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