RADIO DRAMA REVIEW DEC 2014
December's drama review (written 21 Dec 14) is now on-line, and I'm setting up blank pages for 2015's radio programmes..
22 Dec 14
FAVOURITE CHRISTMAS LISTENING
Many radio drama enthusiasts have favourite listening for the Christmas period. Here's one such list (not mine) which you may find interesting.
18 Dec 2014
Stephen Wyatt recently delivered a speech on Radio Drama at the Annual General Meeting of the Authors' Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS). It touched on the history of writing for radio, its neglect by the mainstream media and its continued popularity through the decades. He also described in some detail what works on radio and what doesn't.
Stephen has kindly given permission for it to be reproduced on this site. There was no announced title, so I have called it "Radio Drama - Then and Now".
Good to see Paul back on Radio 2 after the false allegations made against him.
15 Nov 2014
MISSING HANCOCK SHOWS
Five of the twenty Hancock episodes from the fifties for which recordings are lost have been re-recorded and are currently being broadcast on Friday mornings at 11.30. They are also available on the BBC website on listen-again. The shows are very enjoyable, and the impressions of Hancock, Kenneth Williams and the rest are extremely good. Do not miss.
31.10.14 The Matador
07.11.14 The Newspaper
14.11.14 The Hancock Festival
21.11.14 The Breakfast Cereal
28.11.14 The New Neighbour
6 Nov 2014
THE SWORD IN THE STONE
Older readers may remember "The Sword in the Stone" by T.H.White, which Neville Teller dramatised many years ago, and the Disney film of the same name. Brian Sibley has now done a new dramatization of the story of King Arthur from Tim White's epic (and unlike the earlier radio version, he has also used material from the three books which followed) and this will be broadcast soon. The title is 'The Once and Future King' and there will be six episodes on successive Sundays. Details on Brian's website, and on the BBC web pages.
5 Nov 2014
Some of Alex Ferguson's 'Uncle Freddie' stories are currently being repeated on Radio4 Extra.
5 Nov 2014
We have had a hand in supplying three series of programmes starring the late Richard Briers to Radio 4 Extra. We are also supplying an item by Colin Haydn Evans which is not in the BBC's archive.
4 Nov 2014
GEOFFREY PARKINSON I'm sorry to report that Geoffrey Parkinson has died. He wrote some excellent radio plays, and became a well-known member of the Probation Service. Google "Tailgunner Parkinson" and you'll find out why. We send our condolences to the family. There is a good obituary by Geoffrey's son in the Guardian.
14 Oct 2014
Visitor numbers and most-visited writer pages:
Nov 18026; John Fletcher (314), Alex Ferguson (270), Dirk Maggs (213).
Oct 20456; Dirk Maggs (258), John Dryden (220), Don Taylor (174).
Sep 18120; John Dryden (267), R.D.Wingfield(155), John Fletcher (142). There were also 195 visitors in September to Jim's review of 'Private Wheeler's War' produced by Eoin O'Callaghan; I assume after a radio 4 Extra repeat.
6 Oct 2014; updated 1 Dec 2014
I am grateful to Professor Sheila Wigmore and Alistair Wyper, who are contributing material to the site. Sheila is working on some of the R4 'year lists'; Alistair is writing short reviews of older plays, especially radio 3. I am continuing with work on the afternoon plays for 2014 and finishing the 2011 R3 plays page.
19 Sep 2014
TWO NEW WRITER PAGES
I have added pages for Scott Cherry and for Antoine de St-Exupery.
14 Sep 2014
Paul has another 'memoir' play going out on 15 October at 2.15pm, which was recently recorded in Cardiff.
13 Sep 2014
Visitor numbers and most-visited writer pages:
May 15389; R.D.Wingfield (271), Gary Brown (127), John Dryden (114)
Jun 15349; S.Dunstone (145), D.Spenser (135), J.Fletcher, J.Dryden & G.Brown (all 106).
Jul 15307; John Fletcher (148), DonTaylor (125), Gary Brown (100).
Aug 16240; R.D.Wingfield (218), Gary Brown (159), John Fletcher (155).
Sep 18120; John Dryden (267), R.D.Wingfield(155), John Fletcher (142)
6 Sep 2014
THE SWORD IN THE STONE, 1939
Interesting item on the BBC website, available to hear: episode 3 (of 6) from the 1939 version of this well-known classic. Broadcast date 25 Jun 1939, episode title 'Wart and the Hawks', off discs, with music composed by Ben Britten. Some of you may have heard the much later Neville Teller adaptation from 1981. There is a note on the web page saying that the other episodes will be added shortly.
Clive Lever has sent the following message:
.....listening to a commercial reading of Esther Rantzen’s autobiography, read by the author, I discovered that she’d once worked in sound effects on radio drama.
