CLAIRE GROVE I am very sad to report the death of radio drama producer Claire Grove. She will be much missed.
There is an obituary in 'Ariel', the BBC magazine, published on the BBC website. A brief internet search will find it.
A book on radio drama which she wrote jointly with Stephen Wyatt will be out in early December.
27 Nov 13
STEPHEN WILLIAMS I have been sent a long article about Stephen Williams, who is best known for his key role in the establishment and early development of Radio Luxembourg. . I am very grateful to Roger Bickerton for the article, and to Pat Bickerton who transcribed the tapes. It's a fascinating piece about an important figure from radio's early days.
VISITORS AUG-OCT Visitors and top three individual writer pages:
Aug: 18308; Mike Harris drama page 165, Bruce Bedford 150, Nick Warburton 126.
Sep: 17400; Mike Harris drama page 466, Wally K Daly 156, James Bridie 146.
Oct: 17301; Wally K Daly 146, John Dryden 102, Rodney Wingfield 63.
The 'lost plays' pages attract about 5,000 visitors per month.
Apologies for the lack of entries during the last 8 weeks. The apple season makes heavy demands on my time. However I have made regular additions to the 'facebook' Diversity page.
15 Nov 13
INDIES A reminder - 'Indies', or Independent Radio Producers have formed an organization which now has an online presence. Those interested in radio drama should be aware of this site.
16 Sep 13
NEW TOM STOPPARD PLAY Darkside, by Tom Stoppard, 26 Aug 2013, R2, 60m. A play juxtaposing the Pink Floyd Album 'The Dark Side of the Moon' and a rather strange plot.
Cast: Bill Nighy, Rufus Sewell, Amaka Okafor, Iwan Rheon, Adrian Scarborough, Peter Marinker, Robert Blythe, Ben Crowe, Philippa Stanton. Producer James Robinson.
Tom Stoppard describes it in RT as a live broadcast interweaving his play with an orchestrated version of the album. He had to honour the tracks as Pink Floyd had recorded them and do the best he could with the time he had in between the lyrics. The album is concerned with madness, death, greed and anxiety; it's a polemnical album which uses simple language to deliver a sermon on 'don't be afraid to care'.
28 Aug 13
SONY AWARDS Apparently the Sony Drama Awards are finishing. Sony has decided to withdraw.
10 Aug 13
DAVID SPENSER I am sorry to report the death of radio producer and actor David Spenser, aged 79. There have been numerous tributes and obituaries to this remarkable man, most of which draw on material from the notes which David wrote for us a couple of years ago.
1 Aug 13
JULY NUMBERS 14,994 visitors to the site in July; most-visited writer pages Rodney Wingfield (391), Mike Harris's "Introduction to Scriptwriting" (178) and Nick Warburton (147).
GEORGE HOLLOWAY I way contacted last week by Georgina Braines, who writes as follows:
George Henry Holloway was my great grandfather; I believe that he made over 1000 broadcasts for the BBC Home Service. He was an elocutionist and specialised in monologues; he also performed in Radio plays. I think he was often on Saturday Night Theatre.
I am trying to track down some recordings of programmes in which he appeared, for my father, who spent much of his childhood living with his grandfather George in Bristol. I would greatly appreciate any help that you could give me.
I have done some searching and have traced the titles of five plays involving George Holloway:
The Trumpet Major 27.3.61
The Cathedral 27.7.69
Saturday Night Theatre:
Daughters of the Parsonage 1.4.50
Bird in Hand 4.6.49
Unfortunately there is no known recording (yet) of any of these. Does anyone have any of them - or other recordings featuring George Holloway? If so, please email: diversity (at) suttonelms.org.uk.
6 Jul 13
BLACKBURN FILES The first Blackburn Files episode is missing. Series 1 (this is the programme with Finetime Fontayne) consisted of 6 episodes but the BBC now broadcast it as if it were only 5, calling the 2nd the first, etc.
I only found this out as when they broadcast them in random order; I went on line and found a listing NOT of BBC origin.
The first episode A case of Love or Money was first and last broadcast on 11th July 1989; and apparently has not been heard since. (thanks Derek B)
26 Jun 13
NEW PAGES The pages for R3-2009 and R4-2011 are now complete. Many thanks to Barry for the R3 page. There are also new pages about Berkely Mather and Arthur Swinson, prompted by a person contacting the website. I have received R3-2010 and it will be put online as soon as the coding is done.
21 Jun 13
MAY NUMBERS Numbers for May were pleasing: 15,269 visitors, of which 3,700 looked at the 'lost radio plays' pages; there is a surprising amount of interest in plays broadcast years ago.The top three writer pages were David Pownall (163), Mike Harris's 'Writing Drama' page from the EUP handbook (151), and Sebastian Baczkiewicz (137). 874 people had a visit lasting in excess of an hour.
