Last Thursday we released the final episode of a series I've been working on since the winter of 2014. It's been an enormous - perhaps even defining - part of my life for over seven years and four seasons. Originally set to end in 2020, it's lifespan stretched out across the worst of the pandemic. We picked up many more listeners who've since told us how much having this series meant to them during this difficult time.
For my part, Wooden Overcoats has always been there for me too. My grandmother passed away in 2017 after a long illness, which led to a more serious exploration of grief across seasons 3 and 4. I was able to articulate my feelings through the characters of Piffling Vale, in a way I found it impossible to do otherwise.
Though it began as a series about jealousy and envy, with a remit that Rudyard should fail at the end of every episode through his own actions, I'm delighted that Wooden Overcoats somehow became a warmer and more positive series about found family and community. It happened quite by accident, as if the characters snuck up on me and rewrote their own dialogue, in the way I'd always hoped my characters might do.
I didn't realise how nervous I was about releasing the final episode until the morning after, when I felt so tired I could scarcely get out of bed until the late afternoon. Wrapping up four seasons and seven years worth of plotlines had been a daunting matter, and up until the last minute I kept wondering if I'd got it right. I was sick with worry that we'd disappoint the audience somehow. But once I summoned up the courage to seek it out, the reaction online had been tremendous. God, I was so glad! We'd done Piffling Vale proud.
On Sunday 3rd April we performed A Funn Farewell at Kings Place, for what is likely to be our final live show. It's been a pleasure staging Season 4 in Hall Two over the last few months, giving us a chance to not only meet the audience in London but also stream our shows online around the world, where viewers (and my own mum, it turns out) have been able to interact via the KPlayer chat. Some people had travelled in from as far as Germany and Israel to see us in the last show! We received generous gifts, like cards and artwork and custom-made chocolates, and even ceramic Madeleines! It was quite an evening. I won't forget it.
It's still incredible to me that a series I helped to create has had such a wide reach, and impacted so many people. Thank you to everybody who subscribed, downloaded, and supported us. As I always said at the end of each performance: we've been Wooden Overcoats, but you've been the show.
I'd also like to give special mention to the many writers who contributed to Wooden Overcoats: Ben Cottam, Tom Crowley, Rosie Fletcher, James Hamilton, Christopher Hogg, James Huntrods, Alex Lynch, Cordelia Lynn, Molly Beth Morossa, Mac Rogers, Sarah Shachat, Lauren Shippen, Chris Sugden, Jennifer Sugden, Felix Trench, Gabriel Urbina, Ella Watts, and Tiffany Woodsmith. We made this together. I'm grateful to them.
I'm going to miss Piffling Vale more than I can adequately say, but of course it'll always be there - and I hope it attracts many more visitors in the years to come! Whether you've listened to the show for years or you've discovered it for the first time, do leave us a review on iTunes if you can, and recommend us to your friends and loved ones. We reckon there's a good chance they might like it too.
Enjoy yourselves xx