Series 3 of UNDONE is now available as a download from AUDIBLE / AMAZON
undone series 3
'strangest is goodest'
This is a continuation of Undone Series 3 Page 1.
WARNING - SPOILERS AHEAD
Episode 4 – Underground
Edna and Tankerton traverse the Tube to stop someone changing the realities.
Starring Alex Tregear, Ben Moor, Duncan Wisbey, Al Murray, Kate Leyden, Rhys Jennings, Melissa Advani and Tess Nicholson
Ever since the pilot episode of Undone back in 2005, I have wanted to explore the potential weirdness of the London Underground, and this episode finally gets to ride some odd lines, visit some odd stations and meet certain odd folk along the way. But before we even get to the tube Edna takes a trip with Tankerton to the Museum of Peculiarities where she gets a dash of confusion along with a helping of information. Once on the tube, it’s almost as if she wants Golfer to be the bad guy causing all the alterations, but it takes the bossy but businessy mind of Tankerton to understand what needs to clarified. There’s a real sense of journey in this episode, narratively as well as literally – Edna is moving towards a conception of what might be happening but can’t quite reach it; it’s always just in the carriage ahead.
This was another complicated episode to record due to the seating plan in the tube carriage. Once more the RDC were tiptop, providing a lovely contrast of characterisations and tones. Likewise, Al played Golfer with just the right level of mystery about him – we’re unsure exactly how he feels about what happened with Undone Carlo and whether he is responsible for the tube journey “from hell, to hell and in hell”. We recorded the museum scene in our wonderful house’s kitchen but had to do a few “pick-ups” (re-recordings) later to make the Julian / Gregorian calendar line clearer and, even after that, I don’t think it quite comes over – entirely my fault, both as an actor and writer. But mainly this episode is about Edna going deeper into the mystery of Undone and the other cities. Why are there these inconsistencies in the way people have behaved around her? How does something that seems to be just an idea in one moment become manifested in another, with only her seeing the change? There is the sense that Edna wants there to be a bad guy – Golfer – but we and Tankerton are beginning to suspect there is more going on than a simple external conflict. That was my intention anyway; I wanted to drop hints that Edna’s version of reality affects the way other people interact with her and she with them, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse.
First broadcast – BBC Radio 7 - 19th December 2009
Episode 5 – United
Edna sees a hypnotherapist, as her friends take up the worlds-protecting slack.
Starring Alex Tregear, Ben Moor, Duncan Wisbey, Sophie Duval, Daisy Haggard, Natalie Dormer and Geoff McGivern
It’s time for Edna to undergo a bit of analysis – to see if she can come to any conclusion about the events on the underground the previous evening and above ground today. It’s also an opportunity to bring back characters from all three series in a superhero team-up spectacular. Even characters that appear in the story but have no lines because the performers weren’t available. The moment seemed right for Edna to do some real talking with someone about her situation, but it would be dull if that was all that happened. Outside the office all London is going crazy – there are escaped animals, fires and very peculiar fashion choices. But by the end, Edna’s understanding of her powers and her instinct about what is to come takes us nicely into the final episode.
The joy of a show like Undone is that although it is very much a serial, each episode can go so many ways – there can be different sets of characters and locations, different pace, different atmospheres and tones. I wanted to give a narration role to our other characters while Edna is under Madeleine’s “care” and I think it worked out OK. Once again Sophie Duval is sweet and dippy as Ida, but with a certain force of personality. Montserrat Lombard was unavailable to play Kate, but Daisy Haggard was great – I’ve long been a fan of her work and she was delightful in the role. I worked with Natalie Dormer on Casanova and was thrilled that she could play Madeleine – her performance is one of the highlights of the episode for me. And Geoff McGivern made a marvellous Raymondo. Geoff was in my Radio 4 series Elastic Planet, back in the 1990s and was, of course, the original Ford Prefect in the radio production of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, on which our studio manager Alick Hale-Munro also worked. Such a connection to that show is pretty humbling – if you want to blame something for my career, blame that – I used to tape the show and listen to it in a caravan at the bottom of my garden in 1980s Whitstable. It’s a cool cool thing to work with such cool cool people.
