1991 Radio Plays

By Derrick Geer. 7th Mar 91, Afternoon Play. Reminiscences of a carefree childhood in Dover during World War Two. Two young cousins, who are effectively raised by their indulgent grandmother, get into all kinds of minor scrapes. ....Featuring Sian Phillips, Gregory Pitt, Ishan Bhabha and John Hollis. Directed by Martin Jenkins.

24 Mar 91. BBC Radio 3: Sunday Play. By Christopher Logue; his account of Books I and II of Homer's "Iliad"...............Helen left Greece for Ilium in the company of Paris, the son of Priam, King of Troy. To re-possess her, the Greeks, led by Agamemnon, gathered a fleet of 1,000 ships, sailed to Troy, and while fighting to overcome Hector's defence of that city, maintained themselves by raiding Ilium's lesser towns. After one such raid, Agamemnon's overbearingness caused Achilles, his best warrior, to withdraw from the fight, and this was bad, but worse, Achilles ran to the beach and asked his Goddess mother, Thetis of the Sea, to make God side with Troy against the Greeks and so to change the course of history.... Less a translation than a vivid re-imagining, "Kings" moves with cinematic speed to create full-blooded and haunting portraits of the great figures of Trojan War. The mythic clashes of heroes and gods evoke the battles of Stalingrad and Normandy through Logue’s stark contemporary verse. Performed by Alan Howard; music composed and conducted by Donald Fraser with Donald Fraser (piano); Gary Kettel (percussion); Anthony Lewis (cello); Barry Guy (musette); and Judith Pearce (flute). SMs Peter Novis and Ian Pratt. Producer Liane Aukin. Rpt. 1 Feb 92.

    Gillian Reynolds, review, summarized by ND. DT 26 Mar 91.
    Books I and II of "The Iliad" not so much translated as remade, spoken by one voice, Alan Howard. Donald Fraser's music was deliberately understated; the action was in the words and the telling. The eye of the imagination was asked to follow it, like a camera.... Achilles, furious at Agamemnon, calling his goddess mother, Thetis, from the sea; Athena intervening in a fight, pulling back Achilles's head to her mouth to hear her warning; Thersites trying to rouse the rabble, Odysseus rising to reply then caning him into humiliation. Finally, in perfect dramatic focus and formation, the army marches down the low hill towards Troy. This was a story about men and destiny and the forces which shape it; radio at its simplest and most magnificent.

By John Purser. Set in the mid-16th century, the play contrasts the radiance of Robert Carver's music with the earthiness of his character and the destructive force of the Reformation. Cast: Peter Hickey, Tom Fleming, James Bryce, Anne Kristen, Gary Bakewell, Iain Agnew, Hilary Maclean, Benny Young, Anne Lacey, Kenneth Glenaan, Stuart Bowman, Stevie Hannan.

Music: Taverner Consort, conducted by Andrew Parrott. Produced by Stewart Conn. Recorded on 2 Dec 1990. Broadcast 31 Mar 91 and 8 Dec 91, radio 3.

By Nick Dear. Radio 3, 150min.
    The following remarks are paraphrased from a much longer review by Roger Lewis, who directed the play on stage for Questors Theatre in the late 1980s.

    When I was asked to direct this play, many months ago, one of the first things I did was to research William Hogarth and his times, in order to fix the context. It was fascinating and exciting to come across incidents and characters in the play. Mrs. Needham, for example, was a notorious bawd who died three days after being pilloried in 1731. Hogarth was a founder member of the sublime Society of Beefsteaks, but it wasn't established until 1735.

    So - The Art of Success is not an accurate biographical drama. Nick Dear writes in the introduction "I have [taken] liberties with history...I never let the facts get in the way of a good story." He went on to say that he wanted to write a play about television in an age before the camera, about the subconscious in an age before Freud and about sex before terms (or concepts) like "femininity" or "sexuality" existed.

    The play captures the sprawling, confused, contrasting nature of early 18th Century London and incorporates some of the colourful characters of that society. Each character is superbly crafted, a little larger than life, and like much of Hogarth's work, somewhat grotesque and surreal. It's an extraordinary play.

    Daily Telegraph; Aug 28, 1987; Charles Spencer
    ...But though I normally resent dramatists who appropriate the lives of famous figures of the past only to distort them for their own ends, I found myself increasingly warming to this vital, scatological drama, now receiving an exuberant production by the RSC in The Pit.

    It is certainly not a play for the squeamish. The language is persistently and inventively foul and, without a hint of historical evidence, Mr Dear has turned Hogarth into a man of rampant and decidedly esoteric sexual tastes. But the play is so outrageous in its invention, Hogarth’s reputation so secure, that it is hard to imagine the play doing the artist’s memory permanent harm, more profitable to sit back and enjoy an evening of good, dirty and surprisingly thought-provoking fun.

    ....and from the FT:
    Aug 20, 1987; B A Young:
    To show at once that this is to be a play of low life, Nick Dear starts with a meeting of successful men, the Club of Beefsteaks, and casts their talk in such filthy dialogue that hardly a line of it could be printed here. The members of the club are William Hogarth, Henry Fielding, and a merchant and a peer of no special significance.

