Neighbourhood Watch: Behind The Scenes

Behind The Scenes offers a glimpse at some rarely known facts regarding the writing of Alan Ayckbourn's plays with material drawn from the Ayckbourn Archive at the University Of York and the playwright's personal archive.
  • Early concept notes for Neighbourhood Watch by Alan Ayckbourn offer a very different central couple. Martin and Hilda Krark (changed to Massie in the actual play) are still brother and sister, but Martin is described as fiercely right-wing who combined with his sister's strong religious beliefs make "a dangerous combination." In the actual play, Martin and Hilda begin the play as a slightly odd, but harmless couple who share the same faith and give no hint of strident political views. The concept notes also indicate they had a "dark childhood with a domineering father and a submissive mother." There is no reference or even hint of this in the play as written.
  • Alan Ayckbourn began writing Neighbourhood Watch in October 2010. Having completed the first act though, the playwright decided he was unhappy with the result, deleted the entire act and rewrote it. He would finish writing the play during the first week of November 2010.
  • Although comparisons were frequently made by the media between the subject of Neighbourhood Watch and the August 2011 UK riots which preceded the world premiere of the play, it was entirely coincidental. Alan Ayckbourn had actually written the play in October 2010 and no alterations were made to the play subsequent to that.
  • The relationship between Martin and his sister, Hilda, in the early scenes of the play was inspired by the television and radio sitcom Marriage Lines. This show, which ran on BBC1 from 1961 - 1966 and on BBC Radio from 1965 - 1967, starred Richard Briers and Prunella Scales as a newly married couple; although Martin and Hilda obviously are not in the same kind of relationship, Alan wanted a similar light and silly relationship before the play turns darker and the relationship becomes more strained.
  • The BBC documentary Imagine: Greetings From Scarborough, broadcast on 16 November 2011, featured a number of filmed extracts from Neighbourhood Watch. It also featured, much to the annoyance of the play's producer the Stephen Joseph Theatre, the final scene of the play which included a major spoiler; at the time of broadcast the play was still being performed in New York with a UK tour to follow.
Copyright: Simon Murgatroyd. Please do not reproduce without the permission of the copyright holder.