John Dryden: writer, dramatist and radio producer (most recently, for GOLDHAWK PRODUCTIONS , an independent radio drama company...I have divided his work into four categories: original plays, plays where he has acted as dramatist and director, work where he has acted as director only, and radio documentaries (a long time ago he worked as a reporter). Where the category is not obvious the item is mentioned in the "notes" section. For recent stuff, scroll right to the bottom of the page and go from there.

BROADCASTS: RADIO PLAYS, BBC except where stated otherwise

07.10.00 Hotel Europa, 60m, rpt. as Fri play, 13.04.01
27.10.10 Severed Threads (ed. Mike Walker); three episodes beginning 27 Oct
26.03.12 Pandemic (ed. Mike Walker); three episodes beginning 26 Mar
02.01.13 The Reluctant Spy (ed. Mike Walker); three episodes beginning on 2 Jan
26.02.15 Scenes From A Crime

30.06.97 The Hong Kong Holding Company (Matthew Solon)
08.05.98 The Shadow of Mir (Nick Fisher)
26.05.98 The Happiness Foundation (Matthew Solon)
13.12.98 Bleak House (5 x 60m; Classic Serial)
14.12.98 Fatherland (Robert Harris); conclusion 21.12.98
09.01.00 The Handmaid's Tale (Margaret Attwood), 3 x 60m
03.08.00 Bucket and the Whited Sepulchre (James Hendrie)
03.03.02 A Suitable Boy (Vikram Seth) 5 x 60m
......03 Durham Crescent (Jo Randerson) for Radio New Zealand (see below)
03.12.05 Murder on the Leviathan 55m
01.05.07 Delayed Departures (Matthew Solon)
16.09.08 A Tokyo Murder (Miriam Smith)
19.04.10 & 20.04.10 How To Make Your First Billion (M. Solon). Originally on WS, Mar 2010.

date nk:
Election Lives (Matthew Solon)
Post Election Lives (Matthew Solon)

as DIRECTOR only
Mar-May 2000: Daughters of Britannia, 20 x 12m, with Hannah Andrassy
Talk to Sleep: Jan 1999, 4 x 15m, collaboration with Gregory Whitehead
21-07-06 The Appeal (Matthew Solon), 60m
The Cairo Trilogy: Classic Serial, 3 x 60m beginning 15 Oct 06 (dram. Ayeesha Menon)
2007-2008 Forty-three fifty-nine (see below)
2007 Q & A (part of the India & Pakistan 07 season)
2008 My Name is ... Red (O. Pamuk, dram. Ayeesha Menon)
??.01.10 Six Suspects (Vikas Swarup, dram. Ayeesha Menon)
2010 Five Days in May
??.12.11 The Bid (Matthew Solon)
??.03.12 Rio Story (Chris Thorpe)
17.03.14 A Kidnapping
14.03.18 School Drama (Andy Mulligan), rpt

Looking for Charlie
The Road to Barland
Mean Times - Australia 6 x 30m (1997)
Landscape of Fear (Sony Award for best Arts Documentary 1999)
The Mystery of the Affray
Art Atlas 6 x 30m (2001)
The Angry Brigade (2001)

As you can see, these lists are getting over-complicated. John's later dramas (2016 onwards) are shown lower down. Scroll to the bottom for most recent work.


40 minutes, JD as reporter. Producer: John Watkins. Editor: Sharon Banoff. The story of the search for Charlie my mother's parrot, lost in Kuwait, presumed dead, after the 1991 Gulf War. Part of the "Soundtrack" series.

40 minutes, JD as reporter. Producer: John Watkins. Editor: Sharon Banoff. The story of an aid mission to Romania. Part of the "Soundtrack" series.

40 minutes, JD as reporter. Producer: Chris Paling. Editor: Sharon Banoff. Part of the "Soundtrack" series.

40 minutes, JD as reporter. Producer: Cathy Mahoney. Editor: Sharon Banoff. Part of the "Soundtrack" series.

30 minutes, JD as reporter. Producer: Chris Paling. Editor: Sharon Banoff. Part of the "Your Place or Mine" series.

2 x 30 minutes, JD as reporter. Producer: Cathy Mahoney.

THE TRAVELLER'S SOUK, (Series 1, 1995; Series 2 1996)
Produced with Rebecca Nicholson. Presenter: Robert Elms.

ITCHY FEET....Series 2, 1995
Presenter: Rory McClean. Editor: Mary Price.

ELECTION LIVES by Matthew Solon
(BBC Radio 4, 27.4.94, 45 min. drama) - Producer/Director – News-based drama completed and broadcast on the day of the South African elections. Presented at the Prix Futura, Berlin 1995.

(BBC Radio 4, 27.4.95, 60 min. drama) Producer/Director – News-based drama recorded in Johannesburg and broadcast one year on after South Africa's first democratic elections.

8 x 15 minutes, Producer.

Set at the time of the Hong Kong handover....a family business going through hard times; one of the firm more interested in politics than working, debts...struggling for money and power. Recorded on the streets of London and Hong Kong and transmitted from Hong Kong; the 2nd (concluding) episode went out only a few hours before the handover. Would it have been possible to broadcast it a fortnight later, I wonder? With Stuart Ong, Tin Lung Co; dir John Dryden.

Goldhawk production for BBC Radio 4, October-December 1997, 6 x 30 min. doc/drama - JD as Writer/Director. Travel/history series set in Australia.

With Michael Kitchen, Clare Price and John Shrapnel. The story starts with a contested inheritance...excellent dramatisation of a strong story. It won the 1999 Sony Gold Award for Drama and the 1999 Talkie Awards for Best Dramatisation and for Best Abridged Classic Fiction.

