Well, that’s another new pilot written. This time aimed at radio, a sitcom called It’s Grim Up North, set around a troop of dodgy Roman auxiliary soldiers building Hadrian’s Wall in AD 126.
The jury’s still out on why Hadrian had the wall built. It was generally a time of peace in the Empire, so it’s not ruled out that “old warty face” just wanted to keep the lads of his legions busy and out of trouble.
Unfortunately for him, where the men of the milecastle at Drizzlewort are concerned, he failed miserably. They quickly identify the opportunities to make a few dinera trading with the locals and creating a black market – it’s amazing how stones meant for the wall find their way to the construction of villas for the Pict chiefs!
Of course, the auxiliaries always have to be aware of the activities of the local revolutionaries – the Boadecia Resistance Army (BRA) – but a few spears to help their insurrectionary cause greases the wheels of trade.
Building the wall is a chance for these plucky soldiers from Britain, Italy, Algeria and other far-flung corners of the empire to broaden their horizons and sample a new culture. The only problem is they are stationed in a ramshackle milecastle where it rains incessantly and the food is rubbish, hence their common refrain, “it’s grim up north”.
We’d like to thank Jackie Fielding who directed and starred in the pilot episode and the other brilliant actors involved for giving up their time to record the show. Take a bow Dale Meeks, Dean Logan, Gary Kitching, Mat Hobbins and Karen Traynor. We love you all. No really.
We’d also like to thank John Scott for helping Trevor with the post-production work.
The idea was developed in conjunction with the Customs House which, despite being hamstrung by the Arts Council cuts, is finding new ways to continue its role as the champion of new writing in the North East. To this end they are working with other partners and we are grateful to Sunderland University for their support on this particular project. We’d particularly like to thank Lesley Younger for helping to set this up; Fred Marden for letting us use the brilliant facilities in the radio unit there and Grant Lowery and Craig Oliphant for guiding us through any technical difficulties.
You can listen to the full pilot episode of It’s Grim Up North here. If you like the show, feel free to pass the link around, put it on your website or twitter or Facebook or whatever else it is you kids do today. If you’re our age then just tell your mates. If you don’t like it keep schtum or we’ll send the boys round. And we mean that literally, have you seen Ed’s boys?
Ed would like to say that the title of ‘It’s Grim Up North’ does not reflect the writers’ true views of the area. It’s actually totally lush - a fantastic area with wonderful countryside and national parks, stunning coastal stretches and castles, award-winning architecture and internationally acclaimed World Heritage sites as described at http://www.visitnorthumberland.com/ . (Will that do mate, I’m starting to doze off?).