In Autumn last year AMIS, an organisation and helpline for Abused Men in Scotland based in Edinburgh, faced the prospect of closure. In spite of being busier than it had ever been in almost a decade of operation, a crucial element of their funding had been cut. It left them unable to pay for the office, phones and staff required to keep even the most basic Helpline service available.
In the run up to Christmas Producer Joel Cox follows Iris, Alison and Elizabeth as they face the crisis while knowing that the service they provide is vital and not being covered by any other organisation in Scotland. Will crowd funding, grant applications and a raffle be enough to keep the lines open, and what does it mean to the women who strive to keep this unfashionable branch of victim abuse support running.
Producers: Joel Cox and Tom Alban
Game Over in Dover?
Grace Dent follows the story - through the autumn - of the owner of a family business at the crossroads over Brexit uncertainty. For John Shirley the stakes are high: he's put his house up for sale because he believes leaving the EU Customs Union will ruin his Dover based freight agency company.
We follow the Shirley's - who have different views about leaving the EU - through Brexit deadlines and the General Election as John works out what to do.
Producer Neil McCarthy
Four Months for Niyi
Niyi's eating disorder has stopped him coming home for Christmas. This year, after nearly losing his mother to a brain tumour, he wants to change that.
Niyi is a young, successful Cambridge student with a bright future ahead of him. But for the past few years, he has struggled with an eating disorder. It has made him very conscious of eating with others and the pressure of being around the family dinner table at Christmas has been too much. So he stayed away.
But this year is different. When his mother was taken to hospital with a brain tumour she nearly lost her life. Niyi was there for her when she was ill and he knows how much it would mean to her for him to make it home. He's starting a new course of therapy to help him work through his eating issues, it might give him the help he needs.
Amidst it all Niyi is trying to keep up with the rest of his life. He's deciding the next step in his academic career and attempting to negotiate the dating scene.
Produced by Sam Peach
The Alabama 3 singer and co-founder Jake Black died in May: as the next tour date draws near band members must decide whether they can continue without him and how they mark his absence on stage.
The decisions on a way forward started within days of Jake's unexpected death and whilst his body was still in the mortuary - moulds were taken of his face and hands in the hope that a death mask might help recreate his presence on stage.
In addition of the death mask, sound experts have painstakingly resurrected early out takes of Jake - otherwise known as the Very Reverend D Wayne Love. As preparations gather for the new tour, the forgotten tapes of the talented singer are a constant reminder of his huge talent.
The mask is made from the moulds taken by band member Nick Reynolds. He’s the son of Bruce, the great train robber and as well as playing harmonica he’s also a sculptor specialising in death masks. He's convinced that immortalising him in this way will be cathartic for all of them:
During the grieving process band members travel to a huge Sopranos Convention in New Jersey, with thousands of fans eager to meet the musicians behind the Sopranos theme tune, 'Woke up this Morning.' It is a bitter sweet experience for Rob Spragg, otherwise known as Larry Love, who formed Alabama 3 with Jake in 1996:
"Jake was larger than life, a real fusion of what we stood for and being in America without him is very hard." Rob has made big changes in his own life following Jake's death, largely giving up drugs and alcohol: "It's so hard - he should be here with us and hearing him during rehearsals and performances is bringing so many tears."
Produced by Sue Mitchell
Phoenix from the Airwaves
In a community centre in inner city Bristol, next to the nursery, and the café and the hall for local meet-ups and yoga, sits a very special place. The BCfm – Bristol Community FM – radio station. From their studio next to Easton community centre’s reception, 204 volunteer radio presenters broadcast to the city of Bristol and beyond. Dezzi Rankin (the resident Sunday morning reggae host), Shout Out (LGBTQ+), Silver Sound (for the older listener), Mid-Week Sports bar, Real Women – they’re all here.
Pat Hart has been the station manager for ten years – and also the station’s breakfast presenter. “I don’t think there’s a single part of life in Bristol we don’t represent.”
It is always a struggle, but with grants drying up, the station has found itself living more and more of a hand to mouth existence. At the beginning of 2019 he found himself asking the council for more support, but nothing could prepare him for what was around the corner. “If I’d have had a crystal ball, I might have run away at the beginning of 2019.”
One fateful day in August at 11am, Tony Johnson launched his 50th Anniversary of the Moon landings special with Telstar. “I plugged my MP3 stick into the usual slot… and then I smelt something strange. Looked to my left, and saw the smoke coming from somewhere behind the desk.” He did his next link, alerted the receptionist to the need for a fire engine, and then as the studio filled with acrid smoke, he queued up an hour’s worth of music. “The radio host’s worst nightmare is dead air.”
Pat arrived to find the studio completely destroyed, the insurance documents illegible from fire damage, and his thoughts turned to the listeners. The longer the station is off air, the more perilous their situation becomes.
Can Pat get the station back on air - and fast?
Produced by Polly Weston