A Transmedia Adaption – GB84

In Bellythink’s ongoing series of transmedia adaptions, here is a suggested approach as to how to make a transmedia adaption of David Peace’s 2004 novel ‘GB84’.

David Peace wrote the acclaimed ‘The Red Riding Quartet’ which was adapted for television by Channel 4.


The Strike

According to the jacket blurb, the miners’ strike in 1984 was the closest Britain has come to civil war in sixty years. So 1984 was indeed a tumultuous year – the mine unions clashed with Thatcher’s Government, nuclear power lurked in the shadows as the energy of the future, the police became a weapon of the State, dirty tricks carried out by the intelligence services placed agent provocateurs into the ranks of the strikers, ‘The Enemy Within’ and ‘Divide and Rule’ were common headlines, flying pickets, mass battles and killings of strikers and scabs escalated the strike to a point where it threatened the very heart of the Establishment. It was an endgame situation the Government would win.

World Of GB84

Peace creates a solid sense of time and place based on his very detailed and comprehensive research. He threads factual events into his fiction so that fictional characters and events exit alongside real ones.

‘GB84’ is relentlessly brutal in its portrayal of cynical politicians, shady business figures, corrupt police officers and desperate union men. The political intrigue, boardroom negotiations, decline of the unions and the violent struggle for the coalfields are populated with fictional and real characters and set the backdrop for the historical action.

To treat it as a transmedia adaption would need a historical context to be established and this could be done with a timeline of events that also gives a structure to the fiction.

Here are some examples of how to expand the material in an organic way;

  • Webisodes depicting the narratives of the two flying pickets, Martin and Peter – the drama would show how the strike tears their lives apart. It would incorporate newsreel footage.
  • The lives of the surviving characters continue after the strike events portrayed in the book – what happens to them after the strike?
  • A brief history of the coal industry.
  • A fictional ‘catch-up’ documentary that asks fictional and real veterans of the strike what it was like.
  • Interviews with political characters from the text, including extracts from their diaries and memoirs.
  • Fictional secret papers describing the role of big business in events.
  • A timeline of historical events.
  • A real-time strategy and resource management game depicting Strikers v. Police – the cat and mouse game between flying pickets and the police and the medieval-like battles they fought.

A transmedia adaption would be an interesting way of digging deeper into events that surrounded one of recent history’s tragic stories and to make it accessible to a greater audience.

‘GB84’ by David Peace.

Richard Davis
About the author

Richard - The owner of all stories, copy and text at Bellyfeel. Always been a writer, always will be.

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