"...Only when you hear a production like this, in which different scenes have been recorded in different rooms, do you realise how monotonous is the acoustic used by most radio drama. David Sexton, Sunday Telegraph

"John Dryden has pioneered in radio a kind of movie for the wireless, in which fast cutting, music and location recording are used to create pace and atmosphere...Outstanding production..." Mark Lawson, Radio Times

Grim novel by Robert Harris; JD as producer, director and adaptor; with Angeline Ball, Peter Ellis and Stratford Johns. A detective story set in the Third Reich Hitler might have built had he won the war. Now available on BBC CD / cassette - release date 4 Aug 2003. With Anton Lesser, Angeline Ball, Michael Burn, William Scott Massam (sp?), Peter Ellis, Stratford Johns, Andrew Sachs, Dan Fineman, Alan Dedicote, Ian Gelder, Thomas Copeland, Michael Culver, Jonathan Coleman, Patrick Godfrey, Eleanor Bron, Graham Haddon, Robert Portal, Amanda Walker, Alice Arnold, Trevor Nicholls, Ned Sherrin.

"The Shadow of Mir" (R4 2100 8 May) was the first of 3 plays by Nick Fisher scheduled for broadcast in May. A middle-aged Russian bureaucrat is sent into space to check the viability of the space station. But this is not her real motive........Fisher's plays are always interesting though sometimes rather macabre. Readers may have heard his thriller "The Turning of the Tide" - the ultimate revenge story, or his Julie Enfield police serials. "The Shadow of Mir" was directed by John Dryden, and starred Etela Pardo. ...ND, VRPCC newsletter, Sep 98 The play was presented at the Prix Europa, 1998, Berlin.

Dramatisation of the story by Matthew Solon, 45m...A successful family and successful children, but things start to go wrong... Afternoon play, dir. John Dryden, with Clive Mantle, Jan Ravens, Dermot Crowley.

(Goldhawk production for BBC Radio 4, February 1998, 2 x 30 min. doc. features) - Producer. Arts series presented by Robert McNab. Won the Arts Documentary Award in the Sony Radio Awards 1999.

TALK TO SLEEP ....1999
(BBC Radio 4, Jan 1999, 4 x 15 minute drama)- Producer. Late night "imaginary" interviews. Collaboration with Gregory Whitehead. Shortlisted for Sony Radio Award (Comedy), 2000.

(6 x 15 minutes), Producer.

A psychological thriller. A hotel receptionist is drawn into what she thinks is a harmless scam giving jobs to illegal immigrants. But there is more to it...with Kerry Fox, Roshan Seth, Rod Lazar. Written and directed by John Dryden. This play was selected by the BBC to be presented at the 2001 Prix Europa in Berlin.

British diplomatic life as recorded over 400 years of diaries and letters written by the duaghters and wives of diplomats. Car bombs, harems, meeting the Emperor, flower arranging, enormous insects, espionage, stranded travellers....they have seen it all. Jointly directed by John Dryden and Hannah Andrassy. Based on Katie Hickman's best-selling history of embassy life. Varied cast including Sylvestra le Touzel, Virginie Gilchrist, Lucy Tregear, Gabrielle Drake, Lucy Robinson. 20 episodes.

Margaret Attwood's "Handmaid's Tale", (3 episodes, beginning R4 15 Jan, 1502, on successive Sundays) was unusual for the "Classic Serial" slot, which usually confines itself to "classic literature". Not so here; we are in a nightmare world where the marriage unit is man, woman and "handmaid" - a euphemism for legalised breeding machine. The dramatization was by John Dryden; and starred Marsha Dietlein, Leslie Hendrix and Dylan Chalfy. An imaginative and gripping piece of radio. ....ND, VRPCC newsletter, Apr 2000

"Faultless acting and imaginative, varied and multi-layered sound effects make this one of the best listening experiences I have had." ....Independent on Sunday

"Dryden's productions make most actors-round-the-microphone plays sound dull and false." ......Mark Lawson, Radio Times

"This three-part adaptation uses a documentary style, recorded entirely on location in the US, and avoiding the use of a single studio. It's from Goldhawk Universal Productions, the team who produced the BBC's Sony award-winning adaptation of Bleak House....." Time Out

Comedy detective story by James Hendrie, based on a detective from Dickens' "Bleak House". With Tony Haygarth and Neil Pearson. Adapted & directed by John Dryden.

(2 x 30 minutes, 2000), Producer. Presenter: Edward Marriott. An investigation into the disappearance of HMS Affray the last British submarine to go missing at sea.

ART ATLAS.....BBC Radio 4, March/April 2001
6 x 30 minute documentaries) Produced with David Perry; series on the visual arts presented by Robert McNab.

30 minutes,co-produced with Fran Robertson.

Indian epic based on the efforts of an Indian woman to find her daughter a suitable husband. 5-week Classic Serial. Produced and directed in India. It recently won the Spoken Word Publishing Association awards for Best Drama and Best Production and was short-listed in the Audio Book category of The British Book Awards.

..."wonderfully atmospheric, written with pace and performed, by an all-Indian cast, quite superbly. The novel may be vast but I was convinced by this version right from the start. Magnificent drama." Radio Times

"…sounds as much like India as it's possible to get without actually going there..." Time Out

"…It was recorded mainly in the faded elegance of the Maharaja of Dhrangadhara's palace in Pune with a 48-strong Indian cast ....the result is magical.......... Rachel Radford, The Observer

"…This was absolutely involving radio from the opening minutes…Echoes of Pride and Prejudice were unmissable, with talk only of class (here, caste), marriage and the entirely different matter of love." The Guardian

Directed/Produced by JD for Radio New Zealand; recently (Feb 2003) broadcast by BBC World Service, CBC, ABC and RTE. 60m.

by Ken Duncam (Radio New Zealand. Feb 2003. 2 x 60 minutes) – Director/Producer.

TAKING OFF....2003
by Roger Hall (Radio New Zealand. Aug 2003. 6 x 30 minute)- Director/Producer.

55m; Saturday play 03.12.05. Unorthodox murder story set on a passenger ship.

