Duck Soup Films Founders – Rebekah Wray-Rogers, Jessica Brown-Meek & Libby Durdy on winning the commission for their indie’s first show, BBC1 drama Lost Boys & Fairies.

BBC1 drama Lost Boys & Fairies, written by the wonderful Daf James, is Duck Soup Films’ first show … and it’s been worth the long wait!  It turns out, for a tiny independent, based in the North of England, getting brilliant High End TV Dramas developed and commissioned is bloody hard.  And as a new company, it’s understandably a risk and so it seems the bar is even higher but when Daf’s first draft hit our desks in 2019 we had a strong feeling this one could go all the way.

Lost Boys & Fairies takes the audience on an emotional roller coaster, with added sparkle and grit, whilst exploring the familiar family roles of parents and children. It tells the story of Gabriel (Sion Daniel Young) and his partner Andy (Fra Fee) who have decided they want to adopt. Jackie (Elizabeth Berrington) is their social worker, and whilst assessing their suitability, Gabriel is forced to confront memories of his own childhood and past traumas; the question is, can Gabe overcome his demons and step up to the plate – enough to be a responsible parent to his own child?

Partly inspired by his own life as a Welsh gay parent with adopted kids, Daf has depicted the most wonderful authentic characters that audiences are falling in love with.  Part authentic Cardiff, part magical realist fantasy of Gabe’s inner psyche and part Queer nightclub Neverland, where Gabe is a performer extraordinaire – the world is vivid, funny, magical, honest and surprising. And at its heart, Lost Boys & Fairies is fundamentally about the importance of compassion.

We met Daf through the BBC writers’ room and Lost Boys & Fairies was one of the ideas he had applied with. As a writer, he appealed to us because he was so open and generous, clearly a huge talent and a joy to work with.  Once written, the script stood out because, apart from engaging emotional storytelling, Daf’s writing was full of joy, hope, humour, and honesty. At Duck Soup Films, we want to make great entertaining work but are equally determined to take our responsibility as content makers seriously. To produce shows that, whilst they may challenge and provoke, ultimately make a positive difference to the world we all live in. No rehashing old tired and outdated stereotypes but instead inviting audiences into worlds they may or may not otherwise experience and allowing them to be drawn through those stories with compassion and empathy. Lost Boys & Fairies did that in spades.  The subject matter was also of particular interest as one of us – Rebekah – has adopted and had experienced fostering and adoption whilst she was growing up. It was a subject close to her heart and one we all felt passionate about portraying positively but honestly.

The greenlight came close at the end of 2019 when we were called in by the wonderful BBC Drama Commissioning team to meet Charlotte Moore – and then Covid hit. Thankfully, the BBC were hugely supportive and enabled us to use that quite extraordinary time to develop the pilot into the three-part series. The journey was creatively and emotionally intense as Daf dug deep and we worked with him to help find the most dramatic way to tell the story. We all brought our full selves into the script development space and listened intently to what Daf was trying to say. Our aim was to bring our experience of facilitating and story-editing to the table without allowing our unconscious bias’ to shut down directions that felt important and authentic to Daf and we hope that has meant what is on screen now is fully Daf James – rich, vivid and new.

The greenlight eventually came at the end of 2021 but – a constant challenge in the current climate – we needed more cash. The brilliant All3 and Creative Wales made up the not insubstantial difference. But the disruption of Covid continued and the post Covid production backlog at the BBC meant we couldn’t actually go into production until 2023 which happened to work in our favour as we’d had a greenlight on another show.

In the meantime, we attached Sophie Francis as an Exec and to help set up Duck Soup Films Cardiff. James Kent our brilliant director loved the scripts as soon as he read them, and we were delighted when he said yes.  He is a proper grown-up, a hugely talented Film & TV director whose body of work speaks for itself, and one of the nicest human beings you will ever be lucky enough to meet.

 We then discovered the gem of a Producer that is Adam Knopf, to whom we will be eternally grateful. New to us but not new to Cardiff, it was Adam’s access to the Welsh production community crossed with the Welsh queer community, that was the final piece of the jigsaw puzzle. Adam had spent the previous decade growing what he describes as his ‘production family’ in Cardiff. He set up our Lost Boys & Fairies production offices co-habiting with IRIS, the LGBTQ+ Film & Media organisation. In order to drive forward the authenticity Daf had drawn into the scripts, we needed to involve as much of the Welsh/queer community as possible in the making of the show and Adam did just that. As out of London creatives ourselves, we felt a huge synergy with Cardiff and it was a delight and a privilege to shoot there.  The cast and crew were made up of a wonderfully diverse range of super-talented humans who poured their love for Daf’s scripts into their work and we think you can see that love sparkling through on the screen.


Pic Credit: Lucy Morris @bonnyandbear

Jon Creamer

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