The first episode of Radio Cardiff's new soap, Sophia Square, is crisp, professional, and so well-assembled you might be forgiven for thinking the cast and crew hadn't been at this for years already. The strongest selling point of the new soap is its no-frills, character-driven presentation of everyday people from many cultural backgrounds set in a fictional square in Cardiff. It's a Cardiff where Delroy (Leon Charles) and Josh (Richard Shannon), voices issuing from the Casablanca Cafe, are as integral to the life of the Square as Sian (Jenny Ashton) and Mary (Georgina Sammut). Already the stage is set for conflict, and future episodes of Sophia Square will no doubt be as eventful as anything to be heard on The Archers.
Sophia Square is the morphed version of the hip and funny Lovely Jubilee, both masterminded by Alison Plant and produced by Rhys Phillips for Radio Cardiff. Sophia Square does two things that Lovely Jubilee didn’t: it introduces more characters and more potential conflict, and it actively seeks to include Cardiff’s Tiger Bay’s multicultural heritage. From these seeds, I think we’re going to hear some smashing radio drama.