*Spoiler alert!* If you haven’t yet listened to the Christmas special, do so now below!
Here at Union Road we like a good cliff-hanger. In fact I’d go as far as to say the show is 80% cliff-hanger. And 20% crying. (Not in the episodes – I’m the one crying, when the deadlines are looming!)
Cliff-hangers are the way we claw listeners back week after week, and so far they have been successful in doing so. Everyone knows about the famous “doof doof” drum beats at the end of EastEnders. Union Road is full of “doof doofs” – sometimes several times an episode!
So what have we had so far? We have had the reveal that Mr Lazenby changed the will the day before he died. The week after it turned out he had left the firm Lazenby & Sons to Harriet – not George! Let the fighting ensue! Then we had George declaring war on Harriet. Then the reveal that Mr Lazenby was in fact murdered – but by who? (All will be revealed, I promise.) And then it came to Christmas.
The Christmas episode was, I’m happy to say, a big success – the feedback I received was very complimentary and we have raked up an impressive number of listens on Mixcloud. The entire cast gave it their all, as a special present to our listeners, and to top it all: the cliff-hanger.
In the closing moments of the festive episode the big question was answered: who will be seen kissing under the mistletoe? The secret is out: it was Harriet and Ian. Brother and sister!
I am aware that that sentence without any context might sound a bit sensationalist. We wouldn’t be the first show that has thrown in something ‘controversial’ to whip up a bit of hype. But that’s not why it was done on Union Road.
It has been planned for ages – no one knew (including most of the actors), but I knew the story was heading that way, and the seeds have been sown for a long time. If you go back and listen to past episodes with fresh ears, you will pick up on the clues.
But the main reason for it was this: I sit at my desk and think, “what’s the most dramatic thing that could happen right now?” And the most dramatic thing that could happen within a sibling war would be the reveal that two of the siblings are in love. That’s why it was absolutely the right story to tell.
It’s an interesting story to tell, and a tough one. I have had lengthy discussions with the actors, James Alston (Ian) and Alexandra Newton (Harriet), and I know they will pitch it perfectly. And it may not appear so at first, but it is a morally ambiguous story. Harriet and Ian can’t help the way they feel. None of us choose with whom we will fall in love. But it is ‘wrong’.
I did hesitate, after it was all done and on the shelf, waiting to be broadcast. For some people, this story is not appropriate listening from a student radio station at 5.45 in the afternoon. But it will be handled with real sensitivity and maturity, and for that reason it could just be the most rewarding story we tell.
Union Road is as much about surprising our listeners as it is about reflecting life on a normal street, the highs and the lows. News of this, when it finally gets out, will shake the street. So yes, it was a good “doof doof”, gasps all round – a good cliffhanger. But it’s more than that: it’s good drama.
In 2014, the divided street will be more divided than ever!
Union Road will return at 5.40pm on Wednesday 15 January.
To catch up on previous episodes, go to http://www.mixcloud.com/UnionRoadOfficial/
Graham Robert Everleigh
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