THE APPEAL....2006
By Matthew Solon. When an asylum seeker's claim for asylum is rejected, the appeal court is their last chance to stay. This drama documentary reconstructs an asylum appeal court, using a mixture of actors, lawyers and refugees. It follows the case of a fictional Somali woman, and puts the audience into the position of those who decide if she can stay. Directed by JD.

Sept 06 ... "The Cairo Trilogy", recorded on location, dramatised by Ayeesha Menon from the novels of Naguib Mahfouz and starring Omar Sharif goes was broadcast on R4 on 15th-29th Oct.

This classic serial (3 x 60m) is adapted from three novels by Naguib Mahfouz, who died recently aged 94. It's about a middle- class Egyptian family in the period 1917-1953. The lead is played by Omar Sharif (quite a common Asian name, but this is the well-known one) - a character called Kamal, the son of a prosperous man and bully. Dramatised by Ayeesha Menon, directed by John Dryden on location, with Egyptian actors. Other main cast members: Karim Fouda (young Kamal), Ihab Sakhout, Caroline Khalil, Mena Reda, Tamer Nasrat, Ola Roshdy. Music by Sacha Puttnam.

"Three Days That Shook the World" by Penny Gold, a dramatisation of the 1991 coup to overthrow Mikhail Gorbachev, staring John Shrapnel and Frances Jeater, went out on Fri 20 Oct 06 at 9pm, R4.

By Matthew Solon; dramatised and directed by John Dryden. Three passengers unlucky in love had simultaneous nervous breakdowns, then sought to rewrite the scripts of their lives - all before the next flight to Dubrovnik...at least the two played by Samantha Bond and Matthew Solon; Robert Gwylim temporarily transferred his angst to the task of getting the best out of the airline-issue meal vouchers - on balance, the most convincing storyline. ....part of a review from "The Stage", edited by N.D..

Q & A ....2007
This production went out in 10 episodes in the "Woman's Hour" slot as part of the India & Pakistan 07 season. It won the Sony Gold Drama Award in 2008. Here's the BBC information for the first episode:

1/10. 5,000 Rupees
Street kid Ram Mohammad Thomas is a contestant on the hit Indian TV show Who Will Win a Billion. As he ponders over the first question, his thoughts drift back to his childhood in Delhi. A baby abandoned on the steps of a church, Thomas was brought up by a well-meaning priest, until he was abandoned yet again.

Series credits: Assistant Director: Tasneem Fatehi, Composer: Sacha Puttnam, Sound Designer: Nick Russell-Pavier, Production Manager: Nadir Khan.

Cast: Anand Tiwari, Sohrab Ardeshir, Henry Goodman, Caran Arora, Rajit Kapur, Radhika Apte, Nadir Khan, Radhika Mital, Ratnabali Bhattacharjee, Ashley Cook, Rohit Malkani, Ayeesha Menon, Kenneth Desai, Pooja Ruparel, Armaan Malik, Vikrant Chaturvedi, Jaimini Pathak, Trikash Karkera, Devika Shahani-Punjabi, Pushan Kripalani.

Editor: Jeremy Howe , Director / Producer: John Dryden.

The Award panel thought this an outstanding serial, praising in particular the originality of the subject matter. The adaptation, performances, the adroit mix of contemporary and traditional themes, the surprises and the cliffhangers made this a superb piece of radio entertainment.

Production Company: Goldhawk Essential Ltd for BBC Radio 4.

FORTY-THREE,FIFTY-NINE- Dissident....2007
Written by Mike Walker and John Dryden. A dissident thinks someone is trying to assassinate him. He doesn't know who. He races across London with his daughter attempting to evade his pursuers. But - is anyone chasing him, or is there another greater danger? With Oleg Mirochnikov, Meghan Heggerty and Yuri Kilmov. Producer John Dryden.

Forty Three, Fifty Nine – Yara….2008
16 May 08. By Mike Walker and John Dryden.This occasional series (43-59) only includes plays where the action takes place in real time: forty three minutes and fifty-nine seconds. This second play by Mike Walker and John Dryden zooms in on a young woman walking across London heading for one of the tube stations, but an encounter with a middle-aged family man, Grant, in a car disrupts her plans.

    John Dryden adds.......The idea behind this series is that the listener in some ways experience a seemingly unedited 45 minutes of someone's life at a critical moment. The motivation for their actions, though implied, is never explicit - because people don't usually go around explaining their motivation.

    In this case, there are clues as to Yara's motivation - there is something on the radio early on about the Chancellor meeting the Russian Finance Minister in the City. We didn't want to make it too obvious!

    With regard to whether Grant, who has two daughters, would run into the supermarket after Yara when he knew he would, in all likelihood, be killed - it's the sort of moment when you have to ask yourself, “what would I do?”. Grant is probably the only person who can now talk Yara out of doing this terrible thing. He has to make a quick decision; whether to walk away and save himself, or risk his life in the hope of saving other innocent lives. Ordinary people in the real world have made these selfless decisions and put their lives at risk to save others. I hope Grant is in some way a tribute to them.

    Some of you may have heard another of these 43.59 dramas we made, towards the end of last year, which was loosely inspired by the Litvinenko poisoning, in which a man thinks he is being pursued by assassins, only to discover that he has already been poisoned by his trusted friend. We’ve been planning some more...

.... 'My Name Is Red' by Orhan Pamuk, recorded in Istanbul, broadcast Aug 08 ......

MY NAME IS RED....2008
By O. Pamuk. Murder story set in sixteenth century Istanbul, dramatised by Ayeesha Menon. The Sultan brings together the most acclaimed artists in his kingdom to create a secret book of miniature illustrated manuscripts celebrating the glories of his realm. But two of the miniaturists are murdered, and panic erupts. Classic serial, 2 x 55m. Aug 08.

This was an exciting tale, well dramatised and produced. John Dryden's sound engineers have perfected the technique of getting the effects exactly right. None of the recordings are done in a studio; they're done on location, and this is exactly how they sound.

