Maurice Leitch was born in 1933 in Northern Ireland. His radio work includes plays, (as writer and producer), documentaries, features and short stories. He was originally a teacher in Antrim, then joined BBC Northern Ireland in 1960 as a producer/writer. In 1970, he moved to London to become a producer in the BBC’s Radio Drama department. From 1977 until 1989 he was editor of Radio Four’s Book at Bedtime. In 1989 he left the BBC to write full-time.
His first radio play was The Old House, in 1960. Radio Drama in London was a cultural powerhouse when Leitch joined in 1970. With Martin Esslin as Head of Radio Drama, it incorporated the Features Department (from 1967) which had produced Dylan Thomas’s Under Milk Wood and the verse dramas of Louis MacNeice. It covered the entire spectrum: soap opera to Samuel Beckett, interspersed with literary readings and features across three of the BBC’s four radio networks.
The well-known figures he followed in Broadcasting House were to receive a tribute in Tell Me About It (2007), Leitch’s novel about a young Irish features producer in the 1960s, trawling the streets of London with a tape recorder.
In the BBC Genome listing he is seen to have been involved in about 500 radio programmes; mainly as producer. He wrote about a dozen radio plays. A selection of his radio work, including his own plays, is listed below; most recent items at the top.
A Selection of Maurice Leitch's Radio Work
Afternoon Play: The Hands of Cheryl Boyd....2007
By Maurice Leitch. 13 Mar 07, rpt. 15 Jul 08. A young woman in a wheelchair falls foul of the law, but unknown to her an overzealous pastor plans for her salvation.
Cheryl Boyd ...... Zara Turner,
Harold Duff ...... Gerard Murphy,
Cheryl's Aunt ...... Stella McCusker,
Mrs Greer ...... Laura Hughes,
The Prosecutor ...... Dan Gordon,
Mr Arthur ...... Miche Doherty,
Magistrate ...... Derek Bailey,
Natalie ...... Sarah Gordon,
Young Girl ...... Hannah R Gordon.
Directed by Eoin O'Callaghan.
Related programme: R3, 14 Sep 86:
The Hands of Cheryl Boyd, by MAURICE LEITCH, read by Denys Hawthorne. Cheryl is confined to a wheelchair. But everyone remarks on the great beauty of her hands. When she goes shopping with her friends, however, her greatest asset becomes the source of her greatest temptation. Producer PETER KAVANAGH.
Afternoon Play: Something Cool....2005
By Maurice Leitch. 23 Feb 05.
In a Spanish bar, far out of the tourist season, Rose sits and waits for something to happen. As the happy hour draws to a close, two strangers appear and the scene is set for an intense and unexpected confrontation.
Rose ...... Linda Marlowe,
Teddy ...... Jim Norton,
Sam ...... Alyson Coote,
Paco ...... Bruno Lastra.
Commentator ...... Claudio Rojas.
Produced by Ned Chaillet.
Afternoon Play: Swan Song For The Nightingale....2003
10 Apr 03. By Maurice Leitch.
The sound of country music rings alarm bells for young Kevin, when it means that his 'has-been alcoholic' mother hits the comeback trail in Ireland, and wants to take him along. But he has a lot to learn about his mother, and other stars of yesteryear.
Dolores ...... Sorcha Cusack,
Kevin ...... Marty Rea,
Ollie ...... James Ellis,
Father Dwyer ...... John Rogan,
Eugene & Comedian ...... Stephen Hogan,
Singing OAP & MC ...... James Greene,
Teresa ...... Norma Sheahan,
Music direction by Neil Brand.
Produced by Ned Chaillet.
Afternoon Play: A Shout in the Distance ....1999
by Maurice Leitch. 7 Dec 99. The play was featured as one of four plays celebrating 1,000 Years of Spoken English on Radio Four. A comedy of Irish manners is the last thing young Winston expects when he is uprooted from Northern Ireland and transplanted to London. But there is more than rhyming slang that he must learn to understand. Andrew Scott, Sorcha Cusack, T. P. McKenna, James Greene, Gavin Muir, Gavin Stewart, Valerie Lilley and Elizabeth Bell. Producer: Ned Chaillet.
