Truesdale: Surverting the waves of genre and LGBT representation

Written by Liam Hall


For over a year, Kitto Maddrell has been writing the script for her debut podcast series known as, Truesdale. A genre-challenging tale of a nihilistic marine biologist -the namesake of the podcast – and his happy go lucky intern, Scott.

The drama series wasn’t always going to be a podcast as Maddrell reveals, it instead initially started its life as a part of her creative writing coursework. “It was only really when I pitched the project to Janet [who would later become the director] that the project really came alive, and this kind of started our creative relationship.” What started as an idea for a short story, would soon turn into a full-fledged audio series with hour long episodes spawning from ninety-page scripts.

Podcast radio dramas are now hugely popular, thanks to shows like Welcome to Night Vale and This American Life; but whilst Truesdale may be a ‘crime’ story, that is really its only comparison with these mainstream podcasts. Becoming bored of the stale genre conventions, Maddrell tells us she tried to, as much as possible, avoid clichés that come with comedy and crime dramas and in doing so has produced a series that stands alone in its genre.

One of the series’ key themes is nihilism: an idea not commonly explored in audio dramas “the plot revolves mostly around the personalities of Scott and Truesdale and the crimes occurring are more just vehicles to explore the disenfranchisement and search for passion in their lives.” It’s a heavy concept and one that appears to have dauntingly heavy subject matter at face value, but this is handled subtly – one of the series more intriguing facets.

Perhaps one of the most intriguing parts of the series is the fact that the majority of the characters (as well as the cast and crew) of the series are from the LGBTQA+ community. Without prior knowledge though, this fact isn’t explicit at first as the sexuality of the characters is revealed gradually as the series unfolds. It’s an idea that had come about by accident, but one that then became important thanks to a desire to improve representation of the community, which Maddrell is part of, as a Trans woman herself. She compares the situation to one that feminist author of the Tales from Earthsea series, Ursula K Le Guin, once found herself in when drafting a story centred solely around men with the female characters ending up nameless. Something that Maddrell realised she was also doing at the start and as a result Truesdale is very much a revolt against this idea.“The podcast has given diversity to a myriad of voices that aren’t often represented enough” Maddrell says. “We avoided white washing characters and did queer casting for queer characters which is what made the project so attractive to most people involved’.

In terms of what the audience can hope to expect when diving into the podcast, Maddrell has set the hopes for the series at an ambitious height: “People can expect 6 1 hour+ long episodes, twice as long as most BBC radio plays, which will be fully voice acted and foleyed [sic]. The series will also focus on topics like, the Philippines’ War on Drugs and Conservation”.

Truesdale can be found on Apple podcasts, as well other podcasting apps on Google Play.