The play received favourable comments on the BBC Drama messageboard. An interesting addition was a discussion about the use (or otherwise) of foreign actors in BBC productions. It began with a message from "c" , who said ......

    ........I like Orhan Pamuk. I reach for the Radio Times. Drat! They've done it again. Nearly all the cast have Turkish names.

    Was the book written as a 'foreign' experience? Of course not. But R4 does this time and again. The audience Pamuk wrote for spoke the same language as him. The book is set in Turkey, their native country. Foreign-ness was not part of the experience.

      John Dryden replies:

      .............As the director of this one, I did consider doing it with British actors. A few years ago I directed a production set in Germany - based on the novel "Fatherland" by Robert Harris - and with this we had British actors with no German accent. It worked well because the characters were supposed to be speaking their mother tongue.

      But with "My Name Is Red" (as with "The Cairo Trilogy", another production I did a while ago) it didn't seem quite right to take this approach. When the world and culture of the story is so different to ours on so many levels, it doesn't seem to work as well using straight British voices – especially in such an Islamic setting.

      There are a lot of very good actors in Istanbul. It made sense to use them – as they were able to bring so much cultural authenticity to the drama. I should point out that none of the actors are putting on “accents”. They are just speaking English in their own voices. And as one of our readers points out, is there anyone who “speaks accentless English?”

      John Dryden

This is a thriller in three parts By John Dryden and Miriam Smith about the disappearance in Japan of a young British teacher. The production was recorded in Tokyo. I am grateful to John Dryden who supplied full production details which I've shown, minus spoilers, on a separate page, along with photographs (courtesy of Daan Archer) of some of the recording sessions. Producer Tamsin Barber , director J.D, script editor Mike Walker. There is also a short video clip of John recording part of a scene from the play on "youtube". Click on the link below to see it. You'll need to click the back arrow afterwards to return to this page.

Watch John Dryden's unique style of recording documentary style radio dramas on location

'A Tokyo Murder" was broadcast on BBC Radio 4, Tuesday 16th - Thurs 18th September, 14.15-1500.

    There were lots of comments on the BBC messageboard about the three plays; mainly positive, though some listeners didn't like the absence of "beginning, middle and end" to the story. I thought the plot, or the crime, wasn't really what the play was about; it was offering three perspectives of life in Japan. One comment on the board, by "orbitor", expressed it beautifully; his (slightly edited) comments are here:

    "......the subject of the play was Japan itself, and how incomprehensible some aspects of the culture seem from a Western point of view. It wasn't really about the crime. The play took three points of view: the police inspector's, the victim's, and the victim's parents.

    The police inspector, confronted with Japan's rigid, hierarchical, male-dominated social structure finds a justice system seemingly more concerned with protocol than with solving a murder.

    The victim, vulnerable, seeking escape, perhaps from emotional trauma back home, unwittingly finds herself at the mercy of a predatory side of Japanese society which she doesn't completely understand.

    The parents come to Japan seeking justice and closure for their daughter, only to find themselves caught up as players in a TV show combining headline news with entertainment, justice and compassion, yet seemingly without emotional content, a strange parody of Western values".

It seemed to me that without the glare of publicity, the police would not feel obliged to seek the killer; the parents had no choice but to accept the television publicity, warts and all. - ND.

R4, Jan 2010, 10 x 15m. The son of a prominent Indian politician shoots dead a waitress at a Delhi restaurant. From the novel by Vikas Swarup; dramatized by Ayeesha Menon and directed by John Dryden.

Originally broadcast in 10 parts on the world service last month (Mar 10). By Matthew Solon; dir. John Dryden. This was a fascinating glimpse into the midset of those who have masterminded some of the technical innovations in Silicon Valley, including the creation of Google, Facebook, Twitter, and other iconic 'brands'. It was broadcast on two adjacent afternoons at 2.15: 19-20 Apr 10. It was billed in RT as a drama-documentary. Cast included Thomas Lazur, Zafar Karachiwala, Katie Rubin and Cassidy Brown.

There are some film clips associated with the play on youtube. Here are the links:
clip1... clip2... clip3...

One person ("Boccius") on the messageboard commented on the high cost of recording this play in California, and made the point that on radio, it doesn't make any difference where it's recorded. Why waste money going abroad?

The producer, John Dryden, replied:
.......As the producer I can assure you allen that the budget was no higher than a drama recorded in studio here in the UK. Firstly drama studio costs are very high and we didn't use a studio. We recorded entirely on location in a documentary style.

Secondly, the cast, crew and interviewees are all based in California - so it made sense to make it there rather than fly them all over to the UK which would have been much more expensive.

I hope this puts your mind at rest. - JD.

27-28-29 Oct 2010. Script by John Dryden, script editor Mike Walker. 3 x 45m trilogy.

Three lives on three continents start to unravel when children are found working in a textile factory in India.

Jim Nostrand, proprietor of Cheap Threads, a church-owned clothing firm in Minnesota, becomes the scapegoat when news-reports implicate the company in a child-labour scandal.

Four thousand miles away, in a boarding school in the British countryside, troubled twelve-year-old loner Ben, seems obsessed with school-shootings and vengeance.

In India, British/Asian journalist Prem Sharma is making a radio documentary for the BBC about children working in factories. But after rescuing a young boy and taking him back to his village, the reception he gets there is not what he expected.

Over three episodes, these three stories interweave and revolve around each other revealing connections and layers as they build to one climatic resolution.

CAST: Jim ..... Brian d'Arcy James, Prem ..... Ameet Chana , Ben ..... Hugo Docking.

US Cast: Ruth ..... Marsha Dietlein, Faith ..... Amanda Scot Ellis, Pastor McGiven ..... Tom Tammi, Kyle ..... Matt Bennett, Sheila ..... Janet Foster, News Anchor ..... John Leonard Thompson, Billy ..... Jacob Knoll, Harry ..... Craig Bockhorn, Casey/Waitress ..... Felicity Jones, Prison Priest ..... Miles Chapin.

