SURVIVING is a New Sitcom for Radio by Robin Squire and Alan Wightman
Surviving and Music
What marks SURVIVING out from other sitcoms is the concept of having two experienced actors who are also professional singers and musicians – hence the musical elements incorporated into the storylines are being performed as integral parts of the ongoing stories.
Accident-prone out-of-work singer Leanna re-invades the sanctity of her younger cousin Pippa who is struggling to make a living as a commercial artist. Five years ago they shared this same flat and parted acrimoniously.
Now Leanna is back – this time armed with a ukulele and more pie in the sky ideas about surviving financially without getting a job. At once she starts to drive her diligently industrious younger cousin mad all over again…
* * *
How long can Pippa last before she explodes – and where does Gary come into the picture? Could he possibly bond in some strange way with Pippa’s weird cousin?
The answer is dynamite!
For the purpose of the series/pilot it’s suggested that actress/singer Lynda Styan will play ‘Leanna’ and Anthony Mason will play ‘Gary’. Comedy actor David Janson will play Man in Overcoat.
An accomplished actress and singer trained at London’s Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Lynda Styan – a natural comedienne – has not only appeared onstage in Jacobean comedies and musical productions such as Salad Days, but was one of the beret-wearing girls with Gorden Kaye in ’Allo ’Allo! As well as developing her own act as an entertainer which includes singing and playing ukulele at the London Palladium and serenading corporate partygoers during wild 1920s nights in the Derby Suite at Epsom Racecourse, she shares an act with Anthony Mason as ‘Red Hot Ukulele Duo’, who perform at the Twinwood and Goodwood Revival festivals, at Vintage Hemingway on the South Bank, at National Trust events throughout the UK and other prestigious venues including entertaining delighted (and sometimes startled) customers at Selfridges in London.
Experienced comedy and dramatic actor with BA Hons in Modern Drama & Film and TV Studies at Brunel University and the Bloomsbury Theatre in London, Anthony Mason is also a musician skilled on piano, ukulele, guitar and banjo with his own 1920s band ‘Café Society’. In film and on stage he’s played such disparate characters as George Formby (as whom he also has a one-man tribute act), Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz, Tom in Tom Sawyer at the National Theatre, the Mad Hatter in Alice In Wonderland and Noel Coward in All Our Yesterdays. He also studied acting, singing and dance at the San-Marie Stage School. Ex-Beatle George Harrison sought out the 14-year-old Anthony to teach him to play the ukulele-banjo, having seen his phenomenal virtuoso performance on the instrument on the Richard & Judy Show.
David Janson’s stage debut was in Oliver! in 1962. He joined the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1963 in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and appeared as the young boy (during Ringo’s walk) in The Beatles film A Hard Day’s Night. David became well known for his role as Jimmy Harker in the 1960s British soap opera, The Newcomers. He later starred in the sitcom Get Some In! and also replaced Richard Gibson as the Gestapo officer Herr Otto Flick in the BBC sitcom ‘Allo ‘Allo! in its final 1992 series, after playing Adolf Hitler’s double in an episode of series 8.
David has also appeared in a variety of other roles including parts in Softly, Softly, Doomwatch, Jason King, Dixon of Dock Green, Z-Cars, Brush Strokes, T-Bag Strikes Again, Ever Decreasing Circles, the postman in Keeping Up Appearances, and The Upper Hand.
PIPPA STONE (wishlist: Sarah Alexander, Sheridan Smith): Leanna’s younger cousin (her mother and Leanna’s father were brother and sister), she is outspoken, pragmatic, tough, vulnerable. Where Leanna sees life as she would like it to be, Pippa sees it like it is. An art school graduate, her ambition is to live by selling her art commercially, and though she does her best to do so, Leanna is always on hand to screw things up.
LEANNA GRACE (Lynda Styan): A lively new sitcom character who could be likened to a British Lucille Ball, Leanna not only plays ukulele but has a beautiful and flexible singing voice that can move from Gracie Fields to romantic torch numbers. Not unlike ‘Little Voice’, she also does a great Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland, Peggy Lee and so on, is ultra-romantic as well as meddlesome, and sees herself as a pre-Raphaelite born into an age of crudity. Largely owing to her chaotic personality the big-time has eluded her, but she constantly strives to find ways of helping her younger cousin to survive financially, inevitably with disastrous results.
GARY HARPER (Anthony Mason): A trained actor, the nearest Gary usually gets to plying his craft is working with Pippa in the local theatre bar and smiling on cue. His facility for learning lines and getting into different characters is established early on. When he confesses that he once had to learn the uke for a part he was playing onstage, and kept the instrument, he is persuaded to dig it out. An extraordinary musical duo is hereby formed which ‘musicalises’ each episode. Unrequitedly in love with Pippa, Gary finds himself the unwelcome object of affection for Leanna, which further complicates matters.
A complete pilot script for surviving is ready, with five following episodes in detailed outline
Alan is a screenwriter, playwright, author and comedy writer who began his career penning material for television entertainment programmes, working with British and International stars such as Jimmy Tarbuck, Cilla Black, Dionne Warwick, George Benson, The Muppets, Des O’Connor, Bob Monkhouse, Lionel Richie, Joe Pasquale, Brian Conley, Sir Roger Moore, Shane Richie, Mel Gibson and others. He is the author of several books, including Freddie Starr – Unwrapped!, The Big Thick Joe Pasquale Book, and Money Talks!
Alan has written over twenty pantomimes for leading theatre producers, wrote the book (script) for the Kings Head Theatre Islington’s musical The Famous Five which also toured the U.K., and the musical Don’t You Rock Me Daddio! with music & lyrics by Joe Brown and Roger Cook.
Alan’s film Bloodline won the Best Short Film Award at the 2008 Marbella International Film Festival and was subsequently shown at the Gotham Screen Festival in New York and the Festival Of British Cinema in Hay On Wye. He has two screenplays in development – The Astrologer, a comedy-thriller set in London and Mumbai, and a supernatural western entitled Blood Moon.
Alan recently wrote a new stage musical Jump, Jive and Wail! for Ghost Light Productions and additional material for The Hurly Burly Show at London’s Duchess Theatre. Alan is currently working on a science-fiction TV mini-series for a production company in Finland, updates a comedian’s blog every month and continues to supply entertainers & journalists with up-to-the-minute comedy material.
Representation: Michael Vine Associates: Michael@michaelvineassociates.com
Began as a novelist, with Square One (W.H. Allen & Co.), The Big Scene (Sphere Books) and A Portrait of Barbara (St. Martin’s Press) before turning to screenwriting.
The Lion’s Share was filmed by Norman Cohen in South Africa and distributed by Atlas Film in Munich.
His screenplay for a $30 million feature film Grain Of Sand is under option with a major production company.
Read an extract from Surviving HERE
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Read EXTRACTS from Robin Squire’s books
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