. The BBC uses fiction as if is fact. This was clearly seen in these past examples


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