Tina Pepler Radio Plays

Tina Pepler is an experienced radio dramatist with a wide range of styles. She is involved in both writing and teaching.

‘Radio drama has always been known in England as a nursery for new talent. This is for reasons of cost, of course, but it’s also in the risk-taking, writer-friendly nature of the medium. Radio drama can ... enhance the cultural life of any country and give energy, focus and direction to its sense of cultural identity.’

"A famous playwright said that drama is not simply about one idea. It's about two ideas colliding."

Tina Pepler, Radio Dramatist and Workshop Leader

    Paraphrased from a report by Janet van Eeden-Harrison.

    The British Council working in partnership with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) recently arranged for three day radio drama workshops to be held in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban.

    "The British Council & BBC World Service aim to make a difference by developing writing skills around the world," says Marion Nancarrow, Executive Producer of BBC World Service Drama.

    The radio drama workshops were held to encourage partnership building through creative endeavours. In South Africa, these workshops were arranged by the British Council, the Performing Arts Network in South Africa (PANSA) and the SABC. The BBC, as a big partner of the British Council, hoped this might promote a revival of Radio Drama.

    The workshops were run by Marion Nancarrow and Tina Pepler. Nancarrow has many awards and credits to her name. Pepler is a highly experienced and award winning radio dramatist and also writes for television and film.

      Bruce Millar, who was in charge of what was left of radio drama at the SABC in the early nineties has this to say about the demise of radio drama in South Africa.

      "SAFM used to broadcast a wide array of drama each week, in the form of 90-minute, 60-minute and 30-minute plays, daily serials, and novel readings. Everything from heavy classics to light comedies," says Millar.

      "Unfortunately, the listenership for this kind of programming dwindled as people began to look elsewhere (notably TV) for their drama needs. Significantly, when SAFM finally pulled the plug on all our drama programmes, there was not a single anguished voice raised in complaint.

    UPDATE, 2023:
    Tina is now a Consultant Fellow of the Royal Literary Fund, and a core tutor on the Oxford University Master of Studies in Creative Writing. She has a PhD from Bristol University Drama Department. Her thesis, Discovering the Art of Wireless, focused on the personalities who pioneered broadcasting in the 1920s, and on radio drama as the magnet for the most creative talent working in the BBC in its first decade. (see "Kaleidoscope 3" below.)


    23 Sep 2023: Saturday Play - Kaleidoscope 3
    By Tina Pepler. Set in February 2023, a new play to mark the BBC Centenary of radio drama about the early years of the wireless. In 1928, radio producer and WW1 pilot Lance Sieveking’s play Kaleidoscope told the story of the life of a man from the cradle to the grave. Sieveking wrote about the experience of using the sound mixing panel for the first time. “I felt exactly as I felt on that cold bright morning when I had been told to take the aeroplane into the air alone for the first time. Exactly.” A hundred years later, sound designer Iris finds herself following Sieveking’s path in the air, and on the air waves. Iris .…. Scarlett Brookes, Lance Sieveking .…. David Haig, Tom ….. David Kirkbride, David ….. Sam Troughton, Selin ….. Elif Knight, Cassie ….. Lucy Reynolds. Sound design by Alisdair McGregor and Calum Perrin. Production Assistant Annie Keates Thorpe. Directed and produced by Jeremy Mortimer. Executive Producer: Joby Waldman. A Reduced Listening production for BBC Radio 4.

    10 Oct 10. R4. Saturday Play. By Tina Pepler / Christopher Isherwood. Dramatisation by TP of Isherwood's semi-autobiographical novel. Hitler is on the rise; it is 1931. Producer Polly Thomas.

