Alison Plowden Radio Plays

(Born 18.12.1931, died 17.7.2007)

Alison Plowden specialised in books, TV screenplays and radio plays dealing with the Elizabethan and Stuart eras. The catalyst for her career as a writer for radio was a 6-month attachment to the BBC’s Radio Drama Script Unit, where she was encouraged by Joe Burroughs to write.

She soon came to realise, when typing scripts submitted by others, that she could do better herself and later recalled : ‘A secretary writing scripts was rather like a performing monkey at the BBC – there was a sort of “Fancy – what a clever little girl!” attitude’.

Plowden cut her teeth, so to speak, in radio, and this was a stepping-stone to her 1970 TV series ‘Mistress of Hardwick’ receiving a Writers’ Guild Award for the Best Educational TV Series for 1970. After which, she went freelance.

Barry Pike (who has done most of the work) and I have tried to put together a list of Plowden’s radio plays, which are a less well-known aspect of her overall work and also include some of her drama-documentaries and feature programmes.

28.04.1963 – “Elizabeth, Prisoner”
14.11.1963 – “Nine Days’ Queen”
19.03.1964 – “The King’s Great Matter”
22.12.1964 – “The Most Unhappy Lady”
27.05.1965 – “The Tudor Rose”
04.02.1966 – “Chance or Villainy?” (3) *
17.02.1967 – “My End Is My Beginning”
??/??/1967 – “Hampton Court” (1)
24.04.1968 – “Elizabeth’s Admiral” (2 ) *
11.08.1968 – “The Great Enterprise, 1588” (4)*
19.08.1968 – “Sweet England’s Pride” (The Flora Robson Festival)*
08.03.1969 – “True & Lawful Queen” (Saturday Night Theatre)
18.09.1969 – “The Killing at Kirk o’Field”*
17.01.1970 – “The Summer Queen” (Saturday Night Theatre)
20.10.1970 – “A Knot of Secret Might”*
24.03.1971 – “When Did You Last See Your Father?”
25.06.1974 – “This Unadvis’d Young Woman”
08.08.1974 – “The Case of Richard Hunne”

Note – items 1-4 were repeated on consecutive Sundays, 24, 31 May, 7 and 14 June, 1970 under the Series title “A Pattern of Tudors”. Items “starred” exist amongst collectors.

25.09.1971 – “The Religious Body” (Saturday Night Theatre)
13.10.1973 – “Henrietta Who?”* (SNT – both of these by Catherine Aird)
15.05.1976 – “Other Paths to Glory”* (SNT by Anthony Price)

“Great Families of Britain”

This series was marked by a full-colour front page on ‘Radio Times’ issue no. 3036 plus an illustrated 3-page article by the author. An article on the complete series was published in the 4 February issue of “The Listener”. The series producer was Trevor Hill.

17.01.1982 – no. 1 ‘The Russells of Woburn’
24.01.1982 – no. 2 ‘The Princely House of Hamilton’
31.01.1982 – no. 3 ‘The Noble House of Howard’
07.02.1982 – no. 4 ‘The FizGeralds of Leinster’
14.02.1982 – no. 5 ‘The Percy out of Northumberland’
21.02.1982 – no. 6 ‘The Mostyns of Mostyn’

“Lords of the Land”
27.04.1988 – no. 1 ‘The Herberts of Wilton’
04.05.1988 – no. 2 ‘The Noble House of Cavendish’
11.05.1988 – no. 3 ‘The Stanleys of Knowsley’
18.05.1988 – no. 4 ‘The Sidneys of Penshurst’

Roger Bickerton and Barry Pike


17.1.1970/ Rosalind Shanks/Mary Wimbush

KNOT OF SECRET MIGHT....1970 Narrator: Stephen Thorne. With Nerys Hughes. Producer: Richard Wortley.

24.3.1971/ Bernard Brown/Patricia Gallimore/John Rye

Police murder mystery. 13.10.73, SNT.

1979 27 Jan 79; SNT. Adapted by Alison Plowden from the novel by Anthony Price. Fascinating 90-minute story set in the present day (1979) but based in the battlefields of Flanders. A regiment of first world war recuits known as "The Poachers" captured a Prussian stronghold near Bouillaire Wood in mysterious circumstances in 1916. A researcher, sixty years later, finds that those with knowledge of the regiment are meeting with fatal accidents faster than he can get to them...will he get to the truth? Stars Martin Jarvis; directed by Harry Catlin.

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