Notices 2023

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I am saddened to report the death, a few days ago, of Oliver Emanuel. There is a beautiful tribute to him on Dan Rebellato's website.

26 Dec 2023

Stephen Shaw has sent me his radio 4 drama listing for 1980, which can be found on the main radio page. We now have a continuous listing for all afternoon dramas from 1980 to 2023.

23 Dec 2023

I am sorry to report that Anne Bunting, studio manager and radio producer, has died.

23 Dec 2023

Stephen Shaw has compiled another interesting listing of radio plays on the Light Programme; this time for 1955 (go to the main Radio page and scroll down). Stephen's listings are more detailed than BBC Genome and contain references to related material - e.g. earlier / later broadcasts, prominent actors involved and producer. He writes:

1955 was an odd year with variable frequency of drama frequency, dropping off quite a bit towards the year-end. Several productions were identified which were lacking any information in Genome.

I found one particular play in 1955 of great interest-
5th October 1955
Suspense: Change Here for Freedom by David James (1919-1986)

I have now bought the book this play was based upon and find it most interesting- but I can't find the play. Would be interested if anyone has it- my father spent time in Marlag-O camp.

Only one chapter in the book dealt with "life in the camp". I quite liked the report of the prisoners leading a "guard" around by hand as he was essentially blind.

There were two films around Marlag- the Ealing film "The Captive Heart" used external shots at the camp, just after the war. Although it was filmed as an army camp, I still identified the features my father spoke of. The film "Albert RN" was a fictionalised account of an incident in the camp- but the Germans in the film were rather darker than in real life and the film was shot entirely in the UK.

29 Nov 2023

Clive Lever writes...A friend was telling me about a play entitled "The Longest Tow", broadcast during the mid eighties; he can't remember the author's details or the title. The story is of a U-boat which sank a British ship and the U-boat captain had a conscience; he took a number of life boats full of survivors in tow from the sinking ship over a thousand miles from mid-Atlantic to the coast of Northern France; My friend thinks thinks it took place in 1941-2.

    ......This sounds like 'The Long Lonely Voyage of U-395, by James Follett, from 1980.

    The Southern Atlantic, 10 November 1941: U-boat 395 has been waiting to torpedo a British cargo ship, the Southern Pearl, due out of Rio de Janeiro. Things do not go according to plan and eventually the U-tows six lifeboats a distance of 2,500 miles to Brest. - ND

28 Nov 2023

More reviews from Harry have just arrived - see link on main radio page.

21 Nov 2023

I was recently asked whether the BBC had retained rights to its drama archive, and could this be used (since repeating is cheaper than recording a play) to help bolster the amount of radio drama being broadcast?

The answer is no. The BBC only has full rights to dramas broadcast after the year 2000.The majority of radio drama up to the year 2000 (99% of it) was not retained by the BBC because it couldn't be repeated without paying the repeat fee, so there was no point in keeping it. The postings on Youtube and similar are from off-air recordings posted without permission by members of the public. If the author complains, they are taken down, so the online copies aren't really an archive. Those recordings come and go.

21 Nov 2023

I'm looking forward to the new 5-part drama series 'Spores'. Should be good. Mon-Fri, 1415.

But on a related subject - radio drama overall - is this 5 x 28min drama a symptom of radio-drama reduction?

We used to get five 45m dramas a week (well actually about 43m) which comes to 213 minutes a week.

Then we were introduced to no-drama Monday, where we got four plays ... 4 x 43 is 172 minutes.

Then one of them became a 28-minute Friday podcast, which reduced it to 157 minutes.

Now we have a five-episode series of 28 min, = 140 minutes.

I wondered if next week's 30-min drama had been replaced by a 45 min play, to compensate - but no, it's another short one, according to the schedule.

19 Nov 2023

If you are within travelling distance of Letchworth, you may be interested in this:
A note from Paul Green, radio writer:

Writing Radio Drama 18/1/24 (5 Weeks)

Tutor: Paul Green
Thursdays from 10:00 to 12:00
18th Jan 2024
£70.00 per 5-week term.

Radio drama reaches millions via the BBC. It’s also enjoying a renaissance on-line. Over five weeks we’ll explore the possibilities and challenges of writing for an invisible medium. As well as analysing a range of genres and styles we’ll focus on creative exercises for generating ideas, developing characters, using dialogue, shaping the narrative structure and exploiting audio signposting - so you can work towards drafting your script. We’ll then look at different routes for submitting it to the BBC or producing it yourself for podcasting or community radio. No previous experience required. Just bring writing materials – paper or digital – plus keen ears and your imagination.