    14 Aug 09. Afternoon Play. Ten years after the 1999 earthquake in Turkey; Tina Pepler's drama-documentary tells the story of a young engineering student who returns to Istanbul to find the friends she left behind. They are still trying to deal with the aftermath of the last quake; in a city trying to ready itself for the next. Eleanor ...... Eleanor Zimmermann Cansu ...... Serra Somay Baris ...... Hakan Silahsizoglu Merve ...... Sirin Onder. With contributions from Kubilay Hicyilmaz; Polat Gulkan; Mustafa Erdik; Gokay Bostan; Tamer Aker; Husamettin Alper; Ozgur Demir; Zeynep Turkmen. Directed by Sara Davies. Ozgur Demir Ozgur Demir; who tells his story (in translation) in the play; works for Neighbourhood Disaster Support Project (NDSP). Neighbourhood Disaster Support Project Professor Mustafa Erdik Professor Mustafa Erdik works at the Kandilli Observatory and Earthquake Research Institute; Bogazici University. Kandilli Observatory and Earthquake Research Institute Gokay Bostan Gokay Bostan (Gokaybey) is the Director of the Istanbul Provincial Disaster and Emergency Directorate. Provincial Disaster and Emergency Directorate

    11 Dec 05, R3. By Jason Webster, dramatised by Tina Pepler. A young English writer sets out to discover Spain's hidden Moorish past. He visits an enormous, plastic-sheeted farm and witnesses farmers terrorising the largely North African workforce. His life is threatened as he covertly tours this agricultural gulag, but is saved by an illegal immigrant. The unlikely pair of writer and desperado take off on a rollercoaster ride through Andalucía. 90m.

    Jason ...... Joe McFadden
    Zine ...... Omar Berdouni
    Lucia ...... Azucena Duran
    Salud, Carmen ...... Nuria Benet
    Mother, doctor ...... Montserrat Gili
    Amadeo, priest ...... Javier Marzan
    Pedro, Sergio ...... Luis Soto
    Old man ...... Nayef Rashed.
    Produced by Steven Canny.

    Friday Play, Sept 05, based on a sequence of poems in the voices of a mother and her daughter with interlocking drama by T.P.

      Elisabeth Mahoney of The Guardian, wrote (26.9.05):
      ......The drama highlight of the weekend ...... the elegiac, emotionally charged 'Swimming Lessons', with its blend of evocative poetry, harsh reality and heartstring-tugging music from Faure, was the most terribly haunting thing. A recurrent theme in this play about a young woman with anorexia was the weightlessness and freedom of being in water, while its characters searched for the psychological equivalent through poems, music, and memory. "What if somewhere in our unconscious minds," ponders Grace, the anorexic, "we are living somewhere else as well as here?"

      Each character is trying to escape the fallout anorexia has had on the family. "Everything is about food," says Grace's sister, "all the time. Even the silences, in all our lives. She makes it that way." I liked the honesty of Tina Pepler's writing and the imaginative ways it twined around Sally Festing's poems. "Nothing is the shape it should be." Grace's mother observes. This play, though, which left me in tears, was perfectly formed.

    Invitation to the Waltz ....2001
    26may01; Saturday Play. Rosamund Lehmann's tender classic about an adolescent girl's coming of age, dramatised by Tina Pepler. Olivia wakes up on her 17th birthday knowing that something has changed, but what exactly it is she doesn't yet understand. With Mary Nighy, Rosie Giarratana, Diana Quick and Andrew Collins. Directed by Sara Davies.

    The Grass Is Singing ....2000
    16 sep-00; Classic Serial. By Doris Lessing, dramatised by Tina Pepler. Final part: In appointing Moses - the native Mary whipped - as their new houseboy, Dick is unknowingly sealing her fate.With Alison Pettitt, Tracy-Ann Oberman, Andrew Scott and Nicholas Beveney. Director: Marion Nancarrow.

    Just the Way You Are* ....2000
    11aug00; Friday Play. A tale of love, death and cloning, (which in 2000 had just become possible in mammals).
    Michael wants a baby with Miranda, but she is in love with Joe. Beatrice wants her husband back, and Professor Williamson believes anything is possible in a test tube. The local undertaker bears an uncanny resemblance to Elvis, and Dolly does not know if she is a Korean biochemist or a forgetful old sheep. With June Barrie and Nigel Anthony. Director: Kate McAll

    23 jul 99, afternoon play. Story of how an old girl becomes a young woman. With Siobhan Flynn, Margaret John, Melanie Walters, Giles Thomas, Holly Nickolas and Lucy Grew.