24 Apr 95. By Maurice Leitch. Monday Play. Brian Cox stars as ‘Silver’ Steele in Maurice Leitch’s play based on his own novel. Freed from imprisonment for terrorism by a Loyalist raid on his hospital room, Silver finds that his ideals have made him a dangerous anachronism in a changing Northern Ireland.
Brian Cox, Freddie Boardley, James Nesbitt, Clare Cathcart, John Rogan, Sean Caffrey, Michael McKnight, Ethna Roddy, Valerie Lilley, Catherine White, Conleth Hill, Toby E. Byrne,Robert Patterson, Joshua Towb, and James Greene. Produced by Ned Chaillet.
Classic Serial: Children of the Dead End....1993
25 April 1993 – 9 May 1993. By Patrick MacGill, dramatised by Maurice Leitch. Patrick MacGill 's novel earned him condemnation from every pulpit and landowner in Ireland. His story follows the fate of two young people, almost destroyed by poverty, forced to leave Donegal and work the potato fields of Scotland. They plunge ever further into degradation.
Gerard Murphy, Robert Taylor, Diane O'Kelly, Tim Loane, Kevin Flood, John Hewitt, Aine McCartney, Sean Caffrey, Stella McCusker, Trudy Kelly, Niall Cusak, Allen Docherty,Katy Gleadhill, Margaret D'Arcy, Bi Hogg, Finlay Welsh, Frances Low, Wendy Seager, Kenneth Glenaan, Grace Glover, James Bryce, Simon Donald, Crawford Logan, Anne Downie and Sheila Latimer. Produced by Eoin O'Callaghan.
27 May 92. By Maurice Leitch. When Fagan finishes his night's work as a club entertainer and goes home with two women, the results are hardly what he expects.
Fagan: T P McKenna,
Alma: Anita Dobson,
Sharon: Robin Weaver,
M C: Gordon Reid,
Musician: Mia Soteriou,
Producer: Ned Chaillet.
All the Uncrowned Heads of Europe....1991
By Maurice Leitch. 15 Dec 91.R4 Sunday Playhouse. A dying tradition of travelling theatre in Ireland during the late 1960s is the subject of Maurice Leitch’s play, when lax borders suddenly become battle-zones and a way of life is threatened with extinction.
T. P. McKenna, Ciarán Hinds, Eileen Way, Joanna Myers, Rio Fanning, Leonard Fenton, Maggie McCarthy, Pauline Letts, Amerjit Deu, Peter Gunn, Harry Webster, and Ronald Herdman. Produced by Ned Chaillet. Piano: Mary Nash.
Drama Now, R3: Where the Boys Are....1990
by MAURICE LEITCH. 13 Feb 90.
The boys are together again for an evening of humour and nostalgia. But tribal rituals can be dangerous.
Moss: T. P. McKenna,
Terry: Sean Barrett,
Kate: Susan Fleetwood,
Wilbur: Des McAleer,
Mrs Trumper: Anna Cropper,
Mr Polson-Browne: John Gabriel,
Mrs Polson-Browne: Margaret Courtenay,
MARY NASH (piano),
Directed by PENNY GOLD.
The Afternoon Play: Flutes....1987
By MAURICE LEITCH. 21 Feb 87.
A world championship flute band from a run-down Ulster town make a concert tour to
Toronto. As the band prepares for their first Orange parade away from home, personalities and politics clash.
Ray ....Derek Halligan,
Ray .......... Derek Halligan
Bob Brownlees .......... Mark Mulholland,
Chuckie .......... Peter Quigley,
Hubert .......... Niall O'Brien,
Brenda .......... Clare Cathcart,
Neville .......... Gerard O'Hare,
Sharon .......... Aine McCartney,
Gerald Maxwell .......... Hugh Fraser
The Rev Harold Kells .......... Anthony Finigan,
Spencer .......... Harry Towb.
Produced by JEREMY HOWE, BBC Northern Ireland.
