This morning, Wooden Overcoats launched its fundraising campaign for the show's fourth and final season. To my great astonishment and joy, at the time of writing we've already made nearly 40% of our total goal within less than 12 hours. Given that we're asking for £15,000 (with a total series budget of £25,000) this is pretty damn extraordinary. Those figures would undoubtedly look rather low for major production companies like the BBC, but we're doing what we can to make the show we love on an achievable budget, whilst ensuring that everyone gets paid. And frankly we're over the moon that we have a network of dedicated listeners who want us to make more!
Alongside the fundraiser, we're also releasing a new season of Funn Fragments, kindly sponsored by Historic Royal Palaces (whose own podcast, Outliers in association with Rusty Quill, is launching a second season in November). These are mini-episodes of the show starring Felix Trench, Beth Eyre, Ciara Baxendale and Tom Crowley, scripted by writers across the audio drama podcasting sphere. We've got Mac Rogers (Steal the Stars, The Message, LifeAfter), Sarah Shachat (Wolf 359, Zero Hours), Gabrielle Watts (Orphans) and Chris & Jen Sugden (Victoriocity), as well as our first Overcoats script written by Felix Trench himself. It was enormous fun to curate and script edit these little nuggets of new Wooden Overcoats, and the first - Eric's Pal by Felix Trench - is now available from wherever you get your podcasts.
We want to see out the show in style with ten episodes and - if we hit our stretch goal - a Halloween special which will be sent to all of our backers. If you'd like to support independent audio comedy, take a gander at our campaign and the rewards on offer, and chuck us some spare change!
On Sunday 15th September, Wooden Overcoats - my podcast sitcom about rival undertakers - performed at the London Podcast Festival to what must have been one of our largest and warmest audiences so far! And then, towards the end of the show, I had a certain announcement to make...
The sad news is that Wooden Overcoats is coming to an end, for numerous reasons (mainly logistical). It's been a truly life-changing experience for me: my first sitcom, my first experiences as a script editor, and really the first time my work has reached a wide audience. Our listeners are a dedicated bunch, writing in with warm messages of appreciation, artwork, and fanfiction. Wooden Overcoats could easily have been the tiniest pebble in the ocean but it's our listeners who ensured we've been able to carry on as long as we have. I'll always be grateful to them and I hope to go on to write many more shows of a similar vintage.
Last Sunday, the Wooden Overcoats team went to Latitude Festival to perform on the brand new Listening Post stage, alongside other podcasts like Griefcast and Rule of Three. My very first visit to Latitude and I wish I could have been there longer. Lovely atmosphere, warm crowds, and lots of entertainment on offer.
In terms of celebrity encounters, I nearly bumped into Richard Curtis and I caught a glimpse of Mark Kermode eating his lunch. Powerful, blistering anecdotes, these.
Following the Underbelly Festival Southbank and Latitude, Wooden Overcoats will be scoring a festival hat trick by performing at the London Podcast Festival on Sunday 15th September.
Last year, I had the great pleasure of seeing my very own Doctor Who story The Dalek Occupation of Winter released by Big Finish Productions. The reviews must have been good because they invited me back to take a second trip in the TARDIS - not just with one Doctor, but two!
Daughter of the Gods will see the 2nd Doctor diverted from his flight path after an almighty collision in space. He and his companions Jamie and Zoe investigate the planet Urbinia, only to discover that the 1st Doctor is already on the scene with space pilot Steven and Trojan handmaiden Katarina. And it's going to take all their combined ingenuity to deal with the Dalek fleet approaching the planet...
It was great fun to play with so many characters from the Doctor Who toy box. Long time fans will be particularly excited to see the return of Katarina, a character we've not heard from since her tragically short stint in 1965. She was only in the show for five episodes before being killed off, and sadly Adrienne Hill who played her died in 1997. However, Adrienne's performance has been superbly recaptured by Ajjaz Awad, in a story that places Katarina firmly at its centre. She's joined by Who 60's stalwarts Peter Purves as Steven, Frazer Hines as Jamie, and Wendy Padbury as Zoe, with the first two Doctors lovingly performed by Peter and Frazer respectively, in tribute to the deceased William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton.
Doctor Who: Daughter of the Gods is released on CD and download in November. Head over to the Big Finish website to listen to a trailer and pre-order the story!
Monkey is a dark comedy about an organ grinder, his wife and their monkey. Based on memories of growing up near the sea - and in particular the miserable pebble beaches - I first wrote this play in 2015 for a couple of performances at the Drayton Arms in London. Now with a fresh rewrite, it's being staged for a week at the VAULT Festival '19, produced by TumbleDry Theatre and directed by John Rushton.
