Guy Meredith Radio Plays

Guy Meredith is a well-known radio writer and dramatist. His most recent play went out recently on radio 3; a drama about the antipathy between Verdi and Wagner. He has a wide range, as the list below shows.

Barry Pike's piece was written at a time when 'social realism' in BBC drama seemed to take precedence over a good story. That time is now past, and entertaining plays are once again being commissioned, including twenty more by Guy Meredith.

So - over to ........

BARRY PIKE, writing in 2002......... ..............
Guy Meredith is a superior radio dramatist who, like other exceptional writers, no longer writes for radio. Besides the dozen or so original plays he wrote, he also adapted the work of others (including 1985 by Anthony Burgess and three of Colin Dexter's novels, with John Shrapnel as Inspector Morse and Robert Glenister as Sergeant Lewis). His first play was LEMMY, a thirty - minute piece broadcast in 1977. AFTER SCHOOL followed in 1979, a more substantial play for Saturday Night Theatre, about a successful businessman who seeks to change his materialistic way of life. COUNTRY HOUSE MYSTERY was heard in 1981; an edgy, intelligent whodunit in which a cynical failed writer undertakes to complete the last novel of a recently-dead best-seller and at the same time to establish how he died.

CRAFT (1984) is the first of two linked plays, of which the second, CRAFT II: THE TOKYO CORRECTION (sic), appeared in 1993. Both are ebullient, light-hearted thrillers, set among artists and picture dealers, with Norman Rodway as a devious painter and James Grout as the bullish policeman investigating his activities. (To hear the latter attempting to communicate by telephone with a French colleague is to experience comedy of a high order.) The second play takes up the story ten years later, adding to the mixture an eccentric art collector, played with enormous relish by Steve Hodson.

MAD, BAD (1989) is a half- hour squib in which Bill Nighy, hag -ridden on both flanks, contrives at the last minute to evade his oppressors. ARCADY (1991) is a haunting play; at once a dissection of thatcherite market forces and an unconventional ghost story. THE SURPRISE SYMPHONY (1991) is one of Meredith's triumphs, a two-hander for Norman Rodway and Imelda Staunton as the surviving members of a doomed orchestra, most of whom, one after the other, meet death by violence. It is supremely clever and monstrously funny. MARTIN GUERRE (1992) confirmed Meredith's range and reliability; a powerful version of the French story about a supposed return from the dead, adapted in two parts for the "Classic Serial". VICTORY (1993) is a moving play about a doomed eternal triangle in post-war Germany. It brought Guy Meredith's radio career to an impressive close - but the discriminating listener has been the poorer since he stopped writing for the medium.

Barry Pike, 2002.

15.10.77 Lemmy 30m
07.06.80 Geminus SNT
27.06.81 Country House Mystery SNT
25.09.93 Victory rpt 13.8.94
24.03.84 Craft: Comedy thriller set in the art world. SNT.
??.??.85 After school
13.06.89 Mad, Bad
17.10.89 Clicktrack 45m
??.??.91 The Colour of Murder (J. Symons), dram
17.09.91 The Surprise Symphony 60m; rpt. BBC7 Fri 7 May 04
07.10.91 Arcady 75m
10.03.92 Perruci's Escapement 60m
24/31.10.92 The true story of Martin Guerre 2 x 60m
15.02.93 Craft II - The Tokyo Correction : sequel to "Craft"
19.07.03 Spring Forward, Fall Back, 60m
17.11.03 - 21-11-03: Five plays "Daunt & Dervish"; more followed in 2006, 2008 & 2009
10.12.10 Sky High 45m
19.05.13 One Winter's Afternoon, 90m. Verdi & Wagner. R3.
26.02.18 Twenty-four hours from Tulse Hill (with Zalie Burrow)

Guy Meredith also lists (without dates)
Run, Man, Run
Black Box
La Peste (Camus translation?)

Adaptations: three Morse novels by Colin Dexter; The Colour of Murder, by Julian Symonds (1991).


Readers will perhaps be familiar with Haydn's Surprise Symphony. As it's played, the musicians gradually disappear, one by one, until the conductor is left alone on the stage. Apparently Haydn was hinting to Count Esterhazy, his boss, that he wouldn't mind a holiday. This play has a similar structure - there's a murder, an orchestra on tour (seemingly full of assorted lunatics), and one by one the performers get bumped off ..... an excellent play, repeated on BBC7 in May 2004. (thanks to Paul Bines for alerting me to this).

THE COLOUR OF MURDER, by Julian Symons, dram. G. Meredith, 1991
John Wilkins was a gentle, mild- mannered man who lived a simple, predictable life. So when he met a beautiful, irresistible girl, his world was turned upside down. Looking at his wife, and thinking of the girl, everything turned to red before his eyes. Later, his mind a blank about the crucial hours, he finds himself on trial for murder. (information kindly supplied by Greg Linden, USA).

Perucci's Escapement....1992
R3. By Guy Meredith. 10 Mar 92. A comedy-drama set in Elizabethan England. A renowned Italian clockmaker becomes a pawn in the religious struggle between people who are driven by greed and bloodlust. In the series 'Drama Now'. Giacomo Perucci: Kenneth Cranham, Count dasperghi: Frank Finlay, Bamborough: Clive Francis, Sternwell: Brian Glover, Ludd the Boatman: Michael Tudor Barnes, Maria: Shelley Thompson, Harwick: Keith Drinkel, Malgrave/Captain: Sean Arnold, Lord Burleigh: Peter Penry Jones, Maggie: Joanna Wake. Produced by Cherry Cookson. (..............info from Norman Milburn)


The last few months has been an unusual period for radio drama since it marks the return of Guy Meredith, Jonathan Smith, Barry Keefe, Alick Rowe, and Moya O'Shea, all of whom had new plays broadcast after a long interval. One hopes that other well-known names will find their way back into the schedules.

