The Podcaster's Wife: Is that character based on me?
From rocking out with a punk band in the living room, to finding pairs of tights in the house that were not her own, Helen Stringer shares her experience of having an audiodrama podcaster as a husband.
Two years ago, my husband-to-be announced he was writing a podcast. Back then, the only podcasts I’d listened to were one attempt to ‘meet the filmmakers from The Darkest Hour’ and three full series of someone reading out their father’s erotic fiction, which cheered up my daily commute no end.
Fast forward 24 months and Season One of Oblivity has been cast, produced, recorded, and launched - as well as two riotous live shows delivered. It’s been incredibly well received by both the fantastic podcast community and thousands of fans alike.
But what did those two years look like from the perspective of the writers (now) wife…?
Taking inspiration from life
I read through the draft scripts of Oblivity and realised fairly early on that Rob had almost definitely based a large part of his dopey toilet-humour door-barging cyborg on me. I can’t help it, I just find Uranus utterly hilarious.
When I was seven, my parents bought a Zanussi washing machine. I got to keep the box to make a wendy house, ace! I also scribbled out the ‘Z’ and the final ‘si’. It was as funny then as it is now.
Episode 3’s Annihilation board game scenes were a realistic dramatisation of our infamous family Christmas of 2016. I stick by my philosophy that if, during the game, it’s 99% guaranteed that you have almost definitely already lost, then it’s absolutely fine to go and do something else instead, regardless of how annoyed your competitors get.
To put it another way: “If you’re not trying to win then you’re just moving bits of plastic across some cardboard until bedtime”. THANK YOU Burney.
Nik and the Sputs night
Nik and the Sputs came into being one night in deepest darkest Oxfordshire. Our neighbours were used to the occasional Wednesday evening of folky-synth pop but the night Nik and the Sputs were created was totally epic. I can only apologise again to our neighbours as Tom (aka CyberGerbil) hammered out the backing vocals for Police Riot at full volume ‘NEE NAAAW NEEWW NAWWW.
I have tried to convince Rob and Tom to forget Oblivity and focus on Nik and the Sputs as I think they are exactly what the UK needs right now - total anarchy! John Lydon would surely agree.
(Although no one seems to have noticed that there’s actually only one Sput. Apparently there was a second Sput involved but she’s a small spaniel and what she gave to the band’s personality was more visual than aural.)
Building the Oblivity Team
When I found three pairs of Pretty Polly natural tan stockings in Rob’s bag one evening, I can’t deny that questions were asked. While I’d have been supportive of Rob, whatever the explanation, it turns out tights can be used as cheap pop shields!
Creating a podcast isn’t just about the writing but also the recording, editing and production, finding great voice actors, composing music, marketing and social media and of course finding a way to pay for all of this.
After reading the scripts, many people believed in Rob and in Oblivity and offered their time, recommendations, ideas and contacts. Finding Joe Carr - who produced the series, researched - or created - all of the sound effects and found studio space and gave up all of his spare time, meant that the series sounds like it does - pretty darn professional. Everything else was done as cheaply as possible with Rob and one keen supporter funding it.
This is why we need to meet the crowdfunding target for Season two. It will pay for the actor’s bus fares and expenses, sandwiches for the full studio days, music, FX, online hosting plus the hundreds of other small costs that mount up when producing a podcast - such as real pop shields.