Radio Plays, 2012

ex-R4 forum/ 'beebotron' / R3 drama forum /

The Radio 4 forums are much missed since their closure last year. Could I encourage all those who used to visit the R4 messageboards to start using the alternative forums above? The more people who contribute, the better they will be.

25 Nov 12; first episode of new dramatization by Sebastian Baczkiewicz, 4 x 55m, Classic Serial. The Count of Monte Cristo is the well-known adventure novel by Alexandre Dumas. The story takes place in France, Italy, islands in the Mediterranean, and in the Levant during the historical events of 18151838. It focuses on a man who is wrongfully imprisoned for fourteen years, escapes from jail, acquires a fortune and sets about getting revenge on those responsible for his imprisonment. He destroys his enemies systematically and ruthlessly, and at the end, it becomes clear that the innocent young man we met at the beginning of the story is no longer recognisable.

This is a great dramatization, comparing well with earlier BBC versions. There is emphasis on detail and realism; the prison scenes are especially chilling. The cast: Ian Glen as Edmond, Jane Lapotaire as Haydee, with Josette Simon, Paul Rhys, Kate Fleetwood, Karl Johnson, Toby Jones, Stephanie Racine, Zubin Varla, Ben Crowe, Will Howard, Sarah Thom, Paul Stonehouse, Lizzy Watts, Adam Nagaitis, Eleanor Crooks, Joe Sims, Robert Blythe. Producers Jeremy Mortimer and Sasha Yevtushenko.

    Earlier versions: April 1956 - 12 x 30m eps. with Valentine Dyall as Edmond Dantes, adap. Patrick Riddell., with Peter Watts, John Westbrook, Beryl Calder, Elizabeth London, Belle Crystal, Majorie Westbury, Brian Haines, Rolfe Lefebre, Arthur Ridley, Geoffrey Segal; another version, also 12 episodes, beginning during July 1964; another one in 7 x 60m eps., Classic Serial beginning 23 Sep 87, with Andrew Sachs.

By Martyn Wade. 28 Nov 12. Biographical treatment of a less happy part of Rachmaninov's life. He'd just finished his first symphony, which was given an indifferent performance by Glazunov, who didn't really like or understand it, then it was badly reviewed by the critics.

He visited his idol, Tolstoy, and was disappointed to meet an irritable old man with little personal sympathy. Unsurprisingly, mixed in with his depression was an unhappy love affair leading nowhere.

The writing of his second piano concerto marked his recovery, and he subsequently married the woman who had stuck by him through his years of depression. Cast: Jamie Glover as Rachmaninov, Lydia Leonard as Anna, Alison Pettitt as Natasha, with Philip Voss, Stephen Critchlow and Ian Masters. Producer Cherry Cookson.

Another series of Nick Warburton's Fenland drama began on 15 Nov. The production is impressive and the acting is wonderful; not a weak link anywhere. Cast: John Rowe, Trevor Peacock, Kate Buffery, Helen Longworth, Sam Dale. Producer Tracey Neale, director Claire Grove.

It's been a few years since Bram Stoker's 'Dracula' was broadcast, and this new version, by Rebecca Lenkiewic, went out in the 'Classic Serial' slot on successive Sundays (2 x 55m), beginning on 14 October. Cast: Nicky Henson as The Count, Charles Edwards, Don Gilet, Michael Shelford, Ellie Kendrick, Scarlett Brookes, John Dougall, Joe Sims. Producer Jessica Dromgoole.

Jessica wrote some interesting remarks in the Radio Times about the sound effects in the production, in response to a letter which said 'I'd love to know how they created the biting, sucking noise as Dracula seduced then drained his victims. Gruesome but disgustingly realistic':

    " ... many studio managers contributed to the unusual and often horrible sound of the production. One of the most enjoyable and challenging aspects of heading into the studio is planning the new spot (live) sound effects we're going to need. None of us had tried piercing a jugular and draining blood before. Jenni Burnett - the 'spot' SM -was ready with a cut and partially hollowed-out orange, to be sucked and lapped at, but Nicky Henson, who played Dracula, asked to try his own sound, which he'd worked on at home. It was made entirely vocally, and, as you heard, was really revolting. Combined with a wince and a gasp from the actress being bitten, and then in the eidt (by Peter Ringrose) with a hollow wind, an unsettling rumble and the beautiful singing of Adriana Festeu, the moment becomes very animal, and sexual, and violent."


