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  1. UK audio dramas 2018

    In recent years I’ve found myself becoming increasingly more excited by the resurgence of audio dramaI am a voice over artist after all!  Far from old-time radio dramas or those tired story tapes we had as children, this modern, on-the-go entertainment offers well produced, expertly acted, and downright addictive stories from the classic to the contemporary.

    Last year I played the part of Maria Thorpe in Audible Original Drama Northanger Abbey alongside the brilliantly talented Emma Thompson, Lily Cole and Eleanor Tomlinson. It was a wonderfully creative experience putting a new spin on an old classic, and only heightened my excitement for the future of audio dramas.

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    Available to download and listen to almost instantly, audio dramas represent all flavours of fiction. What’s great is the infinite possibilities of the forms stories can take in this medium, particularly as the audio drama movement is only just beginning.

    If you are yet to get stuck into these fiction podcasts, here are a few of the top UK audio dramas I recommend you check out this year.

    1.    Black Eyed Girls—Katie Hims

    Winning BBC’s Best Audio Drama Series 2018, Katie Hims’ audio drama Black Eyed Girls is a beautifully touching, emotional story. This poignant drama follows the lives of separated twins who spend over 60 years searching for each other.  One of radios most cherished writers, Katie Hims has created yet another breath-taking script which has been accompanied with wonderful acting.

     2.    The Sky is Wider—Linda Marshall Griffiths

    Winner of the prestigious Best Single Drama award at the 2017 BBC Audio Drama Awards, The Sky is Wider explores the neurology and ethics surrounding the treatment of a patient with minimal consciousness.  Written by Linda Marshall Griffiths, it was developed in consultation with Professor of Cognitive and Computational Neuroscience, Anil Seth, to create a very current, stimulating and deeply moving radio play.

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     3.    Dan Dare: The Audio Adventures— Andrew Sewell, B7 Media

    If you’re looking for a truly exciting series of sci-fi adventure then you just have to check out the adventures of Dan Dare. Under the expert direction of Andrew Sewell, this audio drama series shapes and transforms the original stories of this heroic action figure by bringing together a sensational script, an all-round electric cast (most notably Ed Stoppard as Dare, Heida Reed as Peabody and Geoff McGivern as Digby) and fabulous music (by Imram Ahmad) to deliver pure audio greatness.

     4.    Neverwhere—Neil Gaiman, adapted by Dirk Maggs

    Ok, so this adaptation may be a few years old now, but if you’re new to audio dramas it is a great story to start you off.  Neverwhere is a six-part dramatisation of Neil Gaiman’s best-selling novel, which follows the story of protagonist Richard Mayhew on a journey through ‘London Below’, a bizarre, and much more dangerous version of the real London we all know on the surface. Featuring an all-star cast including James McAvoy, Natalie Dormer, and Benedict Cumberbatch, this is not to be missed.

     5.    Midnight’s Children—Salman Rushdie, adapted by Ayeesha Menon

    Heralded as ‘radio drama of the year’, this is a fantastic serialisation of Salman Rushdie’s 1981 best-selling novel Midnight’s Children. The story follows the life of Saleem Sinai who was born on the stroke of midnight the day his subcontinent was partitioned by religion into India and Pakistan. Ayeesha Menon has created a dazzling dramatization of this realist masterpiece with a superb cast.

     6.    Life Lines—Al Smith

    This tense drama goes behind the scenes of an ambulance control centre where we’re introduced to ambulance call handler Carrie. Each time the phone rings it’s a matter of life or death. A truly gripping series, Life Lines conveys the story through a magnificent script and a cast that really captures the enormity of each phone call.

  2. Much like TV and film, video games offer their audience an effective means to get close to challenging and current issues or subject matter, usually through the leading characters.  It is for this reason that BAFTA has long recognised the profound social impact of video games and championed the power this creative industry holds.

    Video games use storytelling to transport the audience to new realms, new feelings, and new adventures within a digital medium.  The stories themselves come to life through characters that are portrayed by carefully selected Voiceover Artists who add authenticity and depth to the experience.

