Dave Britton Radio Plays

David Britton is a writer and director for stage, screen and radio. In Australia he was Head of Radio Drama for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, where he presided over an expansion of drama on Radio National in addition to writing award-winning stage plays. He subsequently moved to Wales and has penned a number of original radio plays and adaptations for the BBC initially as "David Britton" and more recently as "D.J.Britton". He is a versatile writer, whose original radio credits include a pair of 19th-century spy tales, a talking hotel, and several light romantic comedies. (adapted from http://www.tynewydd.org/englishcourses.htm and other sources. Additional biographical information needed.)


R4, 1415, 5 Mar 04. When Harriet and Gwyn buy their dream house in France, everything goes wrong. But this is Moliere country, and sometimes, unexpected solutions can be found. With Bill Wallis, Rachel Atkins, James Loye, Mared Swain, Melanie Walters, Iestyn Jones, Richard Nichols. Director Alison Hindell.

R4, 3 Dec 03. Less than a hundred years after the Armada Britain came far nearer to being invaded with catastrophic consequences and yet the Dutch attack on Chatham and the River Medway in 1667 is hardly known these days. (part of Soldier, Sailor - Four programmes telling the story of some of the most dramatic naval battles in British history through the voices of ordinary sailors who took part in them.)

28 Nov 03, R4. Mrs Sachs and her old friend The Parson, are set the task of keeping Napoleon Bonaparte safe from assassination during his exile on St Helena. An entertaining flight of fancy with Philip Madoc, Melanie Walters, Andy Rivers, Lucy Rivers, Simon Ludders, and Brendan Charleson. Director Gilly Adams.

R3, 9 Nov 03. Fifty years before the broadcast date, Dylan Thomas died in New York after collapsing in the Chelsea Hotel. This play imagines a conversation between the poet and the hotel itself, infamous home both to wild excesses and inspired creativity. With Roger Allam, Richard Lynch and Penny Downie. Directed by Alison Hindell.

R4 14 Feb 03. Miranda has come to Bardholm to find space to think. Huw is there because counting puffins makes him feel good. Their meeting has unexpected consequences for them both. With Penny Downie and Richard Elfyn. Director Lucy Lunt.

*ONE UP, ONE DOWN....2002
R4, 1415, 5 Jun 02. An Australian girl in London in 1963.

R4, 15 Sep 00. In 1629, the Dutch ship Batavia was wrecked on islands off Western Australia. In the ensuing mayhem over 120 passengers were slaughtered by mutineers before a rescue ship could arrive. When the veneer of civilisation was destroyed, what drove those who survived? With Penny Downie, Oliver Ryan and John Woodvine.

R4,18 May 00, rpt. 12 Dec 02. 1812, Tremadoc, North Wales - they're not ready for the young radical poet who preaches free love and atheism.

CBC, 4,11, 18 Oct and 1, 8 Nov 1999 (BBC broadcast dates uncertain - possibly 24 Feb, 3, 10, 17 and 24 Mar 99). When a salvage tug loses its skipper, it looks as if the entire business might go under until a Nova Scotia family gets help from a group of Welsh seamen. Co-written by David Britton and Paul Ledoux. Co-produced by the CBC and BBC Wales.

ABC, 5 and 12 Nov 1995. An Australian folk singer in Prague before the Warsaw Pact invasion of 1968 finds himself drawn into the freedom movement. Decades later, living as a recluse in Australia, he is forced to revisit the events of the Prague Spring. With Steve Shaw, Mandy McElhinney and Douglas Walker. Produced by David Britton, based on his award-winning stage play.

R3, 17 Nov 85. With Norman Jones and Ian Saynor. Produced by Richard Wortley. [NOTE: not certain if the author is the same David Britton!]


14 Nov 10. Set in the London Blitz. Dramatisation by Dave Britton of Patrick White's novel from 1979. Radio 3. 90m. With Julian Rhind-Tutt, Penny Downie, Hattie Morahan, Philip Quest, John Rowe. Producer Alison Hindell.