She tells of a (1965) production of N.C.Hunter’s "Waters of the Moon". The producer was Betty Davis, who, says Esther, was very precise about the sounds she wanted, and for some reason always wore a hat... In one of the scenes, there was to be a skating accident.
Esther thought that all the listeners would hear should be a scream. Betty disagreed, saying she wanted the sound of flesh on ice. So they brought a plank of wood into the studio and Ms Rantzen had to fall on it. It took her eight falls before Betty Davis got the sound she wanted.
Esther limped out of the studio and wrote her resignation in triplicate, posting all copies. Personnel told her she only needed to send one copy. The play was the reason Esther got out of radio drama and went off to become a TV celebrity.
Clive also sent a recording of the skating accident from that production - many thanks, Clive......ND
28 Jun 2014
It's worth noting that all the D Day commemorative programmes rebroadcast by 4 Extra are grouped together on listen again. They were all made to mark the 60th anniversary back in 2004 and were supplemented by individual personal accounts between programmes (much as the VE Day 50th commemorations were). Fortunately these have been left in the listen again sequences and make fascinating listening. There's some cracking dramas amongst them also although, perhaps on this occasion, real life turned up with more amazing stories. Every one of these shows is worth listening to because this kind of concentrated and detailed programming about the Second World War may never occur again. (....note sent by Nick Clark.....)
I’ve just been on your website and read Nick Clark’s note on D-Day Commemoration regarding re-broadcasting by Radio 4 Extra of programmes first broadcast ten years earlier to mark the 60th anniversary of D-Day. Clicking on the link provided, I was surprised that Radio 4 Extra did not also re-broadcast the five 15-minute plays from 2004 which led into Mike Walker’s “The Biggest Secret” (which, in turn, led into Sarah Daniels’ “The Long Wait”. The five short plays (listed below with an intro to the series) were on Radio 4’s Woman's Hour.
BBC Radio 4: Woman's Hour Serial
As the 60th Anniversary of D-Day approaches, five 15 minute plays, about everyday life in Britain and France in the summer of 1944, will be broadcast through the week, penned by different writers and narrated by Juliet Stevenson. Each of the plays is set the week before D-Day and countdown to 6th June 1944. The plays in the five-part "D-Day Countdown" series are:
1) 'D-Day Minus Six: Putting You Through' by Patricia Hannah
2) 'D-Day Minus Five: Taking Leave' by Arnold Evans
3) 'D-Day Minus Four: Harry and Gloria' by Katie Hims
4) 'D-Day Minus Three: Lilly's Mum' by Louise Ramsden
5) 'D-Day Minus Two: Drop Zone' by Hilary Fannin
The last episode above is followed by ‘The Biggest Secret’ (which was D-Day Minus One – set on June 5th), which, in turn, was followed by ‘The Long Wait’ ( D-Day – set on June 6th). Both these plays were also narrated by Juliet Stevenson.
One other programme which was first broadcast to commemorate the 60th anniversary, but I was surprised to see it was not re-broadcast, was the four-part reading by Alex Jennings of ‘The Longest Day’ by Cornelius Ryan, the definitive book about D-Day. This reading was broadcast on Radio 2.
12 Jun 2014
BOOKS BY 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 now published twelve books, as Kindle editions. The fiction is excellent and difficult to put down; the 'Fragments' books are a fascinating kaleidoscope of large and small experiences from Sandi's long life, and 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'.
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.
PLAYS BY NEW BRITISH DRAMATISTS
Interesting new series of ten plays by new (young, I think) British dramatists, broadcast as Afternoon Plays, starting 13 May 2014. So far I have listened to six of these and they were extremely good. The writers will be names to watch in the future. Those without comments from me are the ones which I've not yet heard. More details, plus cast lists, on the 2014 dramas page; scroll down to 12 May. Moira Petty has also reviewed some of these plays.
12 May: Rock Me Amadeus By Simon Topping. A boy who feels feminine is unsure of how to proceed in his life.
.......Teenage Charlie was born a boy but instinctively knows she is a girl. The arrival of a German student (Felix Auer as the gentle Tim) provides the cathartic release Charlie needs. (summarized from Moira Petty's review, in "The Stage").
13 May: Paris, Nana and Me By Caroline Horton. Caroline's French grandmother turns 90, Caroline takes her on a trip to Paris. (Excellent, and rather poignant - Ed)
You would be hard-pressed to find a character more certain of her own identity than this formidable, 90-year old Nana, played by Chantal Garrigues with guttural, accented English and precise comic timing. Nana says exactly what she thinks, and the frequent foot-stomping petulance is no bar to lovability....(from MP, The Stage)
14 May: When the night has no right to be King
By John Lynch. A man finds himself neither alive nor dead.
(Excellent, especially the sounds effects. For a few moments in the play I was reminded of Gerry Jones's "Time After Time"..... a hotel where you can check in but never leave.... - Ed)
15 May: Art, Artefacts and Angels By Phil Marley. A museum exhibits an ancient body found in a bog. It's known as the Angel of Archangelsk.
