Friends… Romans… Countryside

Posted on: July 29th, 2011 by Trevor | 3 Comments

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?).

Play

3 Responses

  1. Phyllis Elias says:

    Love the play – thanks to Border News I downloaded it immediately and am listening ‘to it as I type. I have long thought of the poor Roman soldier looking at the notice board back in Rome barracks and saying to his mates ‘Bloody Hell! Hadrian’s Wall? How many weeks is it going to take me to walk there? I’ll be knackered by the time I get there, and all the time I’ll be thinking of how long it will take me to get home again once my tour is over – if I’m still alive!’

    I was in the WRAF and well recall the girls standing around the notice board at the end of the Basic Training and moaning about where they were going to be posted to – with one or two actually getting nice places and the rest being thoroughly disenchanted and wishing they’d never joined!

    All the very best with the play – I am going to love reading your other pieces.

    Kind regards

    Phyllis Elias

  2. Sky Emery says:

    Found this through the Oxford University Classics Outreach page. I loved the pilot and am looking forward to hearing more of the series. I particularly liked the exchange of banter between characters and the idea of lucrative money-spinning ventures on the wall! Shame about Porky, though!
    All the best
    Sky

  3. Dean Logan says:

    Hey Guys.

    Thanks for your kind replies about the pilot. We have just recorded the first episode for BBC which will be aired over 5 consecutive days throughout the week, Keep your eyes peeled for more news and watch this space!

    Regards

    Dean ‘Garius’ Logan

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