    The Year of the Tiger ....1999
    8jan99; friday play.When Joe is given an unusual assignment in Bangladesh, little does he realise that he will be bewitched both by real tigers and by the turbulence of this the Chinese Year of the Tiger. With Emily Joyce, Paul Bazely and Nitin Chandra Ganatra. Director Marion Nancarrow.

    The Silence of Memory ....1998
    9 nov 98. On 11 November 1920, the Unknown Warrior - representing all those whose loved ones were missing, presumed dead - was buried in Westminster Abbey. This drama documentary follows three men on the day of the funeral as they try to come to terms with their loss. With Michael Williams, Daniel Jackson and Michael Wilson. Director Kate McAll.

    Love and Dissent ....1998
    12 nov 98, afternoon play. Dramatised by Tina Pepler from `The Secret Diaries of Sarah Thomas'. Discovered by local historian June Lewis, Sarah Thomas's diaries cover five stormy years in the love life of a Baptist minister's daughter in a Victorian Cotswold town.

    Bird With One Wing* ....1995
    8.4.1995; Sandra Berkin/Jack Klaff. Biographical play on the life of the famous explorer and writer Richard Burton, friend of John Hanning Speke, discoverer of the source of the Nile. Burton was a true polymath - speaking many European and African languages and distinguishing himself in almost everything he did. He was vilified by society later in his life because of his translations of "The Perfumed Garden" and the "Kama Sutra"; many Victorians criticising the material as pornographic (few would agree now) whilst remaining sexually ignorant. One hopes they had tolerant wives.

    Willis is Barking*....1993
    A surreal comedy; R4 7.45pm, 12 Jul 93. Monday Play. Willis is a secret Martian. She encounters mortgages, homelessness and Morris dancing. Produced by Shaun MacLoughlin, with Maureen O'Brien, Christian Rodska, June Barrie, Ed Bishop, John Telfer, Siriol Jenkins, Bill Wallis, Steve Hodson, John Baddeley, Jennifer Scott-Malden, Laurie Drew. Music by John Telfer.

    Blue glass & the sun god* ....1993
    21aug93, R3; "studio three". Jonas steals garden gnomes. He has a recurring dream; he is running with a precious blue glass object. He also has a vision on the sun god Apollo, who gives him a quest. If he's successful it will release Guinevere, his favourite gnome, from stone, and his wife from the television. Why don't we get more plays like this? Cast: Steve Hodson as Jonas, Carolyn Backhouse as Guinevere, with Gerard Murphy and Christian Rodska; music by John Telfer, sung by Katrine Roberts. Producer Shaun MacLaughlin.

    Easy traumas*....1991
    Mourners standing near an open grave suddenly start singing "Yes, we have no bananas". Caster Sugar and Pollux, the representatives of the Easy Traumas Agency, did it for the late Edith. Now they want to do it for Barney Stone and his wife Wilma. With Steve Hodson, Deborah Makepeace, Liz Goulding, Christian Rodska, Bill Wallis, John Baddeley, Auriol Smith. Produced by Shaun MacLaughlin. R3, 30 Apr 91.

    SONG OF THE FOREST....1990
    Giles Cooper Award Winner, along with The Machine (Tony Bagley), A Butler Did It (David Cregan), Death and the Tango (John Fletcher). No other details.

    SNOW BUBBLE ....date nk
    The tale of Petra, a young woman who moves from the city to the remote countryside on marrying a farmer. She struggles to cope with her new solitary existence. Monday play; early 90s?

    Swimming Toward The Sun....date nk
    Based on a poem sequence by Sally Festing.

    BEAUTIFUL*....date nk

    FORGIVING*....date nk

    AFTERSHOCK*....date nk

    Asterisked plays in vrpcc collections.

    compiled by Nigel Deacon / Diversity website

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