THE TRIAL....2012
R4, afternoon play, 5 Oct 12. Thriller by Peter Whalley, 45m. Molly, a teacher, finds an interesting man on an internet dating site. She rapidly ends up in deep water. Stars Tracey Wiles, Graeme Hawley, Stephen Fletcher, Natalie Grady, Jonathan Keeble. Producer Pauline Harris.

New production; Sat 29 Sep 2012. 'Close the Coalhouse Door' by Alan Plater, 90m, with songs by Alex Glasgow. Based on the stories of Sid Chaplin, with additional material by Lee Hall. Northern Stage and Live Theatre's production of the celebrated sixties political docudrama. An exhilaratingly furious, funny and ultimately moving ride through the strikes, victories and frustrations of British mining history, the play captures the political anger and fight for justice of ordinary people from the formation of the first Unions in 1831. At its heart beats the joyous, soulful music of Alex Glasgow, inspired by the anthems of working people.

Musical arrangements and additional music by Sam Kenyon. Directed for the stage by Samuel West. Produced by Gary Brown

Sid Chaplin's stories outline all the major strikes, victories and disappointments in British mining history from the formation of the first unions in 1830s all the way through to the 1960s. Alan Plater uses the dramatic device of a Geordie family celebration as a framework to tell this history whilst their own story unfolds in 1968. One son, Frank, has left behind the mines to study at university, while his brother John is a dissatisfied pitman. Frank brings home his liberated girlfriend free-spirited student Ruth who threatens to tear them apart in the central love story.

"The terrible thing about history, said Orwell, is how few names of its slaves have been preserved. Tenderly and furiously 'Close the Coalhouse Door' does a little to redress that injustice" - The Observer.

R4, Saturday Play, 8 Sep, 60m. Gillian Reynolds, DT...... A docu-drama about bigotry, an assassination and popular reaction from World Service reporter Owen Bennett-Jones and director John Dryden. (of Goldhawk Productions).

The drama explores the murder of Salmaan Taseer (1944-2011). He was a multimillionaire businessman and governor of Punjab who was campaigning to change Pakistan's blashphemy laws. In January 2011 he was shot dead in the car park of an Islamabad market. Owen Bennett-Jones reports on his findings after interviews with Taseer's family and friends and the family of the assassin. Producer Jeremy Skeet; director John Dryden; a Goldhawk production. No casting details in RT.

7 Sep 2012. By David Morley. 50 years after the end of the war that first brought them together, three Special Operations Executive agents meet again to record interviews for a TV documentary investigating the murder of their colleague Patricia at the hands of the Gestapo.

Whilst waiting to be interviewed Vera Atkins, Leo Marks and John Harrison reminisce but soon move beyond pleasantries to re-examine their conduct during the war. In doing so they gradually reveal a complicated history of lies, self-deception and guilt. In the murky world of sabotage and spying each one was compromised and the lines between right and wrong became blurred.

Note from ND... I don't know the extent to which the events portrayed here are true, but the characters are all real. Leo Marks' autobiography is fascinating and worth getting off 'Amazon' if the play interests you.

Play directed by Philip Franks; producer Richard Clemmow. A Perfectly Normal Production for BBC Radio 4.

John Harrison ...................... David Jason
Vera Atkins ...................... Stephanie Cole
Leo Marks ...................... Anton Lesser
Chloe Wolf ...................... Sophie Roberts

By Jonathan Myerson; 29 Aug 12. She can't help wishing she knew the real identity of her tormentors. But when her wish comes true, she finds she's unleashed an unstoppable global revolution. Comedy starring Rory Cellan-Jones, Technology Correspondent at the BBC, as himself.

Produced and directed by Jonquil Panting.

Ali ...................... Lydia Leonard
Himself ................Rory Cellan-Jones
Ned ...................... Ben Crowe
Zoe ...................... Lizzy Watts
Josh ...................... Richard Linnell
Rachel ...................... Liza Sadovy
Mark Z ...................... Chris Pavlo
Archbishop of Canterbury ...................... Patrick Brennan
Bret ...................... Paul Stonehouse
News Anchor ...................... Stephanie Racine
Reporter ...................... Adam Nagaitis

11 Aug 12; six-part series by Tom Fry and Sharon Kelly. Drama based in a firm of legal advisers in Manchester. David Schofield plays Frank Twist, who owns the firm, and whose right-hand woman (played by Kathryn Hunt) is the unmarried mother of his child.

