Series 3 of UNDONE is now available as a download from AUDIBLE / AMAZON
undone series 3
'strangest is goodest'
When we finished recording series two in the Summer of 2007, we naturally hoped that it would be received positively and that another series could be on the cards. It was broadcast in January and February 2008 and went down well - the team at BBC7 were very happy with the show, and the response on the web message boards was good, but budgets and timings meant that another series could not be commissioned during that year but I was told to stand by – that an order for a third series may well happen. We finally got the go-ahead in early January 2009 and I started plotting out a run of six more episodes.
I knew I wanted to delve further into the many alternate Londons Tankerton and the Prince had hinted at in series two. I also felt Edna had to have an even harder time of it, in terms of her personal relations and responsibilities. This sounds mean, but I thought I knew Edna well enough by now that she would come through whatever I threw at her. I had written myself into a hole with her final speech at the end of the last episode when she foreshadows what was to come over the Summer, but this is an exciting time for a writer – facing up to a challenge in a plot and letting the story and characters tell you how it should be told.
Alex and Duncan were both back as Edna and Carlo and we got so lucky with our guest stars in series three; some old faces returned and we welcomed brilliant new actors too. Especial gratitude goes to the stalwarts of the Radio Drama company - they showed enormous patience and talent as we gave them crazy things to do at no notice. The technical team changed a little – Jerry Heal’s place as studio manager was taken by the awesome Alick Hale-Munro and the brilliant Lyndsay Fenner took over from Marijke Goode as assistant producer. Despite the English Summer’s best attempts to rain at every opportunity, and the workmen of Primrose Hill to drill and saw just when the microphone was up (and the dreaded seagulls!) we got everything recorded pretty quickly. Over the course of a couple of weeks in August and early September we made six smashing half hours, and we had a lovely time doing it.
As with the previous series, these pages will go through some of the plot points of series three and some behind the scenes details.
So be warned – spoilers ahead. . .
Episode 1 – Unalike
Edna Turner has just saved the worlds - again. Can she kick-back and enjoy summer?Starring Alex Tregear, Ben Moor, Duncan Wisbey, Sophie Duval and Rhys Jennings
My first challenge for series three was simply – who broke the vase? I didn’t know when I was writing the finale to series two, but the idea of the unTankerton came fairly early when I began to think of where the story needed to go next. After our Tankerton’s “villain” speech revealed he was actually from Edna’s London, the leap to the fact that there must be a double in Undone wasn’t that great. And a lot of the plot regarding he and Ida flowed very easily. Edna’s mission here with The Basket develops the way she had been taking more control recently, but her eventual reliance on her friends is one of the main themes of the series – that wherever we go, we should never leave our support network behind. There’s that hint that Tankerton might be back – but what might his role be now? As a first episode I wanted to set off a few intriguing possibilities for Edna, to deepen her dilemmas and see how she would solve them. But there’s also some silly business in here – I did quite like the soup spoon made of bread, for one.
I thoroughly enjoyed playing UnTanks – it’s always nice to do something a little different now and again. We made a lot of this episode on the first day of recordings – often things are recorded out of order depending on the availabilities of actors and locations – and it felt like a family reunion. It was a delight to see Alex and Duncan again and they both returned to their roles perfectly. Sophie Duval was also a treat – she was in a theatre production that week and so we tried mightily to get all Ida’s bits done quickly. Rhys Jennings was excellent as Tarzacula and as Sonnyjim, and despite the fact that we couldn’t record at an outdoor swimming pool (not surprisingly, my preferred option) there is such a lovely mix of places and tones in this show – credits and kudos go to Alison Mackenzie and especially Colin Anderson for the effects.
First broadcast – BBC Radio 7 - 28th November 2009
Episode 2 – Untoward
Edna's planning a trip to the Primary to find out what's happened to Tankerton.
