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ALAN BENNETT

RADIO PLAYS

Born Leeds, 1934. Exeter College, Oxford 1954-7. Stage debut 1959; wrote and appeared in Beyond the Fringe, 1960; first stage play Forty years On, 1968; has worked as writer, actor, director, and broadcaster for stage, television, radio and films.

Broadcast by BBC radio:

2009 R4 The Lady in the Van
2006 R4 The History Boys
2004 R4 Last of the Sun
19.5.03 R4 Two in Torquay 15m
1994 R4 The Wind in the Willows, dram
29.10.1994 WS An Englishman Abroad
c1994 Diaries (1-4)
24.2.1991 Kafka`s Dick
1991 Talking Heads (several monologues originally written for television)
c1990 Getting On
18.4.1989 Say Something Happened
1988 Better Halves (narrator)
1988 The lady in the van (writer & narrator)
1986 Uncle Clarence
01.01.86 A woman of no importance
1982 Dragon
1980 The Great Jowett
10.8.1975 Forty Years On: John Gielgud/A. Bennett/D. Reynolds/N. Nicholson/Paul Eddington
11.8.1973 Forty Years On: John Gielgud/A. Bennett/D. Reynolds/N. Nicholson/Paul Eddington

OTHERS

NOTES

"Kafka's Dick"....1991
A rather whimsical play by Alan Bennett, bringing together Kafka and his biographer Max Brod with a modern Kafka expert and his bored wife. It contrives to present valid critical insights into Kafka's life and work through the medium of an anarchic comedy. The radio version knocks spots off the recent stage revival which suffered from ragged direction and some poor performances. The final scene, where Kafka finds to his horror that Heaven is a permanent wild party, is far funnier on radio. The performers are all good : Richard Griffiths and Alison Steadman as the modern couple, Nigel Anthony and Michael Cochrane as Kafka and Brod. Best of all is Peter Woodthorpe as Kafka's dreadful father, richly rolling his voice round some of Bennett's choice lines : ' "Vile Bodies" by Evelyn Waugh - now she sounds as if she knows how to please a man'. (Barry Pike / VRPCC newsletter)

TALKING HEADS ....2003
--Note from Mary Kalemkerian; BBC7 newsletter, 26 Apr 03: "We have some terrific new drama coming up for you in the next few weeks. On the first Sunday in May there's a drama-fest of Alan Bennett's marvellous monologues, 'Talking Heads', introduced by Alan Bennett himself. The monologues will be repeated through the week, ending with the late Dame Thora Hird's moving performance of Cream Cracker under the settee".(quoted by permission)

--BBC7, 4 May 03: Alan Bennett introduces his six monologues, written for television in 1987, with new links recorded by him for BBC7. The titles of the ones being broadcast this week are:

A Chip in the Sugar (performed by AB)
A lady of letters (Patricia Routledge)
Her Big Chance (Julie Walters)
Soldiering On (Stephanie Cole)
A cream cracker under the settee (Thora Hird)

The latter production, in which an old lady obsessed with cleaning falls and breaks her hip doing the dusting, revitalised the career of Thora Hird. It is an excellent performance (one which was rebroadcast the day after Thora Hird's death, as a tribute).

TWO IN TORQUAY....2003
A middle-aged man and a middle-aged woman talk politely in a Torquay hotel. But neither of them is quite whom they appear to be. With Judi Dench as Miss Plunkett and Alan Bennett as Mr. Mortimer. Directed by Gordon House. This short play was originally written in 1998 for Judi Dench and her late husband Michael Williams; they performed it at the National Theatre. It has not been broadcast before.

THE LAST OF THE SUN....2004
Written for Thora Hird; her last radio appearance. Commissioned by BBC7; broadcast mid-Jan 2004. Listeners enjoyed it - one called it a wonderful combination of a great writer and a wonderful performer combining to create unique radio. "It had me in tears of both sadness and laughter" wrote another.

A WOMAN OF NO IMPORTANCE....2004
BBC7, wb 25 Jan 04: - starring Patricia Routledge and directed by Richard Wortley. Routledge plays Margaret Schofield, a middle-aged spinster who reminisces cheerfully about her world of office work and canteen gossip.

THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS....1994, rpt. 2004
by Kenneth Grahame, dramatised by Alan Bennett,with songs and music by Jeremy Samms. With Adrian Scarborough, Richard Briers, Nickolas Grace, Derek Waring and Alan Bennett as the Narrator. Produced by David Blount. Originally broadcast as a single play on Radio 4, 27th August 1994; repeated as 2 x 60min on BBC7 23rd and 24th December 2003.

Cast List:
BENNETT Alan...............Narrator
SCARBOROUGH Adrian.........Mole
BRIERS Richard.............Rat
GRACE Nickolas.............Toad
WARING Derek...............Badger
RIGBY Terence..............Albert the Horse
HARTLEY John...............Otter
MARCH David................Chief Weasle
TOMPKINSON Stephen.........Weasle Norman
PHILLIPS Leslie............Magistrate
SEED Graham................Rupert
DOWLING Alison.............Monica
MANSFIELD Elizabeth........Gaoler's Daughter / Rabbit Rose
GRAY Tina..................Washerwoman
HOLLAND Jeffrey............Engine Driver
CHARLES Maria..............Barge Woman
SCHILLER Danny.............The Gipsy
HOLT David.................Mr Parkinson / Hedgehog Harold / Weasle Wilfred
TAYLOR James...............Clerk of the Court / Hedgehog Herbert
MATTHEWS Geoffrey..........Prison Guard / Rabbit Robert
SINCLAIR David.............Gaoler / Rabbit Ronald
TREVES Simon...............Mr Fox / Ferret Fred / Policeman / Ticket Clerk
GRAHAM Jill................Squirrel Shirley
ACRE Peter.................Squirrel Raymond
PYNE Natasha...............Squirrel Sarah
WHITMAN Peter..............Hedgehog Henry
FRITCHETT Lucy.............Hedgehog Helen
PANTING Paul...............Ferret Gerald
KENNY Peter................Stoat Cyril
BEVAN Tom..................Stoat Stewart
BALDWIN Belinda............Portly

There was another version of this: a serial, dramatised by John Scotney, first episode 13 Feb 94, with Timothy Bateson, Dinsdale Landen, Willie Rushton, George Baker. Producer Peter Hutchings.

THE HISTORY BOYS....2006
Performed at the National; subsequently adapted for R4 by Richard Wortley. Click here for article on the new production - the R4 broadcast has been issued on CD by the BBC.

THE LADY IN THE VAN....2010
21 Feb 09; adaptation of the Alan Bennet's autobiographical story of Miss Shepherd, an elderly lady who lived for 15 years in a van in his garden. Repeated during Christmas season 2010.

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