LOVENESS & ME....2012
By Gillian Plowman; 10 Aug 12. Sequel to Boniface and Me (R4, 2007) and based on a true story. Nell Porter decides to see whether paying school fees for a Zimbabwean child will make a difference.

Loveness dreams of playing netball for her country. She has been inspired by her crippled mother who tells her stories about how she used to play netball when she was younger, and how it was their love of sport that brought her and Loveness' late father together.

Loveness and her sister Rutendo form a village team, with their mother as coach, and are supported by headmaster, Godfrey Rubaya, who insists that if she wants to form a school team and play matches, all the girls will have to pay school fees and attend. This is the story of how Loveness realises her dream and, against unimaginable odds, takes her team to represent Zimbabwe in an International Tournament in Zambia.

Director: Catherine Bailey; a Catherine Bailey production.

Nell Porter ...................... Harriet Walter
Loveness Makaturo ...................... Chipo Chung
Rutendo Makaturo ...................... Gracy Goldman
Celia Makaturo ...................... Jenny Jules
Godfrey Rubaya ...................... Denton Chikura
Susan ...................... Ayo-Dele Edwards

9 Aug 12. By Lucy Flannery. A home help cares for an old man, above and beyond what her job requires her to do. When his health begins to decline, Ruth tries to discover friends or family to care for him but Harry insists there is no one, he's all alone. She becomes more concerned when she discovers he is quite wealthy.

When Harry collapses and is given only days to live, Ruth faces a moral dilemma. Should she do nothing and allow a faceless state to benefit from Harry's death, or should she claim some of it as her own bequest?

Producer: Liz Anstee; a CPL Production..

Ruth ...................... Alison Steadman
Harry ...................... Roy Hudd
Tess ...................... Sally Grace
Amy ...................... Polly Frame
Mr French ...................... Jonathan Aris

R4, 7 Aug 12, 45m. By David Lemon and Mark Ecclestone. This play is based on real events; a private detective is hired to delve into the background of the writer to check the authenticity of his tale. The manuscript of his book 'The Third Eye' is with Warburgs and they have decided to publish it, but the boss of the firm is not entirely happy.
    BBC blurb: Directed by Marc Beeby, this is the remarkable story of one of literature's greatest hoaxes; a tale of auras and astral projection; jealous rivals and embarrassed publishers. According to his bestselling 1956 autobiography 'The Third Eye', Tuesday Lobsang Rampa was born into Tibetan aristocracy and chosen as a boy to become a Lama. According to others, including the private detective employed to delve into his background, he was somebody else entirely.

    Lobsang Rampa's books are still in print and have sold millions of copies.

    CREDITS: Warburg-David Haig, David-Patrick Brennan, Pamela-Christine Absalom, Burgess-Joe Sims, Rampa-Don Gilet, Harrer-Ben Crowe, Buttercup-Susie Ridell, Macrae-Robert Blythe, Director-Marc Beeby.

    See also my piece about Rampa written several years ago, after listening to a feature about him broadcast during 1962. I've put this on the 1962 drama page .

4 Aug 2012. A drama by Mike Walker about the most famous British fighter aircraft in history, first broadcast in September 2010 to mark the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain. Framed by recollections from veteran Geoffrey Wellum, the drama features specially made recordings of RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Spitfires, including the only Spitfire still flying today to have fought in the Battle.

The drama traces RJ Mitchell's design from creation to legend and the fortunes of two young pilots who join a frontline Spitfire squadron just as the Battle of Britain begins. It stars Samuel West, Samuel Barnett, Rory Kinnear and Ruth Wilson.

Many factors were important in the Battle, but it was the excellence of the Spitfire which most famously evened the odds in the fight against the Luftwaffe. Mike Walker's drama takes us close to this magnificent aircraft and gives us a feeling of what it was like to fly the legendary plane which became, in test pilot Jeffrey Quill's words, 'a symbol of defiance and victory'.

Technical Advisor: Patrick Bishop; original music and sound design by David Chilton. Producer/Director: Amber Barnfather. A Goldhawk Essential production for BBC Radio 4.

