Other radio plays -
more recent (2004)

All Fingers and Thumbs
Afternoon Play, R4, 1415, 29 Dec 04. By Alan Stafford A romantic comedy about communication. Sign language interpreter Marie wants more deaf people to enjoy the theatre. So does director Tom - but not if it involves a bothersome spot-lit woman waving her arms about on his stage.

Clive/Jamie/Gordon ...... Brian Bowles
Tom ..... Bill Nighy
Helen ...... Felicity Montagu
Marie ...... Susannah Doyle
Sal ...... Jenny Eclair
Michael ...... Steve Day
Paula ...... Fifi Garfield

Directed by Dirk Maggs.

Alan Stafford adds .........I'm a believer in tight dialogue, subtext and plenty of scope for the actor's contribution to the part.

ND adds ... humorous, well-written; very "visual" in the images it conjures up.

*Distant Whispers....2004
- by Garry Lyons (R4, 2102, 19 Nov 04) was a welcome repeat, broadcast as the Friday Play. A random killing causes a murder trial from thirty years ago to re-surface. The detective who handled it is retired and terminally ill. But all the evidence is still in the police files. His successor revisits the surviving witnesses, including one with whom VRPCC members may identify - an elderly bird-watcher who has filled his house with thousands of reels of tape, all containing bird calls. On one of them, he says, is the voice of the murderer...Paul Copley was excellent as the retired Inspector, and Christine, the new Inspector, was played by Denise Black. The audio analyst, presumably using something like "Cooledit Pro" to decipher the tape, was Kate Williamson; Nadia Molinari directed. .........ND, VRPCC newsletter

14 Nov 04, BBC7, I think repeated from an earlier year. The friendship between Siegfried Sassoon and the young poet Wilfred Owen, who met whilst recuperating in a mental hospital towards the end of WW1.

*Isabella and the Pot of Basil....2004
By John Keats. Tues 5 Oct, 1415. Isabella loves Lorenzo, but her brothers want him dead and so young love turns to gothic nightmare. With Miriam Margolyes, Janie Dee, Rashan Stone,Stephen Hogan and Nicholas Boulton. Music by David Chilton. Director Claudine Toutoungi.

Comments from the BBC messageboard:
........A welcome change from the average Afternoon Play; I enjoyed it. It was atmospheric and gripping. Please give the director, Claudine Toutoungi, much more to do. We need her.

......Poetic ballads aren't usually my thing, but this was beautifully done and kept me listening until the end. Miriam Margolyes' narration was well-paced, the music was atmospheric and the songs were not only rather lovely but also added a touch of humour.

LUCY GOUGH has done a very effective dramatisation of this poem; it's an interesting contrast. Details are on Lucy's page.....N.D.

26 Sep 04. Strange play in which the life of John Betjeman becomes entangled with that of other wartime celebrities, including Oswald Moseley. A spirited, entertaining tale; definitely R3 rather than R4. I am told that Hippomania is manic love of horses.

By Anthony Neilson, 30m. CBC Mystery Project (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) 3 Sep 04. A convicted killer is visited by a psychiatrist to be assessed for parole. He's been jailed for 9 years. Before she makes her assessment, she has a proposition to put to him... CBC continues to commission excellent drama. Its quality rivals that of the BBC.

*The Day of the Owl....Aug 2004
By Leonardo Sciascia, translated by Archibald Colquhoun and Arthur Oliver, adapted by Andrew Farrell Readman. When a man is shot dead in the piazza of a small Sicilian town and no witnesses step forward, investigating officer Captain Bellodi suspects Mafia involvement, and his investigation opens up a hornet's nest. With Simon Donald, Christopher Wilkinson, Russell Dixon, Robert Pickavance, Will Tacey, James Nickerson, Graeme Hawley, Craig Cheetham, Deka Walmsley, Christine Brennan, and Kenneth Alan Taylor. Director Nadia Molinari.

By Mike Peck. A guy battles against his tumour. This play provoked mixed reactions on the BBC messageboard. One contribution went as follows:

“I'm beginning to think the Afternoon Play is one long therapy session for writers wanting to off-load their angst, fears, illnesses and grouches with the world. I'm not sure I can cope with much more, having enough concerns in my own life. We've had families afflicted by suicides, car crashes, terrorism, dementia, blindness, deafness, heart attacks, all kinds of cancer, and now here, a brain tumour, with all the gory details of the terrible damage it will do. When was it I used to worry about our trees growing over our neighbour's fence?

Although this play avoided self-pity and sentimentality, my main objection is its contention that cancer cells are to be fought. No one ever talks of battling against heart disease, measles, alzheimer's or asthma. It implies that if you try hard enough, you'll succeed. It's such an insult to all those who've died from this horrible disease.

This is not to say, I don't wish Mike Peck well, with a happy and long future. In its own terms, the play was very well written and performed.”

This piece was signed “zappa zappa”, and I hope, z-z, that you don’t mind my using it. If you wish me to remove it , send me an email.I do not know how to contact you. Thanks…N.D.

