“So…just WHAT is it you do?”


That's me, in my natural environment...a radio studio...between Tom and Richard!

That's me, in my natural environment...a radio studio...between Tom and Richard!

Isn’t social networking strange?  Since the early days of message boards, then forums, then yahoo groups, the move to MySpace, then the big jump to Facebook, and on to the paradigm shifting experience that is Twitter…I have found myself in the rather wonderful position of having a goodly number of people I now consider good friends, but whom I have never met, and who don’t come via my working life.  They know me as Neil, or as HokusBloke, or as the fellow who does the silly poetry, or the FICTS chap, or the man behind the Robert Rankin audio/radio series…or a hundred other ways.  And on average, about once a week I get asked “So…just WHAT is it you do?”.  In order to try and be helpful, I thought I would give you a very brief description of what I do for a living, and then give you some examples.

So…I am a radio blokey.  What’s that? In my case I am the owner and MD of an independent radio production company based in the South East of the UK.  Independent radio production…does that mean adverts?  No.  You’ve no doubt noticed that large numbers of TV programmes are made by independent production companies, like Endemol, Zeppotron, RDF, etc…  Well, the BBC has an obligation to have 25% of its TV output made by such non-BBC companies.  In radio, there is no such requirement, but the BBC still offers up around 10% of its radio output for independent radio production companies to bid for.  Throughout the year companies like mine, Ladbroke Productions (Radio) Ltd, develop ideas and talent and take them to the various national and regional BBC radio networks in the hope we will be hired to make the programmes we propose.

Ladbroke Productions is the oldest such company in the UK, launched in June 1975.  It was also the first company to be hired by the BBC to independently produce a radio series (BBC World Service back in 1990).  I worked at the company from 1999, starting as an engineer and audio producer, gradually working my way up to being the Creative Director and Executive Producer by 2008.  Then, in Sept 2008 I was given the chance to buy the company and take it away from the parent firm.  Of course, I took the opportunity, even though it was a massive risk.  There is no guaranteed work for radio indies, and the budgets are miniscule!  But I had dreamed of owning and running my own radio/audio production company and here was the chance.

So, it is a year on, and even though the year has been a tough one, I am earning a salary, paying the partners and freelancers and we may even make a small profit!  But most importantly we are making more radio and audio programming than ever before.

So what do I do? Apart from the business side of running a small business of course, I come up with ideas for radio programmes, I work with others to develop ideas, seek out and work with new talent (presenters, broadcasters, writers, journalists, composers, etc…), I work with my 2 partners to then write up and pitch these proposals to the BBC, I handle all the budgeting and contractual stuff, handle all the copyrights and so on…but I also produce my fair share of the programmes.  Producing and directing radio is very different from TV and film…for a start most radio programmes are made by a producer, a presenter and, well, that’s it!  The radio producer is also the researcher, the writer, the runner, the sound engineer, etc…  This is why most of us do it, because the end product is very much our own!  So I produce documentaries and features, I also direct dramas and readings (and write them!), I adapt other people work for radio and audio release, and then I also do a job called Executive Producing.  This is like keeping an eye over another producer’s shoulder.  I don’t tell them what to do or how to do it, but keep an eye out for technical or legal issues, check that the programme is made to the mammoth BBC guidelines and isn’t going to fall foul of the increasingly paranoid compliance procedures.  I do this for Ladbroke programmes, as well as for several other companies.  And finally, because I started out as a sound engineer, I also mix and master pretty much all the programmes we make, and offer this service to other clients.  When you see me tweet about editing, this is usually what I mean…I am tidying up and putting together someone else’s raw audio, to make a beautifully crafted radio programme out of the parts!

So, I do all this for my own company, Ladbroke Productions…as well as for other independent radio producers.  Between us we work on programmes for BBC Radios 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 Live, 6 Music, 7, 1 Xtra, Asian Network, BBC Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland.

But a man cannot live on one client alone.  So this first year has seen me working to build up some commercial clients.  The first, and biggest has been BBC Audiobooks.  Yes, the BBC again, but they are commercial and not a part of the licence-fee funded BBC.  BBCA are the people behind the Doctor Who audiobooks we all know and love.  It has been a massive joy for me this year to be taken on board as a producer of Doctor Who universe productions…a childhood dream!  I also produce non-scifi audiobooks for them, such as Margaret Atwood and PD James.