Playing Barbara the monkey between them are two Wooden Overcoats luminaries: Beth Eyre (Antigone Funn) and Season 3 writer Rosie Fletcher, who'll be providing Barbara's interior monologue. Playing her owners are Ben Bruckshaw (Der Rosenkavalier, Royal Opera House) as Marcus, and Kate Sketchley (The Lehman Trilogy, National Theatre) as Paula. You can find out more about the cast here.
You can catch Monkey at VAULT Festival's Network Theatre from Feb 13th-17th. Nab a ticket here!
In a very happy beginning to the year, Wooden Overcoats has come away with five gongs at the Audio Verse Awards, held each year to celebrate the best in free audio drama around the world.
As well as a Best Writing award for myself and the Season 3 team (Tom Crowley, Rosie Fletcher, James Hamilton, James Huntrods, Alex Lynch, Molly Beth Morossa), we've picked up awards in Engineering, Music, Performance and Production. I'm very proud of my production team today!
We'll be performing material at the PodUK convention, Birmingham UK, on February 2nd, where we look forward to mixing with other podcasters and their listeners. Hope to see you there!
My second audio drama for Big Finish Productions follows on rapidly from the last with Breach of Trust, one of three stories in the UNIT: Revisitations anthology. The action-packed adventures of Kate Stewart and Osgood - whom fans of television's Doctor Who will remember from the 50th Anniversary special The Day of the Doctor, amongst other episodes - continue in this latest box set, starring Jemma Redgrave and Ingrid Oliver.
An alien vessel arrives on Earth, its occupants seeking refuge, and Osgood takes them in. But there is reason to mistrust this cry for help. The files show that UNIT has faced the Kalvyri before. What else they reveal will set Kate at odds with her most trusted friends...
At a brisk 60 minutes, Breach of Trust is my first attempt at contemporary military thriller sci-fi; quite the far cry from funeral-based comedy in the Channel Islands! Also starring Ramon Tikaram, James Joyce, Lizzie Stables and Richard Earl, and directed by Ken Bentley, you can nab the full box set - also containing Hosts of the Wirrn by Chris Chapman and Open the Box by Roy Gill - on CD & download from the Big Finish website.
Directed by Lisa Bowerman and with superb sound design and music from Toby Hrycek-Robinson, I'm really pleased with how my Doctor Who debut has gone - and it seems, thankfully, that the fans are too! I've read some extremely kind words on various blogs and forums, including this thoughtful post about the story's political themes (warning: spoilers!), and the website reviews are boosting my ego no end:
"If you're looking for a story that doesn't go the way you expect it to, then this really couldn't come recommended any higher."
- Blogtor Who
"A triumph on many levels... There's a strong dose of realism in this story, and it avoids easy answers. It's one that will stay long in the mind and is a great start to this new run of adventures."
- Cult Box
"A bleak yet enigmatic tale that means more than simply another another two hours of Doctor Who."
- Digital Fix
"The Dalek Occupation of Winter is an absolute belter... Feed it into your ears and begin to shiver."
- Mass Movement
"A stunning debut on the range and one of the best Dalek stories for some time. 10/10"
- Sci-Fi Bulletin
"This particular story is an essential one to add to your collection."
- Sci-Fi Pulse
If you fancy nabbing a copy for yourself, head on over to Big Finish where it can be purchased on CD and download. My next adventure in the Whoniverse is released in November as part of the UNIT: Revisitations box set, featuring Kate Stewart (Jemma Redgrave) and Osgood (Ingrid Oliver) from the Steven Moffat seasons of new Doctor Who. And crossed fingers, I may well have more Who stories on the way...
Wooden Overcoats is back at the London Podcast Festival for the third year running! Pop along to Kings Place near King's Cross Station on September 16th to catch us performing two of our favourite episodes:
Antigone in the Spotlight - Funn Funerals in the theatre, with the manic Marlene Magdalena...
Rudyard Ruins Summer - Desert island adventures in our Summer Special, performed live for the first time!
Starring our leads Felix Trench, Beth Eyre, Tom Crowley and Ciara Baxendale, with special guests Emily Stride, Peter Wicks, Susan Casanove and, erm, me. Tickets are already selling fast, so book here to reserve!
Up until now, I've been a fully independent freelance writer, operating all on my tod. However, I'm very pleased to say that from now on I'll be represented by Micheline Steinberg Associates literary agency. Looking forward to working with them!
This means that I'll be directing most professional enquiries direct to them, at firstname.lastname@example.org
That said, if you would like to engage me to do some one-on-one dramaturgy, it's probably best to contact me directly via the Dramaturgy or About Me pages.
David K. Barnes