Tuned In [2010]

A radio movie.

In a dusty, dilapidated school on the outskirts of the Nigerian capital city, Abuja, a group of actors and radio technicians come together in searing 40’C heat to record the 17th series of ‘Story Story’. This much loved radio soap opera is set in a bustling motor park somewhere in West Africa, and it uses drama to trigger discussions on a variety of topical issues.

‘Tuned In’ is a Wildfire Films production that takes us behind the scenes to meet the cast and crew as they reunite in Abuja and record the entire series in an intense and grueling 2-week schedule.

The key plot-line for the 17th series of ‘Story Story’ comes from a leadership challenge made by one of the motor park touts against the existing chairman. This sparks an election for the chairmanship – complete with all the canvassing, allegiance-shifting, grandstanding and promises tied in with the election process. Everyone in the motor park is involved in some way or another and it’s high drama in the race for the polls.
Through this local election the series teases out debates around Good Governance, Free and Fair Elections, and Voting. Each of these topics is particularly relevant to a Nigerian audience who go to the polls in their general election in 2011. This series of ‘Story Story’ also raises the thorny issue of corruption, and reflects the sentiments of most ordinary people who are totally fed up with it.

All the scenes and sounds for the entire series have to be recorded on location within the 2 weeks. This is done under the watchful eye of the production director, Chukwuemeka Okereafor. We see him working with the crew and coaching the cast; retakes are done until they get it right. “You have to make the audience believe what they are hearing, this is not television, it is radio,” says sound designer Abraham Eferobor, and we see the crew recording all the background sounds that will be layered over the scenes in post-production so that the final broadcast product “sounds like a motor park in my neighbourhood”.

The familial relationship of the actors with each other and the crew gives some light-hearted relief to the heavy production schedule in the stifling heat. ‘Tuned In’ introduces us to two of the actors Tina Mba and Jab Adu, and we get some insight into how each of them got into the somewhat precarious world of drama and acting.
We also meet some of the local writers and production crew, and so ‘Tuned In’ gives a refreshing, positive glimpse into this proactive group of the Nigerian arts community and shares with us their hopes for systemic change in their country.

‘Story Story’ is heard on a diverse range of local radio stations across West Africa, and is also broadcast on BBC World Service Africa – so it is heard across the continent. This means the characters in the series and the events that shape their lives become key talking points in the vast range of places the episodes are heard.

With this film Aoibheann O’Sullivan introduces an alternative type of aid that is happening in the developing world, initiatives that aim to strengthen civil society and good governance by training local journalists and encouraging the role of the local media.

‘Story Story’ is a drama-for-development project initiated by the BBC World Service Trust who work with local writers, actors and crew.

This film was made possible by the Simon Cumbers Media fund and Irish Aid and was developed in association with Wildfire Films and Distilled Ideas.


Directed by Aoibheann O’Sullivan
Produced by Martha O’Neill
Director of Photography: Alan O’Connor
Editor & Sound Recordist: Aoibheann O’Sullivan

Production Coordinator: Maria Collins
Graphics: Donn Maguire (PixelApes)

With thanks to:
Jab Adu
Chioma Agwuegbo
Abraham Eferobor
Tina Mba
Chukwuemeka Okereafor

And all the cast & crew of Story Story.

Logistical support:
Kirsty Cockburn
Julia Bicknell
Eze Eze Ogali
Lekan Onasanya


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