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Catherine Johnson on her new Bristol show Dappers

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Catherine Johnson talks to Alex Lovell and David Garmston

Mamma Mia writer Catherine Johnson, who grew up in Bristol, has written a new TV show about the city for the BBC.

Dappers tells the story of two young mothers who live in housing-association flats in Clifton.

Here, Catherine tells us about her love for the Bristol accent and how regional dialects are important to her.

Catherine Johnson
By Catherine Johnson
Dappers writer

My family moved to Gloucestershire when I was eight years old and immediately I had to learn a new language.

"I need daps," I told my Mum, after my first day at school. Neither of us knew what these "daps" were, but I imagined they were some kind of fruit - a cross between a damson and an apple, perhaps?

It was a bit disappointing that daps turned out to be gym-shoes, but by the end of that week, I'd gone native.

I said "I" instead of "me", as in "don't tell I, tell 'ee"; I went "cherry-knocking" and "scrumping"; I could drive a tractor ...

Well, not quite, but I did see the Wurzels at Charfield Village Fete, which has to be the principal rite of passage for all of us from these here parts.

I left Wickwar for Yate, then Bristol. I never lost my love for new words, my delight in dialect.

Recently, I met a group of young writers at the Everyman Theatre in Liverpool and we talked about the need for strong regional voices.

My first play was written for the Bristol Old Vic and I have always identified myself as a writer from Bristol before anything else.

I know this city, I know the accents, the humour, the local references that mean nothing to outsiders - "cheers, drive"! Can anyone blame me for wanting to share this? I think Bristol's great!

With Dappers, my comedy/drama pilot, I've shamelessly exploited my own experiences as a single mum in a housing-association flat in Clifton in an attempt to get the rest of the nation going "all right, me babber?" or "cider me up, landlord!".

One of our most famous exports, Banksy, is best known for keeping schtum. I want to put a Bristolian-bang into the language.




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