A lot of this episode was recorded by the canal and in spits and starts. Certain sections of dialogue had to be recorded without both actors simultaneously present (the perils of working with brilliant, much in demand performers) and Colin did an amazing job putting it all together – you honestly wouldn’t have known if I hadn't just given it away there. There are some lovely sections of trippy effects here too as Edna’s reality twists and turns and we change locations from zoo to rainstorm to café to the Monument. I have the easy job of writing this nonsense; it is thanks to the brilliance of Colin and his crew that it sounds so comprehensible.
First broadcast – BBC Radio 7 - 26th December 2009
Episode 6 – Unending
Notting Hill's Carnival sees the potential end of the worlds and new weirdness.
Starring Alex Tregear, Ben Moor, Duncan Wisbey, Sophie Duval, Al Murray, Sarah Solemani, Alison Mckenzie, Rhys Jennings, Melissa Advani and Tess Nicholson
It’s the end of August Bank Holiday weekend and everything has been leading up to this. Edna joined Get Out! in the Spring and now, as Summer comes to an end, so does her journey through the odd cities she’s explored. There’s an explanation of how and why she’s been narrating the events – who she is actually telling the story to – and there’s a conclusion of sorts to subplots regarding her family and colleagues. But it wouldn’t be Undone if it was straightforward, would it?
It sounds counter-intuitive, but radio has to be written with images in mind. The listener does so much of the work in what characters look like and the settings of scenes, but if the writer doesn’t have their own picture of what’s going on, then it’s very hard to get across the drama. This was a very low-key episode to write – there are very few extra characters, we really don’t go anywhere we haven’t already been – but the pitch of the performances was spot on. The scene in the palace between Edna and Golfer was lovely; Carlo and Edna’s chat about the cancellation point, just great. And all the narration moments – Alex did just a wonderful job with these – just the right sense of wonder and doubt. It was a difficult episode to make in a sense, as we realise we are flashing back to recent events, but events Edna has ‘experienced’ numerous times already. I mentioned images – well I don’t know about you, but I can “see” Edna so clearly as she tells her story to versions of Carlo and Tankerton and Ida, or the voice of London speaking through them, asking questions about what she learned along the way. And, of course, to herself. It was great that Sarah Solemani could come back for the scene to play Voice of London Edna – it was such a pleasure to see her, and what a fine job she did, with possibly some of the most confusing writing of the series. Personally, I think the whole episode in the context of the series does make sense, but I do appreciate that it’s not linear, light, easy to follow comedy. And I think that’s a good thing. BBC7 should be thanked for allowing us to come up with something for the 7th Dimension slot that at times is surreal, a bit challenging while at other times, totally unchallenging. The best rewards are the ones we work hardest to attain. I am so grateful that they gave me and my amazing cast and crew the chance to follow Edna’s story along its weird and winding path. And as to whether there is more to come, well we shall see.
First broadcast - BBC Radio 7 - 2nd January 2010
As mentioned above, all three series of Undone are available from Audible / Amazon
If you have any questions about the show, please send me an email - I'd be happy to reply.
Or does the paragraph below answer your questions about the show? Highlight to read...
Now I could explain here what I think the whole three series sort of mean. What Edna’s journey really is, whether she was always a princess, had special abilities, whether the parallel Londons survive. Or whether it was all a metaphor for someone moving to a big city and using her childhood imagination as a comfort blanket as she strives to become significant amidst the wonderful noise and potential such a life change offers her. Or whether it’s a bit of both. I have written for my own enjoyment, and for the eyes of the producer, a document which goes through the events of the three series and explains how they relate to Edna’s growth as a character, but frankly it’s a bit dry – everything that was in that is in the show and I’d hope it’s much more entertaining that way. We didn’t go through anything with Sarah or Alex – their performances as Edna are their own creations – they made their own decisions as to what was going in her head at various times and I have to say I never disagreed with any of their choices. They are both brilliant actresses and brought Edna to life wonderfully.
In the end Undone should be up to each person as to what it means to them. I have received many messages about the show, and I am always delighted to hear from listeners with questions or comments, positive or negative, baffled or with theories. I will always try and respond constructively, but don’t expect me to do you a full line by line explanation. That has to remain undone.