Note from ND ... my grandparents had two young pilots billeted with them in Leicestershire during the war. They both fought in the Battle of Britain; one of them survived it.

By Alison Joseph. 2 Aug 12. I do not describe many radio plays as 'fascinating' but this one definitely is. Mitchener is an air accident investigator, haunted by memories of a previous fatal air crash in which he was involved, and in which his best friend died. Having settled into a quiet life as a mechanic in a cycle shop, he has so far resisted all attempts to draw him back into investigative work, but when a Boeing 767 crashes mysteriously in the English Channel, the wife of one its victims approaches Mitchener personally in an effort to obtain his professional services. It threatens his peace of mind and his marriage.

The story is fictional, as are the characters, but the investigation is based on a real life air disaster and the science is authentic. The programme was made with the generous assistance of the Air Accident Investigation Board, an organisation with a formidable track record for painstaking work in uncovering the causes of air disasters.

Play directed by John Taylor; a Fiction Factory production for radio 4.

THE GIFT....2012
17 Jul 2012; by Jane Thornton. A man discovers a collection of reel-to-reel recordings made by his father-in-law. They chronicle a rock & roll lifestyle. But as he goes through the tapes, he finds out something he would rather not know. Cast: Stephen Tomkinson as Dan, Jacqueline Roberts as his wife, Dicken Ashworth as Charlie, Martha Godber as Amber, Sydney Wade as young Lori. Guitar played by Eddie Tatton; producer Mary Ward-Lowery. Afternoon play, 45m.

13 Jul 12; by Philip de Gouveia. An entertaining play giving a potted desciption of what happens during a stock market bubble. At the end of a hard day at work, a City trader is keen to get home. But in the cab, his driver tells him an interesting story about a young African girl sent to live in the UK in search of a better life...

Lacey.....Sharon D Clarke
Gloria.....Amaka Okafor
Mother.....Gbemisola Ikumelo
Murphy.....Trevor White
Passenger.....Piers Wehner
Martha.....Tracy Wiles
Ted.....Sam Alexander
Quentin.....Don Gilet
Economic Advisor Paul Mason
Producer Marion Nancarrow.

23 Jun 12, R4, 90m, Saturday Play...BBC blurb....The highlight of this week is the first ever dramatisation in any medium of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Robert M. Pirsig's story of a father and son making a motorbike journey across the USA was initially turned down by 121 publishers but went on to become the biggest selling philosophy book ever written. Peter Flannery dramatises his favourite book and the cast features James Purefoy.

ND comment .... This is a nice lightweight read about the Arts / Science divide; I read it in about 3 hours when I was a student and was highly entertained. Great fun. I notice the radio version had music composed by Jon Nicholls; an excellent score. The radio play was just as absorbing as the book.

Cast: James Purefoy as Dad/Phaedrus; Max Cazier as Chris, Sean Power as John, Lucy Newman-Williams as Sylvia, Caitlin Thorburn as Gennie, Paris Attowsmith as the Professor. Producer Melanie Harris.

22 Jun 12...BBC Blurb....An updated retelling of the Arthur Hugh Clough poem about missed opportunities, the setting is moved from Rome in 1848 to Cairo last year and the consequences for two tourists of the events in Tahrir Square.

20 Jun 12 R4; interesting play about a plant fanatic who has worked for 40 years in a mountainside garden 'Helikion' 30 miles from Athens. She was joined by a young intern, Jane Shaw, who was there when the future of the garden was threatened by a property deal. Her father Don Shaw wrote the play. Cast: Brigit Forsyth (Thelma in "The Likely Lads") as Joy, Verity-May Henry as Jane, Conrad Nelson as Tom, Deborah McAndrew as Debbie. Pavlos Andonis played by James Anthony. Producer Pauline Harris.

Jane Anderson (RT, edited slightly by ND) comments: ....Brigit Forsyth plays Joy, an eccentric English woman, who has devoted her final years to creating an organic and water-wise garden in Greece. The rainfall is barely more than that of a desert, but Joy has managed to use plants and irrigation systems able to endure the scorching summers and freezing winters. The play is based on the experiences of Jane Shaw, who went to work with Joy in 2007. Jane lived in a shed known as 'Alcatraz', which she shared with a stuffed lion called Zeus. It's a life-affirming story where good eventually wins over greed.

