Dave Sheasby Radio Plays

Dave Sheasby has worked extensively in radio as both writer and producer of dramas and documentaries. He has also written for television and the stage.

He has written about forty single radio dramas and several comedy series for BBC radio 4. He is now an independent writer and producer. Recent plays include a drama about conscientious objectors in the First World War and a comedy about a fine art theft.

Dave Sheasby is also a teacher in Media Studies and Creative Writing. (Leeds University 2002-4; Warwick University 2004-present).

    UPDATE - I am sorry to report that Dave Sheasby died on 26 Feb 2010 in St. Luke's Hospice shortly after completing a new script for the BBC, aged 69.

    Dave was from Sheffield, and lived all his life in the city apart from at the London School of Economics, when he was a student. He was born in Fulwood and educated at King Edward VII School. He spent some time teaching in a comprehensive school. He worked for Radio Sheffield for many years. In the 1980s he hosted a Friday afternoon programme which featured local writers and was instrumental in offering a first opportunity to people who went on to become well-known writers,including Rony Robinson, Theresa Tomlinson and Berlie Doherty.

    There are numerous Dave Sheasby obituaries on the internet, and I have no wish to plagiarise. Read some of them, and find out about this remarkable man.

    I never met him, but I have listened to most of his 40-odd radio plays, and themes keep recurring. Anything to do with Sheffield..............The futility of war................Horse racing.

    He wrote two serials about the horses ('Sharing Fatman' and 'One Flat Summer') and a one-off, Apple Blossom Afternoon, where a guy stakes everything on a four (or is it five) - horse accumulator.

    There are two comedy series about some jobbing builders.

    His whimsical 'Blackburn Files' about the adventures of an ineffectual private detective and his reluctant female assistant are very good.

    There are also a few stories which don't seem to fit - one where the characters are the mechanical figures in a old clock, going about their alloted tasks with robotic consistency until things go wrong; ; there's another about municipal graft in a northern town, and a rather touching love story called 'Johnny Onions' from 2005.

    Sheasby eventually wrote about 40 plays for Radio 3 and Radio 4, also working as a staff producer for Radio 4, making documentaries for the network and contributioning to arts programmes.

    In the last few months R4 broadcast his adaptations of Erich-Maria Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front and Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse 5, both originally produced by David Hunter for Radio 3.

    His last piece which he finished in the Hospice was an adaptation of JL Carr's A Month in the Country.

Here are the plays and series written by him that we've heard or traced.


1980 A Very Private Poem
1981 Silvertrain Day
1985 Welcome To The Times (made into a feature film for BBC TV)
1986 Vi Leaving
1987 Getting Stratford
1988 Apple Blossom Afternoon*
1988 Coming Down
1989-1993 The Blackburn Files*, 13 x 30m comedy series
1989 China Doll, 90m. Monday Play.
1990 Showing Promise
1993 Half-an-Hour Behind The Times* (Thirty Minute Theatre)
1995 The Sheffield Picasso
1997 One Flat Summer*, serial, 6 x 30min
1998 Shifting the Leaves, 5 x 12m serial
1998 The Real Dennis Truelove, 5 x 12m serial
1999 Sharing Fatman*, 6 x 30m serial
1999 Donkeys led by Lions* (sic), Friday play
2000 Sunny Side Up, 6 part comedy series
2000 The Amazing Ratman Story*
2001 Picasso and Chips*: Saturday Play
2003 Keeping Ann-Marie*
2005 Five summers & Johnny Onions*
2005 Street & Lane, comedy series
2007 Street & Lane, series 2
2008 All quiet on the Western Front*, R3, dram
2009 Incident at Boulonvilliers, 45m
2009 Slaughterhouse Five (Vonnegut), 95m, adap, R3, rpt. R4 2010

Other non-documentary radio work by Dave Sheasby:
(short story by) The Burden of History, 28 June 1994
(adapted by) Cake by George Steiner, 4 Oct 2003
(adapted by) A Month in the Country, rpt. Radio 7, 20 Nov 2010

Asterisked items known to exist within VRPCC collections.

Details for some of the plays:

A Very Private Poem....1980
With Sean Barrett/Gwen Taylor/Sylvia Brayshay/Paul Webster Afternoon Theatre, 27 Feb 1980.

Silvertrain Day....1981
Frank Middlemass/Derek Smith/Colin Edwynn Afternoon theatre, 22 Apr 81.

Welcome To The Times....1985
24 Jun 1985. Monday Play, 105min. A redundant steelworker narrates a story of municipal graft in a run-down Northern town. With Malcolm Hebden, Nick Stringer and Bert Parnaby. (Footnote: This play was made into a film for BBC Television.)

Apple Blossom Afternoon....1988
24 Aug 1988. It's Ted's birthday and he's down the bookies as usual. As it's his 55th, he indulges in a dream bet -- an accumulator. With Malcolm Hebden. This play won a Giles Cooper Award.

Coming Down....1988
8 Dec 1988. A journalist tries to get a story from a group of rock climbers holding a wake for a friend who fell to his death. (Footnote: shortly before this play was produced, Dave Sheasby was the presenter for a radio documentary about rock climbers: Hard Fire Inside, 5 Oct 1987)

The Blackburn Files - series....1989, 1991 and 1993
By Ian McMillan, Dave Sheasby & Martyn Wiley First episode 11 Jul 89; with Fine-Time Fontayne/Judy Flynn.

