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Paul Sellar's satire takes aim at a new London skyscraper and the deals done to get it off the ground.


BWW Review: HOW TO BUILD A SUPERTOWER, BBC SoundsYou can't miss them - which is half the point of course - the gleaming glass and steel structures puncturing the pre-Covid, pre-Brexit London skyline with names like The Cheesegrater, The Gherkin and The Phallus. Okay, I made the last one up, but who would be surprised?

We know they cost an arm and a leg to build (often a migrant worker's arm or leg to be fair) and they're often as empty as a Boris Johnson promise of good times to come, so it's a pound to a penny that there's dodgy goings-on somewhere in a game in which you might end up with a penny on the pound.

Max Silver has travelled the short geographical distance from a Hatton Garden jewellers to The City, but is now faced with a rather larger financial distance to traverse. It doesn't help that, as the more legit sources of finance come up empty, the less legit sources come up hungry. His daughter, Zara, is a very smart cookie, but brought up with Home Counties polish rather than East End cunning, and that hasn't worked as well on the Albanian gangsters as she had hoped. Max tells us how we got here.

After some incidental music (which never failed to distract me as it sounds exactly like The Inbetweeners' theme) Robert Glenister channels his inner Bob Hoskins to growl out an interior monologue while an ever shadier cast of dodgy developers surf the zeitgeist all the way to the top floor of The Hourglass (brilliant name!) There's a bit of Danny Dyer's wide boys on the make vehicle The Business in there too - what a guilty pleasure that movie is - as Arthur Daleyish types are drawn into murkier and murkier waters.

En route, we meet a revolving cast of characters that, shorn of visuals, I sometimes struggled to identify and locate within the narrative and an array of accents that spans the globe as easily as 21st century loan swaps. One thing never changes though - the bigger the prize, the more money you need to stake to win it and the less pleasant the consequent company.

Paul Sellar's script bites the lot of the right arses with its satire (the media don't come out too well, so that's us telled) but much of its appeal depends on whether you find the jargon and glamour of high finance and low morals fascinating. I'll confess that I've always been far less interested in how to build a supertower than in what you can see from the bar at the top of the supertower. Three hours of this four-part radio play later, I'm afraid that's still the case.

How To Build A Supertower is available on BBC Sounds.

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From This Author Gary Naylor