Thursday 6 October 2011, 15:19
Facing an induction week crammed with live performance, master classes with industry specialists, talks and workshops, the six actors gathered in Bush House on 23 July were no doubt a bundle of nerves and excitement.
Each about to embark on a five month bursary as members of the Radio Drama Company, the winners of the BBC's Soundstart scheme follow in illustrious footsteps. Once an exhausting induction week is over they will be let loose onto the "The Rep" to face all that BBC Radio Drama, Readings, Comedy and Factual have to throw at them.
The Soundstart scheme consists of the Carleton Hobbs Bursary Award, for students graduating from accredited drama schools, and the Norman Beaton Fellowship, which looks to find actors from non-traditional training backgrounds.
The Carleton Hobbs Bursary has fed into the Radio Drama Company since 1953 and launched the careers of many household names. Among them Ted Kelsey, Carol Boyd and Tim Bentinck (Joe Grundy, Linda Snell and David Archer of The Archers) as well as Richard Griffiths, Stephen Tompkinson, Julian Rhind-Tutt and C3PO - Anthony Daniels in non-robotic form.
The Norman Beaton Fellowship, now approaching its 10th year, has done much to increase the diversity and reach of Radio Drama through its work with regional theatre companies, providing a vital and unique springboard for those already in the profession with a desire to break into the radio acting industry.
And so, to our Soundstarters: Francine Chamberlain, Rikki Lawton, Alex Rivers and Adam Billington are 2011's Carleton Hobbs winners, and Victoria Inez-Hardy and Christopher Webster are the recipients of this years' Norman Beaton Fellowship.
At the end of their hectic induction week, spirits are soaring and amazingly, so are energy levels. "God knows what to expect" enthuses Rikki "I haven't got a clue, it's going to be mad, but I can't wait". Which is lucky, because as Adam points out "I'm involved in two productions straight off".
With adrenalin and expectations high, our Soundstart winners have embarked on their five month bursary.
There are guaranteed to be highs, lows and drama a plenty, and if history is anything to go by, a surprise or two in store. We'll be checking in with them again, and come December reflecting on their time as members of the BBC's Radio Drama Company.
Matthew Mills is production coordinator, BBC Radio Drama
Thursday 6 October 2011, 12:44
Thursday 6 October 2011, 16:00