19 Jun 12. Radio play about making a radio play. By Jack Klaff.

Johnnie is back in Cape Town to record his new radio play - his first in his home town after many years abroad. In the cast, to Johnnie's surprise, is Vicki, with whom he had a passionate affair decades ago.

Vicki/Maureen........................ALICE KRIGE
Johnnie.................................JACK KLAFF
Ma.......................................DOREEN MANTLE
Deon/Andrew/Bruce.................VINCENT EBRAHIM
Tyrone...................................DON MCCORKINDALE
Michelle/Lizzie........................HELEN SZYMCZAK
Producer/Director: David Ian Neville.

COURTLY LOVE (R3) ....2012
By Michelene Wandor, 17 Jun 12. Interesting play about the life of Lucrezia Borgia and Isabella d'Este; two powerful women of Renaissance Italy. However their lives were not much fun; they spent enormous amounts of time pregnant in an attempt to produce male heirs; love wasn't really a necessary component of their marriages. Cast: Nathalie Buscombe (Lucrezia), Nicholas Boulton, Clare Corbett, Edward Evans, Grainne Keenan (Isabella), Tai Lawrence, John McAndrew, Ronald Pickup, Struan Rodger, Philip Voss, Jane Whittenshaw. Producer Jane Morgan. 90m.

By Moya O'Shea. 13 Jun 12. Comedy drama about a large family crammed into a tiny council flat. Eventually one of the kids has an idea .... why not excavate a room underneath the flat so they'll have some extra space?

6 Jun 12. By Nicholas Pierpan. Fascinating science-fiction play about a company designing 'virtual girlfriends'. In any relationship between a couple, the activity at which they spend most time is talking. A company designs a program which will talk to a man more effectively than any woman.

7 May 2012; another comedy drama by Roy Smiles about the friendship between Arthur Lowe and John le Mesurier and the making of the TV series 'Dad's Army'. In 1982, John writes a letter to Arthur saying how much he misses him. They were like chalk and cheese, personally and politically, but they would remain lifelong friends. Meanwhile there are flashbacks to the early days of the series, with very passable impersonations of the cast. We hear the first read through, the reaction to the show's enormous popularity, rivalry, affection, and the cast members gradually realising that it was the best time of their lives.

Cast: John le Mesurier - Anton Lesser, Arthur Lowe - Robert Daws, John Laurie - Kenny Ireland, James Beck - James Lance, Ian Lavender - Matt Addis. The producer was Liz Anstee.

By Annie McCartney, 24 Apr 12. ...journalists remain an easy target, but the shock jock portrayed here is like a pantomime villain. All she's concerned about is her vile radio show and her listening figures. Her savage attacks upon the NHS and one cardiologist in particular come back to hit her in the chest....(Jane Anderson, RT, paraphrased by ND).

A listener to the radio show claims that her elderly mother died as a result of neglect at a local hospital. As we listen, we realise that this is far from the truth.

The cast: Eleanor Methven, Maureen Beattie, Conleth Hill, Stella McCusker, Ian McElhinney, Patrick Fitzsymons, Ryan McParland, Katy Gleadhill, Aine McCartney. Producer Eoin O'Callaghan.

Annie McCartney knows about radio stations; she was a radio D.J. in America for five years and she has also broadcast on BBC Radio Ulster and RTE. Her hilarious second novel 'Your Cheatin' Heart' is set on a radio station in Tennessee.

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.

20 Mar 12. Written by Alex Bulmer, this is a story of a musician who has lost her memory as a result of severe hypothermia after being found unconscious in a local park one freezing February night. Kit, played by Effie Woods, is now recovering But a strange piano melody keeps creeping into her mind. Her weird boyfriend Dan is determined not to help; he doesn't even let her near the piano. Meanwhile her old music teacher keeps calling.

The idea for the thriller came to Bulmer, who is blind, at a weekend writers' workshop, run by Sparklab. During one exercise she worked with fellow writer Dan Rebellato, going out into the street with a recording device to collect sound and try to create a story out of it. 'It was so clear that he and I had a differing relationship with sound, mostly because I couldn't predict it,' she tells Ariel. 'Sound just hit me, then disappeared.'

Cast: Effie Woods, Jonas Khan, Sarah Waddell, Richard Teverson. Producer Polly Thomas; music by Alice Trueman.

Summarized from part of a review appearing in 'Ariel', Mar 2012

Based on a play by Johnny Vegas, Stewart Lee and Rob Thirtle. R4, 15 Mar 12.