CHINA DOLL....1989
A young girl wins a beauty contest. 90m Monday Play showing some of the problems of being a beauty queen.

Showing Promise....1990
When a new member joins Marjorie's rather 'unimaginative' creative writing class, things will never be the same again. Written by Dave Sheasby and starring Heather Stoney, Gerry Kersey, John Branwell, Lorraine Peters, Daphne Oxenford and Graham Roberts, directed in Manchester by Tony Cliff. Rpt. BBC7 Feb 2007.

Half-an-Hour Behind The Times....1993
4 May 1993. A comedy in which a family look into the future. They're historic figures on a clock and their guide is the maintenance man. With Chris Brailsford, Olwen May, Joe Simpson and Finetime Fontayne.

The Sheffield Picasso....1995
20 May 1995. In November 1950, Picasso came to Sheffield for a World Peace Conference. The meeting was cancelled but Picasso's visit was bound to affect the people he met. With Olivier Pierre and Sandor Eles,

One Flat Summer....1997
21 Aug to 25 Sep 1997 (rpt from 22 May 1998). Newly redundant clothing salesman Ken Warburton finds himself adrift and drawn into the serious world of horse-race gambling. With Gerald McDermott and Gillian Bevan.

Shifting the Leaves....1998
Woman's Hour serial, 6 to 10 April 1998. With Elizabeth Bradley, June Barrie, Tristan Sturrock, Alison Pettitt and Shirley Dixon.

The Real Dennis Truelove....1998
Woman's Hour serial, 8 to 12 June 1998. Bank clerk Dennis is on the run -- but from what? With Fine Time Fontayne, Denys Hawthorne and Iwan Thomas.

Sharing Fatman....1999
7 May to 11 June 1999. A six-part comedy-drama, sequel to One Flat Summer. A punter who is mad on horse-racing sets up a syndicate to part-own a horse of his own - and race it. With Gillian Bevan and Gerard McDermott; dir David Hunter.

Donkeys Led by Lions....1999
I thought the title was the wrong way round, until I got the pun... a Derby schoolteacher decides to be a "conshie" in the First War but his decision has a devastating effect on his life and his family. Society has never liked individuals with minds of their own, and in those days, one did not question authority. People 'knew their place'. With Ian Dunn, Andrea Gascoigne and Joan Walker; dir. David Hunter.

Sunny Side Up....2000
A six-part comedy devised by Scott Cherry and written by Dave Sheasby. It's set in the world of barbershop quartets. You either love them or hate them. Stars Keith Barron, Bryan Pringle and Clive Swift; dir. Clive Brill.

The Amazing Ratman Story....2000
R4 23 Aug 2000; An old man has a tale to tell about a piper and a town plagued with rats, but unless it makes good television, no-one wants to hear it. Stars Bernard Cribbins, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Colin Salmon; dir. Pam Fraser Solomon. see also The Ratcatcher of Hamelin, by John Peacock.

Picasso and Chips....2001
3 Mar 01; Saturday Play - the owner of a fish and chip shop is involved in a story of artistic deception and intrigue...a sketch by Picasso, not listed anywhere...is it genuine? If so, what's it worth? And who is going to end up with it? With Geoffrey Whitehead, Phyllida Law, Clive Swift and Rachel Davies. Dir. David Hunter.

Keeping Anne Marie....2003
Solicitor Eric Crowson tells a twisty tale involving the law, the media, a single mother, a hopeful couple and a little baby girl. With Geoffrey Whitehead, Hannah Storey, Carolyn Pickles, Sean Baker, Jemma Churchill, Simon Donaldson. Director David Hunter. Rpt. BBC7, Feb 08 (as below).

    Excerpt from BBC7 newsletter, Feb 08: Dave Sheasby's powerful story about surrogacy tells of a woman's struggles with her conscience and her decision to carry a child for another couple. Starring Geoffrey Whitehead, Carolyn Pickles, Hannah Storey and Sean Baker.

Street & Lane....2005
Comedy series, 4 episodes, about a pair of Yorkshire Builders. Fine Time Fontayne and Shaun Dooley.

Street & Lane....2007
As above, series 2.

Incident at Boulonvilliers....2009
17 Jul 09, afternoon play. June 1982; the Falklands War is drawing to a close. Three WWII veterans return to Normandy on a coach trip and are forced to remember an incident which happened back in 1944. Frank ...... Geoffrey Whitehead, Tommy ...... Michael Mears, Arthur ...... David Hargreaves, Mandy ...... Ella Smith, Madame ...... Gabrielle Reidy. Producer David Hunter.

Superb dramatisation by Dave Sheasby of Kurt Vonnegut's science fiction novel,the book rooted in his witnessing of the bombing of Dresden during World War II. The main character in this 90-minute parable has a disability; he drifts unpredictably through time, viewing different parts of his life, not able to control where he goes. That's the point of the play; it's not really a science fiction story; it's about the helplessness felt by an individual when the world around him descends into chaos. The cast: John Guerassio as the narrator, Andrew Scott as Billy Pilgrim. Lots of other well-known actors further down the cast list. Produced by David Hunter. Repeated on R4 in early 2010.

Rpt, radio 7, 20 Nov 2010. This is an adaptation of J.L.Carr's novel, 60m. It concerns a shell-shocked survivor of the first World War.He uncovers a lost mural in the fabric of a village church. Stars Rupert Evans, Stephen Critchlow, Blake Ritson.

Nigel Deacon / Greg Linden; biog. details sent by Peter Clough ...many thanks, Peter.

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