Nicola Sturgeon to play herself saving the UK from aliens in BBC Radio 4 drama

'I'll leave it to others to guess if fending off creatures from space was easier than dealing with my political opponents'

Britons turning on their radios in the not too distant future will be greeted by the sound of Nicola Sturgeon’s voice, calmly informing them that the British Government has fallen and it has been left up to Scotland to take control of the rest of the UK in the hope of restoring order.

Rather than a genuine news broadcast following the result of the EU referendum, the scenario will be played out as part of a new BBC adaptation recorded for Radio 4, in which the Scottish First Minister is left in charge of the UK in the wake of a devastating attack by extraterrestrials. 

Ms Sturgeon, who will play herself in the adaptation of John Wyndham’s classic 1953 science fiction novel The Kraken Wakes, was asked to take part by the Scottish crime writer Val McDermid who has adapted it for radio. The author backed a Yes vote in the run-up to 2014’s independence referendum and the First Minister is known to be a fan of her work.

The First Minister recorded her part at BBC Scotland’s studios in Edinburgh, which are close to the Scottish Parliament. “I’ll leave it to others to guess if fending off creatures from outer space was any easier than dealing with some of my political opponents,” she told The Herald newspaper. 

“I’m well used to being in a radio studio but this was a bit different. I doubt I’ll be moving into theatre any time soon,” she added.

The Kraken Wakes features a new orchestral score composed by Alan Edward Williams, which will “play the part” of the sea monster. The two-part drama was recorded in January, with the BBC Philharmonic providing an accompaniment.

The adaptation stars Tamsin Greig and Paul Higgins as the reporters Mike and Phyllis Watson, who are on a honeymoon cruise when they see strange red lights falling out of the sky. The attack by aliens melts polar ice caps and causes sea levels to rise, devastating the Earth. Ms McDermid’s version, a modern retelling of the original story, is believed to play on current fears about climate change.

“There’s chaos in London, there’s no police force, and the British Government has collapsed, but it’s the Scottish Government that survives and tries to re-establish civic order,” Higgins said. “Mine and Tamsin’s characters are always twiddling with the radio, trying to get a signal, and they hear Nicola Sturgeon saying the Scottish Government is going to take control.”

The BBC said of the programme, that is due to be broadcast later this year: “The Kraken Wakes was recorded as a live performance in two parts for Radio 4 and more details will be announced in due course.”

Ms Sturgeon is not the first SNP leader to try her hand at acting: her predecessor Alex Salmond once played the part of a ghost in a Pakistani soap opera featuring a haunted Scottish castle. Although the non-speaking role saw him appear on screen for only a second, the former First Minister said he “took some acting lessons” from the SNP supporter Sir Sean Connery.

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