    When we enter low life proper, the dirty talk is accompanied by dirty action; and, having said all that, let me add that the play has an interesting story and an important theme. Mr Dear has chosen to express it through a series of encounters with whores, prisoners and dishonest politicians, all of them still frequent in our world 250 years later than the time of the play.


Directed by Richard Wortley
Technical presentation Tim Sturgeon, Keith Graham, Alison Carter

William Hogarth …... Michael Kitchen
Jane Hogarth ………. Robin Weaver
Sarah Sprackling …... Penny Downie
Henry Fielding …….. Linus Roach
Oliver ……………… Simon Russel Beale
Mrs Needham ……… Irene Sutcliffe
Louisa ……………... Sally Dexter
Robert Walpole ……. Ronald Herdman
Frank / Gaoler ……... Rhett Usher
Queen Caroline ……. Ann Windsor
Drama Girl ………… Jane Whittenshaw

A cracking play; Michael Kitchen is superb as Hogarth. The story, such as it is, concerns the copyright law (which ensured royalties for writers) and censorship by the Lord Chamberlain (which affected performances in public for two centuries). Older readers, for example, may remember that in the 1930s (and the 1940s?), naked women were allowed on stage - but only if they did not move.

18 Feb 91; by Derek Lister. A beautifully written play about the attempt by an old man and a young girl to rescue an old bell when a church is bought by developers. With Freddie Jones, Emma Gregory, Brett Usher, Michael McStay. Producer Jane Morgan. 90m.

17 Apr 91, by John Graham. A play set in a home for retired actors, by turns humorous and touching. Cast: Wendy Hiller [Edith], Googie Withers [Dorothy], Michael Denison [Anthony] and Jimmy Jewel [Bernard]. Producer Glyn Dearman. More a series of skilfully intercut monologues than a play. Rpt. R4extra 11 Dec 12. Residents tell of murder, theft and romance in Rosewood Hall, a home for elderly actors. Directed by Glyn Dearman

R3, 18 Jun 91. By Leonardo Sciascia. Translated by Sasha Rabinovich, dramatized by Frederick Bradnum. An adaptation by Bradnum of another of Sciascia's Sicilian "crime" tales, this one pretty obviously leveled against Opus Dei. With Daniel Massey as the Painter, John Moffatt as Don Gaetano, John Rye as Scalambri. Producer Glyn Dearman.

5 Jul 91. 55m. By John Edgar. The story of the self-taught working-class athlete from the Black Country, who out-jumped almost everyone, eventually becaming the jump champion of the world in the late 1800s. He could clear a wire 6ft high from a standing start, with no run-up. Gerry Hinks as old Joe, Alex Jones as young Joe, with Kimberley Hope, Sheila Kelly, Kim Durham, Jenny Ashfield, Stephen Granville, Jonathan Wyatt, Philip Weaver, Simon Carter, Geoffrey Banks, Richard Avery. Producer - Nigel Bryant, at Pebble Mill, Birmingham.
    Additional note from ND
    .... there is an interesting video of John Higgins online, from Pathe News. It seems that Higgins was the only person ever to out-jump Darby in a contest. He is seen doing a number of jumping stunts, at the age of 54, many years after he ceased professional jumping. A quick google search should find it. The stunts were filmed in 1927.

WS, 7 Jul 91. By Friedrich Durenmatt, translated by James Kirkup. The grand villa "Les Cerisiers," formerly the residence of the von Zahnd family, is a private sanatorium for the mentally ill. Dr. Mathilde von Zahnd, the last descendant of that once vital aristocratic family, makes her living here by treating the neuroses and psychoses of the "spiritually confused elite" for exorbitant fees. Three of the patients believe themselves to be Newton, Einstein and Mobius. At the start of the play, two of them have killed nurses, but, since they're insane, nobody can do much about it. However, all is not as it appears. Inspector Voss arrives to investigate. With Nickolas Grace, John Shrapnel, Jonathan Cecil, Sian Phillips, Brett Usher, Jenny Howe and Petra Markham. Adapted and directed by Hilary Norrish. (...note by Greg L)

R4, 22 Jul 91: by Tony Bagley - James Bolam as the bailiff in an interesting play set in 1602. The bailiff is in charge of the masterless men who end up on his doorstep, often on the scrounge. But he is obsessed by a machine he has built which can record the human voice.

TIGER, TIGER ....1991
By Alfred Bester, dramatised by Ivan Benbrook; director Andy Jordan. 90m.
Gulliver Foyle survives abandonment in space to create vengeful havoc. - Penny Fabb, "Complete Guide to Science Fiction on Radio", 2004.

Comment from the webmaster at www.otrplotspot.com:

The book is considered by some critics to be the best science fiction novel ever written, and I highly recommend reading it before listening to the audio production. There is a lot of story to tell, with numerous colorful characters and many layers of depth to the society in which they operate. Thus the pace of the radio play is fast and furious, as even 90 minutes is scant enough time to tell the whole story. If you are not familiar with the plot, it's easy to become lost and confused as to who is who, what they are after, and why they are after it. But if you have read the book, you should enjoy this pared down version.

