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Evaluation of Radio Drama. By Annabelle Snelling. How does your production fit in with the values of radio 4 and its place in British life?.

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evaluation of radio drama

Evaluation of Radio Drama

By Annabelle Snelling


How does your production fit in with the values of radio 4 and its place in British life?

  • The middle class values of radio 4 allowed me to create a radio drama (extract) that would be relatable and of interest to a middle class audience as they are more likely to be familiar with wealth, education and success than a more working class audience. I created the middle class characters Jake, Rosie and Dr Reynolds. I make this clear to the audience through the characters dialogue, accents and background. For example, Jake comes from a wealthy background as he is taking a holiday on his Father’s boat with staff and crew on board, Dr Reynolds is has a clear high status shown through his accent and profession (being a Doctor shows his good education and
  • success).

A middle class audience would be able to relate more easily to Jake by imagining being on a beautiful boat or island.

  • Middle class madness/mental illness is less psychotic that working class due to their better surroundings and upbringing e.g. suffering with eating disorder or relationship problems. The middle may enjoy listening to a more challenging radio drama with a complicated story and mental illness as they are less likely to be around this in real life situations.

The popularity of post modern films and the concept of what is and what isn’t real, explored in films such as shutter island, inception and black swan, would be more interesting to a middle class audience due to their education and ability to figure out such complicated stories. A more uneducated audience would be less likely to understand and figure them out and therefore more likely to give up on a radio drama of the same genre as it is not backed up with clear images of what is happening. These films allowed me to use intertextualityenticing a similar audience.


Bold writing

Dark main image

Burning flame


Radio 4 have previously released more sci fi/horror radio dramas. After visiting radio 4’s website and finding a lack of such radio dramas suggests that this genre was successful and rejected by its audience. This may have been due to the high level of technology we now have to create sci fi movies and because of this they are a lot more interesting to watch than listen to as these types of films are mainly about the graphics and images we would never see in real life situations. By creating a radio drama which would be highly unlikely for audience’s to ever see in real life situations would attract the audience. If my radio drama were a film it would not need high graphics to make it appear believable.

what are radio 4 s audience issues
What are Radio 4’s audience issues?
  • ‘Love affair with all things American’ - very focused on America. They will loose listeners in Europe and other areas if consider less important. By incorporating one an American character into my drama radio I am keeping with the conventions of radio 4.
  • Losing its appeal to younger listeners –needs more programmes for the younger generation. They need to talk about things the younger generation will want to hear about. Through my advert (young male, comic book style) I have tried to attract a younger audience.

Mostly middle class, middle aged adults – Working class would be less likely to listen to radio 4, may feel less appreciated and wanted if they tuned into radio 4. Having Jake, Rosie and Dr Reynolds appear very middle class sticks with the conventions of radio 4 and attracts middle class audience’s to my radio drama.

  • Losing fans over programmes story lines – For example, The Archers lost fans after the gay wedding they had within the story. If listeners do not like my story they will not keep listening. I have included a range of genres and themes (tragedy, romance, horror, thriller) into my radio drama so it appeals to more audience’s.
how does your drama relate in terms of style ideas and language to the audience
How does your drama relate in terms of style ideas and language to the audience?
  • Flashbacks – these are clear to the audience as they are used a lot in film and television programmes. This makes the audience already familiar with flashbacks. The sound effect I use to communicate the flashback (radio static) suggests that it is a flashback as this sound is repeated before every flashback in my radio which makes the narrative easier to follow.
  • Repeating the beginning of my radio drama at the end was effective in keeping my audience engaged and want to listen more to the radio drama. As a middle class audience this reflects the idea of how educated people will like a challengeto test their educational ability.

English and an American accent – this is easy for my audience to understand and relate to. As an English radio station (radio 4) my listeners who were English were able to clearly understand Jake, Dr Reynolds and the Nurse’s accent. Rosie’s American accent was also understand to my listeners due to radio 4’s ‘love affair with all things American’. The high popularity of American TV amongst young English teenager\'s allows my target audience to be familiar and comfortable with the accent.

reflect on the representation of people places ideas and locations
Reflect on the representation of people, places, ideas and locations .
  • Jake (confident, middle class, wealthy) - I showed Jake’s middle class background and upbringing through this through his spoken accent and dialogue e.g. the clearness and clarity of his voice and how he never uses any ‘slang’ words. I showed his wealth through Dr Reynolds dialogue e.g. ‘Your boat has been found’. In my advert I put Jake in a suit in order to communicate his wealth and background as it represents a serious business man. The middle class audience of radio 4 would have been more likely to relate to Jake in the sense of his upbringing and spoken language. My audience (my A level media class and teacher) said it was very clear Jake came from a rich background.