Note from ND - Paul's plays have been performed by BBC Radio 3, CBC Canada, Capital Radio, RTE Eire, Resonance FM, and by theatre groups in London and regionally. His 2006 play for RTE is on line at:


There’s more about his other work - with more audio links - at: paulgreenwriter.co.uk .

15 Nov 2023

A note from Mike Harris:

My play about the making of Shakespeare's 'First Folio' collected works, to commemorate its publication 400 years ago in November 1623, is on BBC Radio Four this Saturday (the 11th Nov) at 3pm, and thereafter online at BBC Sounds... and it isn't called Big Willy...

...it's called, imaginatively, 'First Folio' and, like Shakespeare, it's got cross dressing, sex, a ghost, plays within plays, shit jokes, an arras, lots of implausible final-scene killings, and my speculation (based, of course, on meticulous research) about how exactly that text was cobbled together after his death by two of his mates, without whose endeavours (and dodgy claims) we would not have had Macbeth, Anthony and Cleo, Coriolanus, Alls Well that Ends Well, a dozen others and the English language would have been much impoverished.

It's directed by Clive Brill and stars Hannah Traylen as Rosalind, Christopher Jordan as The Ghost, Jos Vantyler as John Hemminge, Ricky Oakley as Henry Condell, Paul Kemp as Issac Jaggard, Ben Castle Gibb as John Leeson, Alex Constandtinidi as Moll Frith and Miles Richardson as Sir Pexall Brockass.

This programme caught my eye and should be interesting ...

Close Encounters - JJ Chalmers & Sir Archibald McIndoe .... The former soldier and now TV presenter JJ Chalmers joins Martha Kearney in the National portrait gallery to celebrate a painting of Sir Archibald Hector McIndoe, known as the father of plastic surgery. His work during WW2 on young airman who had suffered disfiguring burns led to major developments in battlefield and cosmetic surgery. JJ received serious bomb blast injuries serving in Afghanistan.

JJ also talks about McIndoe's 'Guinea Pig Club' made up of the airman who had come under McIndoe's care, which was the inspiration for JJ forming the Casy-Vac club for modern soldiers who have had to be evacuated from the front line as casualties. Producer: Tom Alban. The programme is on BBC Sounds and was broadcast on 4 Nov in the slot immediately after the afternoon drama.

7 Nov 2023

Dame Judi was featured on 'This Cultural Life', interviewed by John Wilson on Saturday (4 Nov) and repeated this afternoon. This is an excellent interview and no-one remotely interested in radio (or stage drama) should miss it. It's available on the BBC Sounds web page and no doubt it will be repeated again before long.

6 Nov 2023

We are supplying more old recordings to R4X: The 1973 version of The House on the Strand has been sent, and we expect this to be broadcast at some point in the not-too-distant future. We have also supplied another serial by Robert Barr, which should be transmitted within the next 12 months. Apologies for the long silence with snippets of radio drama news; we have had some domestic problems.

5 Nov 2023

What a pleasure it is to have such a talented entertainer on the radio - Daliso gets better and better. His latest comedy series has just finished; he ruminates on various aspects of life and is not afraid to tackle controversial issues. But with such talent, tact, skill and humour - one always feels better at the end of his programme than at the beginning. Hats off - a genius!

4 Nov 2023

The latest radio drama review is online; please see the link on the main radio drama page.

28 Sep 2023

It is with immense sadness that I pass on the news that Richard Wortley died yesterday 12th September peacefully at his home aged 89. He was a wonderful and talented man and he will be missed by us all.

Cherry Cookson, 13 Sep 2023

    Note from ND:
    Richard Wortley probably had more radio drama credits to his name than any other living radio producer; about 3,000 ...and had assisted in many more. (Genome's number is lower, but this is derived from RT, and in the earlier years, producers were not mentioned). In the summer of 2004, in the early days of this website, I wrote to him to see if he would contribute a short article on his radio career. He wrote back saying yes, he would prepare something.

    I heard nothing for a while, but three months later I received a bulky package in the post. Inside was a fifteen thousand word summary of his life in radio.

    We continued to correspond, and I finally had the pleasure of meeting him in 2018 at the Betty Davies 'wake' at the BBC Club.

