BBC dramatises Michael Morpugo’s book, Alone On The Wide Wide Sea

Wide Wide Sea

BBC Radio 2 is to broadcast a drama starring Toby Jones and Jason Donovan based on award-winning author Michael Morpurgo’s child migration novel, Alone On A Wide Wide Sea. The four-part drama, the first ever adaptation of the book, stars Toby Jones and Jason Donovan alongside cameo appearances from Michael Morpurgo and Maggie Aderin-Pocock.

The 30-minute episodes will be broadcast across four days during Jeremy Vine’s show at 1.30pm-2pm from Monday 7 to Thursday 10 August. The drama will also feature original music from the album The Ballads Of Child Migration, as well as new songs which have been written especially for the radio drama.

Between 1869 and 1970 around 100,000 British children were sent overseas – without their parents – by leading British churches and charities to new lives in Australia and Canada. Michael Morpurgo’s story, which was adapted for radio by Ian McMillan, is inspired by this sad part of history. It tells of the adventures of two child migrants, Arthur and Marty, who dispatched from London to a working farm in the Australian outback.

In the drama, Toby Jones plays Mr Piggy Bacon, who runs the farm where the child migrants are put to work on the land, and Jason Donovan portrays Arthur Hobhouse, who as an orphan child was sent from London to Australia as part of a child migration scheme.

The play covers 50 years of Arthur Hobhouse’s life and so features three different actors portraying the character, though Jason is a constant throughout playing ‘old Arthur’. Michael Morpurgo narrates the story, while Maggie Aderin-Pocock (presenter of the BBC’s Sky at Night) plays an astronaut in the International Space Station.

Specially curated music from the drama was performed to great acclaim at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2017 on Wednesday 5 April at London’s Royal Albert Hall.

Lewis Carnie, Head of Radio 2, says: “I’m delighted BBC Radio 2 is bringing such distinctive drama and music to the heart of our daytime schedule. The powerful and engaging writing of Michael Morpurgo will be beautifully brought to life by the superb cast.”

Michael Morpurgo says: “What is hard and uncomfortable to remember and believe, is always salutary and important to acknowledge. The migrant crisis the world faces today is not new. Wherever there has been war or hunger, homelessness or poverty, there will be refugees seeking sanctuary, seeking to survive. Among those who suffer most in such circumstances are children, children alone or unwanted in the world.

“After the Second World War, there were thousands of such children in this country in need of homes and in need of the security and love only a family can provide. Many of these children were sent away to the other side of the world, separated from all they knew, to Australia, and elsewhere, where it was thought they would be well looked after. Some were, but others found themselves living in abject misery and hardship, were exploited and abused, their lives blighted.

Alone On A Wide Wide Sea traces the lives of these children, of one in particular, and of his family. He struggles all his life to come to terms with his isolation and banishment, as he and his daughter try to rediscover their roots, to find a way back to their family and a sense of identity.”

Jason Donovan said: “Michael Morpurgo is such a wonderful writer and Alone On A Wide Wide Sea is a moving, beautiful story. It’s an absolute pleasure to be invited to play one of his characters.

“Being Australian I’m very aware of the child migration schemes and the terrible hardships that some of those children endured when they went to Australia. In his usual magical way, Michael manages to weave a delightful adventure out of a terribly sad piece of history. I hope that this production will help to make more people aware of the story of child migrants.”

Alone On A Wide Wide Sea was published in 2006 and the book’s title is taken from a line in English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s longest major poem, The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner.

The drama is directed by Frank Stirling, and edited and produced by John Leonard of 7digital productions. This is the second drama that John and Michael Morpurgo have worked together on for Radio 2. In 2014, John produced a version of Michael’s War Horse for the network.

