Jill Hyem was former Chair of the Radio Committee of the Writers' Guild of Great Britain. She has a very long list of radio credits, and has also written for television; some of her titles are known to everyone, not just radio buffs - "Tenko", for example, and "Waggoners' Walk". She has even appeared on 'Call My Bluff" - see the extract at the foot of the page. Jill died in late 2015 aged 78.

Jill's own website is at: www.jillhyem.co.uk

Note from Jill to ND, 'Diversity'.....:

......At my first meeting with a radio drama editor in the 1960s I was told, "Never write a play with more than one or two women in the cast. They always catch each other's tone." As a young actress that was a red rag to a bull. From then on my plays had mainly female casts. It was this body of work for women that led to my being asked to co-write the TV series "Tenko".

Radio has always been my favourite medium. It combines the intimacy of the novel with the freedom of film. Above all, it requires the creative participation of the listener. Their imagination is challenged just as the writer's is.

Over the years radio allowed me an enormous variety of work. I was not typecast as in TV. In radio I could write for the daily serial as well as plays of all types - suspense, horror, comedy, human interest, social drama.

I have been lucky enough to work mainly with excellent producers - Jane Morgan, Kay Patrick and, more recently, Cherry Cookson. All three value their writers.

Alas, the current system of commissioning means that the decision-making processes are lengthy and increasingly remote from the writer. If an idea does somehow filter through, one is no longer able to write on the crest of enthusiasm. All the same it is still the main source of original drama and, as such, must be cherished.

Jill Hyem

A list of Jill's radio work is shown below:

sketches for "Mon. Night at Home" pre 1963
Better than Nowhere. 1963, 60m
Parrot Fashion. 1964,15m,JBM
Out of Step. 1964,15m,JBM
Jackpot 1964,15m,JBM
Jigsaw 1964,15m,JBM
A Foot in the Door 1965,30m
The Dales (with Alan Downer) until 1969
Once Bitten 1966,60m
Third Girl Wanted 1967,30m
Evening Out 1967,30m
Dear Girls (serial,w.Andrew Sachs) 1968
The Ropewalk (with Alan Downer) 1969,90m
Waggoners Walk (w. Alan Downer) 1969-1979
The Winds of Heaven (M.Dickens) 1971,90m
Kate & Emma (M.Dickens) 1972,90m x 2
A Shape like Piccadilly 1971,60m
Swap 1972,45m
Recess 1973
Equal Terms 1973
Bang,Bang-You're Dead(M.Spark) 1974,45m
Thank You 1974
Now She Laughs,Now She Cries 1975,90m
Dog in a Manger 1976,45m
Blight 1977,90m
Remember Me (Giles Cooper award) 1978,90m
Look at Mr. Punch 1979,60m
Buzz 1979,15m,JBM
Footsteps 1979,15m,JBM
Tick Tock 1979,15m,JBM
Marking Time 1980,30m
Look at Mr. Punch 1980
A Case to be Answered 1981,90m
Three Piece Sweet (w.J.Phillips) 1982,30m x 3
Origami (Spine Chillers series) 1983,45m
Humanisation of George Mayhew 1984,45m
Where are you,Juliet?(R.Timperley) 1987,90m
The Years Between (D. du Maurier) 1995,90m
Death Drop (B.M.Gill) ` 1996,90m
No signposts in the sea (V.S-West) 1998,45m
Past Refrain 1999,60m
Life Sentence 2001,45m
The Mind's Eye 2002,45m, rpt.2004
The Road to Lichfield (P.Lively) 2002,45m
Down, down, down you go 2005,45m

(JBM=Just Before Midnight)

Information supplied by Jill Hyem.

one or two of the early plays are missing from VRPCC; see LOST PLAYS page for details.


A girl working in a library strikes up a friendship with a young man she meets during her lunch hour. Gradually it transpires that he cannot read. She decides to take a hand. Anne Stallybrass, Nigel Anthony. 60m.

This is an interesting play for those with long memories, because it was a try-out for "Waggoner's Walk". It's set in a lodging house, and tells of the people who live there. It uses the same theme music as "WW" too... with Patricia Gallimore as Heather Benfield, Anthony Hall as Fred Scruff, Rosemary Francombe as Lynn Dixon, Lynda Gardner as her sister. Also stars Lockwood West, Joan Miller, Barry McCarthy, Michael Spice, Leslie Dwyer, Hazel Copham, Peter Williams, Peter Baldwin, Brian Haynes, Alan Cotter. Produced by Keith Williams.

This is what Radio Times said:..."The Ropewalk is a stout Victorian house, long since converted into flats, situated in a part of London where there is always a fair amount of comings and goings. The play covers the lives of the inhabitants over one weekend - and, most particularly, one coming and one going".

Chris Gutteridge (Oct 03) adds the following comments:

"I'd wanted to hear this play ever since I learned of its existence, which must have been about ten years after Waggoners Walk was taken off.

