Former Burnt Mil student has play performed on BBC

Entertainment / Sat 12th Feb 2022 am28 11:20am

A FORMER student of Burnt Mill Academy in Harlow had his second short radio play aired on local radio this week. BBC Essex broadcast A Stable Home last Thursday (10th February) during the Rob Jelly Show.

The play was written by former Harlow resident Alan Hall (60), who attended Burnt Mill in the 1980s and now lives in Bishops Stortford. 

“A Stable Home” is a contemporary tale, with a loose nod to the Nativity, and was originally due to be broadcast at Christmas, but was delayed due to sickness.  It is set in a low-cost budget hotel in Southend, The Star Inn, where a couple, Mel and Cassie (with a passing resemblance to Melchior and Casper – two of the Wise Men), have booked a short Christmas break.  In the hotel’s breakfast room, they meet Mary – a young pregnant homeless woman, married to her carpenter husband, Joe – who is expecting her first child, Jez, on Christmas Day.

“From Mel and Cassie’s initial misconceptions and stereotypical views about Mary and homeless people, their view changes over the course of three days – but they are not prepared for what happens as their relationship develops”, says Alan who also produced and directed the play – which was recorded and edited in his front room!

The play is informed by Alan’s former role as Director of Housing and Communities with Epping Forest District Council, prior to his retirement three years ago, and his previous responsibilities for the Council’s Homelessness Service – as well as a Non-Executive Director for a number of housing associations and being a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Housing.

Two of the plays actors were also Harlow residents and students. Clive Weatherley was a school friend of Alan’s at both Burnt Mill and Tany’s Dell Primary School and Russ Lewell was a Presenter and Station Manager with Ten17 – the local radio station that served Harlow and East Herts in the 1990s.  Alan met Russ when he was a fellow Director of Harlow Radio Ltd, the company that owned Ten17, where he has also a Features Presenter/Producer for the Station. The other two actors, Lynda Shelverton and Cate Welmers, both have close connections with Bishops Stortford. 

An estimated ¼ million people in England are currently homeless, or lacking a permanent place to live.  In Essex alone, there are around 200 households living in bed and breakfast hotels at any one time.  “Most homeless people are just ordinary people – whose journey in life has steered off the rails” said Alan.  “The message of the play is that, given the wrong set of circumstances, anyone can find themselves tumbling into homelessness.  It could be one of your children, a parent, your brother or sister, your best friend – or it could be you.  I’m hoping that listeners will give a thought to what it’s like walking in the shoes of those who they may normally walk by”.

Last year, BBC Essex aired another of Alan’s short plays, Crimson Eyes, which also focussed on the plight of homeless people, this time through a monologue delivered by a rough sleeper, Phoebe, explaining how easy anyone can end up living on the streets – and what it’s like.  

Alan has recently set up Nurturing Productions, a small production company to help nurture local playwrights and actors from East Herts and West Essex, with the intention of establishing a Play-reading group for playwrights and actors from the local area.

His next project is to write a full-length musical, but he’s keeping the details under wraps.  “Just think Oliver meets Mamma Mia meets Choir of Man” said a cryptic Alan.

A Stable Home can be heard on BBC Essex – 103.5 & 95.3FM – and online live (or after the broadcast on their archive) – search for “BBC Essex live”.  The full version can be heard now, in advance, at www.alanhall.one.

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2 Comments for Former Burnt Mil student has play performed on BBC:

Alan Hepburn
2022-02-14 07:53:24

Utterly appalling spelling and grammar throughout this article. Mill has 2 last Bishop's has an apostrophe and yet loads of apostrophes where they do not need to be plus if Alan is 60 he'd have been 20 in 1980 so couldn't possibly have been in school in the 1980's

Maria Maliszewski
2022-02-14 14:41:59

A great listen for me. So proud of my old classmates Alan and Clive! Keep up the good work guys 🙂

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