6 Jun 13
RADIO DRAMA: HOW TO DO IT Two interesting new resources for writers, students and others:
1.The Radio Drama Handbook, by Richard J. Hand and Mary Traynor. Available on Amazon.
I've also done a list of plays covered by Moira Petty's radio reviews since Oct 2012, with an external link to "The Stage" website for each review.
Barry Hodge's 2007 and 2008 pages for Radio 3 are online. Many thanks to Barry for his work on these lists. If you go to the main Radio page you'll notice he has also done an expanded and improved listing to R3's 'The Wire'.
Visitors during April: 15376; most-visited writer and producer pages: David Spenser (220), Don Taylor (170), John Peacock (134), Dave Sheasby (127). 114 visits to Mike Harris's article on writing drama from the Creative Writing Handbook (EUP).
18 May 13
RADIO REVIEW, APR 2013 The latest 'Diversity' radio review is online.
MARGARET THATCHER Margaret Thatcher has died aged 87.
I have compiled a page about the plays in which she appeared as a character, and given a few notes about her as seen from my perspective. Click the link for details.
ND, 10 Apr 13
DONNA FRANCESCHILD New writer page has been compiled; I have been prompted to do this by the excellent series of 'Quartet' which has been broadcast this week in four of the 'afternoon play' slots.
6 Apr 13
VISITORS LAST MONTH
There were 15734 visitors during March 2013. The top three writers' pages were: Sebastian Baczkiewicz (231 visitors) followed by Rodney Wingfield (145) and Don Taylor (136). 717 people had a visit to the site lasting longer than an hour. The 'lost plays' pages (plays not kept by the BBC, mainly pre-2000) attract a lot amount of interest; 2500 visitors during the month; about 80 people a day.
5 Apr 13
WORLD SERVICE ARCHIVE: DRAMA LINKS UPDATE
At last - some information I'm allowed to share about the drama links on the WS archive....see the entry for 2 April on Twitter. If you follow the link you'll find this as the entry for 2 April .......
"We've had to remove some audio due to rights considerations. Hope you still find something to enjoy."
I am leaving the drama listings below for reference purposes. Perhaps they will be reconnected at some time in the future.
5 Apr 13
TOM STOPPARD Tom Stoppard has written a radio play based on Pink Floyd's 1973 album The Dark Side of the Moon , forty years on. The play lasts an hour and blends the band's music with a story based on a young couple who face different modern dilemnas. It is an exploration of the modern psyche, exploring the album's themes which include conflict, greed and madness.
Pink Floyd's Dave Gilmour has read the script and approves of it. It will be broadcast on Radio 2 over the August bank holiday weekend. The cast includes Bill Nighy and Rufus Sewell. The Dark Side of the Moon was Pink Floyd's most succesful album.
29 Mar 13
ALFRED BRADLEY AWARD Does anyone know if the Alfred Bradley Award was given to anyone in 2010, or whether the award has now disappeared? It is/was a biennial award aiming to encourage and develop new radio writing talent in the BBC North region. The latest year for which I have details is 2008.
28 Mar 13
MIKE HARRIS Mike has dramatised 'Waverley' by Sir Walter Scott. This was recorded yesterday and is likely to go out on 21 April on R4.
27 Mar 13
CHRISTOPHER REASON A new writer page - Christopher Reason; click the link above. Chris is a well-known writer for radio and television. His most recent radio plays were "Special Measures", set in a school, and the two plays dealing with the fallout of the case of Debbie Hurst: 'This Repulsive Woman' and 'Every Child Matters', produced by Stefan Escreet and Gary Brown.
26 Mar 13
CESSPOOL SID An interview with 'Cesspool Sid', who makes his living cleaning out cesspits. Programme made by a friend, Chris Frear, in his series 'This is England'. Chris specialises in audio recovery and cleanup. To hear it, click
this link and then go to the left hand side of the page and click on "This is England-1". There are other interesting interviews in this series on the same page.
22 Mar 13
WORLD SERVICE DRAMA ARCHIVE
The links for these dramas have gone dead again ... I'll post more news when it becomes available.
8 Mar 13
VISITORS LAST MONTH
There were 15759 visitors during February 2013. The top three writers' pages were: Sebastian Baczkiewicz (153 visitors) coinciding with his latest series of 'Pilgrim' on Radio 4. followed by Nick Warburton and Wally K. Daly.
Numerous 'apple' activities this month, mainly grafting, have prevented much being done to the radio pages during the past four weeks. However, if you haven't visited our Facebook page yet, please do so.
