John Pilkington Radio Plays

Note to ND from John Pilkington ......

I have been writing for over 20 years. I was born in Lancashire and now live in Devon, worked at lots of jobs and was a rock musician for years. I started with radio plays, 8 to date plus one on World Service which was an adaptation of my stage play Plantation (toured 1995). I also did a big community play in the Exeter festival (1996). Before Apostle of Light, the Louis Braille one which was my most succesful radio play, the best was A Frozen Stream called Wounded Knee (1992) about the massacre of Sioux in 1890. That was when they still had a 90' play slot. I also did one I was pleased with in '87 called Murmur of A Summer's Day, in which most of the characters were fish!

This last few years I've done episodes of 'Doctors' for BBC 1 daytime, and my crime fiction series: 4 novels set in Elizabethan England, the Thomas the Falconer Mysteries (pub. by Severn House, now appearing also in German and going into audio books sometime). I've also done a non-fiction book, A Survival Guide for Writers (Robert Hale, 2000). My books do quite well in libraries. My next Thomas book The Maiden Bell is out later this year.

remarks by ND.... some fine plays (details below), including three "biographies": of Alfred Nobel, Louis Braille, and Camille Pisarro. I found Braille's story and the "Wounded Knee" play particularly good.


??.??..80 Hurdles, 45m; rpt. 1981
??.??..87 Murmur of a Summer's Day, 60m
??.??..87 Requiem for Eddie - 15m original story
??.??..88 Uncle Victor - 15m original story
??.??..90 Clubland I and Clubland II (poetry)
??.??..92 *A frozen stream called Wounded Knee, 90m
22.11.94 *Dead Man's Button
??.09.96 *Dangerous Samples
??.??..97 Accommodating Lena (BBC Radio Devon)
??.??..98 Plantation (WS)
14.01.02 *Apostle of Light
13.11.03 *The colours of steam


45-minute original drama, directed by Penny Leicester. 1st broadcast BBC Radio 4 1980; 2nd broadcast 1981, BBC World Service.

60-minute original drama, R4, directed at BBC Pebble Mill and on location by Peter Windows, 1987.

15-minute original story, produced by Barbara Crowther, R4, 1987.

15-minute original story. Produced by Mitch Raper, R4, 1988.

CLUBLAND I and CLUBLAND II....1990 2 original poems, broadcast on Pen to Paper, R4, 1990. Produced at BBC Manchester by Liz Rigbey.

90-minute original drama, R4 Monday Play, directed at BBC Bristol by Andy Jordan. 2 broadcasts 1992; produced Radio South Africa, 1994.

Thirty Minute Theatre; fun and games two hundred feet up in the cab of a crane...you've all heard of the train driver's "dead man's handle"; in a crane there's a similar device called the dead man's button. The story takes place on the ground and in the air. Stars Tony Selby, Nick Stringer, Chris Harris, Nigel Carrington; dir. Andy Jordan. 30-minute original drama, produced by Andy Jordan, R4 1994. Prod. Radio South Africa 1995.

A play about Alfred Nobel, his love of explosives and his discovery of nitroglycerine. No casting details, unfortunately; my tape runs out at this point...55 minute Afternoon Theatre.

......update - ....1996 marked the centenary of the death of Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite and pioneer of weapons of mass destruction, but also the founder of the Nobel Peace Prize. An illuminating insight into the life of this extraordinary and contradictory man. With Robin Soams, John Hartley, Shirley Dixon and Jonathan Kitchens.

note added by JP: 60-minute original drama, directed by Cathryn Horn, R4 1996 (rpt 1998). Radio South Africa 1996.

30-minute original drama, written for performance by 3rd year students at Cygnet Training Theatre (writer-in-residence project). Produced by Keith Slade for BBC Radio Devon, 1997.

60-minute radio adaptation of own stage play, produced by Andy Jordan for BBC World Service, Play of the Week, Jan-Feb 1998.

Apostle of Light (R4, 1415,14 Jan 02) by John Pilkington was a dramatisation of the life of Louis Braille. After losing his sight in a childhood accident he was placed in an institution for the blind. The prospects for sightless children in Paris were appalling; they couldn't be educated because they could hardly read or write; the only printed material they could cope with consisted of enormous books printed in raised type. A visit by a retired army captain, Charles Barbier, changed all this. Barbier had developed what he called "night-writing"; he had once seen a gun crew annihilated because they had betrayed their position by lighting a lamp to read a trivial message. He worked out that raised dots and dashes could represent letters or words and that these could be read in the dark. Braille devised an alphabet using the same idea and showed that a practised user could read and write at a decent speed. .....N.D., VRPCC newsletter.

45-minute original drama, Afternoon Play Jan 2002 (rpt Christmas Day 2002), produced by Cherry Cookson. Rpt BBC7, Producer's Choice, 2004. Repeated again 27 Jan 10, BBC radio 7.

Marking the centenary of the death of the painter Pisarro, the story traces his time as an exile in London when he and Monet gave birth to the French Impressionist movement. With David Troughton as Camille Pisarro, with Jane Whittenshaw, Stephen Critchlow (Monet), Philip Fox, Ioan Meredith, Frances Jeater, Lucy Trickett, Jaimi Barbakoff and Ben Crowe; dir. Cherry Cookson. 45m.

Nigel Deacon / Diversity Website

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