Simon Brett Radio Dramas

Simon Brett began his professional life at the BBC working on radio programmes like Week Ending, Frank Muir Goes Into and the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. At the age of 35 he became a full time writer. The result has been a string of radio comedy series, including After Henry, No Commitments and Smelling of Roses. He has appeared in quiz shows such as "Quote Unquote", and has chaired the News Quiz for several years. He has also presented the series Moral Notes which examined how the Victorians used popular songs to reflect morality and values.

Much of his comedy (After Henry, No Commitments and Smelling of Roses) has been based on the relationships women have with other women. In this context he has worked with Prunella Scales, Celia Imrie and Joan Sanderson.

Simon Brett was born in Worcester Park, Surrey. He was educated at Dulwich College and then at Wadham College, Oxford, where he studied English. Between 1967 and 1977, he was a producer with BBC Radio. He subsequently spent a couple of years working for Thames Television. He has written and edited a variety of books. He was a radio producer originally, before deciding that his sideline as a writer could be made full-time. Best known are his radio/TV sitcom After Henry, and his Charles Paris and Mrs Pargeter novels.

Women characters are so much easier to write anyway, he says, because they "tend to say what they think". They are also "less likely to posture or put on fronts" when in a group.

Simon is a contributor to the mystery series starring David Threlfall as Paulo Baldi, the sleuthing monk. He has written other one-off radio plays, details of which will be shown below if/when I can locate them.

(Part of the above is paraphrased from an interview I heard on Radio 4 during "Woman's Hour")


1982 Gothic Romances
1984 Cast in order of disappearance
1985 So Much Blood
2001 Womb With A View
2002 Putting the Kettle On
2004 The making of "Cavalier"
2010 Quirks


Contributor to: Week Ending, The Burkiss Way, The News Huddlines, Frank Muir Goes Into..., and early work on The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

Thriller, 6 x 30min, set in 1973 - the time of the 3 day week... dramatised by Simon Brett from his novel.A Charles Paris story, R4. 16thMay-20thJun84.

Thriller, 6 x 30min.A Charles Paris story, 19thAug-23rdSep85.

AFTER HENRY (four series) - about 30 episodes, 1985-92. If you want to follow this up there are plenty of details on the British Comedy Website. The programmes are about three generations of women living in the same house. Prunella Scales was Susan (the middle-aged widow), Joan Sanderson was her mother, and Gerry Cowper was the daughter. Russell, the owner of the bookshop where Susan works, was played by Benjamin Whitrow.

1st series: 8 x 30m shows
(1) 17thApr85. THE OLDER MAN.
(2) 24thApr85. MOVING.
(3) 1stMay85. THE COWBOY.
(4) 8thMay85. THE DINNER PARTY.
(5) 15thMay85. GOSSIP.
(6) 22ndMay85. MR RIGHT.
(8) 5thJun85. GOING AWAY.

22ndDec85 A WEEK OF SUNDAYS. (Christmas Edtion)

2nd Series
(1) 16thAug86. MEMORY GAMES.
(3) 30thAug86. THE COLD.
(4) 6thSep86. BEDSIDE MANNERS.
(5) 13thSep86. THE KITTEN.
(6) 20thSep86. THE MARRIED MAN.
(8) 4thOct86. THE TEAPOT.

3rd Series
(1) 22ndSep87. Wedding Bells.
(2) 29thSep87. Poor Relation.
(3) 6thOct87. Guilty Secrets.
(4) 13thOct87. Lines of Communication.
(5) 20thOct87. 20thOct87. Interlectual Asperation.
(6) 27thOct87. A Box of Chocolates.
(7) 3rdNov87. Different Viewpoints.
(8) 10thNov87. The End of a Chapter.

4th Series
(1) 17thJan89. Dependant Relatives.
(2) 24thJan89. Relative Movement.
(3) 31stJan89. A Fully Extended Family.
(4) 7thFeb89. Sunday Lunch.
(5) 14thFeb89. Little Women.
(6) 21stFeb89. Family Album.
(7) 28thFeb89. Keeping Fit.
(8) 7thMar89. Positive Thinking.

NO COMMITMENTS (1992-1999)
This is another sitcom about the lives of three interconnected women: Anna (Rosemary Leach)and her sisters Victoria (Nicola Pagett / Angela Thorne ) and Charlotte (Celia Imrie, except Series Two where Josie Lawrence took the part). We have contented, self-assured Anna, who spent her middle years caring for the trio's parents, and her two younger sisters, one a domineering housewife and the other a hystrionic with a messy love life. There have been six series,which probably means about 30 episodes. Other websites can supply the detail.

UPDATE - another series, 6 episodes, Jan-Feb 2005

First series: 6 x 30m, 9th Jan-13th Feb 92.
Second series: 6 x 30m, 24th Jul-28th Aug 96
Third series:9 Jul 98- 19 Aug 98

I don't do logs of comedy shows - please don't email me the details! I think they are available on the British Comedy Website.

    Update from Clive Lever, Aug 2022.

