“It’s based on my first experience of falling in love and delves into the complexities of coming to terms with your sexuality while being hopelessly in love”

ILLUSTRATION BY ISOBEL PLATT

Jazz And Dice is a warm and witty new BBC Radio 4 drama about family, love and secretly dating your best friend. We’ve all been there, right? 

Nevaeh, also known as Dice, is secretly dating her best friend Jazz. When Jazz goes off to university, Dice is left heartbroken, her mother left to pick up the pieces. 

A year later, Dice is moving on, having shed the shame around her queerness, when she finds out Jazz is engaged to a man she met at uni. When Dice and her mother make the long drive to her wedding, the stage is set for a dramatic finale. Will Jazz go through with her vows?

In her BBC radio 4 debut, new writer Leanne Allen’s protagonist is a wheelchair user, like herself, but the drama is not about disability: it’s about love. 

“My disability is the least interesting thing about my life” says writer Leanne Allen

Leanne tells DIVA: “Jazz and Dice is a love story between two teenage girls and one of them happens to use a wheelchair. It’s based on my first experience of falling in love and delves into the complexities of coming to terms with your sexuality while being hopelessly in love and trying to navigate the ways that both of those things alter your world.” 

On the incidental nature of disability in Jazz And Dice, Leanne says: “I feel like there’s an assumption that as a writer who uses a wheelchair (I have Cerebral Palsy), I must want to write about being disabled, or that somehow it’s my duty to tell those stories and while I agree authentic stories about disability are incredibly important, it’s just not the type of thing I want to write about all the time. 

“In the nicest possible way, I feel like my disability is the least interesting thing about my life. It forms far, far less of my identity than the fact that I’m a woman who is queer.” 

Starring Claire Rushbrook (Secrets And Lies, Home Front), Carly Houston (BBC Three’s Crip Tales) and Coronation Street’s Lucy Fallon, Krishna Istha co-produces with Polly Thomas.

Polly says: “Naked Productions, an audio indie based in Manchester, is thrilled to have made Jazz And Dice by exciting new writer Leanne Allen, with a fantastic and diverse cast. 

“At its heart, it’s a story about different kinds of love, brilliantly told from the viewpoint of a young, wheelchair driving lesbian women, raised by a single mum. It’s funny, poignant, clever and triumphant – just like Dice herself!”

Polly adds: “Radio is a medium of incredible access and power: it can get into your home, your car, your phone, opening out a world of information, entertainment and companionship. It has really come into its own during lockdown, as we can work remotely using online software to create top quality audio drama and audio has been a lifeline for so many people when live events have been closed down.” 

What would a younger Leanne make of Jazz And Dice? “If 17-year-old me knew that I’d be touching on her story and telling it to the nation, I can’t work out if she’d be horrified or beside herself with excitement,” Leanne says. “But present day me is very excited to be telling this story!” 

Jazz And Dice is broadcast Monday 7 June at 2pm on BBC Radio 4.

DIVA magazine celebrates 27 years in print in 2021. If you like what we do, then get behind LGBTQI media and keep us going for another generation. Your support is invaluable. 

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