Afternoon Theatre: Woodcraft....1983
By MAURICE LEITCH. 30 Oct 83. Victor Albert Cleghorn (42), an Ulsterman now resident in Crawley, has been charged with trespassing on a woodland in East Sussex In the early hours of 18 June. Also arrested were two other Ulstermen, a motorcycle dispatch rider and a trainee hairdresser. Cleghorn later admitted possessing an offensive weapon and illegal broadcasting equipment.
Directed by ROBERT COOPER BBC Northern Ireland
Victor: Albert Cleghorn. Producer: Robert Cooper.
The Best of Myles....1983 (Reading)
Five selections read by Jim Norton (1). 10 Jan 83.
Myles na Gopaleen ' was the name Flann O'Brien adopted for Cruiskeen Lawn , the column he wrote for The Irish Times In it he first introduced to the world such immortal comic creations as The Brother, The Plain People of Ireland and of course, those two maddening punsters, Keats and Chapman.
Producer MAURICE LEITCH.
Monday Play: A Little Bit of Heaven....1978
by MAURICE LEITCH. rpt. AFT 8 May 78; rpt. MP 4 Feb 80.
GERRY: There's a Hitchcock film with this bit in it of a tennis crowd.... and all the heads In the crowd are following the play.... but smack in the middle of them there's this one guy who's staring straight ahead.
LINDA: . . . sounds kind of lonely.
After 20 years, Gerry Mahood comes home to Ulster to find his only friends are nostalgia and whiskey.
Gerry Mahood: Ian Hendry,
Linda: Jane Knowles,
Charley: J G Devlin,
Wilbur: Mark Mulholland,
Georgie: Trudy Kelly,
Mrs Mahood/Brenda: Doreen Hepburn
Tom/Radio announcer: Desmond McAleer
Pub woman: Catherine Gibson
Sid: Patrick Brannigan, with
Produced by ROBERT COOPER.
BBC Northern Ireland.
Key Figures: Countess Cathleen....1978
Four programmes devoted to those who recognised and nourished the genius of others. 4:
Countess Cathleen Written by MAURICE LEITCH. 30 Apr 78. Maud Gonne was the key figure in the life and poetry of W. B. Yeats. His unrequited love for her over a period of 30 years and his desire to hold her interest in him acted as a powerful catalyst to his writing, reflected in both its style and subject matter.
This programme tells the story of their complex and difficult relationship.
Narrated by Joseph O'Conor, with
Maud Gonne: Sian Phillips,
W B Yeats: Denys Hawthorne,
M Millevoye: Gregory de Polnay,
Mary Maguire: Heather Bell,
Sean O'Casey: Harry Webster,
Micheal Mac Liammer: Sean Barrett; producer: Alec Reid.
Assassinations, 4: The Phoenix Park Murders....1973
22 Apr 73. On 6 May 1882. at seven in the evening, in Dublin's largest park, there occurred one of the most savage political murders in British history. The newly appointed Chief Secretary for Ireland, Lord Frederick Cavendish, and the Under Secretary, Thomas Henry Burke, were stabbed repeatedly by a band of assassins who called themselves the Invincibles. Their act destroyed all hope for Irish Home Rule in Gladstone's time and effectively split his Party.
Charles ... Stewart Parnell,
narrator ...Peter Gilmore,
with Denys Hawthorne and the voices of DENIS MCCARTHY, BLAIN FAIRMAN, LEWIS STRINGER, JIM NORTO HARRY WEBSTER, JULIE HALLA ANTHONY HALL, WILLIAM EEDLE, WILLIAM FOX. Written by MAURICE LEITCH; producers Maurice Leitch and Peter Gilmore.
The Price of Freedom....1972
Major political trials of this century.
1: The Stalin Show Trials.
Written and introduced by TOSCO FYVEL. 2 Jul 72.
How was Stalin able to arrange such trials in which former eminent Soviet leaders confessed themselves guilty of political crimes which were both heinous and absurd? Did Bukharin and his fellow-accused in their testimony throw any light on this puzzle?
David Markham as Bukharin, James Mellor as Prosecutor,
Vyshinsky Gary Watson as narrator, with the voices of JEFFREY SEGAL,
KEVIN FLOOD, REGINALD BARRATT, JOHN SAMSON , MANNING WILSON. Producer MAURICE LEITCH.
