Amusing feature on the history of the world's best-known cricket club and its origins; includes contributions from the Test Match Special team commentating on matches from 150 years ago. R4, 28.7.87. Presented by the late Peter Tinniswood, author and cricket enthusiast.

READING THE SPIN, by R. Gallagher
All's fair in love and war...but Colin's plan to scupper a rival is just not cricket. A fast-bowling comedy for times of change...Daniel Strauss as the commentator, Leon Tanner as Vic Clancey, Peter Meakin as Maurice Tarbuck, Andy Hockley as Colin Huxley, Daniel Strauss as Alistair Pitchforth and Moir Leslie as Kathy. Directed by Nigel Bryant.

HAT TRICK, 1...TAKING US TO LUNCH by Peter Gibbs....1991
Peter Gibbs is a former Derbyshire opener (P.J.K.Gibbs, I seem to remember from the late 60s) and this was the first of three plays about cricket broadcast on Radio 3. It's a very funny parody about life in the commentary box. There's foul language, a punch-up on air, questions in theCommons, a BBC inquiry and a required resignation. It's hilarious.

Director Jane Morgan, a dedicated cricket fan, gets wonderful performances from Peter Jeffrey, Bryan Pringle and Mark Wing-Davey. Johnners, of course, insists it bears no relation whatsoever to real life, where, he says, all is sweet and never a cross word has been spoken. The plays were commissioned by BBC Radio head of drama John Tydeman, who approached 11 leading playwrights - including the late Samuel Beckett, Harold Pinter, Tom Stoppard, Simon Gray and Tim Rice - who either didn't reply or declined. However, Sue Townsend, Peter Gibbs and Peter Tinniswood took up the cricketing challenge....(R.Twisk, Observer, Jun 91) 1137

HAT TRICK,2...THE ASHES, by Sue Townsend....1991
Sue Townsend's comic fantasy involves an English cricket captain, Geoffrey Rutker-King (Stephen Tomkinson) who seduces 16-year-old Louise (Robin Weaver) on the eve of a vital Test. Far from protesting, her cricket-mad father is delighted when he sees a chance to realise his life's ambition to play for England. Full of over-the-top moments, it contains the sort of lines you'd expect from Adrian Mole's creator. ...(R.Twisk, Observer, Jun 91) 1137

HAT TRICK,3..I ALWAYS TAKE LONG WALKS, by P.Tinniswood...1991
John Tydeman directed the Tinniswood play himself. It's a monolgue starring Judi Dench as a frustrated cricket widow who recalls the cricketers she's loved and lost. It contains poignant moments and flashes of brilliance, such as her nights of passion and her descriptions of the countryside. But it's patchy, and overall it's not in the same class as his Uncle Mort pieces. (paraphrased from ...R.Twisk, Observer, Jun 91.

Extended interviews (about 3 hours) with Donald Bradman, issued by the BBC on cassette. Interviewer / narrator Norman May, produced by ABC Sport; edited by Peter Baxter of Test Match Special.

With Nicola Davies, comedy feature about the rather odd game and the chirruping insect. R4, 26.9.92. With Brian Johnston, some experts on creepy-crawlies, and an expert on women's cricket and round-arm bowling.

An interesting play by Christopher Douglas. Jardine set out in the winter of 1932 with the avowed intent of destroying "those ruddy convicts" - the Australian cricket team. The tour became known as the Bodyline Tour and Jardine earned himself the hatred of every Australian. But he won the series. With Michael Cochrane as Jardine, Robert East as Gubby Allen, Haydn Wood as Bob Wyatt and Michael Kitchen as Harold Larwood. Also stars David Threlfall, Peter Joyce, John Church, Robert Lang, Partick Barr, John Bott as the rest of the England team...then as the Australians: Bill Woodfull played by Edmunde Pegge, Bradman by Christopher Blake, Jack Fingleton by Nick Tate, Viv Richardson by Damon Sanders, Stan McCabe by Peter Dahlsen, other parts by Philip Dunbar, Gordon Reid, Gordon Gostelow, Michael McStay, Martin Friend, Christopher Douglas, Stephen Thorne...and Michael Spice and Brian Haines as the Commander and George V. Directed by Jane Morgan, a keen cricket enthusiast. Date of first broadcast - early 80s / late 70s?

Well-researched biographical play by Martin Worth about the life of Dr. W.G.Grace, the world's most famous cricketer. An interesting comment on the social history of the times ... Grace was well-paid on the tour, but it wasn't so easy for some of his working-class team mates...and don't forget that this was when amateurs and professionals entered the ground by different gates. With Timothy Spall as W.G., Zela Clark as Agnes, Diana Ohlson as Martha, Julie Berry as Fanny, Richard Durden as Edward, Trevor Nichols as Fred, Paul Chapman as Lord Harris, Sue Broomfield as Lucy, Alan Thompson as Babcock, Struan Rodger as Alfred Shaw, Jonathan Cullen as Gilbert, Jill Lidstone as Bessie. Also in cast: Andrew Branch, Alan Dudley, Davbid Goodland, Paul Gregory, Stephen Harold, Brian Hewlett, Tim Reynolds, Paul Russell, Stephen Thorne, Ian Thompson. Directed by Jane Morgan.