So that’s me in a short sweet nutshell.  I love radio, I love audio…these are the two most important mediums we have and I am unashamed of backing them to the hilt.  You’ll be hearing a lot more about new audio projects as the year progresses…there are some exciting new things just about to happen, which I hope you will support me with.

In the meantime, here’s a list of the BBC radio programmes Ladbroke Productions have produced since Oct 2008 and up to the end of 2009, I hope you’ll see that we do a massive range of things, bring value and quality to the BBC audience, and most importantly, you keep listening (or start!) to the radio.  Oh, and if you would like to hear any of the programmes, we do sell them at very reasonable rates 🙂

BBC RADIO 2

  • The Judy Garland Trail – 6×30 mins – Presented by Michael Freedland – Produced by Neil Rosser (Exec – Neil Gardner)
  • Nat King Cole: From Jazz To Rock’n’Roll – 4×30 mins – Presented by Clarke Peters – Produced by Neil Rosser (Exec – Neil Gardner)
  • Race With The Devil: Gene Vincent Story – 1×60 mins – Presented by Roger Daltrey – Produced by Neil Rosser (Exec – Neil Gardner)
  • The King of Motown: Berry Gordy Story – 1×60 mins – Presented by Marshall Chess – Produced by Neil Rosser (Exec – Neil Gardner)
  • Feelin’ Love: Donna Summer Story – 1×60 mins – Presented by Paul Gambaccini – Produced by Neil Rosser (Exec – Neil Gardner)
  • Blonde On Blonde: Marilyn Monroe – 1×60 mins – Presented by Mariella Frostrup (Exec – Neil Gardner)
  • Hollywood Charmers – 4×30 mins – Presented by Michael York – Produced by Neil Rosser (Exec – Neil Gardner)
  • I’ll Still Love You Tomorrow-Carole King Story – 3×30 mins – Presented by Pete Waterman – Produced by Neil Rosser (Exec – Neil Gardner)
  • The Elvis Trail – 6x30mins – Presented by Michael Freedland – Produced by Neil Rosser (Exec – Neil Gardner)
  • Development Hell – 1×60 mins – Presented by Adam & Joe – Produced by Neil Rosser & Neil Gardner (Exec – Richard Bannerman)
  • My Word Is My Bond – 6×15 mins – Read by Sir Roger Moore – Produced & Directed by Neil Gardner (Exec – Neil Rosser)

BBC RADIO 3

  • The Essay-Henry:King of Kings – 5×15 mins – Written & Presented by Various – Produced by Neil Rosser (Exec – Neil Gardner)
  • The Hidden Composers – 1×44 mins – Presented by Lowri Blake – Produced by Richard Bannerman (Exec – Neil Gardner)
  • Theatre & Conflict – 1×44 mins – Presented by  TBC – Produced by Richard Bannerman (Exec – Neil Gardner)

