Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Diary of Becky, 13, Turns a Crisis into Children's TV Drama

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Diary of Becky, 13, Turns a Crisis into Children's TV Drama

Article excerpt


THE slaughter of cattle and lambs; pyres of carcasses burning in disease-ravaged fields - the grim stuff of TV news bulletins for many months, but not, one would have thought, an easy subject for a children's drama.

Foot-and-mouth is, however, exactly the kind of topic Children's BBC believes is its duty to tackle and when a children's book on the subject was published, it seized on the opportunity.

The ordeal of the epidemic as seen through the eyes of a child living on a farm blighted by the disease is to be broadcast tomorrow afternoon.

Out of the Ashes has been adapted for television in record time from the book by award-winning children's author Michael Morpurgo, who runs the charity Farms for City Children.

Filming of the disturbing drama began in Devon only a few weeks after the book was published last July. The BBC was so keen to bring the story to the screen while the disease was still raging they commissioned the 30-minute drama even before Morpurgo had completed the first draft of his manuscript.

Macmillan's associate publisher of children's fiction Marion Lloyd says: "It all went amazingly quickly. When Michael came to us with the idea for the book we decided to rush it out because it was so topical and so unique for children. It's very strong stuff, but these things have really happened to people."

Head of Children's BBC Nigel Pickard says: "Most of our viewers know about foot-and-mouth and many will have been affected by the horror of the crisis.

"Much of the audience will have seen the images of burning pyres and slaughtered animals. This drama gives CBBC an opportunity to explore some of the emotions and issues foot-and-mouth has raised."

Out of the Ashes, which has sold out its first print run of 25,000, tells the story of West Country 13-yearold Becky Morley, played by Sophie Crome in the programme, whose farming family are engulfed in the tide of foot-and-mouth.

When the disease breaks out on a pig farm hundreds of miles from the Morley's home no one believes it will spread far. But day by day the outbreak moves closer until local sheep are infected and every animal is destroyed. …

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