The Other Victorians: 10: The Menials ....1972
15 Jun 72. By JEAN MCCONNELL, based on her account of the case of Janey Popejoy in the book Blood on my Mind. On Christmas Eve 1897 young Janey Popejoy 's mistress sent her back to her home in Bag-shot, Surrey, after a year's service. Janey was covered in bruises with a black eye. a broken nose, a burn on her finger and a septic foot. She had bronchial pneumonia and she weighed only 65 lbs. Four days later she was dead.
There followed a notorious criminal trial which was to prove a strong indictment of the pressures and attitudes - particularly to servants - of the late Victorian era.
Narrated by STEPHEN THORNE with the voices of SHEILA ALLEN , KATE BINCHY,
ELIZABETH PROUD, SHEILA GRANT, JOHN RYE, WILLIAM EEDLE, GEOFFREY BEEVERS, BETTY BASKCOMB, WILLIAM FOX, LEWIS STRINGER, Producer MAURICE LEITCH.
The Other Victorians, 5:The Opium Eaters.....1972
11 May 72. A ten-part series examining the seamier and less overt aspects of Victorian life. Ep.5:The Opium Eaters, by ERIC EWENS.
Infinite incoherence, ropes of sand, gloomy incapacity of vital persuasion by some one plastic principle, that is the hideous incubus upon my mind always. (Thomas de Quincey) Until the publication of de Quincey's 'Confessions of an Opium Eater' the drug had been regarded much as we regard aspirin - used for babies, toothache, and with no social stigma attached to it. De Quincey changed all that. His very title introduced a note of guilt among Victorian addicts. Thomas de Quincey .......... Anthony Jacobs,
Wilkie Collins .......... Edward Kelsey,
Samuel Coleridge .......... Geoffrey Beevers,
Narrator .......... Stephen Thorne;
Other parts: ROBIN BROWNE, JOHN RUDDOCK , WILLIAM Fox, ALAN BARRY , OLWEN GRIFFITHS, SHEILA GRANT , EVA STUART. Producer: MAURICE LEITCH.
Tutankhamun: The Trail and the Treasure....1972
28 Mar 72.By Patricia Connor. With Freddie Jones as Howard Carter, Ralph Truman as Lord Carnarvon, Anthony Jacobs as Narrator. "3,400 years maybe have passed and gone since human feet last trod the floor on which you stand, and yet, as you note the recent signs of life around you - the half-filled bowl of mortar from the door, the blackened lamp, the fingermark on the freshly painted surface, the farewell garland dropped upon the threshold - you feel it might have been but yesterday. Fifty years ago the tomb of a minor Egyptian king was opened and when its contents were examined the news caused a world sensation.
The rewards of that long and intricate trail were the culmination of one of the most exciting stories in the history of archaeology."
Others taking part: HENRY STAMPER, JOHN RYE,
MARGOT BOYD, STEPHEN THORNE, CARL FORGIONI.
Producer MAURICE LEITCH. (There was another drama-doc about this by Leonard Cottrell; can't remember the producer; 1960s I think .... - Ed. )
Bandits, 6: Salvatore Giuliano
21 Sep 71. Last in the series, written by MAURICE LEITCH . "I have never killed for pleasure - I kill my enemies in war and I execute spies and traitors".
NIGEL ANTHONY as Giuliano. Narrated by FRANK DUNCAN with the voices of DOUGLAS BLACKWELL, DAVID VALLA, WILLIAM EEDLE, KATHLEEN HELME and NORMAN CHANCER.
Producer RICHARD IMISON
A Study in Devotion. 16 Sep 71. Written by CATHERINE DUPRE. Carrington: Jill Bennett, Lytton Strachey: James Maxwell, with the voices of GABRIEL WOOLF, LEWIS STRINGER, JO MANNING WILSON,
MIGEL ANTHONY, PETER MESSALINE, OLWEN GRIFFITHS and BETTY BASKCOMB.
Producer MAURICE LEITCH.
Bandits, 5: Pancho Villa....1971
Written by RUTH FIRST.