Rosie (young, beautiful, middle class, American) – I communicated Rosie’s beauty to the audience through Jake’s dialogue and the way he spoke about her e.g. ‘she had the finest brown hair and bright green eyes’. Her American accent was very strong and clear. Putting Rosie in a flowery dress in my advert suggests her innocence and femininity to the audience. The current middle class audience of radio 4 would be able to relate to Rosie as she reflects a typical middle class woman marrying/in love with a man similar financially. This reflects the proposal that the middle class are more likely to marry someone of their own social status. My audience said it was clear how much Jake loved and admired Rosie through the soft tone of voice used when speaking about her. They also said how they expected she was middle class as she was marrying a middle class man.


The Nurse (patronising, flirtatious) – I communicated this through the dialogue and tone of voice e.g. the Nurse says ‘Jake you must take your medication or you’ll have to stay in here all day’ in a very high pitched slow pace. She lowers her pitch when she is with the Doctor e.g. ‘Hi Doctor’ is said in a very sexy and flirtatious tone of voice. This communicates to the audience her lack of interest in Jake and her focus on pleasing the Doctor. I was successful in making her audience find the Nurse over whelming and slightly annoying. One of my class mates said how unlucky someone would be to have a Nurse like that.


The Captain (untrustworthy, lower class, Scottish) – I was successful in communicating and hinting the Captain’s evil plans through his dialogue e.g. ‘You can trust me Jake’ was said in a very sly and patronising tone of voice. The audience said that it was clear something about the Captain was not right.

  • The Barman (lower class, friendly, chatty) – The barman’s spoken voice was very successful in communicating his lower class status (slightly cockney accent, slang and slurred words). By asking Jake questions and laughing his with suggests his friendly personality. The audience said it was shocking how someone who appear so friendly was secretly drugging them.

Dr Reynolds (successful, well educated, middle class, caring) – his profession clearly suggests his ambition to help the mentally ill. I also show this through his dialogue e.g. ‘We’re here to help you Jake’. His posh, clear and deep voice communicates his social class and background to the audience. My audience (my media class and teacher) said that he was clearly a powerful and demanding Doctor who genuinely cared for Jake’s mental health and was sympathetic towards Jake’s situation.


The mental hospital – it was very clear when they were in the mental hospital due to the flashback sound. I effectively used language to communicate the mental hospital and atmosphere inside e.g. ‘Let me out of here’, ‘always the same questions’ and ‘Help me please help me’. The sounds of people laughing, crying and screaming communicated madness in Jake’s surroundings. The Nurse saying ‘medication time’ at the beginning of the extract lets the audience know from the very beginning where he is and his situation. Dr Reynolds saying ‘How\'s the medication? Not too drowsy’ further communicates this to the audience. By this stage the audience have realised Jake’s location in the mental hospital. My class mates said it was very clear that they were in the mental hospital due to the loud echoing noises, dialogue and sound effects such as opening and closing door and the footsteps suggesting they were in a large place.


The boat - I used sounds effects (howling wind and wave crashing) to communicate the boat and storm. I used language to further communicate their location e.g. the Captain saying ‘I’ve been sailing these seas for too long not to know we’ll be fine’ suggests clearly that the Captain is in the middle of steering the boat. My audience said that this was extremely clear due to the sound effects and spoken words as they both communicated Jake’s location clearly to the audience. A member of my class said that at first they were not sure where Jake was, only that he was in the middle of a storm, but after the Captain begins to speak things become clear. This was effective in keeping my audience members engaged as the sudden sounds of the storm effectively confused them, leading them to want to listen more and find out exactly what is going on.