8 Apr 04. A former soldier walks out of the woods to help a priest trying to set up a small community just after the First World War. The soldier is a deserter and a skilled carpenter, and gets stuck into the task. But there are some surprises in store. With Kenneth Cranham, Stuart McQuarrie, John Rowe, Ioan Meredith, Philip Fox; director Janet Whitaker.

7 Apr. 04. The relationship of the lawyer Andrew Makepeace Ladd III and the artist Melissa Gardner. Written by A.R.Gurney. With Kyle McLachlan and Lorelei King; director Anastasia Tolstoy.

By Philip Osment, R4 5 Apr 04. A contemporary fairy story. Vlad's life is turned around when he finds a baby girl on his doorstep. With Robert Glenister, Gillian Bevan, Lulu Popplewell, Carl Prekopp, Alice Hart, Emma Lucas, Alice Foxall, Steven Williams; violinist Anne Wood, producer Jeremy Mortimer.

*THE DUEL, by Michael Samuels....2004
R4, 1430-1600, 3 Apr 04. This play is based on the conflict between Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and the miners' leader, Arthur Scargill, 1983-1985. Miners went on strike in protest at pit closures, stayed out without a ballot, and supported Scargill right until the end. Ultimately he was defeated by the better tactics of his opponent. This was a wonderful piece of drama; David Threlfall played Scargill and Patricia Hodge was Margaret Thatcher; Jeremy Howe and Isobel Eaton directed.

The miners' strike bitterly divided the people. Hundreds of coal mines, a hundred thousand miners out on strike, a government intent on discord and the breaking of union power, thousands of police battling their fellow citizens on government instructions. It was also a highly personal clash between Scargill and Thatcher; the latter with strong memories of the downfall of the Heath government in 1974. That they treated the dispute as a fight to the death is shown in the way both resorted to imagery from the Second World War. Scargill said that the policies he opposed were the first steps on a road which would lead to the concentration camps (I couldn't quite follow his logic, but that was never his strong point); Mrs. Thatcher called the stance of the Labour Party "appeasement". We do not hear the story's real end - how the dispute ultimately destroyed both its architects - but the play is an outstanding piece of docu-drama. Listen to it. ......(paraphrased from a longer article by Danny Kelly in Radio Times, 3-9 Apr. 04)

By Steve Jacobs, R4, 1415, 2 Apr 04. A couple move to rural France to get away from the rat race. For a while everything is fine. Then Bob meets local beauty Sylvie, whose husband Benoit is older, suspicious, and armed. A rather menacing play. With Christine Cox, Malcolm Scates, Caroline Preller, Alexander Delamere and Eric Potts; director Jim Poyser.

R4,1415, 1 Apr 04. By Louise Doughty. Iyola, a refugee from Africa works in the school kitchens. She has a bleak existence and a terrible past. But she likes to hear the children learning songs. With Noma Dumezweni and Andrew Scott. Director David Hunter. This play features the voices of children from Yerbury School, London N19.

R4, 29 Mar 04 1415. By Gowan Calder. An art college threatens to close down sections of its drawing and painting school in favour of more economically viable departments. The life models' jobs are threatened, so some of them take a stand. With Steven Cartwright, Julie Duncanson, Chris Moran, Tony Kearney, Vicki Liddelle and Jenny Ryan; director Lu Kemp.

8 Mar 04, by Juliet Ace. Mattie (see Juliet Ace page) is now a middle-aged woman....

9 Mar 04; by Sue Rodwell. Gwen takes her mother on a murder mystery weekend, but they get more than they expected.

BBC7, 25Jan04: The 90-minute drama at 1pm (rpt 2am) is the James M Cain's film noir, Double Indemnity. On a hot summer night in Los Angeles, when Mr Huff visits Mr Nerdling with the view of selling an insurance policy, an affair begins which has costly consequences. Directed by Andy Jordan, this excellent drama has a good cast which includes Frederic Forrest, Theresa Russell, Molly Ringwald, John Wood and John Guerrasio.

8 Jan 04; afternoon play. A ghost story by Laura Watson (rpt); produced by Sarah Brown.

8 Jan 04, 11pm, by Philip Martin. A ghostly tale; a painter starts to hear voices from the future. They are talking about him, and a murder. 30m. With Neil Dudgeon, Jenny Howe, Chris Moran, Katie McGuinness, Jaimi Barbakoff. Music by Toby Smail; director Peter Kavanagh.

By Christopher Green; 7 Jan 04. Chrissie and Diane are Rotherham disco queens (rpt). Producer Claire Grove.

No-one in authority likes a guy under him with a mind of his own, a principle clearly illustrated in this curious play by Miles Gibson. Set several centuries ago, just after the Bible was translated into the common tongue, this story tells of a man who had the nerve to read it and try to work out what it meant. The church authorities were not impressed, and the play works through to its inevitable conclusion. It was based on actual people and events.

Nigel Deacon / Diversity website

Asterisked plays known to exist in VRPCC collections

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