    His reminiscences are fascinating, and there could not be a more appropriate time to read them and remember a remarkably gifted man. We send our condolences to Ros and to the family.

    ND, 13 Sep 2023

Interested to hear on the Archers this week a reference to SWD (spotted-wing drosophila). This is a little-known (outside the trade) scourge of cherry trees.

Most of the cherry trees in our area, which are a usual part of Council plantings, have SWD and once they have it, that's it. You might as well chop the tree down. Spotted wing drosophila is a fruit fly which attacks ripening fruit and fills it with tiny white grubs, unlike normal fruit flies, which only attack rotting fruit. It overwinters easily; on most common fruit trees/plants and even on hawthorn. The pest has been imported from northern Europe, where the use of less toxic compounds during spraying has led to the spread of it.

SWD will mean that it will soon be impossible to grow cherries in private gardens unless they are under a fine net. Commercial cherries are mainly grown under nets now. Sales of garden cherry trees will probably cease. It's good to see this problem highlighted.

30 Ju1 2023

I am pleased to report that Stephen Shaw is continuing with his listings of radio plays on the old Light Programme, which eventually changed into Radio 2. These can be found lower down on the main radio drama page. Many thanks, Stephen.

23 Ju1 2023

The internet archive is a nonprofit online library which lent out digital books during the pandemic. The archive was found to infringe four publishers' copyrights in a ruling made public in March.

There are also copyright infringements of other material, including audio files of BBC programmes, though so far, none have been tested in court. The Internet Archive policy is to terminate the accounts of those who repeatedly post copyright material which they do not own.

19 Ju1 2023

The BBC has commissioned a set of dramas about historic turning points.

There's a good one going out on Saturday 1 July at 3pm.

A Ghastly Mistake, by Nicholas McInerny, is the story of Sir Ewan Forbes, a Scottish nobleman, general practitioner and farmer. But Ewan was a trans man; he was christened Elizabeth Forbes-Sempill and officially registered as the youngest daughter of John, Lord Sempill. After an uncomfortable upbringing, he began presenting as a man in the 1930s, following a course of medical treatments in Germany. He formally re-registered his birth as male in 1952, changing his name to Ewan, and was married a month later.

In 1965, he stood to inherit the baronetcy of his elder brother William, Lord Sempill, together with a large estate. But the inheritance was challenged by his cousin, who argued that the re-registration was invalid; under this interpretation, Forbes would legally be considered a woman, and thus unable to inherit the baronetcy. The legal position was unclear.

Drawing on Ewan’s autobiography and press reports from the time, this drama explores the court case, telling the story of a man who was intent on living a quiet life as a GP and a farmer, but was resolute about affirming his identity, the validity of his marriage, and his family reputation through the confirmation of his inherited title.

This is another cracking production by International Arts Partnership, for Radio 4.

Stephen Shaw has compiled another list of Radio 4 Drama; this time for 1981. Many thanks, Stephen. Lots of interesting reading on there.

I am hoping that a way can be found (in conjuction with the writer organizations and the BBC) for much more radio material to be made available online, legally, without breaking copyright / performing rights. Posting material you do not own on Youtube or the 'Internet Archive' is not the way to do it.

9 Jun 2023

How to have the Perfect Marriage, Nicholas McInerny's autobiographical look at modern relationships, will be released at the end of June.

The episodes look at a situation which has occurred time after time; a married man with a family gradually comes to the realization that he is gay. What happens next? This story of a family surviving an emotional earthquake consists of 5x15-minute episodes over four series. It has become extremely popular and has struck a chord with the public; Nicholas has even appeared on Woman's Hour to talk about it.

The running time of the sequence of dramas is approximately four hours. I've written a short piece about it here: 'Perfect Marriage'

The link for more information on the Penguin website (and to pre-order) is here .

3 Jun 2023

"The Chelmsford Radio Drama Festival, supported by the Essex County Council Arts and Cultural Fund brings together our community in celebration of the broadcast heritage of our City. Championing audio drama, local connections and contributions."

Consists of six listening sessions, beginning 5 June, followed by a writers' workshop and a showcase supervised by radio drama writer Robin Brooks. Please investigate the link below:

more information and Eventbrite links

12 May 2023

Thanks to Alistair Wyper, there is now a detailed page about David Edgar and his radio plays. Many thanks, Alistair. The radio drama listings for 2023 are also updated now up to 30 April.

5 May 2023

The results for this year's Audience Award are now in!