Extremely entertaining radio-3 style play; broadcast R3 31.7.93. An inventive double setting mixing ancient greek legend with a modern English cricket team. With Anthony Jackson as Ajax/Sulk, Bill Wallis as Agamemnon/Skip, Stephen Tomkinson as Menelaus/Breeze, Dominic Letts as Odysseus/Wheedler, Jane Slavin as Tecmessa/Janet, John Baddeley as the other captain, and Steve Hodson and Keith Drinkel as The Chorus. Directed by the expert in unusal plays, Richard Wortley.

Interesting feature about the financing of cricket in a commercial age.

Excellent play about the legendary Somerset cricketer Harold Gimblett. R3. With Tom Wilkinson as Gimblett; the narrator was Christopher Benjamin, Mr. Penney was David King, Young Harold was Matthew Rudge, and his brother Denis Tom Laurenson, the spectators were Terence Edmond and George Parton. Recorded in Somerset by Michael (?exton)*. The author (John Fletcher) would like to acknowledge his debt to the author of the book about Harold Gimblett, David Foot, and Ralph Barker, writer of Ten Great Innings.

THE CRICKET MATCH; broadcast date not known.
From the classic story by Hugh de Selincourt, of village cricket a couple of generations ago, Peter Carey was played by Jill Lidstone, and the other parts by Stephen MacDonald, Michael N. Haber, Geoffrey Matthews, Peter Woodthorpe, Nigel Anthony, David Rintoul, Sean Arnold, Stephen Thorne, David March, Peter Alexander, Alan Dudley, Maddi Head, Teresa Streatfield, Jane Wenham, Eric Allen, David Peart, Michael Jenner, Christopher Scott. SMs: Peter Harwood, Tim Sturgeon, David Blount; (London), Ian Kaye and Gregor Graham (Edinburgh). Music composed and played by Robert Pettigrew. Dramatised by John Rotannack and directed by Patrick Rayner.

Another amusing feature programme about the history of cricket, with contributions from the TMS team.

BAT & BALL....1996
By Peter Stafford. Curious story of a young girl obsessed by cricket. With Judie Brook as Lizzie, Russell Dixon as Bill; also stars Fenella Norman, Lucis Larotonda, Jerry Kursey, John Brandwell, Matthew Sim, Brenda Elder. Directed in Manchester by Dave Sheasby.

Memoirs of the politician & cricketer C.L.R.James. 4-1997, World Service

Broadcast by ABC; feature on the history of cricket, with contributions from Donald Bradman and others.

Excellent comedy series about Dave Podmore and his pragmatic approach to making money out of cricket... written by Christopher Douglas.

THE WIT AND WISDEN OF MARTIN TRUELOVE (R4, 1415, 1 Aug 03) was a very funny comedy set in the "Test Match Special" commentary box, written by Dan Sefton and featuring thinly disguised versions of Henry Blofeld, Fred Trueman, David Lloyd and Bill Frindall. A Test is in progress; everything is going smoothly; the Blofeld character is calmly talking about his colleagues' lack of sartorial elegance to three million people when an uninvited guest bursts in. The programme continues, but with move revelations than usual, including the information that a commentator's wife slept with the entire Glamorgan second XI, though not all at once. The TMS team was Jon Glover, Michael Maloney, Martin Hyder and Jonathan Keeble, and the outsiders Ewan Bailey, Alison Pettit, Stephen Critchlow and Liza Sadovy; Marc Beeby, who must be a TMS addict, directed.

It's worth saying at this point that the real TEST MATCH SPECIAL has been superb during the summer, with the guest South African commentators Barry Richards and Alan Donald entering into the spirit of fun which makes the programme so enjoyable. Another boost has been provided by email, which has given it more immediacy; there have been many interesting discussions between the commentators and listeners. On one accasion we had an exchange about the effect on the turf of magnesium and zinc levels, and for once Mr. Blofeld was nonplussed.

*Can't quite make out the name of the director from the recording... email me if you can help. There may also be spelling mistakes with some of the names in the casts; again - email me if necessary.

LAWN WARS....2007
6 Jul 07. By Nick Warburton. Cricket-based play featuring a middle-aged lady who's just lost her mother, and the guy she takes on for some gardening work. Unfortunately there's a rotter of a brother-in-law determined to throw a spanner in the works. RT described this as a gentle comedy about relationships, property and cricket. Cast: Anna Calder-Marshall, Richard Johnson, Robert Daws; produced by Peter Kavanagh. For more information see Nick's page.

R4, 1415, 24 Sep 08, was another play from that Radio 4 stalwart, Nick Warburton. W.G.Grace arrives at The Oval very late in his career and contemplates another day on the cricket field. But before play starts, he meets a stranger who engages him in conversation. He seems strangely familiar; a voice from the past. The play stars Kenneth Cranham as W.G., Benedict Cumberbatch as the stranger, and Christopher Martin-Jenkins as 'The Voice of Cricket". The producer was Steven Canny.

DOLLY (R4, 1415, 16 Apr 09), by Christopher Douglas, was a dramatisation of the D'Oliveira Affair, which made national headlines almost forty years ago. D'Oliveira, from the South African slums, had worked his way up as a club cricketer and now made a living playing for Worcestershire. He was an exciting batsman and a talented medium-paced swing bowler. His form was so good that he eventually made the England team. In the late sixties he was selected to go on a winter tour of South Africa, which was still under the rule of apartheid.

...this article continues on 2009 plays page .

The play was repeated in 2011, the year in which Basil D'Oliveira died.

Recordings of all of the above are known to exist in VRPCC collections.

Nigel Deacon / Diversity website.

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