Stella did manage to get Neville Teller (The Tenth Man) to comment on her Q&A's. This section is referring to her review on the radio-play which you'll find in the Projects section of this site!


As the play was to mark the centenary of Graham Greene's birth, for how long was the project in the pipeline?
“I spotted the Greene centenary early in 2003 and suggested to the BBC the idea of a radio dramatisation that might be shared between Radio 4 and BBC World Service, to mark so auspicious an occasion.  I searched Greene’s list of works on the internet, and was struck by “The Tenth Man” about which I knew little, so acquired a copy and was intrigued by the story. BBC producers and commissioners liked the idea but the Greene estate had recently had an altercation with the BBC about some other matter, and it took a deal of negotiation to get them to agree to our project.  However, eventually it did come through and I was commissioned to write the dramatisation in November 2003. I delivered the script in about March/April of 2004, and we recorded the play in May.  Post-production took some time, and the production was finally completed in August, ready for transmission in September on Radio 4 and early October on BBC World Service, where it would be broadcast about 5 times, by different networks and in different time zones.”


Could you describe the process of recording the play?  
“The BBC allows one full day for recording 30 minutes of radio drama, so the 60-minute play was recorded over 2 full days.  There was a cast read-through a few days before the recording and it was recorded in the BBC’s drama studio in Bush House in the Strand (the home of BBC World Service). A junior studio manager usually undertakes the ‘spot effects’, like the clink of glasses or the sound of cutlery, and he’s in the studio with the actors for this purpose.  A senior studio manager sits at the control desk (alongside the director) and is responsible for the sound quality and the recording generally. Nowadays larger sound effects, like trains, cars, storms etc, together with any music, are added to the basic recorded performances in extensive post-production sessions, when the director will also be selecting the best of the various “takes” of each scene and joining them together to make the completed production.”


How much do the actors treat radio drama like being on a theatre stage, as in gesturing, movement, etc?
“A radio drama studio is very carefully arranged so that the various scenes are each given their correct acoustic.  Actors have to move from location to location as each scene is rehearsed and then recorded, sometimes several times, depending on where the scene is set.  For an outdoor acoustic you need a “dead” effect.  For the effect of a voice on the telephone, you need an enclosed area and then a further “tweak” to the voice by the sound engineer.  Actors also sometimes have to move towards or away from the microphone as they perform a particular scene.  The director instructs them precisely what to do after hearing a rehearsal.  It’s all a highly technical matter, akin to a film or TV studio.  There’s not much gesturing, since all the actors are holding their scripts. Radio drama technique is a matter of knowing how to perform to a microphone – just what you can do with your voice in relation to the microphone.”
Did you, as the writer, have any say in the casting?
“Radio dramatists do sometimes have a say in suggesting possible actors for particular roles, and as it so happens I did suggest Nat Parker to the producer.  Often the final choice is dependent on the availability of an actor on the days of the recording.  In the case of Nat we were fortunate that his work schedule allowed him to be with us. I first met him at the read-through a couple of days prior to the recording, and he’s as charming in person as on the TV.  I liked him very much, and we got on very well together.  The cast quickly gelled, and we were soon a team working very hard to make the production truly memorable.”


As you hadn't met him previously, what made you suggest him for the role of Chavel - perhaps you knew of his audiobooks, being involved in that field yourself..?
“I thought of Nat Parker because of his TV performances as Inspector Lynley.  He has also recorded a number of books that I have abridged, such as David Copperfield.”


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