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    Adapted from the fascinating book by Ray Bradbury, Dangerous Visions: The Martian Chronicles will be gracing the airwaves of BBC Radio 4 on Saturday 21st June. Featuring an all-star cast including Derek Jacobi and Hayley Atwell, we caught up with Post-production sound engineer Alistair Lock to talk deserted planets, creating worlds and Doctor Who

     

    Could you tell us more about the BBC Radio 4 play Dangerous Visions: The Martian Chronicles?

    It’s an adaptation of the Ray Bradbury book, which is several short stories, but as you read it there’s a sort of arc to it. It’s quite a bizarre book when you first start reading it because it is from the Martian’s point of view initially. Expedition after expedition travel to Mars so there’s lots of different stories that follow different people. After a while some of the people keep popping up again, and sometimes in a later chapter there’s reference to another story that makes you think “Oh that was what was happening when I started reading the book!”

     

    You don’t really hear many stories told from the view point of the Martian, so that’s all rather unusual…

    Yeah that’s true. For the Radio Production it was adapted by two writers, Richard Kurti and Bev Doyle, who have done a lot of stuff for television but this is their first radio production.

     

    The creation of sound for radio is, in a lot of ways, different to the production of television and film sound. A lot of radio sound creates the setting for the audience so it must be quite a challenge at times…

    It is because you are trying to create pictures in the listener’s mind, whilst trying not to fill in too many of the gaps like – “Oh look at that tree over there, the third on the left behind that rose bush” – but you do have to drop clues in the script now and then. When you’re dealing with, as in this case an alien planet where the Martian population has died, you have endless deserted Martian cities and deserts. It’s difficult to play with that to get a sense of place.

     

    Radio is one of those mediums that regardless of the advent of television and the impact of cinema, is still enduringly popular throughout the world. Why do you think this is?

    Radio is more passive than TV or Cinema. If you are watching TV or seeing a movie, you are sitting and watching and listening. Your attention is constantly held by the pictures. Radio is more passive in the sense that it’s something you can sit down and listen to, or you can have it on in the background, in the car or as you are doing something else. You are not solely concentrating on the audio. Certainly these days it is a more portable medium so you can listen to it wherever you are.

     

    In television and cinema you have the ability to produce these massive and vast sets, but in some ways there isn’t a better set than your own imagination…

    Yes. A lot of people forget that when you are watching a film or television programme, you might have the most impressive looking set but sometimes you might not notice what the sound is doing.

     

    You’ve also worked throughout your career on various Doctor Who audio adventures. What first brought you into the Who-niverse?

    Well in a roundabout way…building a Dalek and taking it to conventions. It was through meeting other fans and people who worked on the show, be they an actor or someone from behind the scenes. I had always been interested in producing sound and music, just as a hobby, but through meeting various people I ended up working on some productions. So over many years I ended up doing what I am doing now, which is Sound and Post-Production for the Doctor Who audio adventures produced by Big Finish. I also work on their Blakes 7 audio adventures and of course this Radio 4 play, which is due to be broadcast within the month.

     

    As a Doctor Who fan myself, I absolutely adore the Big Finish productions featuring the 8th Doctor Paul McGann and the 5th Doctor Peter Davison. Are there any particular Big Finish productions that you have enjoyed working on?

    Well there’s been quite a few! I actually worked on the first Paul McGann story, where his Doctor debuted in the audio adventures with Charlie Pollard played by India Fisher. That was an interesting story as it was set predominately aboard the 101, so that was quite an audio challenge. As the ship in the story is constantly up the air you were bound to hear the sounds of the engines, so I did a lot of research and mapped out where all the rooms would be and where the engines would be placed. I mapped out how the engines would sound wherever you were on the ship, location to location, so you would always hear the engines just in a different way.

     

    Aside from the Big Finish productions and of course The Martian Chronicles, what are your plans for the upcoming year?

    Well I work on the Blakes 7 audio productions for Big Finish too. There was a trial one-off called Warship that featured many of the original cast of the TV show. It was a bridging episode between the second and third series, so it gave us more information about what happened to the characters in the series gap where the liberator engages the alien fleet. It was successful so they decided to do more, and the most recent of those is actually out now.

     

    DANGEROUS VISIONS: THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES WILL BE BROADCAST ON BBC RADIO 4 AT 2.30PM, SATURDAY 21ST JUNE 2014.

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      Sarah's posts By Sarah O' Hara
      @TheLowdownMag


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