Audio speed dating with Open City Docs & In the Dark

True confession: the other Thursday night after work, and without a word to my husband, I went speed dating. And what a lively night it was. In my defence I’d say I was less “on the pull” and more “second assistant midwife” at a brilliant audio event organised by In The Dark and Open City Docs. This kind of thing has worked well for film projects in the past so why not for the lean and flexible genre of audio?

The principle idea is to match academics who really know their stuff, such as the renowned criminologist Prof Chris Greer, to curious audio documentary and fiction story makers looking for fresh ideas. Chloe Trayner for Open City Docs and Nina Garthwaite for In The Dark sent out the invitation and were flooded with offers. They could have filled the Albert Hall but only had access to the Anthropologist’s common room at University College London. That kept the numbers down to 26, all selected on the strength of their application. A banner across the common room invited us to “Occupy Anthropology” and I guess that’s what we did.

First thing to say, disappointingly for me you can’t tell an academic from a media type. I saw no tweed and no black polo-necks. Second thing: once they get over an initial 40 second shyness you cannot shut anyone up. With the academics on the inner circle of chairs and their potential media collaborators facing them on the outer circle, each pair had 5 minutes to get inside each other’s passions. After five minutes Nina Garthwaite rang the bell and everyone was supposed to move on. This took quite some cajoling. At the end of the session the ‘speed daters’ were so interested in continuing their conversations that matchmakers Chloe and Nina were left chatting idly to me, like parents waiting to pick up their kids after the school disco.

Who knows what powerful new partnerships will be forged from this vibrant event, but in the Jewish marriage ceremony a glass is smashed to symbolise the forging of a new partnership that cannot be ‘unbroken’ – and if you watch this clip that’s what happens. It’s a sign I tell you. Meanwhile, I was highly charmed by this ‘impromptu’ review of The Whickers’ brand new look. Yes, of course I was fishing for compliments but we’re happy to hear from you naysayers too. Bring it on.

– Jane Ray, Artistic Director at The Whickers