Starring Alex Tregear, Ben Moor, Duncan Wisbey, Sophie Duval, Al Murray, Kevin Eldon, Rhys Jennings and Tess Nicholson
So Edna is a woman with a mission – to find out what happened to Tankerton and along the way, learn more about the other parallel cities. This is also where we meet a new character, Golfer Mackenzie, who seemingly plays an important role in events later in the series. There are a number of challenges Edna must overcome – charity muggers, robotic Carlos, her own doubts – but I felt it was time for her and the listeners to be rewarded with an audience with the Prince in his palace. Do things go to plan? Well, it sort of depends on what you think the plan might be. There are hints that Edna has more responsibility for the way things are turning out than she thought.
I do love quest episodes. It’s good to get Edna out of her comfort zone and on the move and although she never leaves London here, she really goes a long way in terms of the overall story as well as her understanding of the different realities. There are lots of sci-fi in jokes in the names of the parallel Londons – did you spot them all? We recorded the palace scenes in the same church we used before as the Museum of Upturned Cups and Ida’s aborted wedding; it provides such a great acoustic and rather than faking people coming in from a long way away, we do these scenes 'for real', as it were. An example being the multiple Golfers; these were recorded with Al Murray moving to various points around the microphone in the environment and delivering his lines, which were then post-synchronised. Sophie and Duncan were typically brilliant as Ida and Carlo; Rhys gave his frenchman, Tessa Nicholson made a lovely “chugger” and it was great to welcome back Kevin Eldon as the Prince. He is so widely respected and always delivers such a fine performance – just the right mix of parental concern and encouragement that Edna seek her own way. And Al Murray as Golfer was just wonderful. We used to perform a double act in our student days, and it’s one of the delights of Undone that such fantastic comic actors come in and “get” this strange little show.
First broadcast – BBC Radio 7 - 5th December 2009
Episode 3 – Ungainly
Edna faces her childhood possessions and probes London's Low Quality Expedition.
Starring Alex Tregear, Ben Moor, Duncan Wisbey, Emma Kennedy, Kate Miles, Kate Leyden, Rhys Jennings, Melissa Advani and Tess Nicholson
With Tankerton back on the scene, Edna faces new doubts – why does he seem to be a good guy again? Who wanted him to be redeemed – and could it be that easy to change people? The weirdness of Undone (and its attractions to certain citizens of London) comes back in this episode, with the arrival of Felicity Twist and her Expedition and this provides Edna with a new challenge. Another one is provided by her Mum – Rosie’s return suggests even more of a back story for Edna’s relationship with the other Londons as well as a turning point in terms of the dangers associated with certain alternate cities. Once again, there’s lots of weirdness here – I especially enjoyed writing the sequence between Edna and Felicity with Edna’s fake name, and the business she comes up with, and Alex and Kate played this beautifully.
Any scenes where there are meant to be crowds are tricky for a show like Undone. The various members of the Radio Drama Company did a brilliant job of being “kids?” at one point and members of the Fax and Modem choir the next, but putting together scenes like the visits to the various stalls and the bus journey always take a fair bit of planning. And then Colin makes them sound effortless in the final show. Kate Miles played Felicity Twist superbly, especially when her character took that unexpected, but eponymous, twist at the end. And once again Emma Kennedy’s Rosie was terrific – a lovely blend of fun early on and tension at the climax. The arc of the story – the way things seem to be out of control for Edna, yet somehow under her control – is beginning to build in this episode, and the way Alex makes Edna unsure yet positive (if you forgive the contradiction) adds such a depth to the narrative. I wanted there to be a real turn for Edna here when she hears her Mum’s news – she tries to make things better without knowing quite how she is doing it – and for the listener, as the clues begin to come forward as to the nature of Edna’s abilities and the meaning of Undone.
First broadcast – BBC Radio 7 - 12th December 2009
If you have any questions about the show, please send me an email - I'd be happy to reply.
Continue to Undone Series 3 Page 2