  1. By the time the run of “No Commitments” came to an end, it had extended to 13 series.
  2. The three sisters were played by Rosemary Leach, Nicola Padget and Celia Imrie in the first series.
  3. Josie Lawrence replaced Celia Imrie in series two then returned in series 3.
  4. Angela Thorne replaced Nicola Padget in series 7 and 8, and returned in series nine.
  5. Celia Imrie was replaced in Series 9, this time by Felicity Montague, and returned in series 10, and was replaced again by Angela Thorn in series 11, coming back for series 12. This part seems to have become a job share, and so in series 13 it was Celia Imrie’s turn.I don’t think I can remember a drama series with quite such a knotted family tree of actors playing the main parts. If you want the equivalent in pop music, you’d have to go to the line-up changes in the Sugababes, who had a ten-year chart career. None of the original members of the group at the start of the run were in the group at the end.

CHAIN GANG....1998
4 x 15m interconnected short stories by different authors.
(1) 19thOct98. SIMPLE JOB by Simon Brett, read by Johnny Meres.
(2) 20thOct98. A BARGAIN by James Robertson, read by Crawford Logan.
(3) 21stOct98. DEAD PERSON WITH MONEY WORRIES by Ali Smith, read by Vivienne Dixon.
(4) 22ndOct98. THE LEGACY by Susie Maguire, read by Irene MacDougal.

Rosie Burns is the central character of this sitcom, and she juggles the demands of her disfuntional family and her event management company. Another excellent entertainment. Not sure of the details, but I think there have been 2 series - around a dozen episodes -all in the last year or two.

Series 1- 6 x 30m 3rd May - 7 Jun 00.

created by Barry Devlin in 6 x 45m stories. R4. Mon. 2.15pm. 6 murder mysteries set in Dublin about a Fransican priest Paolo Baldi played by David Threlfall.
(1) 10thJan00. THE PRODIGAL SON by Barry Devlin.
(2) 17thJan00. KEEPERS OF THE FLAME by Simon Brett.
(3) 23rdJan00. MISS LONELYHEARTS by Barry Devlin.
(4) 30thJan00. THE EMERALD STYLE by Simon Brett.
(5) 7thFeb00. DEATH CAP by Simon Brett.
(6) 14thFeb00. DEVIL TAKE THE HINDMOST by Annie Caulfield.

- second series featuring the amateur sleuth & Franciscan monk; 6 x 45min.
(1) 16thMar01. Three into One by Simon Brett.
(2) 23rdMar01. Twilight of the God by Mark Holloway.
(3) 30thMar01. Schecter's Knot by Martin Meenan.
(4) 6thApr01. Not for Life by Simon Brett.
(5) 13thApr01. Scratching the Surface by Martin Meenan.
(6) 20thApr01. Early Retirement by Mark Holloway.

BOOK AT BEDTIME: by Simon Brett, read by Joanna Tope in 10 x 15m eps. 11th-22nd May 02.

WOMB WITH A VIEW (summer 02? 45m)
A surprisingly verbose and articulate foetus makes his views known; a witty and interesting play. By Simon Brett (and directed by him). Music by Sarah Travis.

RT-A monologue for two, adapted by Simon Brett from his stage play. What is it like for the baby during pregnancy? And who is really in charge, the mother or the baby? Felicity Goodson plays both the mother-to-be and the articulate embryo in a comedy of development and deliverance. With Felicity Goodson.

PUTTING THE KETTLE ON (14 Nov 02, 45m)
Fortyish Miggy contemplates the meaning of life after being dumped by her boyfriend for a younger woman. With Felicity Goodson; produced by Izzy Mant.

Baldi - The Book Case....2003
21 March 03; Paolo, the sleuthing monk, helps a librarian investigate the link between her young lover's death, a shifty Chicago cop, and an illegal trade in rare books. With David Threlfall, Tina Kellegher, Owen Roe, T P McKenna, Geraldine James, Bill Nighy, Gerard McSorley, Niall Buggy, Luke Griffin, and Collette Proctor.

14 Jan 04; 1130 am: by Simon Brett. A satirical spoof documentary about how stories change when Hollywood gets hold of them. Stanley Baxter plays all 8 main characters, and apart from the presenter Paul Vaughan, there are no other cast members. Produced by Graham Frost.

Six more episodes.......
1. 17.02.05 Cross Purposes. Paolo solves crossword- related murders in Dublin literay circles. Father Troy gives him a hand....director Lawrence Jackson. This one is a cracker...

26 Aug 2010 Quirks
Comedy by Simon Brett about a couple living - or perhaps imprisoned - on the Costa del Sol. David Troughton and Tracy-Ann Oberman star as Joey and Bianca. Written by Simon Brett, the crime novelist and creator for radio of After Henry, No Commitments and - more recently - People in Cars. Producer: Liz Anstee. Indie (CPL).

Nigel Deacon / Diversity website

Thanks to Reiner Staszewski for sending info. on a play I missed, and to Clive Lever for information about several others.

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