Welcome to Our Village, Please Invade Carefully

An independent production from the pilot script

Dr Evil and some of the Minions

Back in May of 2014, a friend and I met up for a coffee to discuss the possibility of writing and recording a radio comedy pilot. As you do. We’d both been in community radio in the past and wanted to have a go at doing some audio/radio comedy..

How hard could it be?

Well, as it turns out, very. We fired a few initial ideas for a script around but nothing we felt we could run with. We spent a couple of months doing this, and I the end I ended up visiting a certain writers’ room on a certain website for some tips on writing for radio in general, and radio comedy scripts in particular.

And thats where I found the pilot script for “Welcome to our Village, Please Invade Carefully”.

“Ooh, interesting!”, I thought – I like a bit of sci-fi and was a huge fan of the original Hitch-Hiker’s radio series when I was very little.*

So I started reading…..

By the end of Richard Lyons’s opening line, I realised I was hooked. A village that has been invaded by aliens, but still insists on keeping to structured meetings. After all we’re British aren’t we? If we were to have another piece of business after “any other business” it would be the end of civilisation as we know it. Oh hang on, it already is.

I showed the script to Alex and he agreed we should do it. We agree so now what? Er, we should probably have a “read through”. I’ve heard of those. Actors get together and read scripts aloud sort of thing. Brilliant. Don’t know too many actors but we knew some people who were keen to “have a go”. So we got some people together in a room and gave them a part to play and by god we did a read through. It was really fun.

A couple more read throughs followed and we had a rough idea who would play whom. Next stage, we should try actually recording! We have about 3 versions of the opening scene with the same actors in different roles, and about 5 for the initial scene between Uljabaan and the Computer (scene 3 if you are counting).  All had an interesting distinctive take on the character. When they weren’t cracking up over the script or some subtle nuance that is. 🙂

Next task was to add some effects to bring the scenes to life. The simple addition of a background hum and computer bleeping on the scene with Uljabaan and the computer transformed the scene immensly.

At this point it was realised that we may actually be able to make a go of the full pilot and we should re-record the dialogue in a more controlled environment. You then discover people have awkward things called “lives” and “commitments” and getting everyone into a studio all at the same time was going to be difficult without promising large quantities of pizza I couldn’t afford. So I ended up recording almost everyone separately.

So, 17 scenes later, with each individual part pieced together, including background sound effects, room reverb, spot effects, vocal effects for computer, level mixing and some specially composed intro /outtro music. It was done.

After over 80 times listening to it in the various production/post production stages, it was still making me laugh. A good sign surely?

The cast had a listen and laughed too. Then they asked about podcasting it. Hmmm. The script is copyrighted. That could be a problem. How does one get in touch with scriptwriters? The same way you get in touch with all famous people. You send them a tweet.

(spoiler alert – Eddie Robson said fine)

A great deal was learnt in the process of making the pilot, and I hope you all enjoy listening to it as much as we enjoyed making it.

– Steve Franklin

*If Dirk is reading this, I enjoyed the later HHG series too, they just weren’t made back in 1978 when I was 8.