Radio Abbey

Purple Elipse_whtbg.a76ef047d8d24c03823acdf41c4ee7c8Radio Abbey is Kenilworth’s only community internet radio is back. It’s an exciting time. Lots of new voices and shows for you to enjoy.

I am presenting a new culture show where I will discuss the what’s what of culture and well being.

I want to showcase the best up-coming and local talent.  You can expect discussion and interviews with people involved in health, exercise and the arts: filmmakers, actors, artists and performers.

My show will also support the Heads Together campaign, helping to break the taboo surrounding discussion about mental health.

I am also hoping to be working on my first ever radio script soon and will share more on this when it’s ready.

New Show – New Station

Social Supporters badgeRadio Abbey is an online community radio station ran by volunteers – all dedicated  to providing the best community coverage for Kenilworth and the surrounding areas.  It is for all ages, backgrounds and interests.

Tell me your story…

I would love to hear from YOU and tell your story.

Are you on a diet? embarking on a new exercise regime? training for a new fitness goal? Perhaps you’re a fitness instructor or personal trainer with some fantastic advice? Are you creative? – a filmmaker, writer, actor, musician, singer, songwriter or performer?

What ever your passion, if you have a story  – I would like to tell it.

Comment below  

or email me via (put RADIO ABBEY in the title).

or contact me on Twitter via @RachSmith

Get in touch with me and be a part of my journey.

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Shine Walk 2016: The walk

You can still sponsor us by texting LNRW80 £5 to 70070.

You can still sponsor us by texting LNRW80 £5 to 70070.

I did it! I walked 26.2 miles across London in the Shine night walk for Cancer Research UK.

I am sat writing this very tired – I have been awake since 9pm Saturday night (it is 6pm Sunday night now).  My feet hurt and are blistered and I need some hot food, having spent the past how-ever-many hours eating protein bars – but I did it. I walked a marathon.

This is my third Shine and I feel my toughest for a number of reasons.  Those of you familiar with my fundraising will know I walked Shine originally as a training exercise back in 2011.  During the training my Auntie fell ill with cancer and died. It was a shock to us and that walk cemented the need for raising valuable money for Cancer Research UK.

Trees lit up blue

Lining the route of the Shine Walk

My second walk was in my Aunt’s memory.  When I decided to walk this third time it was again, for my Aunt but also for my boyfriend’s mum who died of cancer a few years ago rapidly and suddenly, leaving a huge hole in the family fabric.

It has left me feeling lots of anger towards this terrible disease.  I feel I have seen it hurt far too many families and the pain all involved is real. I wrote a creative piece as a way to grieve my losses in which I likened Cancer to a serial killer – I stand by this thought – Cancer really shows no mercy.

“It’s just walking”

I know a lot of people think walking a marathon is easy. That it’s not as big as challenge as running one… and I can see why people would think that. Walking is something most of us just do, without thought.

Sunrise at Trafalgar Square

We walked in memory of my boyfriend’s mum – Jan whose favourite colour was purple, which made this sky even more beautiful.

I have never run a marathon so wouldn’t be able to compare. What I can say is walking the Shine night walk is not an easy task.  You do need to train and I did train, long walks at weekends and following the Shine marathon training plan.

I was still struggling throughout the Shine Walk 2016: the first 9 miles were the worst – we were walking in a group and at different paces and also walking at a time when my body was asking to rest.

I found parts of the course easier to manage than others and the people around you, the fellow Shiners, kept me entertained with costumes, singing and random conversation.

I looked forward to the pit stops along the way.  They broke the walk up into manageable chunks, so when I felt like stopping I would think “only 2 miles till a pit stop” and it kept me going.

At the finish line

We walked for 12 hours 20 minutes.

During the walk I was told: “The pain we are feeling is nothing like the pain they felt” and it reminded me why I was walking in the first place.

I couldn’t write this without mentioning the fantastic the volunteers – selfless people who cheered us along and kept us smiling.  They stayed up with us throughout the night, standing on the streets of London.  They were truly amazing!

I finished and am home, about to soak my feet in a bucket of water asking myself ‘will I do it again?’

The answer is “yes”, of course I would.

Until there is a cure I will keep fighting for those who can’t and who need it.

You can find out more about the Shine Walk at or via #ShineWalk. You can still sponsor us by texting LNRW80 £5 to 70070 or via


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Shine Walk 2016

Shine Walk logo I have spent the day watching my big brother and good friend complete the London Marathon. It’s a huge achievement and has inspired me to get active again.