Poor Mexico, so far from God and so near to the United States of America. With Henry Stamper as Pancho Villa and the voices of DAVID HEALY, MARTIN FRIEND and LEWIS STRINGER. Narrator TRADER FAULKNER. Producer MAURICE LEITCH.
Bandits, 4: Bonnie Parker....1971
Written by KATE HASTE.26 Aug 71.
Some day they will go down together,
And they will bury them side by side.
To a few it means grief. To the law it's relief.
But it's death to Bonnie and Clyde.
Narrated by ANN MURRAY with the voices of TOBY ROBINS and PETER MARINKER.
Producer MAURICE LEITCH.
Bandits; The Myth and the Reality: Robin Hood....1971
Written and introduced by MELVYN BRAGG.
The third in a new series of programmes on famous outlaw figures.
Robin Hood, Robin Hood, riding through the glen,
Robin Hood, Robin Hood, with his band of men.
Feared by the bad, Loved by the good,
Robin Hood. Robin Hood, Robin Hood (Popular song). With Bernard Bresslaw,
Timothy West, Sheila Allen, Geoffrey Bayldon and Douglas Blackwell.
Songs by ALEX GLASGOW.
Producer MAURICE LEITCH.
The Price of Freedom: The Hollywood Ten....1971
Written by ALEXANDER WALKER. 24 Jun 71
The first in an occasional new series of programmes on major political trials of this century, edited by TOSCO FYVEL.
1947: the American film industry and a handful of men whose careers were changed viciously and dramatically by a political 'witch-hunt.' Narrated by Alan Dobie with the voices of DAVID BAUER, GLEN BECK, BILL NAGY, DAVID HEALY, STEPHEN THORNE, BLAIN FAIRMAN, MURRAY KASH, LOUIS NEGIN, EDDIE MATTHEWS and MARGARET WOLFIT, with
ABRAHAM POLONSKY and RALPH NELSON talking to
ALEXANDER WALKER on the implications of the events of that year on Hollywood.
Produced by MAURICE LEITCH.
Bandits: The Myth and the Reality - Jesse James....1971
Written by ED BUSCOMB.8 Jun 71.
The first of a new series of programmes on famous outlaw figures: edited by MELVYN BRAGG.
Narrator: Michael Smee, with the voices of BLAIN FAIRMAN, DAVID HEALY,
PETER MARINKER, DAVID ASHFORD, DAVID BLAGDEN, EDDIE MATTHEWS and JAMES DYRBNFORTH.
Produced by MAURICE LEITCH.
25 May 71. The story of the Berlin Wall and the many escapes connected with its decade of existence. By TERENCE PRITTIE.
If West German politicians get excited because we safeguard the frontier opposite West Germany then I say that their excitement is artificial (Walter Ulbricht).
The bonds between the families and friends which were arbitrarily broken must be restored and the Wall must come down (Willy Brandt). Narrator: Alex Scott, with NORMAN HENRY, JEFFERY, SEGAL, FREDERICK TREVES, THOMAS HEATHCOTE, PETER MESSALINE, SEAN ARNOLD, AUTON LOW, CARI HEDDERWICK, JOHNNY BRIGGS. Produced by MAURICE LEITCH
Speak to Us, Italy....1971
20 May 71. By William Allan.
Turn to us, speak to us, Italy, mother, but once and a word.
None shall not follow thee, none shall not serve thee, not one that has heard;
Twice hast thou spoken a message, and time is athirst for the third.
- A study of how English feeling and opinion was affected by the unification of Italy in May 1871.
Since the days of the Grand Tour, Italy has been the home from home for English writers, artists and travellers.
The effect of Mazzini and Garibaldi and their fight against Austrian rule on literary intellectuals in Victorian times was comparable to that of Ho Chi Minh and Che Guevara in our own day. Swinburne, the Brownings and even Carlyle saw the rebirth of Italy and the Risorgimento as the dawn of hope for a divided Europe. Narrator: Anthony Jacobs; also taking part: BLAIN FAIRMAN, GARARD GREEN STEPHEN THORNE, EVA STUART, JOHN RYE, JEFFERY SEGAL, FREDERICK TREVES and LEWIS STRINGER.
