Atching Tan: A Gypsy Wife


I began my freelance writing career 14 years ago with a comedy play for theatre called The Bus Stop which won several festival awards and ran at the Edinburgh Festival. Since then I’ve written plays for theatre, radio and several short films. I founded the Romany Theatre Company 10 years ago and in that time we’ve performed original theatre plays nationally, produced a radio series and collaborated with artists from around the world. I’m currently under commission to the Royal Court Theatre, helping develop a BBC TV series and running a new radio & theatre project with the Romany Theatre Company.

Atching Tan: A Gypsy Wife

ATCHING TAN: A GYPSY WIFE is an atmospheric drama set on a Romany Gypsy site and features actors from the Romany Gypsy community. New wife Lovvie feels unable to ignore the plight of neighbour Charity, who is in an abusive marriage. And so Lovvie struggles to reconcile Gypsy customs with her own conscience.

The play is the most recent offering from a BBC radio drama series I created four years ago to explore the Gypsy community in a way it had never been done before – from the inside. A Gypsy Wife follows on from the incredible success of the first Radio 4 Afternoon Play, Atching Tan, which in 2011was shortlisted for the Imison Award for Best Script By A New Writer To Radio, and Candis Nergarrd was also shortlisted for Best Actress for the Audio Drama Award.

The commissioner Jeremy Howe took a big chance with the first Atching Tan play by giving the go ahead to a Gypsy writer and a cast made up almost entirely of Gypsy actors. And he has done the same thing again. And it’s thanks to Jeremy’s courage and vision that I am currently helping to develop a possible TV series with BBC Producer Hilary Martin, Script Editor Simon Judd and established writer Jess Williams. I was also fortunate enough to be commissioned to adapt the novel The Diddakoi for Radio 4Extra earlier this year which was my first adaptation and a fantastic experience.

Kate Rowland and Paul Ashton at BB writersroom remain a great support and it’s fabulous to know that other BBC networks are having the courage and vision to break now ground and work with new voices taking on controversial subjects.

Exploring my culture through drama is a great honour for me and working with Producer Charlotte Riches is an inspiration. Her passion and enthusiasm for the Atching Tan project has been a huge driving force behind the success of both the series and the Afternoon dramas.

I believe being able to record this play on location at a genuine Gypsy site helped create a truthful landscape and atmosphere, and of course working with actors who are not only fluent in the verbal language they were using, but also in the unspoken languages of customs, traditions and taboos helped give truth and authentic the best possible hope of expression, which in the end is what we were all after.

So I’d like to thank everyone involved in the production and I hope you enjoy the play.


Dan Allum is the Creator & Writer of ATCHING TAN: A Gypsy Wife – and Director of the Romany Theatre Company.

Atching Tan: A Gypsy Wife is currently the drama of the week download and can be accessed via the podcasts website.

Download the script for Atching Tan: A Gypsy Wife from the BBC writersroom Script Library.

The Atching Tan series is broadcast on BBC East but can also be accessed on the Atching Tan website.


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