India Cast: Rahul ..... Ankur Vikal, Amit .....Vijay Yadav, Amit's mother ..... Ayesha Raza, Amit's brother ..... Sagar Shinde, Welfare Officers ..... Veruschka Menon, Pushan Kripalani, Dr Khunna ...... Shaikh Sami Usman, Factory Owner ..... Kenneth Desai, Factory Workers ..... Rupa Kasbe, Jyoti Reddy, Shabana Sheikh, Rita John, Neeta Chavan, Eisy T. John, Pramod Yedke and children from the Akanksa Foundation, Mumbai (Bombay).

UK Cast: Fiona .... Natasha Little, Timms ..... Henry Goodman, Elgood ..... Francois Testory, Jones ..... Gethin Anthony, Psychologist ..... Kate Fitzgerald, Travel Agent ..... Joanne Ferguson, Heyward ..... Daniel Bridle, Boy .....Callum Francis.

Production Team: India Line Producer ..... Nadir Khan, Assistant Director ..... Tasneem Fatehi, India Sound ..... Ayush Ahuja.

US Producer ..... David Rapkin, US Line Producer ..... Kim Moarefi, US Casting ..... Janet Foster, US Sound ..... Frederick Greenhaigh.

UK Broadcast Assistant ..... Sarah Tombling, UK Production Assistant ..... Lucy Howe, Music ..... Sacha Puttnam

Written and directed by John Dryden. Goldhawk Essential production, for R4.

    .........BBC blurb, Radio Times, slightly edited by ND......

    "A young British schoolboy obsessed with school massacres, a radio journalist in India on the trail of a scoop for the BBC, and the boss of an American church-owned clothing firm are the threads that run through this intricate, suspenseful three-part thriller from award-winning writer/director John Dryden. At first the three lives seem totally disconnected but as the threads unravel they become tangled in a shocking heap of child labour, abuse and murder. Recorded on location in England, America and India, the production immerses you in the worlds of its protagonists. The plot gives pause for thought about the human cost of supply-and-demand economics, and the sometimes misguided attempts of kind-hearted Westerners to help people in developing countries."

6 Nov 2010, Saturday Play, 60m. Fictionalised reconstruction of the events just before the formation of the first coalition government in Britain for 70 years. Goldhawk Essential for R4. Script by Matthew Solon; directed by John Dryden.

THE BID....2011
Dramatized account of England's failed attempt to host the FIFA World Cup. Written by Matthew Solon. Directed by John Dryden for Goldhawk Essential.

By John Dryden, 26-28 Mar 2012; successive afternoon plays. Each play is self-contained, but the scenario begins like this: a microbiologist goes to Thailand to a medical conference; whilst he's there, 'flu breaks out. It rapidly escalates into a crisis, and he's unable to return home because all the airports close.

Play 2 is set several years later, when the population of the world has diminished by 50%. The political setup is quite different, and people who disapprove sometimes just disappear.

Play 3 is a 'prequel' which looks at events leading up the the pandemic. The action starts at a climate change conference, where a person daring to question the green movement's global warming propaganda rapidly finds himself in hot water.

These excellent plays were recorded on location, without using a studio, and consequently everything sounds real. The producer was John Dryden, under the 'Goldhawk Essential' label.

UPDATE.....winner of this year's Writers' Guild award for Best Radio Drama....

RIO STORY....2012
R4, Mar 12, 60m. By Chris Thorpe; thriller set in Rio de Janeiro. Directed by John Dryden.

2,3,4 Jan 2013. By John Dryden; script editor Mike Walker. Another superb thriller from Goldhawk's experienced team. 3 x 45m, broadcast on successive afternoons. Gillian Reynolds again....it was about Duncan Kavanagh, an expert on Coptic churches, eking out a living in Cairo. The time is now. His Egyptian wife went away to make a film and never came back. Their teenage daughter is caught up in student politics. He has a fling with an American tourist. She gets involved in what turns out to be a tangle of intrigue and killing....

The story was set against the backdrop of the Arab Spring. It gets behind the headlines and looks at the human consequences of political unrest and change of regime in a region where democratic rule is not the norm. Episode 1 set the scene; as usual, Goldhawk's 'technical presentation' goes for location recordings and realism. The tension builds during episode 2, with a terrific climax as we realise the threat to Duncan's daughter. In attempting to deal with it, Duncan releases forces which he is not strong enough to control.

Cast: Nigel Lindsay as Duncan, Alysha Hart as Ola, with Sarah Goldberg, Philip Arditti, Raad Rawiha, Karim Saleh, Sirene Saba, Jude Edriss, Rufus Wright, Baris Cerliloglu, Miriam Acharki, Nayef Rashed, Jonathan Bonnici. Other parts by Zayden Khalaf, Jumaan Short, Albert Welling and Omar Mustafa. Director John Dryden.

..... (R4, 1415, 25-26 Mar 13), written by Ingeborg Topsoe and made by Goldhawk Productions used successive afternoon play slots and was based on the true story of an insurance fraud carried out by two female backpackers in Brazil. The story is re-set in Mexico. The girls report a non-existent theft at the end of an expensive holiday, not realising the immense amount of trouble and hassle which will follow. They get sucked into the Mexican penal system; far harsher and more penal than anything we see in Europe. The production uses local actors (they are excellent) and on-location recording to produce the realism for which Goldhawk is well-known. The play makes for uncomfortable listening; the girls' relationship is the main focus but the wider story explores the unsettling theme of poverty tourism and young people living on the streets. Olivia Darnley and Lucy May Barker played the two girls; with Saskia Wickham, Enrique Arreola, Emilio Savinni and others. The script editor was Mike Walker and the director John Dryden. (......ND, Diversity website review, Sep 2013)

17 Mar 2014: A Kidnapping,1
By Andy Mulligan; an indie production from Goldhawk Essential, set in the Philippines and recorded on location. 1/3. Two British teachers working at an international school take part in a plan to kidnap the young son of a prominent local politician. The plan does not go entirely as they wish... Daniel Ryan and Jade Matthew as the teachers, with mainly local actors...Art Acuna, Nacio Samonte, Jane Fisher, Geraldine Tan, Bart Guingona, Roselyn Perez, Leo Rialp, Amiel Mendoza, Madeleine Nicolas, Joel Trinidad, Andy Mulligan, Paulo Rodriguez, Francis Matheu, Seth Argar, Rachel Greenhow, Sam Barlongay, Colin Briggs, Owen Bennett-Jones, Andrew North, Lyse Doucet, Rona Lou San Pedro and Max Adarme. Sound design by Steve Bond, music composed by Sacha Putnam; producer Nadir Khan, director John Dryden.