A response, in drama, to the financial crisis affecting Northern Rock, and - probably - having an effect on all of us. When a bank collapses it doesn't just affect tycoons.

    Dave Britton: This play was the result of an unusual rapid-response process in which the script was begun relatively close to the broadcast date, and recorded in the week before it went to air. I found this an exciting way to work, especially since it is something radio can do more quickly and efficiently than any other dramatic medium.

    Like most writers, I'm also fascinated by timeless themes such as love, family dynamics and sacrifice. Weaving the immediate and the timeless together under the pressure of a short deadline was an exciting challenge. What drama does well is to give a human face to something which might otherwise seem remote, and that's what we tried to achieve.

    Not surprisingly, some people prefer one side of the fact/fiction spectrum, some the other. One national newspaper commented that the play's account of the sub-prime crisis was probably easier to comprehend than some business journalism, while others were more interested in its dramatic style, which they described as pacey and feisty. " (summarised comments from the BBC drama messageboard, posted by DB)

    Gillian Reynolds in the Telegraph: 'Maybe there'll be a sequel: what happens when governments buy up banks'!"

    ......other summarised comments from the messageboard ........

    ............cliches in the plot but it got over a lot of explanation about the sub-prime property collapse which now seems to be ensnaring the entire world economy. Not too much heavy breathing, either.

    .......very good the BBC can turn round something as up-to-date as this in such a short time.

    Chris Campling in the Times: "D.J. Britton's play could not be more 2008"............. "a timely tale of personal tragedies and international disasters".

Dave Britton again: My next commission is another five episodes of my serialised dramatisation of Arthur Ransome's Old Peter's Russian Tales, from a children's book written in the early 1900s.

Old Peterís Russian Tales....2007
In a hut in the Russian forest, Old Peter the forester tells his grandchildren a new story every day. This five part series, new to BBC 7, was written by Arthur Ransome and dramatised by David Britton. It stars Trevor Cooper, Jemma McKenzie-Brown, Harry Hughes, John Dougall and Joseph Kloska. BBC7, weekdays from Christmas Eve 2007.

By Howard Spring, dram. DJ Britton, R4 Classic Serial 10 October 2004, 15:00 hrs, 60 min. With Paul Copley/Diana Berryman/James Greene/David Shaw/Richard Mitchley/Stuart McLoughlin/Manon Edwards/Mali Karris.

...........Greg Linden sent me the following:

Below is an interesting post by D.J.Britton to one of the BBC message boards in response to criticism of A Sunset Touch, which I thought was weak, although not in ways that I attribute to the adaptation. I listened to the early version of Headlong Hall (with Michael Hordern) recently and I thought Dave Britton's recent version was far superior.....

(.........note by N.D.....I hope the BBC do not object to this edited version of the messageboard posting appearing here..... but the boards are very ephemeral, and these remarks are worth preserving. For the record, I heard the broadcasts and enjoyed them very much........)

..............................Who an earth chose this dreary piece to dramatise? I have no idea what the original book is like but it cannot have been as absurd as this! Cardboard characters, a ridiculous *madonna/whore* apposition between the two central female characters and a hurried and rushed melodramatic ending with everything wrapped up breathlessly in a few minutes. How could this be in any way a classic?? Paul Copley and the rest of the cast deserved better. - Neil

................................I couldn't agree more, Neil. A waste of airtime and all the other resources that went into making it.- Miranda

....and a reply from Dave Britton.....

People sometimes question whether those involved in the production of radio dramas ever read this board. Be assured, some of us do regularly. Like most writers who contribute to the radio drama output, I am also an avid listener. I liken tuning in to the Classic Serial to visiting the library with a friend. Here, among the books and writing which are our shared heritage, the friend says "try this; I think you'll find it interesting". And of course your friend is thrilled if you like it and disappointed if you don't. So it was good to read last week that Don Craig was enjoying "A Sunset Touch" (his comments have now disappeared from the board) and, obviously, disappointing that Neil and Miranda have not.

