“It’s twee now.”
West chose his cast – Liz Bradley, Michael Cooper, Tim Lim, Steph Roberts, Ylaria Rogers, Benjamin Russell, Martin Searles, Kate Tricks and Tony Turner – based primarily on their vocal talents.
“They all have great voices,” he says.
“We needed people who could utilise different aspects of their voices.”
Also required was great timing – this is radio, after all; while the performances may not be live to air, there will be an audience and everything has to keep moving, with dialogue, music and sound effects integrated seamlessly.
One of the shows is Episode 4380 of Blue Hills, the long-running Australian country-town radio serial by Gwen Meredith that ran on ABC radio for 27 years, from 1949 to 1976, and lasted a total of 5795 episodes.
And what happens in the episode?
“Very little,” West says.
Pressed for more detail, he says, “Literally nothing happens – that’s the point.”
Also on the program is a Hercule Poirot mystery, The Case of the Careless Client, from 1945, in which Agatha Christie’s Belgian detective travels to New York City.
“He starts solving cases the minute he gets off the plane.”
Then there’s the first two episodes of the 1930s science-fiction serial Flash Gordon, in which the title hero and Dr Zarkov travel to the planet Mongo and must save Dale Arden from Ming the Merciless.
And there are some comedic tidbits from Monty Python and one of its predecessors. I’m Sorry, I’ll Read That Again, whose cast included Python’s John Cleese.
This being radio, the sound effects need to be created live and with the help of sound designers Joel Edmondson and Chris Ward and through a process of trial and error, West and company have discovered, for example, that banging two spoons together sounds like a sword fight and a wobbing piece of tin handily simulates a ray gun.
“Things can look completely different to what is happening but sound the same,” West says. But he doesn’t want people to close their eyes to “see” what’s happening.
“It’s more fun if you’re watching everything – everyone’s having a great time being stupid.”
West says his favourite job is finding the right music – apart from the memorable Blue Hills theme, which was obligatory, he says he has “searched high and low” for the appropriate tunes. They are not performed live – but they appear to be the only element that isn’t.