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John Dryden's second post about recording Six Suspects for Radio 4 - SB.The party sequence in week two - where Vicky Rai is murdered - presented a number of challenges as the sequence of events is repeated each day but each time from a different suspects point of view. The party itself was recorded in a number of different ways - Vicky's speech for instance was recorded with 'live' party crowds who he could bounce off and who could react to him. We recorded him close and from within the crowd so that we could cut between perspectives. We also recorded a lot of lines clean of the party so that they could be dropped in over the many party wildtracks we recorded. This was mostly the case with the dialogue lines from the various suspects.
We recorded a lot of crowd reactions to the different events of the party - 'anchor points' we called them. These were events that had to happen in every episode - the fireworks, the power cutting out, the gun going off, the lights coming back on, the discovery of Vicky's body. As the audience are pretty sure by now that someone is going to murder Vicky at the party (they are told as much by Arun Advani at the end of episode four), the fireworks are a kind of tease - anticipating the actual gun shot that will come later.
How the guests at the party were to react when the lights came back on and discovered Vicky lying on the ground was something we didn't decide on until late in the day. In fact we recorded the guests reacting in a number of different ways but opted eventually for the idea that they would think he was playing a joke on them. This allowed for a gradual realization that he was dead. It seemed right that they would think it was a joke at first - Vicky being the prankster type.
In terms of editing, we first of all created a master party sequence which had all the "anchor points" but none of the perspectives of the different suspects. It was a sequence with Vicky in "full frame" from his speech to the discovery of his death. This took quite some time to make, because it was constructed from so many different elements and we wanted it to seem like someone had turned up to a party in Delhi with a tape recorder or video camera and just recorded everything that happened there - like it was found material.
Once the master sequence was completed we used it at the end of episodes 6-10 in various configurations, dropping in the lines from the various suspects over the top (Exclusive sound samples from the recording will be available here tomorrow).
- Six Suspects is transmitted in the Woman's Hour drama slot at 1045 and 1945 daily until 15 January. Listen to this week's episodes on the Radio 4 web site.
- Radio 4 Controller Mark Damazer wrote about John's production of Q&A (the story which became Slumdog Millionaire) here on the blog in February.
- There's some discussion of Six Suspects on the Radio 4 message board.
- Picture by Tom Spender. Used under licence.