I don’t see myself as a runner and so I have taken the leap and signed up for the Shine Walk 2016.

Training this year will be for the full marathon and I will be sharing updates on this blog.

We have until September to get fit and trained – gulp!

I’m fundraising for Cancer Research UK and if you want to sponsor me text LNRW80 £3 (or another amount if you wish) to 70070.

Or via

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Look back: An interview with Helen Lederer

In mid-2015 I had contacted Helen Lederer, the author of ‘Losing It‘ because I was interested in finding out more about her new novel.

Losing-itYou will no doubt know Helen from her role as the dippy Catriona in Absolutely Fabulous in which she appeared alongside Jennifer Saunders in all six series, as well as a movie on the horizon later this year!

When I learnt of Helen’s novel I was interested to know more – I was also interested in an awards that Helen runs called “Comedy Women in Print”… but more on that later!

When I got in touch with Helen, she was just starting her role with Hollyoaks playing Mariam, a “slightly alcoholic midwife who is down on her uppers”. I conducted a Q&A with Helen and between one thing and another, the blog never saw the light of day.

Until now!

So, in true dramatic fashion I have taken back to the computer, dusted off the keyboard and found the said interview. So grab a cuppa, sit back and enjoy:

You’ve bought out a new novel, Losing it, can you describe the plot using six-words?

Funny journey into happiness from adversity

Can you describe where your inspiration came from for Losing it?

..real life? I’ve done all the diet things the character has done and more! And I had my chakras opened… almost

What is your favorite moment in the Losing It story?

When she realises how much she loves her daughter …but can’t say because they are both tough… but she feels it

What have you found most challenging about writing Losing It?

Promoting it! Writing it was the easy bit –and I can’t wait to start the next one –also you can write in your pyjamas…

What comes first for you when you write? The character or the plot?

Plot? no character .. er both but plot by a whisker

Could you imagine seeing Losing It being made into a film/TV series – if so who would you want to play Millie?

I would love this to be made into a TV series –as it is soo visual! Doon MacKinnon is very funny. Olivia Colman…

I have read your blog post about Mid-Lit, especially your line about how difficult it is to create laughter from text, can you remember a time when this happened for you? Where were you? What was the story?

I read ‘Starter for Ten’ by David Nicolls and the hero comes downstairs to find his girlfriend’s parents cooking breakfast in the nude…

What advice would you give aspiring writers looking to move into comedy?

Get out there and listen to people and do scary things and try stand up… and then write blogs and read loads and loads of funny stuff and just do it

How does writing comedy in print differ to acting comedy from a script?

It is much quieter and you don’t have to be nice to anyone – just yourself

Which is easier (comedy scripts/stories)?

Novel – prose has more room to breathe inside your own head, scripts require constant structure

Do you have plans to write another novel?

Yes I can’t wait!

Re Comedy Women in Print, why did you start the awards?

Because I looked around for a prize and there weren’t any –ironic (in a good way) that I have been nominated for the only comedy literary prize in the UK –but I didn’t know that at the time –in any case I couldn’t award a prize to myself could I!?

What are you looking for in the winning writer?

Originality –and authenticity and impact  – to laugh

Who is eligible and how can people apply?

Any female any age (not under ten) watch this space on the Comedy Women in Print website

You keep up-to-date with Helen online, on Facebook, @HelenLederer and on You Tube.
You can listen to extracts from “Losing it” here.


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Radio Abbey – USU Kenilworth: Africa week

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For the past few months I have taken my mind away from writing.

Mostly, and most importantly, I think there’s not much going on in my life that you would be interested in. I thought ‘If I can’t be inspired to write about it why should you be inspired to read it?’

Then, a few days ago I joined in the conversation on Twitter sharing with followers #whyiwrite.

I sat on a train, thinking through what I could say and felt pretty stupid really.  Who am I to share why I write and frankly, who cares?

I answered it with the words “because I can” and followed it up with a photographic of my favourite saying on a favourite picture of mine that I took of the moon one night.

No one re-tweeted my photograph or my comment.

The silence should make me stop right? It should make me see how sharing mindless words on this wonderful world wide web is somehow pointless in the big scheme of things.

However, I then remembered that all this started back when I wrote some poems and short stories in a teenage diary – hidden from the world. Then I grew up a bit and wrote some children stories for a radio audience who wouldn’t know it was me who wrote them.

Do I care that they know? No I do not. It’s a nice thing to have but not something I crave. These are my words and my writing space whether 1 or 1 billion people read it.