4 Mar 13
TEST MATCH SPECIAL
Those of you who are keen on TMS: last night I went to hear Henry Blofeld and Peter Baxter doing their "Blowers and Baxter" presentation; roughly two hours with a half hour interval. It was the best evening's entertainment I'd had for a long time, packed with stories from their time in the TMS box and on tour; appreciations of people they had worked with (CMJ, Arlott, Bailey, Brian Johnston, Rex Alston, E.W.Swanton, Alan McGillvray) and finally answering questions from the audience. They are highly entertaining speakers, and I recommend this event highly.
One other notice: the 700 plays are just a subset of the
total number of plays taken from two programme brands. The BBC
needs help finding and cataloguing them. If you can help, email email@example.com .
11 Feb 13
RUTH RENDELL & FACEBOOK
I have begun a page on Ruth Rendell , who was also known as Barbara Vine; see writers' page. Note also that we now have a Facebook page where some of the updates and a few articles which seem to have been missed by readers are mentioned.
10 Feb 13
WORLD SERVICE RADIO ARCHIVE
I was interested to learn that a new trial version of a radio archive has been put online. The World Service Radio Archive is well worth a visit. There are thousands of programmes: comedies, documentaries, plays, serials, and other things. Of particular interest to me are the 700 or so radio plays covering the period 1975 - 2005. They are not downloadable, but I guess that if the archive proves to be popular, it will remain online. The format is 32kbps mp3; not hi-fi, but perfectly clear and listenable. You have to register, but it's easy and takes less than a minute. I will be displaying a list of all of the radio plays, with links, as soon as Alison can work out a way of doing it. (1 Feb 13)
UPDATE .... The link is done and is here. It generated considerable attention on our Facebook page. There were some discussions about copyright - for example, had the BBC obtained permission to make these plays 'public access'? There is a regrettable tendency for many people to regard anything found on the internet as 'free', even creative work.
Some writers said that they welcomed the archive, even without copyright payments being available; a play which no-one will ever hear again might as well not exist, whereas if it's repeated, it advertises their work and might lead to new commissions.
At the moment, it seems that copyright issues do not arise; the archive is not public access. It has rapidly progressed into 'closed beta' status, which means no-one else can sign on. The BBC is now developing the software, it seems, using the listeners it has already signed up.
More on this as developments occur. Meanwhile if you were lucky enough to sign on in time - enjoy the plays. If you wish to be involved in the next phase of beta testing, send an email ... the address is on the link above where the plays are listed.
5 Feb 13 VISITORS LAST MONTH
There were 16289 visitors during January 2013. The top three writers' pages were: Dave Sheasby (258), Bruce Bedford (240) after a repeat of 'The Gibson' on Radio4 Extra, and Charles Chilton (139).
Roger Howe's 2009 interview of Charles Chilton had 279 visits. The whole-year listings (compiled by Bob Thirsk and Barry Hodge) are also becoming well-used. The most popular years, all with 200+ visitors, were 2010, 2009 and 1997.
The 2011 and 2012 pages will be expanded eventually but doing it is time-consuming; this will take a while.
4 Feb 13
CHARLES CHILTON RECORDINGS
After the recent death of Charles Chilton, I have received some emails about his radio work, including an inquiry asking if any recordings of 'Riders of the Range' exist. I'm not aware of any, but perhaps someone 'out there' knows differently...
24 Jan 13
MORE BOOKS FROM SANDI JOHNSON
Regular readers will be aware that I love short stories, and novellas, and good science fiction. Sandi Johnson (who did some radio work a long way back) has been busy, and more of her work is now available as Kindle editions; a total of twelve books! The fiction is excellent and difficult to put down. The 'Fragments' books are a fascinating kaleidoscope of large and small experiences from Sandi's life; ideal for dipping into... I commend all of these to you.
The links below go to the Amazon pages. Download and enjoy!
SHADOW DANCING A varied collection of longer short stories, all entertaining; there's a novel take on the Icarus story, the life story of a guy who cleans up the room where a loan shark beats people up....the last tale, with the title 'Shadow Dancing', is a gem. It reminded me of Gerry Jones' radio play 'Time after Time'.... I was very touched by the 'Dedication'.
FAR SIDE OF THE MOON A gripping new sci-fi novel which reminded me a little of the Arthur C. Clarke classic "A Fall Of Moondust".
FRAGMENTS It is a wild journey we take with Johnson - 60s London, South Africa, Spain and the US and along the way she tackles the major themes of life, love, sex, marriage, friendship, family, death and time. The descriptions of her childhood in SA - landscape, friends, adventures - are evocative and haunting.
