Student’s top radio award for slum drama

Robert Forshaw
Robert Forshaw

A young Wiganer is enjoying the sound of success after his radio drama set in the Brazilian slums won an international award in the Big Apple.

Robert Forshaw, who is originally from Swinley but now lives in Salford, received the World’s Best Student Radio Drama prize at a glamorous ceremony in a New York penthouse.

Rio de Janeiro, where Robert's radio drama is set

Rio de Janeiro, where Robert's radio drama is set

His drama, A Favela, is a gripping mixture of crime and romance set in the slums of Rio de Janeiro and explores the issues of clearing up the city’s worst crime hotspots in order to host the football World Cup and the Olympic Games.

The drama was the 23-year-old’s final project on his degree in TV and radio at Salford University and Robert says he is stunned to win the award given out by the New York Radio Festival.

He said: “I won an award at uni for A Favela and my tutors said they thought it was good enough to be entered for this.

“I kept getting updates. First I was told it was in the top 10 and I would get a certificate, then it was the top three which was fantastic and then a phone call said I had won the whole prize. It was amazing.

“I was actually on holiday in Edinburgh at the time so the phone location wasn’t great. I was talking to my tutors and they said I might be able to go to New York, and to be honest I thought the line had gone a bit dodgy. It was a real shock to be sent out there.

“The drama is about the whole gentrification of the city and what’s going on in the slums. As it’s a radio drama I wanted a really rich sound setting so I chose the carnival and put samba music throughout the piece.

“I also looked at the problems with crime in the city, how they are pushing people out of the favelas and gangs are going away but other criminals are coming in.”

During his visit to New York Robert toured a couple of well-known American radio stations and even briefly met impressionist Jon Culshaw, who also has links to the borough having gone to St John Rigby College.

He created the piece as an undergraduate and was assuured he had the local detail correct by several Brazilian friends also studying at the university.

Former Standish Community High School and Wigan and Leigh College student Robert is currently doing a Master’s degree in marketing at Salford.

He hopes to use his newly-acquired business skills to get into the media industry but says that having been inspired by radio as a college student he is still hoping to continue programme-making.

Robert said: “I’m hoping to do more programmes as a hobby and after uni I would like to do radio advertising or at least something geared towards marketing. I have a few ideas written down for the future.

“I just like telling stories and radio allows you to do that in a really creative way. I see it as a bridge between books and TV. You can imagine all the setting but it is read to you. I was a big drama student in high school but decided as it was quite difficult to get into I could be behind camera instead and went into media studies.

“At college I wanted to do TV but then completely fell in love with radio. Wigan and Leigh College had a great department with its own little radio studio.

“That was the reason I chose Salford as well. I could do both radio and TV and I didn’t have to decide between them.”