Have You Heard? is a series in which the team from Pod Bible meet the people behind the podcasts you may not have heard of yet. While the Oh. My. Pod. section in the magazine gives a quick shout out to shows of that ilk, Have You Heard aims to go deeper in an effort to spread awareness for shows that deserve more exposure! In this fourth edition we sat down with David Lee of Fifty Shades of Dave…
Who are you and what’s your podcast about?
My name is David Lee, writer of Fifty Shades of Dave which I would say is definitely not your typical podcast. I think it can be best described as a five-part tongue- in-cheek audio drama about male mental health, which is a mouthful! My podcast takes my life story- the good, the bad, and the downright absurd- and fictionalises it. My whole life and aspects of my personality are distributed across the characters in this audio drama, from brassy and promiscuous Rosie Barfield, to self-conscious Neil Folding, to Dave, who gives voice to the intense mental health issues I’ve faced throughout my life. Turning my own story into a drama gave me a way to voice all the different disparate aspects of who I am. I wanted a way to discuss my mental health, and certain life events (no spoilers) that are tough to talk about, in a way which gave me some creative freedom. I didn’t want this to be “The David Lee” show- just me telling stories about my life. I wanted to let go, pass those stories onto characters and actors who can tell them far better than I ever could! The story follows Rosie and Neil, hosts of popular local radio show The Greenhouse, and their comfortable, perhaps monotonous, lives. However, their lives are changed forever when they receive a tweet from Dave- a depressed man reaching out to their call-in show for help. They try to help Dave live on air- and that’s where things start to go wrong.
What was the first podcast you ever listened to?
I know it may sound boring, but the first podcast I listened to is so typical- it’s Serial. I know that’s so many people’s first podcast and definitely not the cool answer, but it’s definitely one of the podcasts responsible for the huge boom in podcasting recently. The way it broke down the story piece by piece, made you jump between believing Adnan Syed was guilty and innocent, it just got me hooked! I don’t think podcasts were really on my radar before that.
Why did you decide to start podcasting in the first place?
I have been saying for years that I should turn my life into a book and call it Fifty Shades of Dave. It started off as a joke- something I would say to get a laugh- but then I started thinking “what if I actually did turn it into a book?”. Turns out, writing an autobiography about your mental health issues isn’t as fun as it sounds, and I never really made any progress, and kept shelving the idea, only to try and pick it up again later. Then, I ended up in contact with someone who ran a recording studio, and told him about Fifty Shades of Dave, and we started to talk about turning it into a podcast. I’d left my job to care for my mother, and had a bit of time on my hands, and so committed to turning it into an audio drama. Once it clicked that I could tell my story creatively through characters and narrative, it was like a light switched on, and you couldn’t stop me! After years of not getting it done, the podcast form suddenly seemed like the perfect solution; the perfect vehicle to tell this story.
Which podcasts do you take inspiration from?
I’d say my biggest inspiration is Made of Human, hosted by Sofie Hagan. It’s such an amazing podcast- and she has the most amazing guests. It’s so refreshing to see someone hosting a podcast with such a diverse range of backgrounds, giving voices to people who don’t always get to be heard. I also love how she learns from her own mistakes- if she says something that’s not OK, or crosses a line, she’s not afraid to hold her hands up and say she was wrong, learn, and improve. I think that’s something we could all learn to do better- listen to others, and try and do better. It’s reassuring that nobody really knows how to do the life thing, and to hear that from such a range of hilarious, interesting guests makes for good listening. It definitely gave me a push to tell my story with total honesty- even if it is in a different form.
Who’s your dream guest for the podcast?
That’s a tough question, because of the form of the podcast. As it’s an audio drama, and season one has finished, it’s tough to say who I’d want to use in my cast. I think one thing I’d like to do is work with other writers, and other people who suffer with mental health issues, and help them to tell their stories. Also, Ricky Gervais’s After Life was a massive inspiration for me in writing this- that mixture of sad and funny is exactly what I was going for- so to work with him really would be a dream come true!
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt so far as a podcaster?
Turns out, it’s really difficult. I’m ashamed to say that when I started this process, I thought it would be far easier than it was. Writing it was just the start, then I had to cast all the parts, get my actors in the same place at the same time (that’s no easy feat), record it, and then came the editing and promotion. It’s been amazing, I wouldn’t change it for the world, but I massively appreciate the work that people put into making these amazing things, more so than I ever could have before!
Which episode would you say is the perfect introduction to your podcast?
That’s an easy one- Episode One- “Those in Glass Houses”! Fifty Shades of Dave is a five-part comedy/drama/sad-com even, and if you miss the first episode, then you miss out on some crucial establishing of characters. We’re also releasing an omnibus version- all five episodes in one- on 20th October, so if you have a couple of hours to spare, then you can listen to “The Hole Lot” version instead!
Where can the Pod Bible readers find out more about you?
We’re on Twitter as @fsodofficial, Facebook as Fifty Shades of Dave, Instagram as @fsodofficial. You can also search for #wearealldave. Fifty Shades of Dave the podcast can be found pretty much everywhere you listen to podcasts- good old Anchor! And if you want to get in touch, you can always drop me a message on any of my social media channels- I’m always happy to chat, which is, as you’ll discover, a very important thing to offer.
Listen to 50 Shades of Dave on Spotify now!