The Island – I used mainly sound effects to communicate when they were on the island (birds sound, ocean waves). The middle class would be able to understand this clearly due to their wealth and popularity and advertisement of summer beach holidays. I used the language to also communicate this this further e.g. ‘I have to get off this bloody island’ was effective in stating where he was. Using the sounds of a slow ocean waves and birds gave a off a calm and relaxing feel. Jake loud and panicking tone of voice creating contrast with the sound effects which successfully reflected the idea that things were not as they seemed. My class mates said that the sounds of birds and ocean waves made it clear that they were on a beach.

  • Dr Reynolds - Choosing Cassie as Dr Reynolds was successful as her voice was effective in communicating her powerful status and control over Jake e.g. her deep voice made us fearful and trusting in her. The middle class audience of radio 4 would be able to clearly know who Dr Reynolds is due to the typical powerful and patronising Psychiatrist or Doctor presented on Television e.g. clearly spoken, ‘the sooner you talk, the sooner you can go’. The audience may feel able to relate to Dr Reynolds due to his success and clearly well educated background as he is a Doctor. Cassie was successful in making her voice very deep, manly and believable.

The Nurse- Having Sadie play the Nurse was extremely successful as she fully understood the typical patronising Nurse. Playing a slightly flirtatious Nurse was effective in communicating the relationship she has with the Doctor. Paying more attention to the Doctor than Jake gives off the idea of people with mental illnesses being treated as almost non human or unimportant e.g. she played a comic Nurse Rachett in One flew over the cuckoo’s nest. She was confident with her role and successful in communicate the perfect type of Nurse.

  • Rosie - Choosing Zenaide to play the part of Rosie was very successful as her American accent was clear, believable and understandable to my class mates.

Jake – Having Owen Nichols play Jake was very successful as he fully explored the character and understood him. He was able to change from different emotions very quickly when entering a new scene which effectively kept the narrative order flowing and engaging. His voice was very powerful which was effect in communicating Jake’s side of the story.

  • The Captain – Having David Milliken play the Captain was successful due to his strong Scottish accent with effectively created contrast against Jake’s.
how did you follow extend or break conventions of a radio play
How did you follow, extend oRbreak conventions of a radio play?
  • Flashbacks within my narrative structure – thus successfully complicated and challenged my audience due to the different locations and constant change in emotion. As the location would suddenly change after the radio static sound, my class mates said this made the narrative easy and clear to follow.
  • As radio drama’s are usually slow I created a fast extract to keep the audience more engaged as so much is going on at once and it does not drag on. This makes it more like film which would attract a younger audience.

Cliff hanger - Repeating the beginning of my radio drama at the very end was effective in leaving my audience in a state of tension and suspense. They will want to know what happens next as they will still be thinking, questioning and engaging with my radio drama once it has finished. I was successful in challenging them to figure out what exactly is happening here (what is and what isn’t real). My audience said that my ending was gripping and made them want to keep listening.

  • By creating a tragedy/psychologically thriller radio drama I hope to bring new listeners to radio 4 due to the gripping story line and increasing popularity of psychological thrillers.

Having the Nurse as very over the top/in your face was effect in making the audience feel annoyed by her. This reflects Jakes feelings towards the Nurse. Making her sound unrealistic with an over the top, patronising voice and constant high pitch made her seem like a comic book/cartoon character. Being in the mental hospital has almost driven her slightly mad.

  • Having everything heard as if from Jake’s perspective - I turned down the voices of Dr Reynolds and the Nurse in scene 2 when to communicate the Nurse walking into the room and talking to the Doctor whilst Jake waits at the door.
sci fi radio dramas
  • As radio drama’s were often Sci Fi as it was simply to create a fictional world and story e.g. War of the Worlds, without having to include believable costumes and sets. The decrease in such radio drama’s due to film technology we have to now make these amazing and believable sets, graphics and costumes has challenged me to bring audience’s back to listening to such radio drama’s. Creating a radio drama was much more simple as I did not have to show the different locations of the extract e.g. showing the Captain steering the boat through the storm would have been too time consuming, costly and most likely impossible for me to film, but I was able to easily create the sounds to show what is now happening to the audience. Past Radio 4 drama’s have been Sci Fi and horror but have been less popular than radio drama’s such as The Archers.
comic books
Comic books
  • Creating a slightly comic book looking advert (the bright colours and rotated bold font) makes the advert brighter and more eye capturing. This is likely to appeal to a younger audience due to the upcoming rise and popularity of new comic book films e.g. Kick Ass and Scott Pilgrim vs. the world. Doing something new and different that you would not expect to see in a radio drama advert will attract new audience’s for radio 4.
how has digital technology made it possible for you to become producers of media texts
how has digital technology made it possible for you to become producers of media texts?
  • Microphone- allowed me to capture the sounds clearly and for my group members to get close to the microphone
  • Portable recording devise - allowed me to simply record it and upload to computer. I was able to create my radio drama in less than ten minutes due to technology.
  • Editing programme (Adobe Premiere Elements 8.0) - allowed me to cut, paste, edit and import recorded sound effects quickly and easily.
  • Coral paint shop pro – edit to create symbolism and meaning e.g. Putting a cracked walls effect on Jake’s face to symbolically reflect the fading and loss of memory. I created contrast to make them brighter and more eye capturing e.g. I made the red blood hands very bright to attract the audience’s attention as red is strong, bold colour.
  • The blog - I was able to organise my research and production in different categories whilst keeping my work together and organised in one place. I was able to show my progress over time which effectively helped me in knowing the stages I was at with my course work.