I've just returned to 2003 after ninety minutes back in the Belsize Park of 1969. The same vividness and intensity I remember feeling, when listening to the daily serial version, came right back. A listener to The Rope Walk today, senses dulled with exposure to sex and violence in films and on TV, would doubtless find it tame, but in 1969 the world it presented to the average Home Service listener must have seemed shockingly cosmopolitan, with its anti-Vietnam demo, its lonely girl from the North, prepared to offer her virginity to a stranger in squalid bedsit, and its bouncer from a Soho clip joint, where a young prostitute dies of a heroin overdose. Much nearer to Play for Today than the cosy world of Mrs Dale and her pristine china tea cups.

So many interesting things about the production too: the setting is almost identical to the serial; the only major differences are the name changes for the house (which interestingly doesn't have a street name in the play), and the new flatmate, who becomes Barbara in the serial, rather than Heather. Different actresses too for the three girls in the top flat, but all sounding identical in the play to the women who played them in the serial. Peter Tyson in the play was played by Michael Spice, who actually played Lynn's second husband in the serial (Matt Prior) , rather than Peter. But away with my anorak. These are things that have lain unconsidered for many years now. I still miss Waggoners Walk, but listen to the Archers still..." Many thanks, Chris, for this contribution)

EQUAL TERMS 1973 30m
It's difficult to have a proper conversation with a person who occupies the moral high ground; or, if you're a patient with depression, by a person who's not had a breakdown. But there are ways of evening the score. With Sylvia Sims as Mary Jessop, Ann Linn as Imogen Drew. Directed by Jane Morgan.

THANK YOU....1974
Afternoon play; two female characters, 45 minutes, social story. Regrettably no cast list on the recording.

- A short story by Muriel Spark. Adapted by Jill Hyem. Produced by Betty Davies: When they were children, Sybil & Desiree had looked alike. As grown women there was still something - if you looked at Desiree quickly you might mistake her for Sybil. But only for a moment. They weren't really alike at all..... R4 25-Sep-1974. Cast List : Christine Finn, Jill Bennett Ella, Betty Huntley-Wright , Elizabeth Morgan, Alan Dudley, David Timson, Grizelda Harvey, Hector Ross, Carole Boyd, John Rye, Sean Arnold, Peter Jefferson.

A ground-breaking piece at the time. A wife leaves her husband to live with another woman. The play examines their relationship and society's attitude to lesbianism. It received much praise both from listeners and critics, although the BBC cancelled the afternoon repeat "in case of offence". Their action prompted much protest, not only from gay women but from many listeners, including a vicar who called it "a wonderful play about love."

With Angela Pleasance as Carol, Penelope Lee as Leah. Also stars Patricia Leaventon, Paul Chapman, Jill Brooke, Leanne Orchin, Barry Shaw, Sheila Wilcocks, Diana Robson, John Bull, Terry Gilliam, Paul Gaimann and Stephen Thorne. Produced by Jane Graham.

Amusing play about a husband who doesn't know when he's well off. He wants to leave his wife because he's bored. Unknown to him, so is she...it's the dog which brings matters to a head. And his wife's friend adopts a strategy which doesn't work out as intended. With Basil Moss as George, Richard Coleman as Rowley, Judy Cornwall as June Norma Ronald as Fenella. Percy Edwards plays Basil the dog... Produced by Kay Patrick.

Producer: Kay Patrick R4 6-Aug-1977 : With Ruth Goring, David Markham, Grizelda Harvey, Betty Baskcomb, Betty Hardy, Sheelah Wilcocks, Margot Boyd, William Eedle, Roy Spencer, Gudrun Ure, Irene Sutcliffe, Joanna Wake, Michael Goldie, Cherie McAuliffe, Anne Rosenfeld.

REMEMBER ME 1978 90m
This is the ultimate revenge play, pushing even Nick Fisher's "Turning of the Tide" into second place. A woman who rents out rooms entertains some guests... it's only after some odd coincidences that her plan, and the reasons for it, are revealed...we slowly realise that she is mad.. Her revenge does not work out in the way she expected, but there's no doubt that it is complete. With Jill Balcon as Thelma, Julian Glover as Paul, Sarah Badell as Margot; also starring Peter Tuddenham, Pauline Letts, Margot Boyd and Rowene Roberts. SM Carol McShane. Directed by Kay Patrick.

I think Jill would admit that this is not a nice play. The subject matter is grim. A happy couple with two young children are watching a Punch and Judy show. Father wanders off, and mother goes to buy some ice creams...that's when things start to go wrong. With Robert Lindsey as the adult Philip, Ben Savrille as young Philip, Barbara Flynne as Susan, Brigit Forsyth as Carol, and Michael Spice as Tom. Also starring Sally Gibson, James Tomlinson, Victoria Hardcastle, Wilf Durham. Directed in Manchester by Kay Patrick.