I feel inspired to keep writing. Not to gain followers, fans or money but honestly and simply – because I can.



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Iqbal Mohammed – Filming in the Philippines

Radio Abbey Film Show Podcasts

Radio Abbey Film Show Podcasts

Iqbal Mohammed is a pharmacist from Huddersfield who has turned his attention to screen writing and directing.

I have featured Iqbal’s first film Against the Norm on my blog back in 2012 and since then Iqbal has gone on to make the a short film called Revisited which was screened in the No Gloss Film Festival last year.

For his next film – We Are Brothers – Iqbal has teamed up with actor and award winning producer Jake Macapagal.

As I write this Iqbal is en-route to the Philippines to start scouting for cast, crew and locations to shoot the film.

Speaking on Radio Abbey’s Film Show few days ago, Iqbal describes the challenges ahead in making his first foreign film.

Radio Abbey Film Show’s Big Interview

If you would like to know more about Iqbal’s films and find out the “what next” for yourself, you can follow him on Twitter @iQFilmmaker, on Facebook via DynamiQ Films or via
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Radio Abbey Film Show Podcasts

Radio Abbey Film Show Podcasts


For me, Community Radio is a playground, a place where creative people who love radio can come together and create things.

My Film Show is slowly building, with contributions from Warwick University and some creative contributions from friends and family.

I am keen to develop this with interviews, showcasing the best of local talent and creating Podcasts as I go.

 Check out the Podcasts below 

Trail music is by
If you want to get involved with Radio Abbey visit
If you want to get involved with Radio Abbey’s Film Show – contact me and tell me your story. Join me on Facebook at
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Update: Filmmaker Iqbal Mohammed with Revisited

Revisited I will soon be starting my new Film Show on Radio Abbey in Kenilworth.

To mark the moment I thought it would be a good time to check in on filmmaker Iqbal Mohammed.

For those who have followed my blog and my previous radio show, you will know the journey of Iqbal.  You will also know he had a film coming out called Revisited.

Iqbal has been screening Revisited at events and it has been selected for three film festivals this year.

The next screening will be taking place at the Huddersfield Odeon Cinema on Sunday 9 November, with proceeds going to NSPCC and The Variety Children’s Charity.

I asked Iqbal to explain – without giving too much away – what people can expect. He says: “The very few people who have seen the film have told me that it’s horrific in places but extremely emotional.

“One critic went as far as comparing it to a Hitchcock, so I was very pleased with that.”


Iqbal explains how, during one screening at No/Gloss Film Festival in Leeds you could “hear a pin drop” adding: “There was nobody playing on their phone and everybody’s eyes were fixed on the screen.

“At the end of the film we got a round of applause. It felt awesome.”

Although this film has been shown three times to-date, Iqbal explains how he still feels nervous when screening it, he says: “This is a film not many people would think I am capable of making because it shows a part of me that leaves me very vulnerable.”

What next?

So what does the future hold for Iqbal?  The pharmacist-filmmaker has made a comedy and now something a little more different… but what’s next?

Iqbal explains: “I am planning on making a short film and as always i’ll carry on with my writing. It’s what I always do.

“We are still in the early days of pre-production but the film could be super huge.

“I also have a feature film in pre-production with a Producer called Ben Sweet. We plan to hopefully make the film late next year.”

If you would like to know more about Iqbal’s films and find out the “what next” for yourself, you can follow him on Twitter @iQFilmmaker or on Facebook via DynamiQ Films.

If you are a filmmaker in the same shoes as Iqbal and want to tell me your story, get in touch via and you could feature on my blog or new Film Show on Radio Abbey.

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Interview with Filmmaker Brian Harley


Coventry and Warwickshire Filmakers Network

I have recently joined the Coventry and Warwickshire Filmmakers Network to seek film lovers in the local area so I am able to celebrate their achievements both via this blog and my new radio show – Rewind Extra on Radio Plus Coventry.

In my research I read of award winning film maker Brian Harley, founder of Short Night Films based in Coventry.  I decided I had to get in touch to ask Brian what makes him “tick” and, at the same time, celebrate home-grown talent.

What is your initial inspiration for you film making?

Director Brian Harley - Photo by Ben Cook

Director Brian Harley – Photo by Ben Cook

I’ve always been interested in film. My dad was an amateur filmmaker so I think there might be some influence from him too. Initially, I had my sights set on being a comic strip artist, and this is where I formed some of the skills that I later transferred into my filmmaking (such as script writing and visual composition).

