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Christmas on Xpression Presents

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Every week Xpression Presents brings you a fantastic array of radio drama – and Christmas is no exception! Here’s a little preview from Charlotte Bell of what you can expect when the snow falls and the curtain rises!

“Oh I love Christmas – who doesn’t?? Well George Lazenby, but more on that later,” said Head of Scripted, Graham Eveleigh. “It’s such a unique time of year, and in these three plays we capture the full spectrum – everything you want at Christmastime. Chills, thrills, sentimentality and then a good old knees-up!”

The Midwinter Shadow: A Ghost Story for Christmas
5.05pm – Wednesday 3rd December

Cuddle up and lose yourself in a spine-chilling ghost story this Christmas.
When Arthur Pendleton discovers a mysterious book, his quiet country life is thrown into a nightmarish world of shadows… or, perhaps, one shadow in particular…

The Midwinter Shadow was written by and stars Union Road star James Alston. “I have always wanted to write a ghost story, and to me, this time of the year was made for ghost stories. I think it’s because of the shorter days and longer nights, and of course the grim weather; it’s that Bleak Midwinter feel contrasted with the merriness that creates the perfect atmosphere for a spine-chilling story. I hope that the final revelation of what the ghost is and its intentions will send shivers down listeners’ spines. And if it makes them think twice about walking down a dark road at night, then I will be satisfied!”

Image Credit: Xpression Presents, The Midwinter Shadow: A Ghost Story for Christmas
Image Credit: Xpression Presents, The Midwinter Shadow: A Ghost Story for Christmas

Starring alongside James in The Midwinter Shadow is an array of talented guest voices. “This script went through quite a few drafts,” Graham says, who edited the script, “and along the way we kept adding more and more voices! I said to James ‘let’s not just have that narration, let’s vary it with characters and sounds, almost like the past is bleeding through.’ That’s partially what makes the play so effective.” Enter Kelly Bray, Ryan O’Grady, Jack Sheeran (Union Road) and new voice to scripted, Sophie Bartlett.

“This was James’s baby and he worked so hard on it,” Graham continues. “It was actually my first commission in the job. I’m very proud of James.”

You can listen to The Midwinter Shadow here – http://www.mixcloud.com/XpressionPresents/the-midwinter-shadow-a-ghost-story-for-christmas-wednesday-3-december-2014/

Union Road: George’s Christmas Carol
5.05pm – Wednesday 10th December on Xpression FM

Exeter’s soap opera Union Road never fails to deliver when it comes to special episodes! But this one, Graham says, is particularly special. “Union Road specials are usually just heightened versions of the usual show. You look at our Christmas episode last year – still one of my favourites – and it’s just normal Union Road but cranked up to 11. This year, it’s completely different. It’s a whole new genre almost, existing in this little bubble outside of the rest of the series. It is standalone, which means even listeners new to the series can really enjoy.”

It is, of course, a reworking of Dickens’s A Christmas Carol. “I had the idea ages ago, probably after last Christmas – ‘George is a bit like Scrooge, that would be fun.’ Then I remembered my plan to have George turn good after losing his memories, so he wouldn’t be the old miser anymore. He’d be the reformed man, the man Scrooge becomes. And that’s when the two ideas collided! It’s A Christmas Carol backwards! It starts off with the ‘God bless us every one’ moment and ends with… Well, listen and see! Does he reform, does he not? Does he get his memories back? Will Scrooge George be sat by the fire at the end of the show, or will New George still reign?”

So presumably we have a Ghost of Christmas Past, Present and Future? “Yes, but in this version, by visiting they help him remember who he is. He’s struggling against it because everyone has told him what a terrible man he used to be!”

And the ghosts are familiar Union Road residents? “The Present ghost is Ian, that’s a beautiful scene at the end, hats off to James Alston who is all over Xpression Christmas like a rash! The Ghost of Christmas Future is Tommy Miller, Ed Cannon, who has just been a Godsend. Or rather a Gabby-send as she got him to audition! I sat in there like ‘I really need this sort of chap, none of them are auditioning!’, and then in walked Ed! So he deserved the privilege of starring in the Christmas one.”

And the Ghost of Christmas Past? Graham is keeping tight-lipped. “It’s quite a coup for us, and a treat for long-standing listeners of the show. Someone long gone on Union Road is coming back to show George the error of his ways… but who could it be? Tweet us your guesses!”

Tune in to find out – at the EARLIER time for Union Road, 5.05pm. Because taking the regular 5.30pm timeslot is something else…

The Xpression Xmas Panto: Cinderella
5.30pm Wednesday 10th December

The Xpression pantomime is somewhat of an annual tradition. This year it’s Cinderella – and we’re all heading to Christmas Cheesy Tuesdays! Listen out carefully for surprise guest appearances and lots of festive silliness.

Graham explains: “It’s a nice bit of sparkle to end on. I think it’s important to show that we may be making bold, challenging drama one week – but we don’t take ourselves that seriously every week. And ultimately, the scares and the ghosts are all very good but Christmas is about proper fun! Amy Young” (Graham’s co-writer) “and I just sat there trying to trump each other on jokes, keeping the script lively, playful and fresh. Cinderella is such a classic story, and pantomimes are so hard to write but so rewarding to witness!”

Xpression Presents’ anchor Gabby Freeman will be bringing you lots of festive chat and games in the final two weeks of term as well… and then that’s it for the year! “It’s been an amazing term on Xpression Presents, and I’m so happy with everything that grand old team has produced. 2014 will see us push even more boundaries, and bring you even more variety in storytelling. There’ll be laughter, surprises, a big live event and a small two-hander. And more! See you in the New Year.”

Charlotte Bell

How to tune in:

Xpression Presents is on http://www.xpression.fm Wednesdays 5-6pm

You can also catch up on all our Christmas Drama on Mixcloud here: Union Road and Xpression Presents

Follow Exeposé Arts on Twitter and like us on Facebook here.

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