When I read "A Sunset Touch" I liked it, thought others would find it an interesting example from its time, and proposed it to the BBC. I found the book intriguing, and a challenge to dramatise, partly because it draws on a period which now has little exposure (the grey days after World War II), but especially because of the character of Roger Menheniot, who is almost the antithesis of what we generally see as an heroic central character. Another attraction was that it is set in Cornwall -- a county which has relatively little exposure in radio drama. I have become deeply interested in the originating writer, Howard Spring, who is now entirely out of fashion. Born in Cardiff, he worked in Manchester before finding his heart's home in Cornwall. Spring was arguably the most popular British novelist of his period -- so respected that when Churchill met Roosevelt on a battleship in mid-ocean to sign the North Atlantic treaty during the war, it was Howard Spring they took along to witness the event. Can you imagine our current political leaders asking a novelist to such a meeting? I certainly think Spring is worth a second look.

As for "A Sunset Touch" itself, I think my dramatisation is pretty faithful to the spirit of the original (although much shorter of course). I do think one needs to have heard episode one to understand Roger and appreciate episode two, and one has to accept and enjoy its period feel. Of course none of this makes any difference if you simply don't like the tale or the style. But just as one doesn't blame the library for having books you don't like, I don't think we should blame the Classic Serial for running dramatisations we don't like. (I don't like everything I hear, either.) In recent years I've tried to interest listeners in a few writers and titles which have rather slipped from view. Last year it was Nevil Shute's "The Far Country", which had a good response; next year it's a massive task: Sholokhov's "And Quiet Flows The Don". All I can say is "give it a go -- I like it and I think you'll find it interesting.",

DJ Britton

ONE UP, ONE DOWN....2004
R4, 30 Jun 04, 45m.

R4, 21 Dec 03. adapted from the novel by Thomas Love Peacock. At a Christmas house party in North Wales, the guests exchange philosophical flirtations under the beady eye of Miss Brindle-Mew, determined to marry off her niece and nephew before the festivities are over. With Eiry Thomas, John McAndrew, Andrew Wincott and Bill Wallis. Director: Alison Hindell.

R4, 1, 8 Apr 01. adapted from Mikhail Bulgakov's novel. As Ukrainian nationalists seize control of Kiev, the Turbin family, supporters of the Tsar, must flee. With Paul Hilton, James Loye, Manon Edwards and Gerry Lepkowski. Directed by Alison Hindell.

R4, 26-30 Mar 01. The diaries of Yelena Bulgakova, third wife of author Mikhail Bulgakov, abridged in five parts. With Suzanne Burden, Jonathan Tafler and Sue Jones Davies. Directed by Alison Hindell.

R3, 5 Mar 00. adapted from the novel by D.H.Lawrence. Australia, 1922. The play is a political thriller and a study of marriage centring on English writer Lovat and his wife, who arrive in Sydney in search of a new life. Lovat (Simon Harris), Harriet (Clare Holman), Jack (Douglas Walker), Victoria (Lucinda Cowen), Jaz (Richard Curnow), Struthers (David Henry). Dramatised by David Britton. Music by Iain Grandage. Music performed by Eric Clarke and Billy Thompson. Director: Alison Hindell.

R4, 2 Jun 98, rpt. 18 Jan 00. adapted from a story by Elizabeth Jolley. It is September 1939, and a last-minute seaside holiday raises questions of responsibility for a Quaker family. With Amanda Gordon, Rachel Atkins and Andy Hockley. Director: Alison Hindell.

DATES NOT KNOWN (but probably late 90s onwards)

Welcome to the Wasteland*
Moliere Imaginaire*
Away Day*
Fly Girls*

Asterisked plays known to exist in VRPCC collections.

Greg Linden / Nigel Deacon, Diversity website.

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