BBC Radio 4 to serialise new short stories from Lynne Truss, Gerry Stembridge and Jon McGregor on Sundays

Having started my career with a short story broadcast late at night on Radio 4 back in 1999, I'm delighted to be writing for radio again. This is a tremendous opportunity, which just highlights the hard work Radio 4 have been doing over the last decade to develop short story culture in the UK.Jon McGregor
Date: 30.03.2017     Last updated: 30.03.2017 at 10.00
Jeremy Howe, BBC Radio 4 Commissioning Editor for Drama and Fiction, has today announced the start of short story serials written exclusively for Radio 4.

The series will begin on Sunday 2 April with Lynne Truss’ Life At Absolute Zero. Over 10 short stories, broadcast weekly, Truss observes the inhabitants of Meridian Cliffs, a small wind-battered town on the English south coast. 

These new serialisations will give listeners tremendous choice about how they explore the worlds that the writers have created, by offering the chance to glimpse through the doorway with one individual story or exploring more of their world with the collection. Each short story will work successfully alone, but seen together they will come together to present a bigger picture.

The series will also include Jon McGregor’s The Reservoir Tapes, a prequel to his new novel Reservoir 13. Set in a Derbyshire village, over the course of 13 years after a teenage girl goes missing, Reservoir 13 tells the story of many lives haunted by a stranger's loss. The 15 short stories in The Reservoir Tapes will examine the same community before the girl’s mysterious disappearance. The third serial this year will be written by Gerry Stembridge.

Jon McGregor says: “Having started my career with a short story broadcast late at night on Radio 4 back in 1999, I'm delighted to be writing for radio again. This is a tremendous opportunity, which just highlights the hard work Radio 4 have been doing over the last decade to develop short story culture in the UK. The Reservoir Tapes will explore the lives of a series of individuals, bound together by landscape and circumstance, who each have very different perspectives on the strange disappearance of a teenage visitor. These are characters I've come to know extremely well, and I'm looking forward to introducing them to the Radio 4 listeners.”

Jeremy Howe says: “Lynne Truss’ brilliance with the short form needs no introduction from Radio 4. We look forward to getting to know and to love the oddball and eccentric inhabitants in the blustery town of Meridian Cliffs over the ten weeks of Life At Absolute Zero. Jon McGregor is not only an excellent novelist but a master of the short story, so we are delighted that he is writing The Reservoir Tapes as a sequence of short stories for Radio 4 in parallel with his new novel. The serial short story is an exciting new venture for Radio 4, the go to place for the best in short fiction.”

Radio 4 is the world’s biggest single commissioner of short stories and new commissions this year will include works by Sarah Hall, David Szalay, Joshua Ferris and Tessa Hadley. The BBC also offers one of the most prestigious awards for a single short story with The BBC National Short Story Award, the shortlist for which will be announced on 15 September 2017 and judged by a panel including Joanna Trollope, Jon McGregor, Eimear McBride, Sunjeev Sahota and Books Editor for BBC Radio Di Speirs. Last year’s winner, KJ Orr, is commissioned to write a new short story for Radio 4 which will air later in the year.

Other exciting book highlights for 2017 include the serialising of Paula Hawkins’ (The Girl On The Train) new novel Into The Water, Arundhati Roy’s new novel The Ministry Of Utmost Happiness, read over three weeks by Indira Varma and The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce (The Secret Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry).

Life at Absolute Zero starts on Sunday 2 April at 7.45pm. It is produced by Kate McAll for Pier Productions.

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