A long time ago… well, in the mid-80s to be precise… both Andrew Mark Sewell and I had the great fortune to encounter EastEnders’s co-creator – the late, great Tony Holland. For Andrew he became a mentor and set him on the path to become the successful producer and director he is today. As for me… I got to be trained by Tony as a Script Editor on the then bi-weekly soap, which launched my own career as a writer/editor and published author.
Over the last five years or so I’ve had the opportunity to work with Andrew, Helen and his team at B7 Media on a number of audio projects and, throughout that time, we’ve often talked about the valuable lessons we learnt from Tony (and Julia Smith, who co-created EastEnders with him) and discussed the possibility of doing a continuous drama (i.e., soap opera) in the audio medium.
Being a creative, like being a comedian, is all about the timing. The coronavirus pandemic has been nothing sort of the worst global calamity I’ve experienced in my lifetime, and I would hesitate to suggest that there was any sort of “upside” to it in terms of opportunity; but it has provided a context in which a new audio soap might be both warranted and beneficial.
We’ve all suffered the most terrible sequence of lockdowns, and tiers, and restrictions to our everyday lives that would have seemed inconceivable a few years ago. All across our country, and indeed across the world, people’s mental health and their sense of well-being have been challenged as never before. Human beings have demonstrated in these last months their collective will to endure and survive, to get through the current storm, however at the same time, when faced with this kind of adversity, people feel a need to look beyond the hell of now, to a possible future beyond the present crisis. In short, they need hope.
Greenborne is a soap opera born of Hope.
From the first notes I wrote back in April 2020, in the heart of the first lockdown, this project was envisaged as a drama serial set in a world just beginning to emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic. It was to be populated with people starting to get back to a way of life that they had been denied for over a year. At a time when TV soaps like EastEnders were spinning off into a parallel universe where Easter was celebrated with the usual egg hunts and pubs and restaurants were operating without a mask in sight, I wanted to create a fictional world that had more relevance to the world the audience were living in.
As we enter 2021, locked down once again, but with the prospect of multiple vaccines offering a glimmer of a path back to our regular lives, it is even more important to look forward – with hope and positivity – to the future.
At their best, soap operas hold up a mirror to the audience, reflecting the viewers’/listeners’ hopes and fears through the stories they tell. Greenborne, fuelled by hope, offers a window into the future as the inhabitants of Greenborne show the way that we all might begin to rebuild our lives.
Guided by our producers Andrew and Helen, our terrific writers Bev and Angela and myself have worked hard to fill these scripts with characters and stories that celebrate the best of us: warm-hearted, quirky, witty, kind and positive. I hope they hit the right note for you, the listener. Greenborne’s stories are just beginning…
Colin Brake, 16 February 2021.