1st: Bowie in Siberia - Mamuka Magularia (Georgia)
2nd: Tutto il Resto è Attesa - Christina Marras (Italy)
3rd: El Fabricante de Vermeers - Resonar Studio (Spain)

Join us in congratulating them. And we look forward to the next festival!

3 May 2023

Saturday Play slot, 3.00, 8 April. Easter Saturday and there's no afternoon play; that's pretty poor. Exactly the time when people who can't listen in the week could have appreciated a decent drama. There's also no play on Monday afternoon. If you are as annoyed by this as me, please email tim.davie@bbc.co.uk, OR send a letter: c/o BBC Broadcasting House, London, W1A 1AA, asking him what on earth is going on .

The hours of radio drama commissioning has recently been reduced - from 600 hours/year in 2017 to 300 now. At the Audio Drama Awards three weeks ago, the BBC (actually Charlotte Moore, the Chief Content Officer) told us it was promoting radio drama as hard as it could. It seems to me it's actually doing the opposite.

On reflection, an additional email to charlotte.moore@bbc.co.uk wouldn't do any harm.

7 Apr 2023

Harry has reviewed some choice radio dramas from Feb-Mar; see HT latest, including interviews with producer Polly Thomas and writer May Sunbwanyambe. Many thanks, HT.

We heard some brilliant dramas during the week. The festival winners are as follows:

Full Length (up to 60m)
1st: This Word (Polish Radio Theatre)
2nd: Buffalo Bitches (Het Audio Atelier)
3rd: Les Cailloux Meurent Aussi (Atelier de Creation Sonore Radiophonique)

Short Form (up to 7m)
1st: I Am Trash (Radio Gilan)
2nd: 5000 (Resonar Studio)
3rd: La Magie des Ondes (Eve-Marie Bouche)

Deacon Award (Young Producer):
Through the Fairy Circle (First Ditch Collective, Canada);
by Uri Livne-Bar, Shannon Kingston, James Hyett.

Congratulations and thank you to everyone!

The plays are now all online. The final award (Audience Award) will be in about a month's time and will be decided by online vote.

1 Apr 2023

The UK International Audio Drama Festival kicked off this morning at the Eastbridge Hospital, Canterbury. Details are on our Festival page. Fascinating dramas from around the world. Continues until Friday evening. Plays will be left online for about a month after the initial listening session. Do not miss.

27 Mar 2023

Extraordinary, tragic, mind-blowing drama this afternoon on radio4: Song Of The Cossacks, brilliantly adapted by Stephen Wyatt from the stage play.

25 Mar 2023

Here is Nicholas McInerny talking about the UK International Audio Drama Festival on BBC Radio Kent. Next week, 27-31 March.

21 Mar 2023

The ADAs, including the Imison and Tinniswood Awards, were announced in the Radio Theatre of the BBC on the evening of 19th March 2023. For details of the evening, please see the ADA page.

20 Mar 2023

Marta Rebzda and Oana Grigorescu are both finalists for the Best European Drama award. Marta's play "Let Me Tell You", about Alzheimer's, was judged best play in the UK International Audio Drama Festival last year, and Oana is joint chair of this year's festival jury.

Stephen Shaw has been busy and has completed the Radio 4 listings for 1982. See main Radio page - dramas listed by year.

10 Feb 2023


From Clive Lever:

"I’ve noticed that this week, Saturday afternoon had the second part of the Jungle Book reset in Modern day India as a gangland story. Sunday at 3PM we have the Chatterleys, D H Lawrence updated and moved from Derbyshire to Redcar, courtesy of Graeae theatre. This Cultural Life airs on Monday instead of a radio play. Tuesday and Wednesday are repeats of a two part series, Avin Shah’s The Half Widow. Thursday continues Nazis, the road to power, and Friday gives us an episode of another serial.

So, I wonder if this is the first week ever without a stand-alone play going to air since the inception of the radio play! I don’t expect this observation would bring any cheer to writers."

    ND comment

    In my radio drama review for Dec 22 I wrote the following:

    There have been better times for radio drama. The medium is contracting, and Tim Davie, the Director-General, has said that Radio 4 Extra, the archive channel, will cease to exist as a broadcast channel; archive content will only be available on the BBC website. The amount of new drama commissioned has been reduced drastically.

