Stephen Wakelam Radio Plays

Stephen Wakelam has been a full time writer since 1976. He was born in Chesterfield and was was for a time head of the English Department in a school in Yorkshire. He taught young writers at the Royal Court Theatre from 1981-84 and also some young playwrights at the National Theatre Studio a few years later. He is presently the Royal Literary Fund writer in residence at the University of Kent. He has written many plays for radio. The ones which I've heard are listed below, with comments.


22 Sep 2017: Lying Low
By Stephen Wakelam. In 1961, Samuel Beckett had a holiday in Folkestone. Events are revealed from the point of view of the hotel receptionist, narrated some time later. Samuel: Adrian Dunbar, young Janet, the receptionist: Charlotte Beaumont, older Janet: Susan Brown, Billy: Charlie Clements, Miss Adams: Clare Corbett, Suzanne: Caroline Loncq, Roy: Sam James, Timmy: Gary Duncan, librarian: David Sturzaker, registrar: Philip Fox. Producer: Gemma Jenkins.

15 Sep 2015: John Osborne - The Author Of Himself
Rpt. from 2 Sep 2013.Play about the first meeting of actor / writer John Osborne and theatre manager George Devine as they discuss the play 'Look Back In Anger'. John Osborne - Samuel Barnett, Nellie - Joanna Brookes, George Devine - Jonathan Coy, Anthony Creighton - Harry Livingstone, Tony Richardson - David Seddon. Producer David Hunter.

16 Mar 12, R4, 1415, 45m. Set in Naples in 1610. David Tennant is Maria Minniti, a painter who has travelled to seek out his old friend and former mentor Caravaggio...but the great painter is nowhere to be found...Minniti retraces Caravaggio's last known movements....at the end of a life lived dangerously.

Mario Minniti . . . . . David Tennant
Piero . . . . . . . . .. . . . .Anton Lesser
Abraham Vinck . . . . . Peter Hamilton Dyer
Cecco . . . . . . . . .. . . . .Joe Dempsie
Marchesa di Colonna . . . . . Tracy Wiles
Guard . . . . . . . . .. . . . .. Harry Livingstone
Directed by Sasha Yevtushenko; editor Colin Guthrie, SMs: Colin Guthrie, Keith Graham, Alison Craig; Production Coordinator: Nicole Fitzpatrick.

23 Jan 2010, R3. 90m. In 1588, Montaigne set out on a journey around France. He was on a mission to reconcile the Valois King Henri the Third, a Catholic, with his likely successor, the Bourbon King of Navarre, a Protestant. There were high stakes: intensified Civil War was the likely consequence of failure.

Michel de Montaigne ..... Roger Allam
Peslier ..... James Norton
Catherine de Medici ..... Jane Lapotaire
Henri Navarre ..... Elliot Levey
Henri Valois ..... Sam Dale
Francoise de Montaigne ..... Sally Orrock
Marie de Gournay ..... Leah Brotherhead
Sergeant Soumillon ..... Adeel Akhtar
Captain Guyon ..... Lloyd
Thomas Courtier ..... Henry Devas
Producer Jeremy Mortimer.

Montaigne was one of the most influential writers of the French Renaissance. He became famous for his ability to merge intellectual speculation with casual anecdotes and autobiography. Montaigne had a direct influence on writers the world over, from René Descartes to Isaac Asimov. He also grew vines.

In his own time, Montaigne was known more as a statesman than as an author.

MRS. TOLSTOY .... 2010
9 Aug 2010. Moira Petty wrote an interesting review of this play in "The Stage", asking how Tolstoy could have written so accurately of the agonies of unhappy families whilst treating his own wife appallingly. "We were taken into the heart of his faltering marriage ...... told from the perspective of his wife, Sofya, portraying a hardened beast of burden, refusing to crack despite the demands of an increasingly fanatical husband."

She put up with it all, transcribing all his novels by hand and giving birth to thirteen children. Phew.

Ian McDiarmid was Tolstoy; Haydn Gwynne his long-suffering and patient wife.

Two days after Shakespeare's birthday ... a play on radio 3 set in 1607, following the playwright after his life reaches a turning point. Business is going well, but he needs a collaborator for his latest play. His daughter is getting married and his brother has a sick child and needs a job. Cast: Anthony Sher, Will Keen, Stephen Critchlow, Chris Pavlo, Helen Longworth, John Rowe, Robert Lonsdale, Joseph Kloska. Producer Jeremy Mortimer. Repeated from 2008. 90m.

16 Oct 09. Based on events in E.M.Forster's life. The play considers the conflict in Forster's mind between the public image and the private man. He was sometimes frank about sexual matters in his novels, at a time when such things were rarely discussed, much less aired in public. See Lawrence Raw's review on his own radio drama site. Producer: David Hunter.

Feb 4, 2007, R3. Stephen Wakelam’s Two Men From Delft was both beautiful and instructive. Late 17th-century surveyor, Antony van Leeuwenhoek - with Stephen Tompkinson playing him as a good-hearted if intransigent moralist - experimented with microscopes in his spare time and was the first to see bacteria in close-up. He felt compelled to make a harsh decision about the estate of his friend, the inspirational painter Vermeer, already dead and his family destitute, when the play opened. Greatness was seen not to be rewarded. Yet both men worked to “map the invisible”.
-The Stage, radio review, 2007.

    Letter from Raymond Cordero, 2004, Independent
    Antony van Leeuwenhoek, born in Delft in 1623, could well have featured in your list of "genuine Dutch greats" (17 November). He is now unsung and scarce remembered, but through microscopes mounted with his own accurately ground lenses he was probably the first man to see bacteria ...

    The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition: Leeuwenhoek, 1632-1723, was a Dutch student of natural history and maker of microscopes, b. Delft. His use of lenses in examining cloth as a draper's apprentice probably led to his interest in lens making. He assembled around two hundred microscopes, some of which magnified objects 270 times.

4 Dec 05. Saturday Play. Detective story based on true events following the publication of Mrs Gaskell's 'Life of Charlotte Bronte'. She was threatened with libel.

Jack Down ...... Kenneth Cranham
Patrick Bronte ...... James Greene
Mr Nicholls ...... Stephen Hogan
Harry ...... Declan Wilson
Betty ...... Shirley Dixon
Dr Crosby ...... Geoffrey Whitehead
Martha ...... Helen Longworth
Sugden ...... Steve Hodson
Grundy ...... Philip Fox
Producer Janet Whitaker.

Answered Prayers*....2004
R4, 1415, 8 Apr 04. A small religious community after the first World War - a soldier comes out of the woods and is given a job by the monks. With John Rowe, Kenneth Cranham, Stuart McQuarrie, Ioan Meredith, Philip Fox. Directed by Janet Whitaker.

Selling Immortality*....2004
A work by a Renaissance master seems to possess uncanny powers - anyone who sells the painting dies soon afterwards. With Alec McCowen, Adam Kotz, James Hazeldine, Adam James and Stephen Rashbrook. Producer Marilyn Imrie. Director John Burgess.

The Good Samaritan....2000
45m, afternoon play, 27 Sep 00. A shy young clergyman befriends a brilliant preacher who no longer preaches at a Cambridge college.


With Hattie Morahan

With Robert Glenister

Nigel Deacon / Diversity website

Asterisked plays known to exist in VRPCC collections

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