18 Mar: A Kidnapping, 2
See yesterday's entry. The plan begins to fall apart.

19 Mar: A Kidnapping, 3
The plan is in pieces. Can the perpetrators evade their pursuers?

17 Nov 2014: The Reluctant Spy,1
By John Dryden. Thriller set in present-day Cairo, rpt from 2 Jan 2013. When approached by a seductive student to deliver a pokitical letter, art expert Duncan accepts. He finds himself walking in glue. Continued on 18 Nov.

18 Nov 2014: The Reluctant Spy, 2
Continued.... The student, Tara, appears to be using Duncan. However Duncan is not as innocent as he seems to be. His past is about to catch up with him. Concludes on 19 Nov.

19 Nov 2014: The Reluctant Spy, 3
Continued... Casting - Toby Whale, Production Manager - Russell Owen, Script Editor - Mike Walker. Sound design - Steve Bond, Music - Sacha Puttnam. Actors: Duncan .... Nigel Lindsay, Ola .... Aiysha Hart, Tara .... Sarah Goldberg, Al-Basiri .... Philip Arditti, Dr Zacoutte .... Raad Rawi, Amr .... Jonathan Bonnici, Hameed .... Karim Saleh, Randa .... Saba Sirene, Kamal .... Jude Edriss, Karl .... Rufus Wright, Mrs Darwish .... Baris Cerliloglu, Mrs Zacoutte .... Myriam Acharki, Policeman .... Nayef Rashed, with. Zayden Khalaf, Jumaan Short , Albert Welling, Omar Mustafa. Director .... John Dryden. Indie (Goldhawk Essential): www.goldhawk.eu. Fuller notes - see 2 Jan 2013.

By John Dryden. John's plays have a distinctive realism; they are generally recorded on location, using local actors. This is a gritty drama set in Mumbai. The story takes place against a vivid soundscape of Indian city life. A man walks into a couple's home and says that he thinks that it's his own house. But he's confused; he has suffered some sort of memory loss. He is befriended by a street child, but everything still seems to be going round in circles. The story gradually comes together, piece by piece, until at the end we realise the significance of the child.

David Crawford, in RT: ".......As the plot gradually coalesces, the missing pieces of his life are sketched in increasingly darker shades, until a final chilling scene which is pitch black."

Man: Vivek Madan, Child: Faezeh Jalali, Couple: Siddharth Menon/Shivani Tanksale, Neighbour: Suhaas Ahuja, Nita: Prerna Chawla, Homeless woman: Ayeesha Menon, Buddy: Namit Das. Producer: Preetika Chawla; directed by John Dryden. RT didn't mention that this was an Indie production (Goldhawk).

.........For me the other big drama event was this new ten-part epic from Goldhawk (R4, beginning 2 Dec 15) by John Dryden and Mike Walker. This is a historical drama set in medieval Egypt under the rule of the Mamluk slave dynasty. Reports of rebellion in Amber Province have reached the city; there are rumours of a mysterious force devouring the empire from within. There is fear and suspicion; no-one can be trusted.

In the story, Tumanbay is the capital of a vast Egyptian empire where opportunities are plentiful and life is cheap. The first scene in the city's palace, where an envoy from a rebellious province has a grim gift for the Sultan, gives a sense of what to expect: intrigue and casual ISIL-type violence. John Dryden's direction, recorded on location, gives the play an eerie realism where the listener can never fully relax; it is truly excellent. There is an enormous cast including Rufus Wright, Olivia Popica, Nabil Elouahabi, Raad Rawi and Albert Welling (remember his play 'The Lintel'?). The series producers were Emma Hearn, Nadir Khan and John Dryden. It should be noted that historically, Tumanbay was not a city; it was the name of the Sultan in the late 1400s. (.......ND, Diversity Website review, Dec 2015)

Series 2 of TUMANBAY, an 8-episode epic, began in mid-June (R4, 1415, 13 June 2017). It was written by John Dryden and Mike Walker and made by Indie company Goldhawk. The action is set in and around the (fictional) medieval city of Tumanbay, which has been taken over by brutal religious fundamentalists. Barakat is a zealot responsible for rooting out heretics and putting an end to them in whatever way he sees fit; the whole city is ruled by fear. Gregor, who held a high position under the previous regime, demonstrates his usefulness and loyalty to the barbarians in order to survive. General Qulan refuses and remains locked up. The rebels gradually gather themselves into an organized group and devise a strategy for reclaiming the city. The serial involved an enormous cast of foreign actors, and recordings were made on locatiion; music was by Sacha Puttnam and Jon Quin and the producers were Emma Hearn, Nadir Khan and John Dryden. (....ND, Diversity website review, Sep 2017)

14 Mar 2018: School Drama, 1
By Andy Mulligan. A repeat of the Goldhawk production from about a year ago. First episode in a four-part series from Indie production company Goldhawk; further episodes broadcast tomorrow, Friday and a 60m episode on Saturday. A formerly well-known TV star is brought into a failing school to help stage a production of Romeo and Juliet. As ever in Goldhawk productions, location recordings are used throughout. There are also some uncomfortable truths about certain parts of the UK education system; I hope the Education Minister was listening. Cast - Tom Hollander, Sian Gibson, Tony Gardener, Heather Craney, Rob Jarvis, Divian Ladwa, Rebecca Emerton, Rory Greenwood, Rob Merriam, Finn Elliot, Floss Willcocks, Susie Baxter, Vincent Ebrahim, and students from Portsmouth Grammar School. Music by Jon Quin. Producer: Emma Hearn; director John Dryden. Indie production, as I said before.