A reflection on the decisions you made to cut words, cast characters, edit the drama, making and use of sound effects, cuts to make scenes to redo and in general the process of creating a complex and subtle media text.

  • I had to cut sections between the pages of the script as when recording we had to stop to turn pages. Easy - I was able to direct my group in when to start and stop knowing that all pages had been turned and that everyone was standing quietly still and ready to carry on. When a line was said in the wrong tone of voice or when the actor accidently said a word wrong, I simply told them to stop and repeat the whole sentence. During the editing process I was able to cut out the sentence’s or words that it not work and replace them with the new recorded sentences or words.
  • My casting was very successful and I did not feel like I could have chosen better actors for the roles. Actors were confident with the role they had to play. They were patient and were easy to direct due to their high level of concentration.

Making sound effects was difficult at first as their was a lot of background noise when recording them on the school grounds. After I took the recorder home and recorded my sound effects in a quiet environment, they were much more effective and clear. Putting sound effects into my radio drama was easy as I was able to create layers. I had all my narrative on one layer and sound effects on top of this layer which made it much simpler and easy to read and understand. I was able to turn up and down the volume of sound effects to fit with the narrative.

  • I decided to edit the radio drama as if from Jake’s perspective in order to break the conventions of current radio dramas in order to attract more audience’s to radio 4. This would make the audience engage with Jake the most and become sympathetic towards him.
  • I did not have to redo any scenes or re record my radio drama as I felt that it communicated all the character personalities and lives very well.
how have you used linked ideas to create this synergy that goes with the product
How have you used linked ideas to create this synergy that goes with the product?
  • The same themes run through each production (advert, listings page and radio drama) - love and tragedy through the spoken speech in my radio drama e.g. ‘I’m going to ask Rosie to marry me’ and ‘She was murdered!’, through the listings page preview of the story (set in a mental hospital after murdering his lover) and through the images on my advert (the Rose, Rosie’s dead body and the red bloody hands). – love, tragedy, memory loss and mental illness.
  • Themes of mental illness and memory loss through each production in different ways e.g. I showed memory loss through the main image of my advert and talked about Jake’s memory loss in my preview. I showed mental illness through sound effects and speech in my radio drama and talked about Jake being in a mental hospital in m preview.
how did you use signs and codes to reinforce your preferred reading of the text for the audience
How did you use signs and codes to reinforce your preferred reading of the text for the audience?
  • I gained sympathy from my audience (18 year olds) through my character Jake – his situation e.g. he nearly lost his life in the story, he was drugged, his fiancée is dead and abandoned on an island. This was enough for any person to go mad and therefore the audience would feel sympathetic towards Jake.
  • Jake’s spoken language to also create sympathy e.g. ‘she was taken away from me’ and ‘you don’t know what it was like there’.
  • I gained sympathy from my audience through my character Rosie – the distress she is under, no girl wants their lover to forget who they are, murdered even though she was innocent, left on and island, she clearly fell in love with someone who she did not really know fully what he was capable of. Rosie’s voice was effective in communicating her culture and young age to the audience.

I gained trust from my audience through my character Dr Reynolds - demanding voice but makes the audience believe he truly cares about Jake. His profession suggests he knows what he is talking about and therefore the audience believe him and are on his side. For example, ‘we’re here to help you Jake’ suggests he genuinely cares for Jake.

