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Driving Home for Christmas, a new drama for BBC Radio Wales

Laura Chamberlain

A new week-long festive drama has started on BBC Radio Wales this week, which has at its heart something familiar to many at this time of year – the journey home for Christmas.

Driving Home for Christmas is billed as a "road movie for the radio" and follows the stories of Daf and Rhodri, two brothers who travel from opposite ends of the country to make it home to Aberystwyth for the festive season. The cast includes Aled Pugh, Shelley Rees, Sharon Morgan and Robert Pugh.

Yet the comedy drama is also an interactive hub for aspiring writers, with behind-the-scenes videos, writer profiles, top tips and more available on the BBC Radio Wales website for those interested in exploring the process of writing short form drama.

Cast members of Driving Home for Christmas

Driving Home for Christmas is split into five 15-minute episodes. Each episode has been written by a different writer in various locations right across Wales.

The writers, all of whom are new to writing radio drama, are: Cardiff-based playwright Dafydd James, Valleys novelist Rachel Trezise, TV dramatist Philip Ralph from Swansea, Ruthin-based playwright Kevin Dyer and novelist Niall Griffiths, originally from Liverpool but now based in Aberystwyth.

In this collaborative project they "tell the story of a dysfunctional family battling their way towards the festivities, and more importantly, towards each other".

Rachel Trezise

I spoke to Emma Bodger, the producer of the seasonal drama, to find out more.

She said: "There were five writers that I had been talking to, I rang them up and asked if they'd like to be involved and they all said yes.

"I knew I wanted an overarching story that they'd all write an aspect of, but then I looked at where they were in Wales. There was a good geographical spread across Wales so I thought about a journey where somebody was driving home for Christmas, because that's what millions of us do every year.

"The idea was to create a project that had a fictional journey that went through the locations where the writers were based, but also to investigate the writers' journeys."

Philip Ralph

The drama is a collaboration between Radio Wales, BBC Wales Learning and Interactive, BBC Radio Drama, and Cyfle – as postgraduate students from Cyfle's digital courses have been working on the online elements of the project.

Emma told me that she wanted to bring new talent to radio drama, and that she was looking for "modern, gritty, authentic voices":

"They would all call themselves new to radio drama. Rachel Trezise and Kevin Dyer have each written an afternoon drama, but when you watch their profile films they still say it's a really big challenge. The idea was to bring new talent to radio and they're all really truthful, authentic voices."

Niall Griffiths

The first episode of Driving Home for Christmas is now available to download as a free podcast.

Listen to the rest of the series every weekday this week on BBC Radio Wales from 1.40pm and download the free podcasts after each episode has been broadcast. There's also a special omnibus edition on Christmas Day at 6pm.

Plus, download the latest Radio Wales Arts Show podcast, a 30 minute special on Driving Home for Christmas in which Nicola Heywood Thomas speaks to Emma and the writers.

Watch online clips – featuring profiles of each writer and location, plus tips from each of the five writers involved – and browse the people and places in the story on our interactive map, created by web designer Paul Burke.

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