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Slumdog - you heard it here first

Mark Damazer Mark Damazer 11:53, Monday, 23 February 2009

picture shot on location during the recording of Woman's Hour Drama Q&A

It would not be true to say that "It was Radio 4 Wot Won It" for Slumdog Millionaire but Radio 4 brought Vikas Swarup's story to the airwaves quite a while ago - with tremendous flair.

It ran as a ten part Woman's Hour drama serial in late July/early August 2007 - 15 minutes a day over ten days (the slot is repeated at 1945). We simply used the title of the book: Q&A. At the time I thought it was the best short-form drama serial I had heard - and it remains so.

To their credit the Sony Awards drama judges gave it the gold award - probably the first time that a drama of this kind had won the top gong. Few awards have given me so much pleasure.

picture shot on location during the recording of Woman's Hour Drama Q&A

We repeated it a couple of months ago - between Christmas and New Year - late at night. We promoted it. But maybe we should have waited until the Oscar victory (even then much mooted). It's very hard to know when a repeat of the radio series would have had the most impact. The radio production is a little different to the film (inevitably), and more faithful to the book. It was made by an independent company - Goldhawk Essential - adapted by Ayeesha Menon and produced by John Dryden. It was all done on location - and John took a considerable risk with the casting. It cost a fraction of a fraction of even Danny Boyle's not huge budget and gave pleasure to over two million people.

There's a lot to say about radio drama - and how to garner credit for it. I'll come back to the topic.

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