Behind The Scenes
Gerald the Giraffe
Tall tales from the museum
By Sarah Solftley
Gerald the giraffe is the central character in a radio drama by local writer Rosalind Williams. The play tells the story of Gerald, the Royal Albert Memorial Museum's tallest exhibit, and one of the most popular.
Gerald dominates one of Royal Albert Memorial Museum's galleries, in fact it is known as the giraffe gallery.
Standing at an impressive five metres, Gerald is probably best viewed from the mezzanine floor above. He was donated to the Exeter museum by the big game hunter, C V A Peel, who moved to Exeter from Oxford in 1919.
Before that, Gerald was one of a number of African species on display in Mr Peel's private museum.
The bull giraffe lived on the slopes of Mount Kilamanjaro in Tanzania before he was shot by Mr Peel, who brought his skin back to England to a firm of taxidermists who prepared him for permanent display.
Now their story has been brought to life by local writer Rosalind Williams.
Rosalind was one of a dozen Crediton writers who took part in a project based at the Arts Centre in the town.
Over the course of a few weeks they learned about the art of writing radio drama from Sue Teddern, the writer in residence at the University of Exeter.
The writers were then tasked with producing a 15 minute script around the theme of identity.
Rosalind chose to write about the giraffe after spending time observing how people react to seeing him in the museum, and how people regularly come back to visit him.
She researched his story, and found out more about the man who had hunted him and subsequently donated him to the museum.
During the course of the play we meet Mr Peel as he is hunting in Tanzania, and find out why Gerald attracts so many people to the museum, and even get an insight into his thoughts as he stands watching the world go by, day after day in the museum gallery.
'Gerald' is part of BBC Radio Devon's ongoing commitment to supporting local writers and actors, by giving them an opportunity to work with the BBC, and realise their creative dreams.
The play was partly recorded on location at the museum in the giraffe gallery.
It was performed by the BBC Radio Devon Repertory Company, which is made up of the all actors the production team have worked with over the last year, in productions such as 'Anywhere to Anywhere', 'The Witches of Bideford', 'Hallsands' and 'Borderline - the station's most recent production.
You can hear the play by using the 'listen again' link on this page.
last updated: 08/04/2008 at 12:01