Ellen Fox Radio Plays

Canadian-born Ellen is a playwright and screenwriter with work performed in the UK and abroad. She won The Thames Television Playwright’s Award and was resident playwright of Hampstead Theatre in the early 1980’s.

Ellen’s one act stage play Saving Grace was discovered in a slush pile by Bill Ash when he was literary manager of the Soho Poly, a lunch time theatre founded by Verity Bargate. Bill had nurtured new writing at the BBC and was now doing the same at the Soho Poly, a home to new writing. Ellen adapted SAVING GRACE for Thirty Minute Theatre on BBC Radio 4, and followed that with an adaptation of her award-winning play, LADIES IN WAITING, and two original plays, PASSING AWAY for Radio 4, and FOREIGN EXCHANGE for the World Service.

What Ellen loved about writing for radio was that everyone came together to do the best work possible in what was a very short amount of time compared to theatre rehearsals and performances, and the quality of the work from the acting to the technical was superb – everyone seized the moment. The radio studio was a wonderful place for a writer opening up all kinds of creative possibilities and collaborations. It's one place where writers truly have a voice.


6 May 82; thirty minute theatre, R4. This is a rather touching play about an elderly woman who has failed make the most of her opportunities, but realises it too late. She meets an introverted young girl who seems intent on following a similar path. As the play begins, we encounter Grace, on her way to having her palm read. Rose: Sheila Steafel, Grace: Lesley Manville. Producer: Liane Aukin.

    Comment from 'The Listener':
    A sensitively written play about suppressed loneliness and shattered illusions, inlaid with immense warmth and a gentle though sometimes biting humour".

    RT: It is evening. The old woman and the young girl meet across the palmist's table. A strange friendship begins. Rose remembers her past and Grace dreams of her future. The outcome is devastating for both of them.

31 Jul 83. A Canadian girl decides to spend part of her pre-University year in England, away from the influence of her mother. She finds lodgings and a boyfriend, and they explore the sights of London together. But it's not long before she discovers traits in his behaviour which she does not like. Patricia Hayes turns in a good performance as the eccentric landlady, Mrs. Cuthbert. The cast: Alice - Lisa Ross, Bill - Stephen Pacey, Mrs. Cuthbert - Pat Hayes, Mrs. Bridges - Hilda Fennimore, Alice's mother - Margaret Robertson. Other cast members: James Bryce, Stuart Organ, Harry Stamper, Jean Trend. 55m, World Service, producer Dickon Reed. Recorded by Keith Marston.

21 Oct 86. 55m, R4. Afternoon Play. We meet four women working on the factory floor, one of whom is Jean; a rigidly organized individual who has been with the company for thirty years in the same job. One could describe the tale as the story of a person's inability to face change. Jean: Miriam Diamond, Isabelle: Mona Hammond, Norma: Kate Binchy, Iris: Natasha Pyne; Jean's mother: Patricia Hayes, Matron: Sheila Grant, Bert: Eric Stovell. Other parts played by Susie Brown, John Chruch & members of the cast. Producer Jeremy Mortimer.

    RT:There are three fixed points in Jean's life: her mother, her daughter and her job. But when she is made redundant it looks as if her world is coming to an end.

Broadcast date nk but it was recorded on 16-17 Dec 1986. 55m. World Service play of the week. Stage play by Ellen Fox adapted for radio by her. In 1917, Canadian women with husbands, sons or brothers fighting in Europe in the First World War were given the vote. The implication was that if the women voted for the newly formed coalition government, a Conscription Bill would be put through, sending overseas those French Canadian men who were no longer volunteering for the armed forces, thus relieving their own men at the Front. Since the need for fresh troops was great, conflict between English and French speaking Canadians came, once again, to the front. Cast: Kate: Mary Rutherford, Lily: Barbara Barnes, Harpie: Christine McKachan, Kerry: Julia Lewis, Uncle: Peter Carlyle, Ghee: Michael Crossman. SM Simon Moorcroft. Producer: Walter Acosta.

Compiled by Nigel Deacon

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