R2 magazine said of the album, The Ballads Of Child Migration:

The trick for both the writers and project co-ordinator Gordon Lynch is to avoid saying the same thing over and over again. While and Matthews’ ‘Small Cases Full Of Big Dreams’ which opens the set almost says it all. Jez Lowe immediately provides another point of view with the jolly ‘Barnardo’s Party Time’ and his ‘Snow To Nova Scotia’ and John Doyle’s ‘Liberty’s Sweet Shore’ both offer optimism but by now you’ve read the notes and the enormity of the subject is sinking in. At this point the hymn, ‘Whither Pilgrims Are You Going’, performed by CBS and O’Hooley & Tidow might just leave a nasty taste in the mouth.

If you would like to order a copy then click on the The Ballads Of Child Migration link to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website. Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

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Madison Violet – The Good In Goodbye

JUNO nominated Canadian roots duo Madison Violet (Brenley MacEachern and Lisa MacIsaac) recently concluded their UK & Ireland tour in support of their new album The Good in Goodbye.

Since releasing their previous album No Fool for Trying (2009), Madison Violet have won the 2009 John Lennon Songwriting Contest for their track ‘The Ransom’, taken home the 2009 Canadian Folk Music Award for Vocal Group of the Year, and been nominated for multiple East Coast Music Awards and a 2010 JUNO Award for Roots & Traditional Album of the Year (Group). Continue reading Madison Violet – The Good In Goodbye

Folk icon teams up with dance producer to produce genre-defying album…

American folk music legend and a British experimental dance music producer may be highly improbable, but folk grande dame Peggy Seeger and Broadcaster have pulled off a genre-defying album full of hypnotic and hook laden delights, creating the video ‘First Time Ever’ from the album Folksploitation which is now available via Red Grape Music.

The song was originally written by Ewan MacColl for the 20 year-old Peggy in the early days of their courtship. Broadcaster works his studio magic on Peggy’s heart-rending vocals and lays them against dub, groove and techno beats. With the added poignancy of a woman in later years remembering a lost love, the results are nothing short of stunning.

The track is taken from new album ‘Folksploitation’ which is both a musical collaboration and a concept. The unlikely juxtaposition of Seeger’s delicate vocals and Broadcaster’s dub, hip hop, funk and techno beats, turns the improbable into the possible, the traditional into the experimental and a conundrum into artistry.

Broadcaster has never been afraid to break musical boundaries or cross genres, as witnessed by his remarkable 2008 debut ‘Primary Transmission’, in which he took samples from the legendary 1960s BBC Radio Ballads series and gave them a radical dance makeover. Played on BBC Radios 1,2,3,4 and 6Music the album received universal praise across the media:

“Among the list of 100 things you never expected to happen in this or any other lifetime is Ewan MacColl turning up as a Radio 1 Record of the Week” -fRoots

Other tracks on the album include traditional songs from early last century that tackle the still contemporary topics of inner city violence and drugs. Still others are just great danceable tracks that make one smile. All are given the Broadcaster treatment that takes them into a different realm.

“refreshing and vibrant” – Folking.com

If you would like to order a copy of the album (in CD or Vinyl), download it or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click on the banner link below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website. Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

SHOW OF HANDS FRONTMAN KNIGHTLEY TO APPEAR ON MAJOR NEW BBC TV SERIES

Show of Hands’ inspired frontman and BBC award-winning songwriter Steve Knightley is to appear in a major new BBC 2 TV series starting next week.

Devon-based Knightley, who won the 2010 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards Best Original Song title for his topical Arrogance Ignorance and Greed and who recently sold out the Royal Albert Hall for the fourth time with multi-instrumental bandmate Phil Beer, will be seen and heard in the new eight-part landmark series entitled The Great British Story.

Presented by historian Michael Wood, the series starts on Friday, May 25 at 9pmand will chart Britain’s chequered past from the perspective of ordinary people and local communities –from Viking invasions and the Norman Conquests through to the Industrial Revolution and two World Wars. Continue reading SHOW OF HANDS FRONTMAN KNIGHTLEY TO APPEAR ON MAJOR NEW BBC TV SERIES