THE DISAPPEARANCE OF JENNIFER POPE
This play, by Mike Harris, is being repeated on R4 at 14:15 on Thursday 24th Jan 2013.
MH: ......The play is based very closely on a true story. In 2006, Jenny Pope, a nurse, went solo back-packing in Equador, and disappeared. When the local police got nowhere, Jenny’s husband Dave, and his 20 year old son Stefan, went out to find her and, against all the odds and at considerable risk to their own lives, were instrumental in bringing her killer to justice. I wrote the play in collaboration with Dave and Stefan.
21 Jan 13
AUDIO DRAMA AWARDS The shortlists for the Audio Drama Awards, confusingly called the 2013 awards (though they refer mainly to plays broadcast during 2012) are now out. Click on the link for details.
13 Jan 13
VISITORS LAST MONTH
12,777 visitors during December 2012. Most visited writer page was Nick Warburton's (113), second Rodney Wingfield (109), third Alick Rowe (79). The whole-year listings are proving popular but it will be a while before I have time to do 2011 and 2012. 329 people had a visit exceeding 60 minutes on the site, and on 5 Dec, there were 4830 page views. I was pleased to receive some early Mike Walker recordings including 'True Believers'; an excellent play from 1990 (see MW page).
11 Jan 13
TAKING THE PICTURE....2005
By Melissa Murray, 8 Feb 2005, afternoon play. Two students steal a picture from the Tate gallery. With Owen McDonnell, Stephen Hogan, Marcella Riordan, Jim Norton, Renee Weldon, Jon Glover.
I was contacted by Jill McKeagney about this play, who wrote as follows:
....I am currently undertaking research for my final project at Edinburgh Napier University, which is a feature film script. The story I'm writing about is something of a family legend, involving my great uncle, Billy Fogarty. As an Irish student in the 1950s, he and a friend of his, Paul Hogan, stole a painting from the Tate gallery as a publicity stunt in a bid to get the Hugh Lane collection of paintings back onto Irish soil.
Recently I came across a newspaper clipping of a radio play that was made about this story, "Taking the Picture", in 2005, directed by Sally Avens. I have been searching for it online but there is very little information available. However, I noticed that it is listed on your website. It was written by Melissa Murray, was broadcast on R4. Would you have any advice for how to go about getting a copy of the play, or a recording?
(Jill now has a copy; this correspondence is reproduced with her permission)
10 Jan 13
The death was recently reported of Daphne Oxenford, a familiar name to millions of people in the UK. Hers was the voice which introduced 'Listen With Mother', in the days when the BBC regarded children's radio programmes as important. This is not the case today; to paraphrase Gillian Reynolds, talking about current children's output (Daily Telegraph, 7 Jan 12): ... dismal ratings on radio 7 for CBeebies...and no wonder; it's TV, re-tailored for radio, horrible to hear. If you want to switch children off radio, this is the way to do it.
Friends Greg Linden (from America) and Jim (from Canada) found out a little about Daphne Oxenford's career, which is worth sharing.
Her voice was lodged deep in the national consciousness and instantly recognisable whenever she spoke, from her work on 'Listen With Mother' where she was a favourite with very young children. She played mainly supporting roles in a number of radio plays over a long period, some television productions, and in a radio variety series with Les Dawson. The series (a number of shows of which have been repeated on Radio 4 Extra) was called "Listen to Les". It was a long-running comedy sketch show which ran from the 1970s to the 1990s on Radio 2.
Some of the radio plays in which she appeared:
'A Case of Medical Detection' by Arthur Swinson (1967)
'The Road to Gretna Green' (1975)
'No Room for Sentiment', by James Fairfax (1976)
'The End of the Summer' by Denis Constanduros (1976)
'Thistlewood' by Stewart Conn (1976)
'A Touch of Daniel' by Peter Tinniswood (1977)
'Variation on the Snow Queen' by Valerie Windsor (1980)
'Lessons' by Nan Woodhouse (1983)
'Welcome to the Times' by Dave Sheasby (1985)
'Twopence to Cross the Mersey' by Helen Forrester (1986)
'The Cold Embrace' by Ken Whitmore (1987)
'New of the World' by David Morgan (1988)
'Lonelyheart 4122' (1990)
'Beyond Evil' (1990)
'Boxing Day' by Michael Crompton (1993)
'My Mum's a Single Parent Psychic' by Joe Turner (1994)
'The Natural Parent' by Michael Crompton (1994)
'Looking for Alice (1994)
'A Good Loser' by Alan MacDonald (nk)
1 Jan 13
I do a small amount of audio cleanup for other people, and transferring cassette recordings to CD. If you have old recordings which need digitising and improving, feel free to get in touch.