A rather sad story about an elderly teacher. He was an excellent Classics master, but the subject faded away, as did his enthusiasm for what replaced it. With Richard Hurndall as Mr. Crabtree, Georgina Anderson as his sister, Michael Spice as the headmaster, with the children of St. Barnabas & St. Philip's Primary School. Directed by Cherry Cookson.

A play about a man with a past. A young couple and the relationship between them......it changes when the woman bumps into a down-and- out. With Clive Francis, Mary Wimbush and Sue Wallace; dir. Kay Patrick.

ORIGAMI 1983 45m
A Japanese businessman lodges with a woman and her son. But after he arrives, the child has disturbing dreams, and a figure from the past turns the Origami lessons into something more menacing. With Sean Barratt as Mr. Shimoja, Carole Boyd as Helen Bestall, with Christopher Scoular, Helen Worth, Kate Lee. Directed by Kay Patrick.

A light-hearted play; George Mayhew is a busy middle-aged bachelor with a finger in nearly every pie and a seat on every committee. Then his path crosses that of Ellie ... his life veers wildly off course, and he becomes a little more human. With John Rowe as Mayhew, Moir Leslie as Ellie, John Hollis as Reg; also stars Danny Schiller and William Hope; directed by Kay Patrick.

A woman moves into rented rooms... but the previous occupant doesn't seem to have moved out; at least, not fully....with Julie Berry as Rowena and Juliet, Sheila Grant as Juliet's mother, Hannah Lavender as her daughter. Also stars Linda Gardiner, Seeta Indrani, Sean Barratt, Frank Morey, Graham Kirk, Edward de Sousa, Jonathan Tafler, James Quinn, Joan Campion. Directed in Manchester by Kay Patrick.

by Daphne du Maurier, dramatised by Jill Hyem. When her MP husband is reported killed in action, Diana Wentworth rebuilds her life and takes over his seat. Then he returns. With Diana Quick, Roger Allam, David Collings, Frederick Treves, Peter England, Tessa Worsley, Michael Tudor Barnes, Derek Waring. Produced by Cherry Cookson. R4 13-May-1995.

----Past Refrain (R4 8 Sep 00, 8pm) by Jill Hyem was a rather frightening play about Lara who hears a foreign nursery tune on the car radio, and is terrified by it. There follows a careful investigation of her past to find the cause. There was an impressive cast, including Ben Crowe and Mary Wimbush; Cherry Cookson directed. (VRPCC newsletter, Dec 00)

A child murderess is about to be released after 14 years in prison. In a series of linked monologues we see how she has affected the lives of five women for whom her action has also meant a life sentence, They are her sister, a warderess, a prison governor, her best friend and the victim's mother. Her release triggers off deep feelings in all of them, and for one a determination to take revenge.

A theatre version was subsequently performed.

With Alison Steadman as the mother, Maureen Beatty as the warder; also stars Honeysuckle Weekes, Irene Sutcliffe, Janice Aqua, Philip Joseph. Directed by Cherry Cookson.

An excellent story about love and how our perceptions of it change as we get older. An ordinary middle-aged man, happy in his marriage, meets a sympathetic lady whilst she is visiting her dying mother. They have a lot in common, and one thing leads to another...I was reminded of "Brief Encounter", except that this is more believable. The affair develops slowly and sympathetically; the ending is gentle and under- stated. A dramatisation which works well in spite of being crammed into a 45 minute slot (Barry Pike tells me it's a full length novel) , and well-cast; with Kate Buffery as Anne, David Troughton as David, Sean Baker as Don, Gerard McDermott. Also stars Geoffrey Whitehead, Paula Jacobs and Helen Longworth. Directed by Cherry Cookson.

31 Jan 05 A beautiful but lonely part of Dartmoor is the setting for this psychological thriller about the past haunting the present as a woman who has been involved in a sailing accident tries to come to terms with her feelings of guilt. A creepy tale to put alongside "Remember Me". With Helen Longworth, Jamie Glover, Becky Hindley, and Jessica Crossley. Director Cherry Cookson. 45m.

BACKTRACK .... 2007
10 Feb. Begins in a centre for the homeless. Jan is roped in as a volunteer. She comes into contact with a young down-and-out with whom she becomes almost obsessed. Saturday play. With Maxine Peake, Joseph Kloska, Mark Straker. Producer Jane Morgan. 55m.


Wednesday 30 March 1966, 20.20. A duel of words and wit between ROBERT MORLEY (with Ambrosine Phillpotts & Clive Graham) and FRANK MUIR (with Jill Hyem & Leslie Phillips). Referee, Robin Ray; devised by Mark Goodson and Bill Todman. Title cartoons by Emmwood. Produced by Bryan Sears.

Compiled by Nigel Deacon / Diversity Website

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