The filmmaking really came into focus though when I discovered Kevin Smith. Granted, he’s not the most visionary filmmaker but his independent spirit inspired me to take the initiative and just get on with it and create something and I haven’t looked back since.

Where do your ideas for your scripts come from?

I don’t think you can always trace where ideas come from. A good idea sometimes just imposes itself on you. I often take a personal moment or experience as a starting point and then write around that and twist out the ends. They’re not strictly biographical scripts but I do reflect myself into them and protract my own experiences of life into the characters.

I prefer to discover it as I go along but I always bury plot mines up ahead and find ways of driving over them so they detonate into the story and open it up, make it more dynamic. I day dream a lot. There is always a fraction or more of my mind that is wading through another world entirely, going through conversations, lines, ideas, stories and characters.

You have written, directed and edited films, which part do you enjoy the most?

I enjoy directing the most because I this is where I feel the most intuitive and sensory. It can be pretty tense though as time is so often against you, so you have to find a way of elongating the time you have and you do that through a combination of being prepared and being tactile!

Can you describe your up-coming short film Apostle’s Manoeuvre?

Apostle's Manoeuvre (Still 3)

Apostle’s Manoeuvre

It’s about a young guy who needs to borrow money so he can pay a debt. He turns to his estranged father to help who invites him to play bingo to see if they can win the money.

Up until recently, I thought it was about probability and how events and circumstances can drastically shift your course in life. It still is of course, but recently, I realised that it’s actually about reconciliation and that made me realise that my last few films have also explored reconciliation as a primary theme.

What are your highlights from making this short film?

There are many highlights of making this film. It was a good natured, relaxed shoot. Seeing people you’ve brought together getting along so well is a really encouraging thing. You feel a bit like Cupid in that sense, in that you’ve invited the right chemistry into the room. This is certainly the case working with the cast. I really enjoyed the chemistry between the actors and framing their performances so they were as truthful as possible.

I have watched Eventide and A Dream I Had online, both extremely powerful and emotional films, how do you ensure your actors find and keep that emotion?

I don’t like to rehearse the material too much. Obviously I like the actors to know their lines but I’d rather they didn’t get too used to saying them out loud as the risk is the performances can become a bit dead behind the eyes if you over do it. I am becoming more and more liberal with my scripts, allowing actors to paraphrase here and there and improvise.


A Dream I Had

Any techniques that naturalise the performance I will use. I often tell the actors not to stop themselves if they make a mistake because it’s in those little moments where moments of humanity exist – stuff that you just can’t write or ask for. I study body language and facial expressions too. This is where you can create communicate the emotional stuff subliminally and intelligently to your audience.

You dedicated Eventide to your father, can you describe how it felt watching it completed for the first time?

Well, by the time I declared it completed I already knew what it consisted of as I had to review it so often in the edit. I was alone the first time I watched it all the way through.

It was late at night, early hours. I guess it was a rather private sacred and proud experience for me because I got to tune in to what I had made and finally experienced it as an audience would. Watching someone else watch it for the first time though is where I really got to see how bewitching it is. I discovered that it was a personal film which everyone else found personal.

Have you ever filmed in Coventry/Warwickshire and what do you look for in location?

BrianHarleyFilmmakerEventide photo by Tom Thorp

Eventide – Photo by Tom Thorp

Coventry is such a dynamic backdrop to tell stories. Personally, I tend to avoid depicting postcard Coventry in my films. I find it very unimaginative.

I’d much rather find ordinary, immersive locations that serve the story and the characters appropriately. Locations can overstate or understate and it’s very important for a filmmaker to be aware of the location’s impact on the scene they’re shooting.

What advice would you give to local people who want to make films?

Write and shoot within your means. Get involved with Call the Shots and Roots to Shoots and take the time to get to know your fellow filmmakers and collaborate. Be instinctual, listen and observe carefully and stay calm!

If you could have written, produced or directed any film in history what would it have been and why?

Jaws. It’s a masterpiece. It was shot against so many odds and yet it emerged as one of the most engaging films ever made. It’s a proper film text. From the performances, the visual style, the music, the direction. Everything. It considers the audience with such precision that there could be no superior version of this film.

What is the best song that you have heard from a film and why?

Falling Slowly‘ from the film Once.

It encapsulated the process of falling in love within the process of making music so wonderfully and teases out all of the nuances of a genuine simpatico relationship.

Keep in touch with Brian and his work via Facebook and on Twitter @ShortNightFilms.

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