Into The Gap: BBC Radio Four

I’ve written and presented five different programmes  for a  BBC radio four series this coming week.  They shall be broadcast at 3.45pm from Monday to Friday.  The series is called Into The Gap.   The idea was formulated and transported through the commissioning process by producer Philip Sellars.

I have worked with Philip this past few years on documentaries particularly
concerned with  travel: Songlines of steel on the Ghan train in Australia,  An English Journey, following JB Priestley’s journey around England .   By the time it was ready to record and produce  Into The Gap Philip  was no longer available so Neil George,  whom I had worked with before on a programme abut British pubs named The Black Boy, took it on.

Off we went   for 24 hours on location at Watford Gap Service Station to see what stories we could find inside the people inside the gap.  And we found them, lots and lots of them.  The experience I have gained through working with Philip over the past few years  consolidated in the interviewing and script writing for this series.

On the first programme on Monday at 3.45pm I explored an idea. I found from the steps of the service station that the traffic on the motorway sounded like the sea.  So I wrote the entire first script with reference to The Coleridge poem, The Ancient Mariner.   

All this may pass by unnoticed by the listener, no matter it should work beyond the reference. This series is something I am proud of. Mostly I pride myself in respecting the Radio 4 listener. I should say that I treat the interviewees as if they are all radio four listeners, though some are patently not.   Here’s a good place to let you know that I
shall be returning to BBC radio 4’s Saturday live too.

I don’t know what impression my writing like this gives you.  But today the Radio Times announced Into The Gap  as “Enchantingly Brilliant”.    Jane Anderson says of the series  “This is subject matter that definitely falls into my “only on radio four” category that
I would fight to the death to keep the station”.   You can here the programme online too here.

8 thoughts on “Into The Gap: BBC Radio Four

  1. The voices, the stories, the movements and your presence in the first three episodes so far have encapsulated the ebb and flow of life at the service station. A book, a painting, a film could not have done it better! Beautiful.

  2. Hi Lemn – am really looking forward to listening to them from the hpt water comfort of my double bed !
    have a lovely rest of week
    Naomi xx

  3. Hi Lemn!
    I'm writing and making and vaguely listening the way you do often with Radio 4 taking advantage of some voices present somewhere whilst you work and hoping you won't really have to listen. Then I hear a familiar sensitive and lyrical voice and rush to reach for the volume control. It's Lemn Sissay going Into The Gap and it's captivating! Full of humility and genuine interest in the subjects who happen by at The Watford Gap Service Station. Beautiful storytelling, poetic, of course, and mesmerizing. I have to tune in the next day as I've become hooked!!
    So, I promised myself that I would go to your site Lemn to say thanks and also how great it is to see you out there spreading the word, your words.
    We worked in Staffordshire some time back! Phil and Winston and the New Vic, the hotel at the end of the street, the guest house next door, remember!!
    Lots and lots of good wishes from Manju.

  4. Thankyou Kindly manju and ofcourse I remember those days and those workshops and staffordshire in particular. Wonderful times.

  5. Lemn,
    I was v disapointed we didn't all hear the secret of happiness as being sold by the 'gentleman in into gap' I am assuming you paid your £20 and received the details, I know I would have done?

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