You’ve heard of The Archers – but now a radio soap opera set in the cosmopolitan streets of Cardiff Bay is set to hit the airwaves.
The show, named Sophia Square, charts the lives of residents in a fictional square in the heart of the city’s old Docklands community.
A pilot episode of the show is due for transmission on community station Radio Cardiff tomorrow ahead of a first series in the autumn.
The action centres around Casablanca Café, with the pilot featuring owner Delroy – played by Leon Charles – and his family planning a party to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Jamaican independence.
The programmes’s editor and director, Alison Plant, said the project had come about following five months of discussions between herself and producer Rhys Phillips along with assistant director Jeremy Rees.
“We are three radio geeks who have all been volunteering at the station a long time,” the 27-year-old said.
“We said ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we could do a soap opera?’ We’re all massive Archers fans, which probably doesn’t give us a huge amount of street cred.
“We said what would be even better is if we could involve the whole community – to write it and act it, make it a community project.”
After a slow start the cast and crew for the show is beginning to swell, said civil servant and PhD student Alison.
“Now we have got a group and it’s getting bigger all the time. The more we push it the more people want to be involved.”
The emphasis of the project is on collaboration, with the group working together to decide the names of the programme, create characters and come up with plot lines.
Alison said: “We all sat around a table and came up with the name. It had to be something that resonated with the area and had the old Tiger Bay feel to it.”
After a short pilot of just under 10 minutes goes to air over the Bank Holiday weekend, a first series of five episodes of between 10 and 15 minutes will hit the airwaves nightly in the final week of October to coincide with Black History Month. A second series is planned for the Christmas period.
The pilot episode has been praised by radio professionals, with BBC Radio 4’s Jim Lee describing the show as “on a par with anything BBC radio drama would have come up with” and Alison Quinn of BBC Radio Wales calling it “really lively”.
Alison added: “Our aim is to produce something that’s really professional. We didn’t want to produce something half-hearted, we want it to be as good as it possibly can.”
The pilot episode of Sophia Square will air on Radio Cardiff 98.7FM at 8.05am tomorrow, 11.30am on Saturday and Sunday and 9.30am on Bank Holiday Monday.