ND comment - I listened, and couldn't make much of it. It was too fast, and I couldn't follow it, so I found some online reviews, to find out what was going on. Then I tried again. This time I loved it - a cracking tale. Here's part of an online review from Bart Leahy on "Amazon", talking about the novel ("The Stars my Destination") from which it comes:

"Nomad is a derelict [spaceship], full of holes, torn apart, and with only one airtight and air-filled room, where Gully Foyle has managed to survive for months, scavenging air, water, and food from the rest of the tattered hulk. Then, one day, another ship, the Vorga, comes within hailing distance, and Gully Foyle sets off every flare he can find. The Vorga stops . . . and then moves on.

Rage and a thirst for revenge are pale terms for the obsession that haunts Foyle from that day forward. "

29 Jul 91, R4. A Fluttering of Wings: Anthony Neilson's modern-day adult fairy story tells of the effect of a winged stranger on Alice's sheltered life. Narrator - Crawford Logan, Alice - Beth Robens, Stranger - Nigel Anthony, Verity - Diana Olsson, Mickey - Mark Markham, Nick - Cathal Quinn, Secretary - Lyndsay Maples, Doctor - Jack Thomson, producer - Patrick Rayner.

R4, 17 Nov 91, by Arnold Evans. When Mary and Neil abandon successful careers to live in rural Wales, everything looks rosy to begin with...a black comedy starring Sonia Ritter, Maggie Steed, Jonathan Tafler, Jonathan Cullen, Richard Tate. Directed by Alison Hindell.

R4, 27 Nov 91. By John Wain and Laszlo Solymar. Archimedes was thought by some to be a madman, but his inventions were capable of being turned into terrifying weapons. With Terrence Hardiman, Eric Allan, Phillip Sully, Terence Edmond, David Sinclair, John Church, Mark Straker, Charles Millham, Robert Portal. Director: Jane Morgan.

R4, 4 Dec 91. By John Wain and Laszlo Solymar - the last of three plays by these writers about mathematicians and philosophers whose ideas brought about their downfall. Hypatia's training as a mathematician led her to doubt and to question, but in those early days, an inquiring mind was dangerous. With Jane Whittenshaw as Hypatia; also stars Eric Allan, Andrew Wincott, Colin McFarlane, Norman Jones, Brett Usher. Director- Jane Morgan.

26 Dec 91, 90m. Melodrama by Henry Arthur Jones, written with Henry Herman and first staged in 1882. Adapted by Adrian Bean. With John Duttine, Frances Barber, Frank Middlemass and Ian Hogg. Pianist: Trevor Allen; produced by Adrian Bean.

A man framed for murder gets a chance at a fresh start.

John Duttine ...............Wilfred Denver
Frances Barber .............Nelly Denver
Frank Middlemass ...........Jaikes, Their Servant
Peter Jeffrey ..............Skinner, A Burglar
Nigel Anthony ..............Geoffrey Ware
Ian Hogg ...................Baxter, A Detective
Jonathan Moore .............Corkett, Ware's Clerk
John Hollis ................Eliah Coombe, A Fence
Brian Miller ...............Cripps, A Safecracker
Norman Jones ...............Tubbs / Gaffer Pottle
Ann Windsor ................Mrs Leaker / Mrs Gammage
Irene Sutcliffe ............Tabitha Durden
Adjoa Andoh ................Susy, A Barmaid
Auriol Smith ...............Olive Skinner
Jane Whittenshaw ...........Cissy / Ned
Matthew Sim ................Selwyn / Teddy / Newsboy
John Church ................Mr Parkyn
Nigel Carrington ...........Brownson / Servant
Peter Penry-Jones ..........Bilcher / Inspector / Cabby
Fraser Kerr ................Binks / 2nd Detective

R4, 30 Dec 91; by Al Hunter. A comedy of love and war set in the Russia-Japan conflict. Andrei's job is to write reports about fictional successes from the front. When these are believed at home, he accidentally becomes a hero overnight. With John Gordon-Sinclair, Willie Rushton, Alison Dowling, Graham Seed, David Richard-Fox, Timothy Carlton, Avril Clark, Timothy Bateson, Shaun Prendergast, Norman Jones. Directed by Adrian Bean. Monday play, 90m.

Date nk. Set in the 1540s, this follows the attempts of Henry VIII to establish an heir, as viewed by monks from a distant abbey. Henry, it seems, is unlikely to produce a son of his own, so one of the monks is given the job of looking through the historical record to see if there might be a surviving heir from another part of the family. 90m. This is a dramatisation by Jeremy Potter of a novel; can't recall the author, unfortunately.

 Around the World in Eighty Days....1991
Julies Verne's classic adventure of Phinias Fogg, an English gentleman, who takes up the challenge of travelling around the world in just eighty days. He has every minute worked out, but things don't go according to plan. With Leslie Phillips, Jim Broadbent, Yves Aubert, Ronald Fraser, Diana Quick and Mark Straker. Dramatised in four parts by Terry James, director Janet Whitaker. BBC7 rpt. Feb 08.

Nigel Deacon / Diversity website

Above plays known to exist in VRPCC collections

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