Guy Meredith's new play, SPRING FORWARD, FALL BACK (R4, 1430, 19 Jul 03), was an amusing comedy-drama starring Stephen Moore and Samantha Spiro. Dennis is getting remarried but isn't sure he's doing the right thing. His first wife, Maggie, is a plumber; she has to sort out some leaking pipes before the reception guests arrive. There are plenty of opportunities for things to go wrong. Cherry Cookson directed, I hope more of Guy Meredith's work will be heard soon.

......in the words of Radio Times: a series of five comedy thrillers from an idea by Anna Massey and Imelda Staunton:

1:After the Ball is Over - Two women who worked in the Ministry of Defence in the Second World War resolve their feelings of uselessness by setting up a detective agency.

2:South of the Border - Daunt and Dervish have established their detective agency and there is a steady flow of business. This episode starts with a woman trying to drown herself by jumping off a bridge.

3:A Question of Class - The detectives return to their Covent Garden office early one morning to discover an Oxford undergraduate drunk on their doorstep.

4:Games of Chance - The detectives are called in on a sporting assignment when they are asked to do a 24-hour watch on a young East End boy about to fight for a place in the 1948 Olympics...

5:The Singer, not the Song - When a newspaper magnate is murdered, the obvious suspect is his much younger wife. But when the police discover Daunt and Dervish were actually in the grounds of his house earlier that evening, they are under suspicion and more..........

Cast: *Anna Massey, *Imelda Staunton, *Bill Paterson, Nicky Henson, Alison Petitt, Gerard McDermott, Harry Myers, Andrew Harrison, Marlene Sidaway, Stephen Critchlow, Liza Sadovy, Carl Prekopp, Dermot Crowley, Charlie Simpson, Scott Handy, Tom George, Rachel Atkins, Jonathan Keeble, Helen Longworth, Carolyn Jones, Ioan Meredith, Bill Nighy, Kate Buffery, Rupert Vansittart, Beth Chalmers. Pianist Harry Myers; directed by Cherry Cookson (episodes 1,3,4,5) and Janet Whitaker (episode 2). *in all 5 episodes

ND's comments.......I wasn't expecting anything like "Craft" or "Surprise Symphony", and these 45-minute lighthearted dramas were very agreeable. The first two contained a few cliches (................. "the gun in my right hand is loaded"); after a while it became clear that they were deliberate; an old hand like Guy Meredith doesn't make mistakes like that. By the third episode I was liking the style, and the series was getting into its stride. The two lady detectives are excellent - one prim and proper; the other not far from a female Superman; Bill Paterson is excellent as their advisor........with good reviews and audience reaction, perhaps we'll get some more.. it's as good as "Baldi" and "McLevy".....

Incidentally, there was a play broadcast some years back called "The gun in my right hand is loaded", by Timothy West............a skit on how not to write radio plays...anyone reading this know who was in it, and where I can get a copy?

UPDATE....Shaun MacLaughlan's site has provided the answer.... this was never broadcast. It was put together as a demonstration of the way how not to write for radio.

SKY HIGH....2010
10 Dec 2010. By Guy Meredith. A real-time drama, where a woman working in a high-rise office has to find a computer code against the clock. A former employee arrives; can he be trusted to help? With Claire Harry, Chris Pavlo, Lloyd Thomas.Producer Tracey Neale.

By Guy Meredith, R3, 19 May 13. A play about the antipathy between composers Wagner and Verdi, with imagined conversations between the two composers. In life they never met, but the antipathy is actual, not imagined. After the popular success of his opera Aida, Verdi has been persuaded to write one more: Otello, but is finding it a struggle. Wagner's voice inside his head mocks him. Wagner: Kenneth Cranham, Verdi: Paul Rhys, Guiseppina: Kate Buffery, Ricordi: Clive Merrison, Boito: Nick Boulton, Cosima: Lydia Leonard, Stolz: Zalie Barrow, Liszt: Scott Handy, Minna: Emily Bruni; Mathilde: Clare Corbett, Mariani: Sean Baker, Ludwig: Mark Straker, Waiter: Christopher York. Producer Cherry Cookson.

26 Feb 2018: Twenty-four hours from Tulse Hill
By Guy Meredith and Zalie Burrow. Romantic comedy. Two estate agents, a would-be writer and an aspiring artist, want to quit their jobs . Then their boss pairs them up to sell a property to a well-off client. Mark: John Heffernan, Lisa: Catrin Stewart, Myles: Nicholas le Prevost, Bartleman: Philip Jackson, Nic: Ricky Norwood, Selena: Rachel Atkins. Producer: Cherry Cookson.


The Silent World of Nicholas Quinn....1996
Inspector Morse faces a puzzling trip into the world of the hearing impaired, following the murder of Nicholas Quinn, a deaf member of staff at Oxford's Foreign Examinations Syndicate.  Broadcast 1996; adapted by Guy Meredith and directed by Ned Chaillet. John Shrapnel as Morse, Robert Glenister as Lewis, with Denys Hawthorn and Geoffrey Whitehead. Repeated on BBC7, Jan 08.

Nigel Deacon, Diversity website

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