It was bound to be fun, wasn’t it? I mean, here is a man whose booming laugh and twinkling sense of humour is positively contagious. So I assumed that fun was inevitable, and, happily, I was proved right.
The instructions were simple and to the point: Get together in groups, please, and write a three minute segment for a soap opera. In fairness, this was backed up by a considerable amount of helpful notes, with ideas and directions. And, whatever else we did, we were to finish it on a cliff hanger.
The first group set their script in a school, with an ongoing investigation into a suspect relationship. A dodgy headmistress, an absent girl, two policemen, a maternal intervention and a suspicion of rampant and illegal lesbianism hovering over the whole thing. Culminating in, wait for it, a missing passport – so where is the absent girl, we ask?
The second group set their script round a newspaper. With the headline story of the town’s mayor being threatened by a bomber and their chief reporter off sick with what they all suspected was a hangover. To compound their problem the paper’s editor and owner was suspected of laundering dirty money. And then there was a sub-plot to do with illegal immigrants. Finally, a cry went up in the newsroom: What are we going to do?! What indeed?
The third group chose the Up and Away Travel Agency for their soap segment. It was staffed by an incompetent, struggling manager who found it hard to treat his customers with respect, Peggy, the cleaner, an elderly and (hopefully) recovering alcoholic, and Miriam an assistant. 17 year old Dezz (spelt with a double z, to show how cool he was) was pressuring Miriam to hand him the keys of the agency to help his ill sister. The sister was a lie, of course, we knew he was a villain, cool or not. The agency also laundered money, Japanese yen in particular, so there was a lot of dosh on the premises. The dramatic conclusion – with Dezz going about his wicked ways, Peggy the cleaner, alone in the office one dark night, glimpses figures approaching and screams loudly… but did anyone hear her?
And, finally, the fourth group, which was undoubtedly the most unruly of the evening. Announcing that the only soap they were familiar with was The Archers, they proceeded to improvise a skit. This took place in the village shop, where Susan and Clarrie were discussing breaking news that a factory was to be built in Ambridge. The two women were anxious to discover what the factory would be for, when Joe Grundy appeared and announced the land it was to be on would ruin his mangelwurzels. Following some conversation about these, on entering the shop, an intercession by Brian caused some further discord when it was discovered that he had money in the project. And it was going to manufacture, not as Clarrie hoped, designer dresses, but… and here the audience had to guess what. And they did. Very successfully. Fade out to theme tune.
So – well done and thank you, Jim, a great idea and it certainly triggered some imaginative scenarios.
Reading week next week optional theme, You win again. Looking forward to it already.
See you at Tesco Sally