JV welcomes you to the tasteful home of Jeffrey Parkin.

"Now you may notice as we begin our tour in earnest that there are some design initiatives around the house that aren't, strictly speaking, finished... I terms of the decor I've been playing around with some ideas. Not all the colour schemes have been finalised yet but I think you'd all agree, that's a veritable bonus. Most of the hard work's done so I'm basically handing you a colour-by-numbers dream home come true. You just paint in between the guiding lines that my vision has provided you with, and you're laughing."

Johnny Vegas as Jeffrey Parkin, with Ben Crompton, Jo Enright, Catherine Kinsella, Joe Ransom, Rachael McGuinness, Peter Slater.

Directed by Dirk Maggs, produced by Sally Harrison. A Woolyback Production for BBC Radio 4.

11 Mar, R4. Story of how a nine-year-old's family fled from Germany in 1933. Classic Serial. Stars Lauren Mote as the child, with Hugo Docking, Adjoa Andoh, Paul Moriarty, James Lailey, Xenia Mainelli, Eleanor bron, Tracey Wiles, Sheila Steafel, Gerard McDermott, Christopher Webster, Alex Rivers. Three 55 min episodes. Producer David Hunter.

11 Mar R4 Extra; story by Rumer Godden about a girl brought up by her gypsy gran in Admiral Twiss's orchard. When her gran suddenly dies, her future looks uncertain.

11 Mar R4 Extra; well-known novella by Jack London dramatised by Robert Forrest, about the life of a dog who's kidnapped from a wealthy family home and sold to become a sledge dog in Alaska. Broadcast in two episodes.

8 Mar. Very affecting play by Daniel Glattaeur. A harmless exchange of emails between two bored employees threatens to consume them both. David Tennant as Leo, Emilia Fox as Emmi. Adapted by Eileen Horne; producer Clive Brill.

Another play by Julian Gough, 28 Feb. A parable of how our money is being wasted, even in these times of austerity. Not surprising... it's not their money they're chucking away........ I was surprised they didn't mention wind turbines.

The bankrupt republic of Squanderland devises a way of emerging from the banking crisis, to the horror of Europe's bankers, after a plan to place a roof over the EU henhouse escalates out of control. The play was in a similar style to Julian's recent 'Goat Bubble Crisis' play. With Rory Keenan, Dermot Crowley, James Lailey, Adjoa Andoh, Clare Corbett and Stephanie Flanders (as herself).

24 Feb, 1415. A former pillar of the community wishes to replace his devoted middle-aged cleaner with a younger model who does the hoovering in the buff. By Daniel Thurman. Geoffrey Whitehead, Anne Reid, Janet Dibley, Piers Wehner, Emerald O'Hanrahan. Producer Toby Swift. Excellent comedy-drama.

4 Feb 2012; Saturday afternoon play; an evocative story by Michael Mopurgo about the First World War, from the perspective of a soldier in the trenches. Dramatised by Simon Reade. 90 minutes. Producer Susan Roberts.
    LETTER IN RADIO TIMES, 18-24 Feb 2012
    This week, while driving, cooking and ironing, I have listened to four remarkable Afternoon Plays on Radio 4 - the 'Lost Property' trilogy by Katie Hims, and Michael Morpurgo's 'Private Peaceful', set in my native Devon. 'Private Peaceful' reduced me to tears; 'Lost Property' made me smile.

    It never ceases to amaze me that Radio 4 can produce over 300 plays of such originality and quality.

    HG, Pett, East Sussex

30 Jan - 1 Feb 2012, trilogy, by Katie Hims, rpt. Superb trilogy about wartime evacuees, lost identity, the rupture of a family, and eventual reunion. The episodes:

1. The Wrong Label
2. The Year My Mother Went Missing
3. A Telegram From the Queen.

Episode 2 won the 'Best Audio Drama' award for 2011, hence the repeat. Rosie Cavaliero won an award too, best actress, for her part in Episode 3. The producer was Jessica Dromgoole.

SEA CHANGE....2012
By John Fletcher. R3, 29 Jan 12. This was a fascinating bit of social history; the story of the appeasers versus the anti-appeasers during the buildup to the Second World War. Eventually the people of the UK realised that their P.M. could no longer continue to turn a blind eye to what was happening in and around Germany. When Poland was invaded, Neville Chamberlain had no choice but to declare war. A Coalition government was rapidly formed, where politicians of all parties temporarily suspended their differences to defend the UK, with Churchill as P.M.

