Sussex Playwrights Reviews:
The Other Side Of The World
by Jonathan Williamson
Producer Simon Moorhead
Director Sorcha Brooks
In the 1950s, TV was new – and needed new ways to create it, made by young people with energy and vision. And the global reports created by Alan Whicker and his two-man team were leading edge stuff.
Today we can see the world as it happens online, but being able to see crisp first hand accounts of what was really happening out there was revolutionary then. And this new audio feature gives a behind the scenes look at just how it was achieved.
Producer Simon Moorhead is the son of Whicker’s right hand man, cameraman Cyril Moorhead, and the script is packed with family anecdotes from home and abroad.
There’s a great sense of seat of the pants early TV here, creating both the content and how it was made as they went along – with new kit, new ways of using it in a fast paced new broadcasting style.
The relationship forged by this close knit trio is captured in their central performances. Jon Culshaw’s spot on with the laconic iconic Whicker timbre and tone. Tom Dussek’s Cyril is experienced, fatherly and unflappable, and Matt Beaumont’s sound man Freddie is us, boyish, seeing it all for the first time with fresh eyes, exhausted, and exhilarated in turn.
The trio bounce round the planet, plunging into the world they find and capturing what they see and hear – and they’ve a smash hit on their hands.
Ultimately endearing and captivating, we’re right there travelling with them. Looking over their shoulders we’re given insights into just how it was done, how the pieces were constructed, on the journey in cars and planes, always heading somewhere, nailing bits to camera and coaxing audio in the bedding-draped hotel wardrobe.
Shocking and gripping images and sound documenting what’s happening out there flood back to the BBC, the excitement of the first rushes as the London crew realise just what they’ve got.
The script flits in and out, short scenes and leisurely paced glimpses taking a little while to power up, then building up steam.
The layered soundscape creates a great sense of period, old-school typewriters, engines, phones, telex and gunshots, cool jazzy music and vintage RP accents telling us that was then.
At its best, the feature plunges us into filmic set pieces; a faceoff with a Canadian icebreaker, ghastly Japanese conveyor belt surgery and the international incident that … nearly … caused WW3.
Like all the best travellers’ tales, the piece reveals dicey moments terrifying at the time and funny looking back – the stuff of great after-dinner stories and family legend. It captures a very personal take on a slice of TV history.
TBC Audio, Catflap Media and The Jungle Room