Exploring the hidden beauty, musicality, and personal stories found in a supermarket over one day. Supermarket Symphony is a composed radio feature commissioned by BBC Radio 4. This blog charts the production process.
Supermarket Symphony (Radio 4, Friday) was one of those transfixing radio experiences. Nina Perry's composed feature about the hidden beauty and rhythms of a supermarket was a delightful, life-affirming half-hour.
It felt a bit like a Between the Ears programme in its use of haunting music to amplify its themes, but also Lives in a Landscape with accompaniment on cello, violin and viola. Somehow, it wasn't patronising to the people whose stories it lighted upon, and it didn't feel self-indulgent for a moment.
The reason for that was a deft blend of supermarket characters who were both ordinary and absolutely extraordinary. They spoke of the mundane routines ("then I do chocolates and chewing gum") but also the theatricality of opening up the shop, and performing to customers. Julie, at her till and cackling through fleeting banter, recalled one couple saying, "You've made us feel so good we're going to go home and make love".
Michael, a 75-year-old working on the cheese counter, remembered a customer buying dolcelatte and giving it back to him as a birthday present. "Out of the blue he did this for me," he said, close to tears.
This original and hugely moving take on a part of modern life that's often derided as soulless was full of such moments: soaring, surprising and enriching.