Page 3 Profile: Gerry Hughes, actor


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The Independent Online

Video killed the radio star?

Try telling Gerry Hughes that. A radio soap opera produced and performed by one man – Mr Hughes – has been revived by its creator to mark its 40th anniversary. Mr Hughes describes his show, Acrebury, depicting the inhabitants of a fictitious Wiltshire village, as being full of “gossip, scandal, affairs, murder, laughter, tears ... just everyday life”.

How did it start?

The first episode was broadcast on hospital radio in April 1974. It ran for 578 episodes until November 1985, when Mr Hughes suffered a bout of ill health. From 1994 it was aired on a daily basis on BBC Wiltshire. It ran for a further 1,558 instalments before being discontinued in 2000.

What compelled Mr Hughes to create a Wiltshire-based soap?

“I was very frustrated when I saw all these other stories based around London, Liverpool, Birmingham, the Midlands, the North, wherever,” he said. “We’ve got wonderful characters, ancient history and eye-catching places. I wanted to do something about it.”

Was it a success?

“For about the last year or so of its life, the afternoon episodes were repeated regionally right across the South-west,” Mr Hughes said. The show has even attracted fans from as far afield as New York and LA. Recordings of the soap are housed in the vaults of America’s Museum of Television and Radio.

How many characters can one man voice?

Mr Hughes, whose creative endeavour has earned him a Guinness World Record for the longest-running one-person serial, said: “I counted 85 at one point.” 

Will it return?

There are no plans to broadcast further instalments, but Mr Hughes intends to write a novel of Acrebury, so its future “will be in print or online”.