Thought-provoking new BBC Drama Lost Boys & Fairies follows a gay couple adopting a child

Tonight sees the premiere of a moving, funny and thought-provoking new drama series on BBC One – Lost Boys & Fairies. Described as a ‘coming of middle-age’ story it follows gay couple Andy and Gabriel as they go through the process of adopting a child.

Frank, funny, bold and heart-wrenching, the narrative explores the complicated emotions that are stirred up as the two men begin their journey towards parenthood. Created and written by Welsh writer Daf James, it was partly inspired by his own experience of adopting three children, aged between two and five, with his husband. The three-part series was produced for BBC One, BBC Cymru Wales and BBC iPlayer by Leeds-based production company Duck Soup Films, co-founded by Bekki Wray-Rogers, Libby Durdy and Jessica Brown Meek.

Prior to establishing the company in 2017, between them they produced and line-produced some of the UK’s highest quality television drama including Shane Meadows’ multi-BAFTA award-winning TV series This Is England and the international Emmy award-winning Utopia. In addition, all three had previously worked in independent film as producers.

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“Lost Boys & Fairies came to us in 2019 through the BBC Writers Room which is a scheme to bring the work of new writers to the screen,” says Brown Meek. “Daf is an established theatre writer, but had not written much for television before. They take production companies from all over the industry and new writers and organise a kind of speed-dating event. We fell in love with Daf pretty much straight away – he is warm and funny and very talented.” Wray Rogers adds: “His work is doing exactly what we want to do which is taking people on a journey somewhere thought-provoking – this script matched up very much with what we are looking to make.” Durdy agrees: “It’s always first and foremost about that relationship with the creator. The story was amazing but also quite quickly we could see with Daf that we would be able to work together to allow him to put across his most authentic voice.”

Leeds-based production company Duck Soup Films, Marshall Court, Leeds. Pictured from the left are Bekki Wray Rogers, Jessica Brown Meek and Libby Durdy. The company's first big commission Lost Boys & Fairies is on BBC One this month. Picture: Simon HulmeLeeds-based production company Duck Soup Films, Marshall Court, Leeds. Pictured from the left are Bekki Wray Rogers, Jessica Brown Meek and Libby Durdy. The company's first big commission Lost Boys & Fairies is on BBC One this month. Picture: Simon Hulme
Leeds-based production company Duck Soup Films, Marshall Court, Leeds. Pictured from the left are Bekki Wray Rogers, Jessica Brown Meek and Libby Durdy. The company's first big commission Lost Boys & Fairies is on BBC One this month. Picture: Simon Hulme

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They were all taken with the new perspective that James’s script brought to the subject of adoption. “The portrayals we often see on screen can be quite limited,” says Wray Rogers. “Daf’s brilliant storytelling opened it out so much more.” The company then began developing the script with James and working towards making a pilot episode. By the end of that year, they had a pilot ready, but like so many creative projects that began in 2019, it is was stalled by the Covid pandemic.

“The BBC was incredibly supportive, using that time to turn the pilot into three episodes,” says Wray Rogers. Then there was the hurdle of the shooting backlog, which meant that filming didn’t actually begin until 2023, with the whole series shot entirely on location in Cardiff. “We spent quite a lot of time down to Cardiff; we wanted to make sure to embed the series and the story in the Welsh Queer community,” says Wray Rogers. While they were in Cardiff, the team worked out of the offices of LGBTQ+ film and media organisation Iris Prize and there was a commitment to inclusivity which is represented in the diverse cast and crew.

One of the two main characters – Gabriel (played by Welsh actor Sion Daniel Young) – is a drag artist and significant parts of the action are set in Neverland, the club where he performs. “Neverland is actually based on a club night that used to be in Leeds called Vague,” explains Durdy. “It was a really diverse and inclusive place, a safe space where everyone was welcome.”

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Leeds-based production company Duck Soup Films, Marshall Court, Leeds. Pictured from the left are Bekki Wray Rogers, Libby Durdy and Jessica Brown Meek. The company's first big commission Lost Boys & Fairies is on BBC One this month. Picture: Simon HulmeLeeds-based production company Duck Soup Films, Marshall Court, Leeds. Pictured from the left are Bekki Wray Rogers, Libby Durdy and Jessica Brown Meek. The company's first big commission Lost Boys & Fairies is on BBC One this month. Picture: Simon Hulme
Leeds-based production company Duck Soup Films, Marshall Court, Leeds. Pictured from the left are Bekki Wray Rogers, Libby Durdy and Jessica Brown Meek. The company's first big commission Lost Boys & Fairies is on BBC One this month. Picture: Simon Hulme

All round, working on Lost Boys & Fairies seems to have been a very positive experience. “A lot of love was poured into the production by a lot of people,” says Durdy. “It was a joy to be on set.” It even led to Duck Soup Films setting up a Cardiff branch led by producer Sophie Francis whose credits include In My Skin, Torchwood and the Welsh language S4C series Gwaith/Cartref (which translates as Home/Work).

Setting up Duck Soup Films seven years ago came out of a collective desire to do things a little differently. “We wanted to make something where we could have a better work-life balance,” says Brown Meek. “We all had families and we lived up here so why not create something that would enable us to be based here.”

The company ethos recognises that kindness and treating people well are as important as creativity and ambition. “You have to graft in this industry, so we are going to work hard and make high quality productions,” says Durdy. “But also, as a company we will look after ourselves and the people who work with us – that is a daily conversation.” Flexibility and a willingness to listen is key to their processes. “It is at the heart of everything we do,” says Meek Brown. “We are always open to different ways of working – job sharing, offering maternity, paternity and adoption leave. That really matters to us.”

All three have strong Yorkshire connections – both Brown Meek and Durdy were born and brought up in the county, while Wray Rogers, a southerner, moved north to study at the University of Leeds “and I loved it” so she decided to stay.

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Fra Free as Andy and Sion Daniel Young as Gabriel in Lost Boys & Fairies. Picture: BBC/Duck Soup Films/Simon RidgwayFra Free as Andy and Sion Daniel Young as Gabriel in Lost Boys & Fairies. Picture: BBC/Duck Soup Films/Simon Ridgway
Fra Free as Andy and Sion Daniel Young as Gabriel in Lost Boys & Fairies. Picture: BBC/Duck Soup Films/Simon Ridgway

They acknowledge that it is tough for the creative industries at the moment but they are committed to aims and their vision. “There is a great sense of community here,” says Durdy. “We have a really great team around us who are all on board with what we want to produce and that is really exciting.”

They have a slate of projects in the pipeline across film and television and they are proud that they can offer work to local creatives. “The crews in Yorkshire and Leeds are absolutely incredible,” says Durdy. “There is such a wealth of talent up here.” Ultimately their aim, says Wray Rogers, is to make work that is “thought-provoking, entertaining and that makes the world a better place.”

Lost Boys & Fairies is on BBC One on Mondays at 9pm and on BBC iPlayer.

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