Bill Naughton Radio Plays

Born 1910; lived in Bolton until 1939. Worked as a coalbagger and driver for the Co-Op; civil defence driver during the war in London. He began to be known as a writer of plays and short stories broadcast on radio and TV. His radio play "June Evening" was televised in 1960 and was very influential; Naughton contended that it was the idea behind Coronation Street, the story being set around one Lancashire street with a corner shop. After the war he ventured into Theatre and Cinema. His plays were produced at the Mermaid Theatre, including "All in Good Time", "Alfie" and "Spring and Port Wine". "Alfie" was the most celebrated; it began life as a radio play, then turned into a stage play with Michael Medwyn at the Duchess Theatre in the West End; finally it was made into a film with Michael Caine, not so famous as he is now. There was a re-make of the radio version broadcast in the late 90s. For more on this, see Jeremy Stevenson's site.

*Paul Grainger writes: page 215 of Caine's autobiography refers to Bill Owen being in the radio version in 1962; Owen was 52 at the time. This is also referred to in a Caine biography - Candidly Caine.

Naughton settled on the Isle of Man in 1974 and produced a stream of writings including radio plays. He died in 1992.


08.06.74 All In Good Time
08.09.62 Somewhere For The Night
13.02.60 On The Run (Leonard Cracknell/Alaric Cotter)
03.10.59 Late Night On Watling Street
13.12.58 She'll Make Trouble
17.08.57 My Flesh, My Blood

18.08.1984 A Special Occasion
14.10.1982 A Special Occasion
11.07.1982 Spring & Port Wine
01.07.1979 Spring & Port Wine
05.09.1976 All In Good Time
31.08.1975 Spring & Port Wine
27.05.1964 Looking for Frankie (w. Michael Caine)
09.02.1963 Looking for Frankie (w. Michael Caine)


01.06.1991 Derby Day, 2 x 60m
1973 The Mystery, rpt. 19 May 92
07.01.1962 Alfie Elkins and his little life, Third Programme, repeated on 3 Feb 1962 and 23 Jan 1964.


BBC Third Programme, Sun 7 Jan 62.

With sublime amorality Alfie swaggers and philosophises his way through " Alfie Elkins and His Little Life", as he goes from one 'bird' to another, trying hard to communicate his own brand of determined hedonism and carefully rejecting anyone or anything that might touch him too deeply. The action spans about two decades, from the beginning of World War II to the late 1950s.

In 1964, Bill Naughton turned his radio play into a stage play at London's Mermaid Theatre. Alfie was played by John Neville and Glenda Jackson was also in the cast. In 1966, Bill Naughton wrote the screenplay for "Alfie", the film version of his story which starred Michael Caine in the lead role.

With Bill Owen [Alfie Elkins], Hilda Fenemore [Ruby], Barbara Young [Annie], Norma Griffin [Elsie], Charles Leno [Fred], Joe Sterne [The Station Officer], and John Bryning [The Narrator]. Produced by Douglas Cleverdon.

.........information from Clive Lever........."a play broadcast early to mid seventies. A man has been persuaded against his own inclination to take his tom cat to the vet to be neutered. He's relaxing in the garden and falls asleep. He dreams he's on the operating table, having been abducted and taken to hospital against his will to have the equivalent operation."

Radio Times.....Edward Grock is a writer married to a rich woman. He is ordered by his wife to take the cat and the dog to the vet to be neutered. He has some sympathy with their predicament. With Norman Rodway, Irene Sutcliffe, Amm Morrish, Peggy Aitcheson, Julie Hallam, Fraser Kerr, Anthony Jay, Sam Dastor, Diana Bishop, Leonard Fenton, Doreen Andrew. Producer- Guy Vaisen. This play won the 1974 Italia Prize. 1973; repeated 19 May 92 (ND).

BBC blurb.... '. . . With a woman like that - there's none of the mystery of marriage - you know what I mean - the simple mystery of a man and a woman living together - sharing the same roof . . . .'

....Clive continues: "shortly after Naughton's death, this and others of his plays were repeated in a tribute season, possibly summer 1993, mainly on weekday evenings."

The famous medical man and author T. Van der Velde wrote ...."After the bridal night comes the honeymoon. Quite erroneous beliefs are current about this stage of married life, especially among young bachelors. Just as they depict or describe the bridal night as a riot of supreme pleasure, so they anticipate a ceaseless succession of unrestrained sexual enjoyment, from the first weeks of conjugal life. They are gravely mistaken............." This is what Bill Naughton's play is about. Stars Paula Tilbrook, Geoffrey Banks, Alan Rothwell, Keith Ladd, Ray Mort, Jane Lowe, Anna Keveney, Kenneth Thompson, Juliet Cook, Graham Roberts, Colin Edwin, pianist Trevor Holroyd. Produced in Leeds by Alfred Bradley.

An interesting family story set in the period of the Cold War, but with sinister overtones. Spoiled a little by the ending, which is very sudden and peculiar; I didn't find it convincing.

DERBY DAY....1991
- in 2 parts, by Bill Naughton; produced by Jane Morgan. A drama set in Bolton on Derby Day, 1921 -- more than 2 months into a miners' strike. Radio 4, 1st June 1991 BBC7, 22nd and 29th Feb 2004

RUTTER Barrie ..............Sidney Sedwin
TURNER Stephanie ...........Fanny Brighouse
PRINGLE Bryan ..............Ned Whittle
JAMES Polly ................Maggie Whittle
GREGORY Emma ...............Win Whittle
SHERIDAN Susan .............Adam Whittle
RAWLE Jeff .................Jack Harwood
STARKS Carol ...............Polly Harwood
DIXON Shirley ..............Lizzie Sedwin
GARLICK Stephen ............Jimmy Sedwin
DOWIE Freda ................Sarah Kippax
WHITTENSHAW Jane ...........Beatty Kippax
STRAKER Mark ...............Albert Kippax
CARRINGTON Nigel ...........Benny Baxter
RICHARDSON Sara ............Amy Baxter
EDMOND Terence .............Joney
KELLY Elizabeth ............Mrs Satterthwaite
BATESON Timothy ............Bob, the knocker-up
HERDMAN Ronald .............Det Hawkins
HOWE Jenny .................Miss Satterthwaite
THORNE Stephen .............Commentator / Det Rice
With the children of Bolton School.
Mouth organ and fiddle: Mark Emerson.
Piano: Errolyn Wallen.

Alfie Elkins and His Little Life....2003
BBC World Service: Play of the Week, Sat 19 Jan 03.

With sublime amorality Alfie swaggers and philosophises his way through the play, chattily allowing the audience to eavesdrop as he goes from one 'bird' to another, trying hard to communicate his own brand of determined hedonism and carefully rejecting anyone or anything that might touch him too deeply.

This new production of "Alfie Elkins and His Little Life" marks the 40th anniversary of Bill Naughton's play. It was originally broadcast on BBC Radio: Third Programme on 7th January 1962 starring Bill Owen ('Last of the Summer Wine') as Alfie. It was then turned into a stage play premiering at London's Duchess Theatre in 1963. The stage play was later successfully filmed in 1966 with Michael Caine in the role of the ebullient Cockney, Alfie.

With Nick Moran [Alfie], Kevin Whately [the Narrator], Simon Treves [The Station Officer / The Loader], Chris Emmett [The Governor], Robert Oates [Alfie's Dad], Simon Belfour [Alfie's mate / Fred], Sarah Griffiths [Annie], Fiona Karew [The Girl], and Pippa Haywood [Ruby]. Directed by Dirk Maggs.

Greg Linden / Nigel Deacon, Diversity website

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