Cast: Charles Edwards as Harold Nicolson (of Sissinghurst), Kim Wall, John Rowe, Richard Dillane, Carl Prekopp as Guy Burgess, Adam Billington, Gerard McDermott,, James Lailey, Adjoa Andoh, Christopher Webster and Rikki Lawton. Producer Marc Beeby.

Four more interesting stories: 26 Jan - 16 Feb.

1.Crowsfall Wood. An old friend of William Palmer is possessed by a forest spirit. With Karl Johnson, Faye Castelow, Susan Engel, Dudley Sutton, John Rowe, Adam Billington, Rikki Lawton.
    An old man, happily married for fifty years, deserts his wife for a 24-year-old and elopes into Crowsfall Wood. She must be a witch.... but the old man has savage supernatural powers of his own. Palmer has been making libations to keep Tadek safe, but this year he forgot, and now powerful forces are awakening.... (paraphrased from Gillian Reynolds' review in RT)

2.Sookey Hill. A man is cursed and slowly turns into a hare. Sound effects made this very realistic and frightening. With Ralph Ineson, Kate Fleetwood, Carl Prekopp, Gerard McDermott, Alex Tregear, Simon Bubb.

3.Aisley Bridge. Pilgrim is drawn into the world of the Lanes and the immortal children who live there, following the disappearance of a local girl. With Victoria Inez Hardy, James Lailey, Kasper Hilton-Hille, Nishi Malde, Faye Castelowe, Lizzy Watts, Simon Bubb, Adam Billington.

4.Lindie Island: Pilgrim is asked to sacrifice a man he has kept safe for centuries in exchange for a bargaining chip in his negotiations with the king. With Adam Billington, Carl Prekopp, Kate Fleetwood, Pamela Merrick, Jimmy Akingbola, Nicky Henson.

All produced by Jessica Dromgoole and Marc Beeby. Paul Hilton plays William Palmer, 'Pilgrim'.

18 Jan 21, R4; by Robin Glendenning. Based on the true story of Edith Schloem. It's 1934, and Edith's father, a respected academic, is in prison for activities incompatible with those of the Nazis. Edith, her mother and her lover are forced to try to leave the country because they are half-Jewish ... Edith begins a solo journey which is to take her halfway around Europe before she finds a way which may lead her, eventually, to England, and safety.

Edith Scholem ...... Emerald O'Hanrahan
Emmy Scholem ...... Haydn Gwynne
Heinz Von Hackebeil ...... Michael Shelton
Headmaster ...... Nigel Hastings
Hackebeil's Niece ...... Tessa Nicholson
Von Hackebeil ...... Mark Lambert
Frau Von Hackebeil ...... Stella McCusker
Gestapo Officer ...... Miche Doherty
Directed by Eoin O'Callaghan.

16 Jan 2012. Comedy about a woman whose husband has an affair... she attempts to find the other woman ... and is abducted by aliens. Lots of good verbal gags. Well worth hearing.

BBC blurb: Mel Hudson stars in her surreal comedy about a woman facing a marital breakdown. After 22 years of marriage and three children, Mel discovers that her husband Dick is having an affair. She turns for support and solutions to all the usual sources.....

Cast: Mel - Mel Hudson; Dick / Daan - Richard Laing; Katinka / Auntie Gwen - Mia Soteriou; Dr Bryant - Laura Shavin; Nicky / Big Bird - Kate O'Sullivan; Librarian - Amy Clifton; Joe - Gabriel Kelly; producer - Alison Crawford.

12 Jan 12. By Paul Dodgson. Nostalgic play starring the writer. As a young boy Paul wanted to be a racing driver, and he was always keen on cars and driving. He reminisces about his motoring experiences in the back seat of his parents car in the sixties, his first driving test, and on numerous occasions afterwards. Then in his thirties he suddenly found driving a lot more difficult; a phobia, in fact....

Paul Dodgson plays himself, with Ewan Bailey as Dad and Sally Orrock as Mum. Producer Kate McAll.
    .....an atmospheric piece which uses imaginative sound design to build the tension as this man's life unravels (Tony Peters, Radio Times)

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