Tom Mallin Radio Plays

Extract from Richard Wortley's "Reflections" (see Radio Plays page):

........The six plays I produced by Tom Mallin included ‘Halt! Who Goes There?’ his last. He was also a painter and I ‘inherited’ his writing from a BBC colleague who put us together when he (Guy Vaesen) left to work at the National Theatre in London.

In the play before this one, Tom gave us the memorable image of an exasperated country vicar netting the bullfinches destroying his strawberry beds and cutting their heads off with garden shears.

‘Halt! Who Goes There?’ was a comedy set in a cancer ward; Tom rang me up after his own hospital checkup “I think I’ve had it Richard”. Brave, brave man, he died of cancer aged fifty.

I followed through two radio dramas with Tom Mallin’s son, Rupert Mallin, a genetically unmodified poetic imagination currently toiling in the arts world of East Anglia.

Richard Wortley

Rupert Mallin is a poet, playwright and artist. He runs a blog; the web address is


Biographical note follows, and a list of Tom's plays, sent to me during March 2005; many thanks "S-J"......

Tom Mallin (1927 to 1977)

In 1970, when he was 43 years of age, he realised his passion: A stage play, ‘Curtains,’ was produced at the Canonbury Theatre, London, and then travelled to the Edinburgh Festival’s Traverse Theatre, where it was directed by Michael Rudman. Also in that year, Alison & Busby published his first novel, ’Dodecahedron.’ Alison & Busby went on to publish four more of his novels, while the early 1970s found a series of his plays being produced in London and the emergence of his radio playwriting career, first through Guy Vaeson’s production of ‘Curtains,’ then through the prolific, energetic and enthusiastic BBC Radio director Richard Wortley.

Tom died of cancer around Christmas 1977.

Radio plays by Tom Mallin:

Curtains - stage play, 1968 - performed at the Traverse Theatre, 1970, then elsewhere; produced for radio by Guy Vaeson; published by Calder & Boyers 1971

Downpour - broadcast 1971

Rooms - broadcast 1973

Birds of Prey - (not produced), 1973

Two Gentlemen of Hadleigh Heath - broadcast 1973

The Lodger - broadcast 1974

Vicar Martin - broadcast 1974

Whispers - (not produced), 1974

Spanish Fly - broadcast 1977

Halt! Who Goes There? - radio play, 1977, broadcast posthumously; a winner of a Giles Cooper Award 1978 and published in ’Best Radio Plays of 1978’ by Methuen, 1979)


BBC Radio 3, 18 Sep 77. Novelist Melissa Manchester is dying and is having a crisis of identity. Who is she? Why is she? Is she? So along with her husband Ramirez, they have decided to make a film of her life - a little 16mm effort - acting all the main parts themselves while using children from the village for the kids roles. The tension between the couple increases as they try and finish the film before the illness finishes Melissa.

With Gwen Watford [Melissa], Rod Beacham [Ramirez], Irene Sutcliffe [Mother], Penelope Reynolds [A Girl / Simone], Walter Hall [Harold / The Headmaster], Jean Rogers [Melissa, as a child], Timothy Bateson [Grandfather / An Old Spaniard], Michael Tudor Barnes [Edgar / The Narrator], Anne Rosenfield [Clarissa], Heather Bell [Elizabeth / Roberta], Kenneth Shanley [A Politician / A Waiter / A Priest], and Mary Clare Nash [Wardress / Rosemary]. Directed by Richard Wortley. .......synopsis by "S-J" - many thanks

With Clive Swift, Rosemary Leach. 26.03.78.

BBC Radio 4: The Monday Play, 4 Jul 77. and 27.08.78.

The play "Rowland" takes place during the 'Marian Persecutions' where the most severe persecutions came when Mary ascended the throne and reconciled with the Catholic Church in Rome. To get the rest of the country in line, the ancient heresy laws were brought back in January 1555.

The play revolves around the Reverend Dr. John Rowland, his arrest and subsequent death by burning. The character is based on Dr. Rowland Taylor, parson of Hadleigh, in Suffolk. He was one of four martyrs who were all condemned for denying transubstantiation and were sentenced to be burnt 'in the place where they had ministered', to terrify their parishioners into renouncing the opinions they had learned from the condemned teachers. But it had the opposite effect. The condemned divines went to their deaths so bravely that the bystanders were deeply affected. They felt that such courage proceeded from an ardent conviction that the doctrines for which they suffered were true.

With Stephen Murray [The Reverend Dr. John Rowland], Maurice Denham [Sir Thomas Nesbit], Manning Wilson [Dr. Stephen Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester and Lord Chancellor of England], Michael Deacon [Master Cage, the Curate], John Hollis [The Jailer / First Paritioner], Peter Craze [Quince], Jonathan Scott [The Reverend Brimstone / Todd], Stephen Thorne [Stammers / Wart], Hilda Kriseman [Female Paritioner], Kenneth Shanley [Captain], and Gavin Campbell [The Sergeant].

Directed by Richard Wortley

Note: The radio play "Rowland" may have first been written in 1968. Re-broadcast on BBC Radio 4: Afternoon Theatre on Sunday 27th August 1978.
..............thanks again to "S-J" for the synopsis....ND.

Few of Tom Mallin's plays are in VRPCC collections...please email if you have recordings.

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