15 Mar 18: School Drama, 2
By Andy Mulligan. Deer Park Academy is hoping to turns itself around; part of the process is to allow the staging of an unusual production of Romeo and Juliet. The ex-TV star hired for the job breaks all the rules and gets through to the kids, but it's a dangerous game he is playing.

16 Mar 18: School Drama, 3
By Andy Mulligan. The first night looms, but there are problems...

17 Mar 18: Saturday Play: School Drama, 4 - Romeo and Juliet
By Andy Mulligan. This isn't part of the nail-biting story by Andy Mulligan but is the actual performance of the play within the play - Romeo and Juliet.The cast: Romeo: Divian Ladwa, Juliet: Rebecca Emerton, Friar Laurence: Tom Hollander, Nurse: Susie Baxter, Capulet: Rob Jarvis, Tybalt: Stevie Basuala, Mercutio: Rory Greenwood, Benvolio: Finn Elliot, Paris: Rob Merriam, Lady Capulet: Lily-Fleur Bradbury, Friar John: Caolan McCarthy, Lady Montague: Abby Moss, Chorus: Poppy Goad. Other parts were played by Jo McAuley, Douglas James, Freddie Fenton, Douglas Lock and students from Portsmouth Grammar School. Music by Jon Quin. Producer: Emma Hearn; director: John Dryden.

TUMANBAY returned to the schedules in series 3 of John Dryden's historical saga (R4, 1415, 4 Feb 19), co-written with Mike Walker and inspired by the Mamluk slave rulers of Egypt; probably as close as radio can get to "Game of Thrones". I waited for the traditional scene in episode 1 in which medieval butchery is carried out on some hapless individual; and was not disappointed. The series was in eight 45m episodes and maintained its previously high standard. The Goldhawk site gives details of the three series, and announces "Slaves, spies, armies, assassinations, desert, plagues, death (....and, one could add, breathtaking casual violence - Ed) … Epic historical drama now available..... We are delighted to announce that we have partnered with Panoply Media to launch TUMANBAY worldwide as a podcast. It’s a really exciting development for us and will help the series reach a much larger audience." There is a long cast list with the key figures at the beginning of the new series played by Rufus Wright, Aiysha Hart, Matthew Marsh, Peter Polycarpou and Nathalie Armin. The series producers are Emma Hearn, Nadir Khan and John Dryden and this was an Indie production by Goldhawk. (....ND, Diversity website review, Apr 2019)

THE WILL (R4, 1415, 7 Apr 20) was a play by Polly Thomas and Anders Lundorph about estranged sisters. Angie lives in England; she has a string of failed business behind her and is currently on bail for tax evasion. When her more prosperous sister Birgitte turns up out of the blue from Denmark, begging her to fulfil their dying father’s last wish to meet her, there is little time to waste - they have to get to Copenhagen as soon as possible. Will they get there? The play was recorded on location in Manchester. Birgitte was played by Charlotte Munck, Angie by Danielle Henry and Chris by Steph Lacey. The script editor was John Dryden and the producer Eloise Whitmore, for indie company Naked Productions.

On 25 May 2020 began the last-ever series of TUMANBAY, an 8-episode historical fantasy by John Dryden and Mike Walker. Once the greatest city on earth, Tumanbay has fallen into the hands of two opposing warlords: the Grand Master Amalric (Anton Lesser), leader of a fearsome religious order of knights; and Fatima (Kirsty Bushell), ambitious wife of a provincial governor who exerts total control over the weakened young Sultana Manel. It's available as a podcast, and a Tumanbay novel 'The City of a Thousand Faces' has been on sale since May. The Goldhawk website contains inforamtion about it, ans there's also a Facebook page. It's described as an engrossing, epic fantasy with Rufus Wright, Aiysha Hart, Olivia Popica, Anton Lesser, Alexander Siddig & Tara Fitzgerald, produced for the BBC and presented by iHeartRadio. The producers were Emma Hearn & Nadir Khan; music was by Sacha Puttnam and the amazing soundscape was by Steve Bond & Eloise Whitmore; the producer was John Dryden. (....ND, Diversity website review, Sep 2020)

3 Jan 2021: Classic Serial slot: Passenger List, 1 - The White Matchmaker
By John Dryden. The wreckage, a missing passport, an unexpected call... Atlantic Airlines flight 702 has disappeared mid-flight between London and New York with 256 passengers on board. Kaitlin Le, a college student whose twin brother vanished with the flight, is determined to uncover the truth. Kelly Marie Tran, Patti LuPone, Colin Morgan and Rob Benedict star in this mystery thriller. First episode of 5. Kaitlin ..... Kelly Marie Tran, Gavin ..... Carl Prekopp, Laura Jones ..... Heather Craney, School Secretary ..... Anjli Mohindra, Professor Marshal ..... Richard Doyle, Homeland Security Man ..... Briggon Snow, Homeland Security Woman ..... Alex Brown Marshall, Murphy ..... Tesse Auberjonis, Mai (Kaitlin’s Mother) ..... Elyse Dihn, Hassan ..... Raad Rawi, Kirsty ..... Julie Adamo. Created by John Scott Dryden. Script Editor, Mike Walker. Casting, Janet Foster. US Producer, Julia Thompson, assisted by Julia Adamo. UK Producer, Emma Hearn. Editing, Sound Design & Music by Mark Henry Phillips. Directed by Lauren Shippen & John Scott Dryden. Executive Producers: Lauren Shippen & John Scott Dryden. Executive Producer for Radiotopia, Julie Shapiro. Indie (Goldhawk, for Radiotopia/PRX and BBC Radio)