  • I successful gained my negative and annoyed response from my audience through the Nurse.

To make the audience feel untrustworthy towards the Captain I used hints to show his evil plan. For example, the crew laugh and he the Captain says ‘You can trust me Jake’. This hints that things are not what they seem and that the crew are making a mockery of Jake as he believes the Captain due to the long term trusting relationship the Captain has had with Jake’s father.

  • In a similar way I show hints of the crew’s plan through the character the bar man. For example, he laughs and then says ‘here you’ll need it’ whilst pouring Jake a drink. This gives off conflicting messages to Jake to hint that things are not as they seem.
how did you listings page reflect the audience profile
How did you listings page reflect the audience profile?
  • I followed the conventions of a listings page e.g. Columns, one picture at the side for a preview, ‘pick of the day’ section, the name of the show and the time it starts.
  • The photograph of myself - typical middle class teenage girl - clothes I wore and hair style. The blazer - intelligence and seriousness whilst reflecting teenage middle class fashion.
  • Column about theatre - attracts a middle class audience to the page (expensive and more middle class appeal).
  • I presented more challenging or intellectual films e.g. Shutter Island, Doubt etc. This would attract a more middle class audience to the page – well educated, interest for a mind challenging film.
how did the preview use narrative hooks to entice the listener
How did the preview use narrative hooks to entice the listener?
  • Cliff hanger at the end of my preview keeps the reader interested and engaged with the radio drama. They will want to know what happens next and therefore will be more likely to tune in to the radio drama.
  • I kept the reader interested in my character Jake by slightly explaining his situation (‘having just been admitted to the mental institution’) but without giving much reason as to why. Explaining that he has lost his memory will entice the reader as they will want to know why and what he has forgotten as clearly it is something significant.
analysis of listings page

Award winning – shows Annabelle’s success with radio drama. Likely to be good.

Rhetorical question (why is she so perfect) – gets the audience guessing, already engaged with my radio drama

Colum\'s – sticks with the conventions of a listings page

Film – The popularity of film and television in today’s British life will attract readers to this page where they will see the preview of my radio drama

Theatre – very middle class. This will attract middle class listens (contemporary audience of radio 4)

Picture – makes the page look attractive

Pick of the day – fits with the conventions of a listings page.

Large font – eye capturing

Image – young woman. Blazer – middle class, business woman, serious.

Makes the written sound very popular – will make my audience more interested. Naming similar films will make audience members who enjoy these interested in my radio drama.

Sneak peek – audience who are interested will listen to this. Other audience members less interested may listen in to the sneak peak to see if it is something they would enjoy.


How was your advert constructed to sell the product and what was the values and conventions of the arts page of the publication it would be published in?

  • Presenting my advert as a psychological thriller - attract radio 4 listeners (intellectual and middle class) whilst also attracting a younger audience to radio 4 due to the growing popularity of psychological thriller’s.
  • Making the advert bright and colourful - attract the audience more - bright eye capturing look e.g. bright red bloody hands –share and hint of horror/tragedy.
  • By using a photo of a young man - attract young female listeners to radio 4.
analysis of advert
Analysis of advert

This title will entice the audience as they will questioning ‘Why not paradise?’ They will already be engaged with my radio drama.

This tells the audience when and where the radio drama is being placed and who it was created by. This gives the audience all their questions after becoming interested in the advert.

The shows the main location of the radio drama (Dr Reynolds room where Jake has his sessions with him. The water hints to the audience the story line (Jake surrounded by water on the island, drowning Rosie in the sea and his fear of water).

This Caption will give the audience a hint into the crime Jake has committed without stating what has happened. By questioning this the audience are already engaged with the radio drama. Having ‘dark days’ in yellow creates contrast with the red. Yellow gives of a light and happy feel which creates contrast against the word said.

This picture symbolises Rosie’s death and how Jake’s memory loss stops him from realising what he has done. The table acts as a barrier between Jake as his memory\'s. The love he had for Rosie is all he can remember. The Rose and bloody hands effectively represents the themes of love and tragedy. Audience would feel a sense of Romeo and Juliet or Titanic through this image. The bloody hands suggests a more horrific and disturbing story line.