BBC RADIO 4

  • That’s No Job For An Asian! – 1×30 mins – Presented by Yasmeen Khan – Produced by Yasmeen Khan & Neil Gardner (Exec – Richard Bannerman)
  • Afternoon Play-On Ego – 1×44 mins – Written & Directed by Mick Gordon (Exec – Neil Gardner & Richard Bannerman)
  • The Deighton File – 1×30 mins – Presented by Patrick Humphries – Produced by Neil Rosser (Exec – Neil Gardner)
  • Twin Sisters, Two Faiths – 1×38 mins – Presented by Anna Scott-Brown – Produced by Adam Fowler & Anna Scott-Brown (Exec – Neil Gardner)
  • Who’s My Half-Brother? Where’s My Half-Sister? – 1×30 mins – Presented by Kati Whitaker – Produced by Kati Whitaker & Richard Bannerman (Exec – Neil Gardner)
  • Three Rivers – 3×30 mins – Presented by Hardeep Singh Kohli – Produced by Richard Bannerman (Exec – Neil Gardner)
  • Inside the Bermuda Triangle-The Mysteries Solved – 10×15 mins + 2×60 mins – Presented by Tom Mangold – Produced by Adam Fowler (Exec – Neil Gardner)
  • Blondin of Niagara Falls & Ealing – 1×30 mins – Presented by Hardeep Singh Kohli – Produced by Richard Bannerman (Exec – Neil Gardner)
  • Protected By Faith – 1×30 mins – Presented by John Waite – Produced by Neil Gardner (Exec – Richard Bannerman)
  • Tea & Biscuits – 5×15 mins – Presented by Hardeep Singh Kohli – Produced by Richard Bannerman & Tamsyn Challenger (Exec – Neil Gardner)
  • Scott of Slimbridge – 1×60 mins + 1×42 mins – Presented by Frank Gardner – Produced by Merilyn Harris (Exec – Richard Bannerman)
  • Coast 2100 – 2×30 mins – Presented by TBC
  • Friday Play-Deep Cut – Directed by Mick Gordon (Exec – Melanie Harris)
  • Home Grown – 1×30 mins – Presented by Yasmeen Khan – Produced by Yasmeen Khan & Neil Gardner (Exec – Richard Bannerman)
  • In Search of A Shtetl – 1×30 mins – Presented by Michael Freedland and Jonathan Freedland – Produced by Neil Rosser (Exec – Neil Gardner)
  • Mataphor For Healing – 1×30 mins – Presented by Dr Phil Hammond – Produced by Jane Feinmann & Richard Bannerman (Exec – Neil Gardner)
  • Football Fights Back – 1×30 mins – Presented by Hardeep Singh Kohli – Produced by Adam Fowler (Exec – Neil Gardner)
  • Afternoon Play-Grace – 1×44 mins – Written & Directed by Mick Gordon (Exec – Neil Gardner & Richard Bannerman)
  • Afternoon Play-Mayflies – 1×44 mins – Directed by Neil Gardner (Exec – Dirk Maggs)
  • Afternoon Play-Cry Babies – 1×44 mins – Directed by Neil Gardner (Exec – Dirk Maggs)
  • A Failure To Provide? – 1×30 mins – Presented by Yasmeen Khan – Produced by Yasmeen Khan & Neil Gardner (Exec – Richard Bannerman)
  • Afternoon Play-Cancer Tales – Directed by Merilyn Harris (Exec – Richard Bannerman)

BBC RADIO 7

  • The Brightonomicon – 13×30 mins – Written & Directed by Neil Gardner (based on the novel by Robert Rankin)

BBC WORLD SERVICE

  • The Mind’s Tibet – 1×26 mins – Presented by TBC – Produced by Neil Rosser (Exec – Neil Gardner)
  • Twin Sisters, Two Faiths – 1×26 mins – Presented by Anna Scott-Brown – Produced by Adam Fowler & Anna Scott-Brown (Exec – Neil Gardner)

BBC AUDIOBOOKS

  • Doctor Who & The Dalek Invasion of Earth – 4xCDs – Read by William Russell – Produced by Neil Gardner
  • Doctor Who: Hornets’ Nest – 5xCDs – Starring Tom Baker – Edited & Sound Design by Neil Gardner
  • Sarah Jane Adventures: The White Wolf – Starring Elizabeth Sladen – Produced by Neil Gardner
  • Sarah Jane Adventures: The Shadow People – Starring Elizabeth Sladen – Produced by Neil Gardner
  • The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood – Read by Lorelei King – Produced by Neil Gardner
  • Talking About Detective Fiction by PD James – Read by Diana Bishop – Produced by Neil Gardner

If you’d like to hear excerpts or learn more about Ladbroke Production please check out our website – http://www.ladbrokeradio.com and if you are on Facebook, do seek us out and become a fan 🙂

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About hokusbloke
30-something radio producer/director/writer, owner & MD of Ladbroke Productions (the UK's oldest independent radio production company). Lover of far fetched fiction, scifi and fantasy, my cats and all thinks tech. I am also the Chair of the Radio Independents Group, a former Trustee of the Radio Academy, and a Fellow of the RSA. I co-wrote, produced and directed Robert Rankin's "The Brightonomicon" audio series, produce Dr Who audiobooks for the BBC, and directed several sci-fi radio plays for BBC Radio 4 in 2009. I am a strong advocate for more SF audio and radio...keep watching this space for upcoming news!

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