    At the time of the last review of 2020 I'd listened to the beginning of PASSENGER LIST (R4, 5 episodes beginning 1445, 5 Dec 20 and extending into January) by John Dryden, Lauren Shippen and Sam Dingman; a mystery thriller from Goldhawk. I've now heard the whole thing. To recap - there's a missing plane, probably crashed, and a room full of suspects. Suspicious of the official versions of events, a college student begins her own investigation into the disappearance of the aircraft along with 256 passengers including her twin brother. There was a large cast (25 people plus production crew), headed by Kelly Marie Tran, Patti LuPone, Colin Morgan and Rob Benedict. John said "From the age of six I went to boarding school in England, while my parents lived and worked in the Middle East. I’d travel back and forth frequently by plane. Ever since, I’ve been somewhat fascinated with the concept of air travel, how you’re thrown together in a long metal tube at random with people you know nothing of, and the potential for things to go wrong."

    There were six episodes, each looking at events over the same time period from different vantage points. Were terrorists involved? What about the co-pilot? Andthe passenger traveling on a fake passport? What was the secret cargo in the hold? It was a riveting listen, and the series was judged as Best Podcast at the 2020 Audio Drama Awards; apparently it had already been available online for several months before its broadcast on radio 4. (.....ND, Diversity Website review, Apr 2021)

TAKEOVER (R4, 1415, 4 eps beginning 28 Jun 21) was another high-quality drama from Goldhawk by Ayeesha Menon and Matthew Solon; it's about a self-made billionaire and his family; high-stake deals and sibling rivalry set in the world of the super wealthy. Ravi Majumdar takes his four privileged children back to India so that they may see first-hand where he came from; he will decide which one of them will be his successor. The children - Amit, Zara, Shaan and Maya - fight for their father's affections and empire. Meanwhile a complication arises; there's an outsider to be considered who may make a better successor than anyone in the family. This was another excellent listen. Ravi was played by Rajit Kaput, Anya by Dolya Gavanski and Ash by Abhin Galeya. It was produced by Emma Hearn and Nadir Khan, directed by John Dryden and was recorded in the UK and India.

, by John Dryden and Brett Neichen (R4, beginning 1415, 1 Jan 22) was a 5 x 30m thriller series, also available as a podcast. When young British tennis pro, Joleen, is diagnosed with a terminalbrain tumour, she has herself cryogenically frozen at an experimental lab in Seattle, in the hope that one day - perhaps hundreds of years into the future - there will be a cure and she can be revived. After an undisclosed time, Joleen awakes from her slumber in Alaska, and is puzzled by her new surroundings. The world’s population is now split into SteelHeads, people who have been chipped, and ClearHeads, who oppose being chipped. Individuals with the chip lead bland, regimented lives, oblivious to anything negative. The Clearheads are the realists who see life as it is; at least, that's how it seems to them. It's worth pointing out that the story line also coincides with the events we are currently living through, with vaccine-hesitant people reluctant to have Covid jabs for fear of government foul play. Joleen was played by Jessica Barden, along with a very large cast; sound design was by Steve Bond, script editing was by Mike Walker and producers were Emma Hearn and John Dryden, for Goldhawk Productions.

9 Jan 22: 1445 slot (15m) The Seventh Test, 1- The Proposition
By Vikas Swarup, dram. Ayeesha Menon and John Dryden, from the novel.Thriller set in India. Sapna Sinha works as a sales assistant in a TV showroom in New Delhi. She is the breadwinner in the family and works long hours to provide for her mother and sister. But then a man walks into her life with an extraordinary proposition: pass seven tests and he will make her the CEO of his global empire. Production: Sound Design - Steve Bond, Editing Assistant - Varun Bangera, Script Editor - Mike Walker, Assistant Producer - Toral Shah. Music - Sacha Putnam. Producer - Nadir Khan. Director - John Dryden. Indie (Goldhawk).

My next highlight was the second series of TAKEOVER, by Ayeesha Menon and Matthew Solon (R4, 1415, four episodes beginning 11 Jul 22). We are again in the world of the super-wealthy and a family at war with itself. Business mogul Ravi Majumdar will do whatever it takes to claw back control of his global empire. The leads were taken by Rajit Kapur, Abhin Galeya and Amrita Acharya. Sound Design was by Eloise Whitmore, original music by Sacha Puttnam, Mike Walker edited the script and the producers were Emma Hearn and Nadir Khan. The Director and Executive Producer was John Dryden, for Goldhawk.

I enjoyed the mystery thriller SOMEONE DANGEROUS, by Andy Mulligan, a two-parter broadcast a week apart beginning 1415, 21 Sep 22. A young couple have just bought a house; they want a big place with land suitable for bringing up a family in thge countryside. The husband knows that the previous occupant, a young woman, killed herself in the bath and hasn't told his wife, but the price was right so he negotiated with the seller himself and went ahead. Then Ira finds the woman's diary hidden under the floorboards. This was a complex, multi-layered drama; an impressive hostile soundscape; even the house's acoustic sounded brittle and unfriendly; antique plumbing and a neighbour's dog generating intrusive noises and a remarkably unsympathetic wife; a good illustration of the word 'gaslighting' where one of the characters starts to doubt his/her sanity [the word 'gaslighting' comes from the Patrick Hamilton play - Ed] . Jed was played by Rob Jarvis, Ira by Lizzie Aaryn-Stanton and the neighbour by Harry Myers. The production was by Emma Hearn and John Dryden; another excellent offering from Goldhawk.

Thanks to John Dryden for supplying the titles of programmes I had missed, and details of some of the others. -.... Ed.

A number of these productions are available for purchase from Goldhawk. I recommend that you visit their site.

Nigel Deacon / Diversity website.

Back to top

Radio Plays
Wine Making
Cosby Methodist Church
Gokart Racing
Links to other Sites
Contact Us