Ashford College’s Elwick Road Studios recently welcomed actor, presenter and Kent native, Shaun Williamson (EastEnders, Extras), to record a brand new radio drama for the BBC.
Shaun wrote and acts in the drama, Eden’s End, a 5-part murder mystery set against the backdrop of summer hop-picking in the Kent countryside on the eve of the Second World War. The star-studded cast also includes Shane Taylor (Band of Brothers), Candis Nergaard (Grantchester, Call the Midwife) and Steve Nallon (Spitting Image).
Helmed by the Viola Films production team of Debra McGee, who is also Manager at Ashford venue Revelation, and Samuel Supple, an award-winning, Kent-based film and TV director, the drama had its genesis when Shaun met Samuel through an episode of a BBC documentary they worked on together - The Great British Story – centred on the Royal Military Canal. Debra and Samuel’s company, Viola Films, has produced award winning short films, Magwitch, a prequel to Great Expectations, and Time Bleeds, a WW1 drama documentary – both filmed in Kent.
Shaun said: “Debra’s relationship with the College via Revelation, led her to recommend Elwick Road Studios - and I was bowled over by the facilities here on my initial visit. After meeting the engineer, Mark Rowden, and seeing his professionalism and enthusiasm for the project, I was sold. Staff have been more than willing to go the extra mile to make all involved feel comfortable and ensure the project ran smoothly.”
Eden’s End will air on BBC Radio Kent on Monday 21st May for 5 nights as part of Dominic King’s drivetime programme at 6.20pm - then in a special Omnibus edition on bank holiday Monday 28 May at 12 noon. There are also plans for it to air on BBC Radio Four and be adapted for television.
Debra McGee added, “Everything came together perfectly, as the project had been discussed for a while and the new studio was finished just in time for us to get in and record. It was a departure for us, as we’d never done radio before but the staff here have been really welcoming and supportive and there has been great support from students, who worked as runners. Mark Rowden also did a fantastic job in recording and mixing the drama and putting together a great range of sound effects.”
The new, state-of-the-art, 40-channel digital/analogue hybrid studio, which has been designed and built to the highest specification in consultation with industry professionals, includes a fantastic-sounding live room, booth and control room and leading-edge equipment. Boasting a large range of instruments, including a wide variety of high quality synths, guitars and amps and drum-kits, it will be available for external hire to musicians, bands and artists later this year.
Mark Rowden, studio manager and lecturer in Music Technology, said, “We’re thrilled that we now have this fantastic facility up and running. It’s at the cutting-edge of what is being offered in college studios across the county.”
Samuel Supple, whose work has won and been nominated for many awards, including the prestigious Royal Television Society Awards, said: “Since this was a BBC drama commission, it required a state-of-the-art studio – and Ashford College’s facilities fit the bill perfectly. They’re offering London-standard facilities in Kent and it’s obvious that the utmost care has been taken not to cut corners in the construction of the studio, to ensure it can be the best it can possibly be. There’s really nothing else like it in the area. We would definitely consider the studio for future projects and it has sparked our interest in what other resources the college can offer.
“Elwick Road Studios is contributing to the burgeoning arts scene in Ashford, which is really finding its feet as a creative centre – and the town’s future in that area is immense.”
For more information, contact: Philip Orrell, Hadlow Group PR and Media Manager, Tel: 01732 372794, firstname.lastname@example.org