    As I prepare to attend the BAFTA 2018 awards as part of the BAFTA Crew Games programme, I wanted to look at some of my favourite female voice actors in videos games to see how they’ve used their skills to bring new characters to life.

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    Cortana, Halo (Jen Taylor)

    First seen in Halo: Combat Evolved, Cortana is a smart, female Artificial Intelligence voiced by Jen Taylor. As a predominant theatre actor Jen prepares for her roles by recognising the emotion portrayed by the characters.

    At video game event E3, Jen said “A lot of video games require us to think and act in the moment…it was fun to [get to play Cortana], it felt more like a Greek drama to get to those highs and those lows. I was excited to get to explore the emotional side of this non-human character.”

    As such an iconic video game personality, Cortana became the inspiration behind Microsoft's intelligent personal assistant of the same name, also voiced by Jen.

    Lara Croft, Tomb Raider (2013, Camilla Luddington)

    Lara Croft has long been a household name in both the Film and Gaming industries since the early 2000’s but the exploration of the Lara Croft character wasn’t truly captured until 2013 when the video game series was re-booted in style.  A big part of this was down to the mesmerising performance of Camilla Luddington who was motion-captured for the game and gave her voice to this fierce adventurer. A tense script, energetic action sequences and a pitch-perfect voiceover helped flesh Lara into a strong leading lady with real substance.

    Joyce Price, Life is Strange (Cissy Jones)

    The iconic Joyce Price is a strong, independent supporting character in the adventure video game series Life is Strange and is voiced by the memorable BAFTA winner Cissy Jones.

    With a whole range of video game credits under her belt, it’s likely that you would have heard Cissy in a number of other games, too, whether you realised it or not. As well as bringing Joyce Price to life, Cissy is also the lead actress in Firewatch, the voice of Katjaa in Telltale’s Walking Dead: Season 1, and Shel, the Guard, and Howe’s Intercom in Season 2, as well as having voiced many other supporting roles.

    Watching her scoop the BAFTA Games award for Best Performer last year was an incredible moment, and I can’t wait to see what she does next.

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    Elena Fisher, Uncharted (Emily Rose)

    Emily Rose supplies both the voice and motion capture for Elena Fisher in the best-selling video game franchise Uncharted.

    Not only is Emily a fantastic on-screen actor but she is also an accomplished voice-over having performed in all four Uncharted games of the series. Explaining how she works with the producers to make her character sound more realistic Emily said in an interview, “we found there was a lot of value in putting all the actors in the recording booth together, rather than recording our voice-overs individually, so we were able to improvise with each other and collaborate on the dialogue as we went along.” 

    Faith Connors, Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst (Faye Kingslee)

    Faith Connors is the daredevil main protagonist of Mirrors Edge: Catalyst, voiced by Faye Kingslee.

    Video games have this great way of engendering empathy by allowing the gamer to experience the life of other people first hand. Developers placed Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst in a first-person perspective in part to connect the player with the character.

    In this video game series, Faye really captures the grit and determination of the powerful Faith Connors, and manages to transport the audience to a whole new world. In an interview Faye said, “Voiceover acting is very artistic. What I love about this industry is that there are so many avenues for creative expression.” In Mirrors Edge: Catalyst you can truly tell how much fun she had voicing this character.

    Ellie, The Last of Us (Ashley Johnson)

    Ashley Johnson claimed a BAFTA win for Best Performance after providing motion capture and voicing Ellie in video game The Last of Us.  She was instantly cast for the role due to her “strong and independent nature”, and was subsequently used in auditions to find actors suitable for the position of Joel, who is a main character alongside Ellie.

    “I've been doing voice overs since I was very young but The Last of Us was my first videogame and the first time I had done motion capture.  I would definitely do it again.” Ashley explained in an interview with The Independent.  Her BAFTA win is credit to her versatility as an actor and artist.

     

    BAFTA Games Awards 2018 Voice over talent