16 May: When I Lived in Peru By Andrew Viner. Martin, who never travels, is being driven mad by the endless travel anecdotes of his globetrotting girlfriend.
(When he's made redundant, he decides that the situation has to change. Witty and amusing. - Ed)
19 May: The Cloistered Soul By Rachel Connor. Postulant Bridget arrives in a Benedictine convent, and Sister Agatha is assigned to look after her.
(Bridget is a bright and young and more perceptive than her sometimes juvenile remarks suggest. Her arrival causes much soul-searching in the mind of Sister Agatha, an Oxford graduate with a serious turn of mind who has been in the convent for several years. - Ed)
20 May: Magpie
By Lee Mattinson. Lance is determined to abstain from his taste for eating metal and takes up a sensible job as he tries to get his life back on track.
Lance has the eating disorder pica, in which sufferers imbibe non-edible substances. His preference is for metal. Jack Deam surfs Lance’s moods from coping to meltdown, in scenes which trace the problem back to his upbringing. (- from MP's review)
21 May: The Shining Heart
By Conor McCormack and Matt Haynes. Based on a true story. When a schizophrenic decides to stop taking his medication, his world becomes infused with wonder.
Based on the real story of a schizophrenic who decides to stop taking his medication to find his true self. The drama has the distorted but comprehensible logic of the dream state... (- from MP's review)
22 May: Lost or Stolen
By Jessica Brown, daughter of radio producer/writer Gary Brown. A couple meet as they share a taxi after a night out in London.
(A unusual love story. A relationship develops between a young man in the legal profession and a young girl with a problem ... - Ed.)
23 May: From A to Z
By Rose Heiney. Comedy. Paul and Suzie have been together since they were teenagers. As they approach 30 they decide that they need to reignite their passion for each other.
(Amusing and ingenious. They carry out activities beginning with each letter of the alphabet, in sequence.... - Ed) 24 May 14, updated 28 May 14
VISITORS APR 2014
Visitors15,124. Top three writer pages: Rodney Wingfield (219), John Fletcher (134), Gary Brown (126). 1708 visitors had a visit in excess of one hour.
4 Apr 14
The well-known radio writer William Ash has died, in his nineties. There is an excellent obit. in the Daily Telegraph which describes many of the aspects of his exciting life. He was briefly in touch with me some years ago and sent me a list of his radio plays and a potted biography. He wrote a number of books including 'The Way To Write Radio Drama'; for many years the main textbook on how to do it. The Steve McQueen character in 'The Great Escape' is said to be based on William Ash.
4 May 14
RADIO DRAMA REVIEW APR 2014
April's drama review is now on-line.
27 Apr 14
VISITORS MAR 2014
Visitors16,429. Top three writer pages: Jimmy Chinn (145), John Fletcher (129), Rodney Wingfield (120).
PETER WOLF New radio writer page. I'm slightly short of information so would welcome contributions.
18 Mar 14
JUST A MINUTE
This well-known comedy show is back for its 68th series, with the inimitable Nicholas Parsons in the chair. He has been present, I think, in every episode since it started.
5 Mar 14
VISITORS JAN-FEB 2014
Visitor numbers and most-visited writer pages:
Jan:13736, Charles Chilton(152 visits), Rodney Wingfield(151), Wally K Daly(126)
Feb:13651, Ellen Dryden(235), Rodney Wingfield(121), Gary Brown(95).
After a busy apple grafting period I have updated the Moira Petty radio review index.
1 Mar 14
TOP TEN Clive Lever has written a fascinating piece about his Top Ten radio plays. See Clive's Top Ten
Afterwards you might care to investigate the other Top Tens on the site - click the link to read them.
26 Feb 14
MORE CUTS BY STEALTH? I have been contacted by Clive Lever, who writes:
Recently I’ve noticed an increase in the number of repeat dramas on radio 4,
particularly in the Afternoon Drama slot. There also seems to be less drama
output between 11.30am and noon on weekdays. I’ve now started to wonder whether, though we
haven't had any definite announcements heralding the axing of radio drama slots, by stealth the output may be diminishing like a melting ice cap.
Not so much an axe as a pair of insistently snipping
scissors. Where will the blades fall next?
VISITORS NOV-DEC 2013
Visitor numbers and most-visited writer pages:
Nov 14963; Wally K Daly (195), RDWingfield (139), S.Baczkiewicz (112)
Dec 12544; S.Baczkiewicz (145), J.Fletcher (122), RDWingfield & Jonathan Smith (both 109).
Total visitors for 2013: 188,762.
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.
1 Jan 14
AUDIO RESTORATION A friend of mine who does lots of audio restoration being interviewed on Radio New Zealand. Chris Frear .