Produced by MAURICE LEITCH.
Madame Sabatier 1822-1889:
A portrait by JOANNA RICHARDSON. 11 Mar 71.
Madame Sabatier was a famous 19th-century French courtesan whose claim to fame rests on her relationships with the poets and writers of that period. She inspired many famous works and was adored throughout her life by lovers and protectors because of her warm and generous nature; she was a sensible, healthy and beautiful woman. With Eva Haddon as Mme Sabatier, Michael Bryant as Baudelaire and narrator Anthony Jacobs.
Others taking part: SEAN ARNOLD, GERALD CROSS, RICHARD GRIFFITHS, RONALD FORFAR, LESLIE HERITAGE and INGRID BOWER. Produced by MAURICE LEITCH.
When Dreams Collide....1970
26 Nov 70. By Mike Stott. The story of James Earl Ray. On 4 April 1968 Martin Luther King was shot dead in Memphis, Tennessee. About two months later James Ray was arrested for the murder at Heathrow Airport, London. For most of his criminal life Ray had been obsessed with the ambition to become one of the current ten most wanted men in the FBI files. Seemingly he felt he had achieved his dream when finally he pleaded guilty to the assassination of the great Civil Rights leader, who will always be remembered for his ' I have a dream this afternoon. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream ...'
GLENN BECK as James Earl Ray. Narrators
DAVID BAUER & RICHARD BERB. Produced bv MAURICE LEITCH. The programme is followed by a discussion, involving MORLEY SAFER, CBS correspondent in London c. R. HEWITT, criminologist MIKE WELLER.
Other People's Babies....1970 (Not drama)
5 Nov 70. Other people's babies, that's my life,
Mother to dozens and nobody's wife.
Sir Alan Herbert 's lyric has a sub-title: A Song of Kensingtion Gardens. This places it in time and space and class, for full-time servants began in the middle classes. Now the Nanny has been all but replaced by the baby-sitter who sits by the hour. In even earlier days they sat for a lifetime; their memories as trustworthy as the fly-leaf of the family Bible.
The programme is a light-hearted look in fact and fiction at the English Nanny. By ERIC EWENS.
Produced by MAURICE LEITCH.
A Bronte Portrait....1970
7 Jan 1970. A study of England's most celebrated literary family by ROSEMARY ANNE SISSON based on a programme first given at the National Portrait Gallery. Jill Balcon as Emily, Gabriel Woolf as Branwell, Madi Hedd as Charlotte, Anthony Jacobs as the narrator. Other parts: LYNN CARSON.
Produced by MAURICE LEITCH. Rpt. 22 Sep 70.
THE SMUGGLING MEN....1965 (Musical item)
Now that their exploits in the border areas in Ireland during the war years have become folklore their full story can be told, in words and song.
The words are their own; the ballads written and sung by DAVID HAMMOND, BILL MEEK,
TONY McAULEY accompanied by BARNEY McKENNA (banjo)
GEORGE GALWAY (flute). Compiled and produced by MAURICE LEITCH. 28 Oct 1965, NI Home Service.
THE SPIRIT WAS WILLING....1962
28 Feb 62. A dramatised account of one man's fight against polio. By Brian Lockhart. 'I no longer need a wheelchair. My calipers and crutches are now a thing of the past. In many ways I am just as active now as ever. No, perhaps I can't run just yet, but it's always something to try in the future.'
Music by the Radiophonic Workshop. Produced by Maurice Leitch. Northern Ireland Home Service.
The Old House....1960
15 Nov 60. By Maurice Leitch. An old couple living in a tied country cottage are visited by their son from Belfast who has come to persuade them to move to his house in the city before they are evicted. The old man finds it impossible to come to terms with the move and there is a crisis involving a loaded gun. Things will never be the same. A play about getting old in a cruel new world. With J. G. Devlin, Gertrude Russell, James Ellis, Catherine Gibson and Maurice O'Callaghan. Produced by Ronald Mason; BBC Radio Northern Ireland Home Service.
compiled by Nigel Deacon / Diversity website, from info supplied by NM - many thanks.
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