I listen to radio 4 plays on my podcast and 99% of them don’t bear any relation to life around me. They are well written but I personally feel they are created by people who haven’t had real world experiences.
Fine but why do I listen?
Because I write and want to hear what drama plays are being commissioned as Radio 4 is still the gateway for nurturing fresh talent. There is still a distinct lack of diversity for the most part, that is until I listened to Breaking up with Bradford by Kamaal Kaan which made me slightly annoyed at the opportunities that were missed.
The main Character is a Muslim guy from Bradford and comes back from Cambridge University to see his family but his (white) boyfriend appears wanting to talk to him. The premise is fine and has potential to really be interesting especially with the current climate.
But (and this is my opinion and gut instinct) it comes over as totally inauthentic. This may be based on a true story, I don’t know, but the whole scenario just felt distant and not exactly real. The main character just didn’t feel like he grew up in Bradford and was not as awkward as one would be when growing up in a close knit Asian community and ‘being different’. The restaurant running best friend in Bradford was too forgiving when the secret was out.
The intention was all there but it feels that the development process started doing away with real world characters and how they would really react. Romanticised and too conveniently accepting.
I compare this to Hanif Kurieshi who’s books and screenplays are convincing, even the main character in Buddha of Surburbia’s bisexuality is explored.
Also to add, Sathnam Sanghera’s The Boy with the Top Knot as a novel dealing growing up north was amazingly well written and all the characters were relatable.
Researching the writer and he hails from Bradford and this playlooks to be part autobiographical.
Why the stupid whinge on my part? I think the development process at Radio 4 drama unit is not diverse enough in the managerial department otherwise there would be a drive to make this piece more authentic.
At the end of the day the play is better written than anything I will ever do but is an example of diversity within the development process that is lacking I am am saddened hat the themes could be pushed further.
*Update* I just watched the Master of None episode ‘Thanksgiving’ and blown away with how they dealt with the coming out narrative. It is an excellent example of how the elders are not compromised and reluctantly accept things in their way. If you haven’t watched it do check it out for the structure alone.