On Monday the writing began on Orchid Grove: Asylum. I managed to break the spine day one with an 11 page daily total. It was strangely like coming home writing these characters again. Brief history lesson for those who may not know: Orchid Grove began life as an unproduced TV series concept of mine. To be more precise, the show had some interest shown in it by the BBC back in the day but after going through the various levels of development hell it was finally left in the gutter bleeding out. Cue 2017 and I decided to take a stab at bringing this set of 9 episodes back to life in a new medium. That medium being audio in the form of an audio drama.
Radio And audio dramas are still a somewhat popular medium here in the United Kingdom with successful long running series such as The BBC’s own The Arches which has run for 19,293 episodes since 1951 and the very popular Big Finish Productions‘ Doctor Who audio dramas featuring original cast members from each of the Doctor’s incarnations. Worldwide there are hundreds, if not more, podcast audio drama productions filling up iTunes from the incredible Forest 404, Limetown, Tangent City, Homecoming, Advanced Band to the now legendary Welcome To Night Vale.
It was shows like the ones mentioned above that made me think Orchid Grove could also work in this medium. I set forward and condensed the 9X 63 page scripts into 6x 30 page scripts instead. What didn’t make the final draft, you may be asking! Well not as much as you may think. These cuts were entirely for pacing. For example episode one of the television show shares the modern life of Kara Shaw, our series lead, as she goes about her day in the big city before she hears the news of her father’s death and heads home to Orchid Grove in the final scene. Episode one of the audio drama begins with Kara arriving in Orchid Grove. Some characters where condensed and some side stories removed to focus on the main three plots driving the season forward.
Plot one: Who killed Kara’s father.
Plot two: Who are the mysterious strangers in the town and what do they want with the South family.
Plot three: What are the mysterious goings on out in the woods.
All leading to the same twist ending we have in the audio version setting up the premise for season two. Jump forward five or six months and the full-cast show (Even featuring legendary Hollywood character actor Thomas G. Waites) went on to air on over 50 radio stations and be heard by over 8 million listeners. So why the long wait between series one and this special you may be asking well there are a few reasons for that.
Firstly one of the main villain role in this special Was going to be played by another legendary Hollywood figure. Mr. Rutger Haver. I had managed to talk him into agreeing to do it during an interview I was conducting with him on my podcast at that time. He was enamoured with the idea of remote acting and of the power of a vocal performance. I think he was also enamoured with how much excitement I spoke to him with regarding the project and cast. Sadly he then passed away before production could begin.
Taking time away from the project to reflect on the loss of such an icon of cinema and to launch my next venture, my radio station entitled “Radio Haver“ I began to consider moving forward with season 2 once again. It was shortly after this we lost another member of our cast and a very good friend of mine named Todd TW Brown. Todd was a voice performer and best selling author and his loss hit me hard. Not because he played such a beloved character on the show but because he was so full of life and because we had spent so much time recording podcasts, livestreams and generally talking and sharing our everyday lives with each other.
That is why this special episode is dedicated to Todd’s legacy and why his name will be included in the credits of all Orchid Grove productions hereafter.
So why start another Orchid Grove production and not one of your other stories? Great question, well I have unfinished business with the small town of Orchid Grove. I know the characters like the proverbial back of my hand and they aren’t done giving me ideas for new scenarios for them to experience quite yet. I also hate to leave things unfinished. How many shows do you invest your time in on television only for the networks to cancel them without any kind of story closure? That infuriates me so I know for the audience out there that loved this show they want that conclusion. On Monday I wrote the first 11 pages, Tuesday 11 more and today 15. Soon the script will be complete and I will go grovelling to the cast to ask for them to come back haha. This project is hitting the road at high speed and I cannot wait to share it with you all.