Alan Dein and Mark Bur­man may be plan­ning to phone you up and sur­prise you — all for their award-win­ning ra­dio show

The Jewish Chronicle - - PEOPLE -

NEXT TIME you are out and about and hear a ring­ing pay­phone, you may want to think twice be­fore an­swer­ing. For you could find your­self ap­pear­ing on Alan Dein and Mark Bur­man’s BBC Ra­dio 4 se­ries Don’t Hang Up.

The premise of the show, first aired last De­cem­ber, is sim­ple: the North Lon­don-based pro­duc­ers spend hours call­ing pay­phones across the globe, hop­ing to spark up chance con­ver­sa­tions with pass­ing strangers. Among those who have picked up have been a trans­sex­ual hitch­hik­ing across New Zealand, a trou­bled teenager in Mar­gate and a se­cu­rity guard from the Florida Ever­glades. The un­likely three­some fea­ture in the award-win­ning episode Night­lines.

“You just couldn’t make it up,” Mr Bur­man, 43, tells Peo­ple. “You would never have got such a mix of peo­ple if you tried.”

Mr Dein ( pic­tured left), 46, ex­plains: “When the peo­ple an­swer the phone, we tell them who we are, what we are do­ing and that they will re­main anony­mous. The idea is that we just chat. It is like free ther­apy for them.”

The broad­cast­ing duo has re­cently re­turned from Chicago where they won Gold at the Third Coast In­ter­na­tional Au­dio Fes­ti­val. They have also scooped the Prix Italia, Prix Europa and sil­ver at the Bri­tish Sony Awards this year for the afore­men­tioned episode. “It’s been a mag­i­cal ride,” adds Mr Bur­man. “We had no idea how well the se­ries would do. It’s a daft but lovely way of talk­ing to peo­ple.” Friends for more than 20 years, Mr Dein and My Bur­man first met each other while work­ing as project man­agers at the Lon­don Mu­seum of Jewish Life, now the Jewish Mu­seum. To­day, Mr Dein is a free­lance in­ter­viewer-cum-pre­sen­ter and Mr Bur­man is a staff pro­ducer at the BBC. Both have a pas­sion for so­cial his­tory. The show is sched­uled to be re­peated next month.

PHOTO: ANNE SMITH

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