Book Talk: Making Soapies in Kabul

Wed Jun 25, 2014 7:15pm EDT
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By Pauline Askin

SYDNEY (Reuters - To help keep herself safe and sane while making television dramas in Afghanistan, Australian producer Trudi-Ann Tierney devised an ever-more elaborate game of hide-and-seek in her head in case the Taliban launched a surprise attack.

Imagining what it would be like to hide in the top of a wardrobe, the middle of a lake or buried among a herd of goats, she mentally weighed the pros and cons of them all, as she explains in her new book "Making Soapies in Kabul".

A chain smoker who lived in the most polluted city in the world, she endured typhoid, six different types of stomach bugs and pneumonia during what she said was the most exhilarating experience of her life.

Tierney spoke to Reuters recently about living and working in war-torn Afghanistan which led to her first book.

Q: What were you doing there?

A: My first job in television in Kabul was to write an eight part drama serial for our Pashtun audience sponsored by a foreign embassy. It was to contain messages to counter narcotics. This concept of doing messaging through drama serials as opposed to a billboard was a very new idea in Afghanistan, where 86 percent of the country is illiterate.

Q: How does producing a TV series in Australia differ from Afghanistan?

A: In Australia you've got plenty of resources and experienced and trained staff. In Afghanistan we had mainly untrained young people because television was banned for 10 years under the Taliban. The average age of our company was 24 years old.   Continued...