Is that a hitchhiker we can see, or just a somewhat otherworldly creature fascinated by a new-found thumb? Where will we take the stolen ashes of a loved one that are strapped into a seat beside us? Are we really being followed, or is it just in our imaginations?

“Cramped up within the confines of a car, with a clear destination in sight and the unavoidable stress of driving, the dramatic possibilities are giddying”

Stop Signs has a simple premise: writers were restricted to 30 minutes with roughly 20 minutes of dialogue and ten minutes of songs (played through the car radio, of course). Stories had to take place inside a car but who was driving that car, how many people (or creatures) were in there with them, where they were going and what was going to happen when they got there… all of this was entirely up to each individual writer. From whacky alien whodunnits to subterranean empires with a penchant for Bruce Springsteen – Heavy Metal zombie invasions to instrumental weird fiction – writers Bill Dallas Lea, Genevieve Badia-Aylin, Emma Robinson, Lucy Sargent, Akshata Kapoor, Chakira Alin, Jonathan Powell, Gregory Miller and Jake Rose have each brought their own spin and shaped the series into what it is today.

There’s something magical about turning on the car radio knowing that you’re among an audience of thousands listening to the same song. And it’s that feeling of connectivity that Stop Signs is trying to capture; each episode is interspersed with songs, some of which you’ll recognise, that act as the bridge between listener and character.

Poster for Stop SignsAnna Mahtani

So who are we, exactly? Stop Signs is the brainchild of Anna Mahtani (Shelved, In a Cave a Voice) who wanted to create a collaborative space for both new and established creatives, make the most of the radio format, and fuse theatre, music, art and radio. Cramped up within the confines of a car, with a clear destination in sight and the unavoidable stress of driving, the dramatic possibilities are giddying. Bringing it to life has been a winding road, from assembling the team, pitching and all with a strict time crunch, but golly gee gosh you can darn tooting bet it’s been worth it.

Riding shotgun is Rebekah King (Hatch, The Well-Beloved, In a Cave a Voice) who was drawn to the Twilight Zone possibilities of the brief. Her role has been to act as a script editor for the writers’ room and a co-showrunner watching over the project at every stage. Her favourite aspect of the journey so far has been the sheer joy of sitting back and having talented writers telling us a good story. We’re both looking forward to hearing these scripts in their final form, having enjoyed them so much on the page.

We originally wondered whether we might have to muck in and write an episode or two ourselves, but we’ve been blown away by the number and quality of the entries. Some great ideas were turned away, and the final cut encompasses a wide variety of responses to the format.

“There’s a bit of Black Mirror in there, a bit of Knives Out”

We wanted this series to be an absolute melting pot of ideas, giving listeners a totally different experience every week – from Mighty Boosh to Little Miss Sunshine, surreal comedy to subtle drama – and what we’ve ended up with is something for everyone. There’s a bit of Black Mirror in there, a bit of Knives Out… It’s going to feel really exciting to listen each week with no idea exactly what you’ll get.


Mountain View

Hubble, Bubble, Toil and the Trouble with Film Adaptations of Macbeth

Stop Signs utilised a feedback system that gave writers opportunities to speak with one another, with their directors, and with the showrunners well in advance of submitting a final script. We were helped in this by Stephen Bennett, the founder of Downing’s New Writing Festival, who has endured the slings and arrows of many a writers’ room during his work for television, particularly soaps. His guidance has proved invaluable for the student team.

It’s been a bumpy road, but we had no idea of the sheer talent that would be gearing up to bring you Stop Signs. Now with over 40 creatives, including directors, actors, editors, writers, a composer and a team of artists (designing album covers for each and every episode!), it’s mind-boggling to think someone could be tuning in this Saturday from their very own car trip.

Fasten your seatbelts, you’re in for one hell of a ride.