Former journalist and now actor from Peckham has first play performed on Radio 4

A former journalist-turned-actor will have his gritty first play broadcast on Radio 4 during peak listening time.

Martin Edwards, from Peckham Rye, wrote Death Knock about the difficult choices reporters face after murders, based on his own 10 years’ experience on newspapers and in the BBC newsrooom.

The Cambridge-educated 46-year-old, who once played God on the Jeremy Kyle Show, retrained as an actor at the Academy of Live and Recorded Arts at Clapham Junction.

He has performed on stage and screen, mostly notably Trafalgar Studios in the West End, Southwark Playhouse, on daytime television and in EastEnders.

His play, Death Knock – named after reporter jargon for visiting the home of a grieving family – is a semi-autobiographical drama exploring his time as a local reporter in the early 2000s 

Like the protagonist, Nathan, he wrestled with the dilemma of how much to ask the relatives about the person they have lost – and how not to come across as uncaring. For Nathan, it triggers a series of events that force him to confront the ghosts of his own past.

Martin said: “Despite being a trainee, those early days for me were more like a baptism of fire. Often, I would find myself at the scene of a murder jostling with seasoned journalists from national newspapers. One publication even dubbed my patch in Brent the ‘gun crime capital of Britain’.

“This was back when gun crime was a new phenomenon of the media-dubbed ‘Yardie Gangsters’. Sadly gun – and knife crime – in London now is fuelled by young men born in Britain. And its devastating impact is now felt across the capital.

“Fulfilling a life-long ambition to be a reporter – on the very patch where I grew up – raised complex questions around race, class and social mobility which still preoccupy me today.

“With theatres across the country going dark indefinitely, it is a great privilege to have the chance to write for radio.

“Reporters and playwrights are not so different. Both are looking for the drama of the story. Journalists use facts. For writers, fiction is the lie through which we tell the truth.”

His next play explores how political extremism threatens to destroy the bond between two best friends as the world around them tears itself apart after the killing of George Floyd and amid the so called “culture wars”.

Death Knock is on Radio 4 on Friday September 11 at 2.15pm.


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