    The last BBC Trust Operating Licence for Radio 4 required 600 hours of drama to be broadcast for 2016-17, but the subsequent removal of quotas caused this to fall significantly. The BBC’s last Annual Plan committed to 300 hours of drama on Radio 4 for 2022-23.

    It is not known whether Radio 4 Extra will continue to exist as a channel on BBC Sounds following its removal as a broadcast channel. This does not inspire confidence in how the BBC is run. There is a group on Facebook opposed to the change, named 'Save BBC Radio 4 Extra', with about 500 members. You might consider joining it, though it would be better, perhaps, to write to the decision-makers at the BBC.

1 Feb 2023

I am sorry to report the sad news from Cherry Cookson that Guy Meredith died yesterday. "He had been ill with Parkinson's and other connected things for a long time. He had gone back to live in Spain where his wife is from and I visited him there only a few months ago when he was in a care home. A lovely man and a great writer. He was only 70."

I have been following his radio work for decades - a talented writer working at the highest level. I've listened several times to Geminus, The Surprise Symphony, Craft, Martin Guerre, Daunt & Dervish, Arcady. He will be much missed.

1 Feb 2023

We invite you to the annual Audio / Radio Drama Festival which will be held in-person and also online on five successive days, 27-31 March 2023. Starts Mon 27 Mar at 10 am.

The venue is the ancient Eastbridge Hospital, 25 High St. Canterbury, CT1 2BD.

Basic information is here on the festival website.

More detailed information and notes from previous festivals, to give you an idea of what goes on, is on the suttonelms website:

Admission is free; you can register an interest using the eventbrite link for access, either online or face-to-face, here.

There has been a large number of submissions (100) - more than last year - and we are selecting the ones to be featured. We have plays from 27 countries and in many languages.

All being well we are expecting jurors from about 8 countries.

There will be four substantial prizes: best drama (short form), best drama (long form), the Deacon Award, for the best play by a young producer, and the audience award, decided by online vote over several weeks..

Winners of the awards (apart from the audience award) will be decided by the jury on the Friday, and the presentation will take place on that evening.

We hope to see you at the festival - or, if that's not possible, that you will be able to dip into the programme during the week in spare moments and that we can meet (and if you feel like it, talk to you) online.


24 Jan 2023

It has been pointed out to me that the initial and final credits are frequently missing on plays accessed via BBC Sounds. If listeners have enjoyed a play they are often interested in learning who has written and produced. It's a good advert for the members of the production team and encourages listeners to look out for more of their work. I hope this omission will be remedied.

15 Jan 2023

Alistair Wyper has reviewed an interesting book about the BBC published in 2015, written by Charlotte Higgins. The full title is This New Noise: The Extraordinary Birth and Troubled Life of the BBC . The book is an expansion of nine essays which Higgins was asked by the Guardian’s editor to write, between 2013 and 2014. It focuses on successive Directors-General of the BBC. Alistair's review is on the articles page, accessed via the main radio page.

15 Jan 2023

I note that the 1415 drama slot on Monday afternoons has disappeared again. I hope some of you will write to the BBC to complain. The programme broadcast at that time is ok, but it's a repeat and it isn't drama; not a good idea. Why not broadcast a play from say 15 years ago if there's no money to commission a new one? As I understand it the BBC owns all of the rights of such plays anyway - so no repeat / performing rights fees.

14 Jan 2023

We are continuing to archive radio plays and other programmes donated by writers, producers and others. Four more collections have been digitised and archived recently; nearly all of Catherine Czerkawska's plays (Thanks Catherine), a large collection of reels and cassettes from a retired BBC producer (thanks Peter W); another collection from the the late John William Hedges ('DD'), (thanks Jill Hedges) and a collection of about 30 rare items from a person living in Philadelphia who spent many years in Singapore (thanks C-H-S).

14 Jan 2023

Harry has reviewed some more plays for us - see the top ARTICLES link low down on the main radio plays page. Plays reviewed are an Ibsen reworking, The Willows by Algernon Blackwood, Bedroom Farce, Broken Colours, Rare Earth and a very old recording of War of the Worlds, from R4X.

15 Jan 2023

The new version of Dickens' 'THE SIGNALMAN', adapted by Jonathan Holloway and produced by Andy Jordan, was broadcast on Christmas Day at 3.15pm. This should not be missed; you can get it on catch-up. The play 'Christmas Wings' by Katie Redford (Lily Pargetter in 'The Archers') produced by Tracey Neale on 22 Dec was also excellent.

25 Dec 2022

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