BADAPPLE Theatre Company’s Theatre On Your Doorstep van is parked up, the hand brake applied by the Coronavirus. So instead of travelling to Yorkshire’s smallest and hardest-to-reach village halls this spring, the Green Hammerton company is switching to Theatre On Your Desktop.

“At a time when arts projects of all kinds are on hold, we’re keeping spirits up by making freely available podcasts of one of our best-loved productions, Back To The Land Girls,” says artistic director Kate Bramley, who founded the grassroots touring company 21 years ago. “Now you can access relaxed readings of our popular World War Two comedy in a series of free ten-minute podcasts.”

Explaining the rationale behind the Desktop initiative, Kate says: “For the past 21 years, we’ve been touring original productions to rural communities that do not normally get the chance to host shows. But the creative team decided the best way to keep the plays coming during lockdown was to bring them direct to people’s desktops and hopefully spread a little virtual cheer.”

Back To The Land Girls is an apt choice for Badapple’s debut virtual venture, given the parallels with the strictures of 2020 life in Covid-19 lockdown. “This historic play of ours is surprisingly resonant at this time as our Land Girls are facing life-changing times head on, but are resilient and manage to triumph,” says Kate.

The story follows the adventures of Buff and Biddy, two young women who volunteer for the Women’s Land Army in Yorkshire, played by Frances Tither and Sarah Raine.

“Expect a humorous look at Buff and Biddy’s experiences as they are bonded by hard physical work, back ache and plenty of banter,” says Kate.

The podcast episodes were recorded during April by Kate, Frances and Sarah via Zoom from their homes. “The quality reflects that, but there is a relaxed feel to the readings that our listeners have commented they are enjoying,” says Kate.

“Hopefully, as the series develops, we’ll be able to upgrade the recording process.”

Looking ahead, Kate says: “We’re hoping to expand the series to include more shows from the Badapple back catalogue – we have more than 20 years of plays to choose from – and we’re already looking at the possibility of delivering The Thankful Village, as it’s very resonant for rural communities and also those who are missing family."

What else? "Probably The Carlton Colliers, for the football feel-good factor, and also Eddie And The Gold Tops, our ultimate rural touring Sixties’ music show," says Kate. “Anything upbeat and fun, so we can spread good cheer around out isolated audiences.”

There is the possibility of new material too. “Subject to funding, we hope to commission some new short plays for the podcast,” reveals Kate. Watch this space.

Kate has been “surprisingly busy” in lockdown with a combination of home-schooling and various creative projects on the back burner. “We’re still preparing for our next live tour of Elephant Rock, which we’re delighted has received Arts Council support," she says.

Until Covid-19’s pandemic spread intervened, dates were in the diary for Badapple to tour Kate’s latest play to 30 venues from April 16 to May 31. The Elephant Rock tour has been rearranged for September and October, pending Coronavirus governmental policy updates.

“But many of our partners are now re-considering moving it again to Spring 2021,” says Kate. “It’s a case of wait and see.

“We’ve had a full read-through of the new play – done virtually – and a lot of good discussions, so it’s moving along well.”

Theatre journalist Lyn Gardner wrote an opinion piece in The Stage on May 4 speculating on whether rural touring shows could be the first to be released from the lockdown prohibitions. Kate, however, strikes a cautionary tone: “Unfortunately, I think Lyn has overlooked the [often older] age of the hall organisers and their community audiences and the latent fear factor, which I believe will make them unlikely to want to socialise in groups at all.

“I think she’s right about the flexibility of the seats, i.e. seats can be spaced apart to give social distance, and arts events that are ultra-local must be safer. But audiences would still have to move to and from the venue safely and, of course, the performers would have to be safe.”

For more details of how to download Back To The Land Girls via Podbean, go to

Charles Hutchinson