Radio Plays, 1946

By Cliff Gordon, Home Service, 7 Mar 46. With Ivor Novello. Politics in a church choir.


From The Birmingham Post, 15 Mar 1946
"Next week is notable for the number of new plays down for production. On Monday evening (18th.), "A Man Named Luke", an adaptation by John Odams and Helmar Fernback from the novel by March Cost, will come from the Birmingham studios. It will be produced by Edward Livesey; the leading roles are played by Carleton Hobbs and Hilary Williams. The narrator is Alan Howland.

Eden Philpotts has written a new play for broadcasting entitled "Hey-Diddle-Diddle" and it is to be broadcast in the Light Programme on 20 March. Following his custom, Mr. Philpotts has chosen a Devonshire setting for his story, which concerns a strong-willed old lady and a number of fortune-hunting nephews and nieces. Gladys Young plays the part of the old Aunt Mercy, and the cast also includes Vivienne Chatterton, Hilda Davies and Eric Lugg. John Richmond is the Producer.

Martyn C. Webster is editing and producing a new series of plays under the heading "Appointment With Fear". The first play will be broadcast on 26 March. For this new series, all the plays are by different authors, and it is hoped by this means to add scope and interest to the productions. The first is "The Nutcracker Suite" adapted by Leslie Dodd from a short story by Crawshay Williams, and Belle Chrystall and Lewis Stringer will star in it. The Second is "Black Mamba", a first radio play by two authors, A.R. Ramsden and Hugh Barnes. The third "Appointment With Fear" will be Edgar Allan Poe's story "The Cask of Amontillado", adapted for radio by Laidman Browne, who will also play the leading part. "

From The Birmingham Post, 22 March, 1946.
" 'Saturday Night Theatre' has rather more than trebled the audience with which it started its career in April, 1943, and 'World Theatre', introduced last October, has already doubled its audience. These Listener Research statistics about the rising popularity of the radio play are amply borne out by personal observations. Criticisms of the plays are commonly heard in trains and buses and in places of assembly, and the fact that plays must be given undivided attention is obviously influencing the pattern of domestic routine.

Under these circumstances, the problems of listener convenience should have close attention from the programme planners. The system of fixed times for particular types of programmes should be extended, and every effort made to give multiple performances of all important productions, so that listeners may more easily fit them in.

The question of the best length of radio productions should be reviewed periodically, for in my experience the BBC estimate of listener capacity is too low. Most listeners would like listening sessions that are long enough to be worth planning for. Furthermore, as soon as the paper restrictions are relaxed, the printed word should be used to supplement the microphone and to fill in as much as possible the visual impressions that are lacking in a radio production.

In a pamphlet just issued by the Drama Department in support of the series "World Theatre", Mr. Lionel Hale sets down very explicitly the visible splendours lost in radio production, and gives some advice as to how these losses may be compensated. Briefly, he suggests that the listener must work hard to make for himself the scene of his imagination. He must be half audience and half actor. To that good advice there are added some admirable programme notes on the projected productions in the series that will, no doubt, help towards a listener reaction that is just as important in a broadcast performance as in a theatre.

The pamphlet gives a list of the plays to be broadcast in the series and the dates of their performance. The issue of this pamphlet should create a precedent for all future drama series. It is important for the listener to be able to plan ahead, and the BBC should see that he is given every facility to do so. There is no need for the lavish format adopted for the "World Theatre" pamphlet just issued, attractive though it is. A really comprehensive pamphlet, with all projected productions, with dates and times, and graphic illustrations (not merely pictures of playwrights) would be a great help in "piecing out" the imperfections of blind listening."

3 July 46; CBS radio. With Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre.

By Louis MacNeice. Date nk. This play is reckoned by those who know to be a landmark in radio drama. Christopher Holme wrote in 1981 that it is MacNeice's most demanding work. It's about a quest - Roland is the youngest son, and all his older brothers have gone on the same quest and never been seen again. Roland doesn't see the point of throwing his life away like the others, but he goes through the same indoctrination. He doesn't know whether to believe in the Tower or the Dragon which rises from it if not opposed. His doubts are reinforced by the coming of love. But eventually he sets off........

I didn't like this-tried it and gave up after 20 minutes. I thought the style was too formal and too slow - N.D.

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