Don Haworth is one of our best-known radio writers. He started in 1965 with his play "There's no point in arguing the toss". This was before he was a full-time writer; it was about two youths, and the father of one of them dies on the ghost train at a funfair. It was produced by Alan Ayckbourne for the BBC, and was nominated for the Italia Prize. He wrote it in two nights.
At that time he was working in television, making documentaries. Usually a play takes him about six weeks to write, but it's not concentrated work, and it has to fit in with his other activities. He wrote another successful play, "We all Come to it in the End", soon after the first one, and it's a fine comedy - about a youth growing up, and the people he meets on the way.
He does not claim to be an authority on writing radio plays, but offers the following advice: keep it simple, don't use too many sound effects, keep the number of actors to a minimum, and write the whole of the first draft before showing it to anyone. "Clarity should be the prime aim of all radio, because a lot will be lost. Use effects only to make a vital point...."
It is difficult to find a common theme in his plays, but he is fascinated by people's motivation and their reactions to crises. Listen to his work - everything from hilarious comedies (Events at the Salamander Hotel; We all Come to it in the End) to comments on the morality of war (The Navigator's Log) and inverted folk tales (Dragon).....
BBC BROADCASTS-RADIO PLAYS
06 Apr 67 There's no point in arguing the toss*
The plays which are asterisked are known to exist in collections within VRPCC.
Nigel Deacon / Barry Pike
NOTES ON SOME OF THE PLAYS
There's no point in arguing the toss....1967
A TIME IN CLOUD CUCKOO LAND....1969
Events at the Salamander Hotel....1975
On a day in a garden in summer....1975
The last ride of Walter Enderby, Motorist and Amorist....1978
A View from the Mountain....1987
The Navigator's Log....1989
The Ultimate Invention....1989
-There was an unexpected treat on St. David's Day, with Don Haworth's first radio play since 1993 - High in the Clouds (R4 1 March). It was in the light, humorous style of his earlier work; full of odd characters and colourful incidents and based in a small Lancashire community in the 1930s. Harold and his wife (Christian Rodska and Brigit Forsyth) begin to restore the manor house and use one of the outbuildings as the base for a new craze in the village - gliding. But some of the residents object to gliding on the Sabbath - or on any day. Stephen Thorne made an excellent narrator, recalling his part in "Events at the Salamander Hotel" many years ago, and Polly Thomas directed. (VRPCC newsletter, Spring 99)
-Take Two, by Don Haworth (R4 22 October, 2100 hrs.) starred James Bolam as Moses and Tom Baker as The Boss, and was a humorous reworking of the story of Moses and his tablets, broadcast on a Friday evening.(VRPCC newsletter, Autumn 99)
-Challenged (R4, 12 Feb, 1502): was the story of a Pennine farm owned by a widow (played by Brigit Forsyth), and the hostility between her teenage son (Matthew Booth) and a hired worker (Paul Copley, sounding very like Christian Rodska). Not memorable, but well written and worth a listen. (VRPCC newsletter, Spring 2000)
-Don Haworth produced four entertaining half-hour plays on successive Wednesdays: (R4, 1130, beginning 3 Jan 01): Emma Harper-Tussles in a Village is typical of Haworth's style; an ex-headmistress writes a column in a local newspaper. She is poached by the nearby radio station, and her gossip programme causes nothing but trouble. We also had Bill Bosun: a bus driver too kind hearted for his own good, and Stan Rooker, a particularly devious night receptionist. Haworth was interviewed by Radio Times in 1987, and said that he considers simplicity the key to success in radio drama. He is essentially modest and reluctant to appear as any sort of oracle, but he has three specific recommendations: avoid using too many sound effects, keep the number of actors to a minimum, and keep the story simple. "Look at the film "Zulu''-that was basically about people charging up and down a hill....the film became a classic". Haworth finds it difficult to detect any common theme in his plays, but is interested by people's motivations and their reactions to crises. He is particularly interested in those who respond to challenges in a positive, combative way rather than a neurotic one. This is perhaps why his plays are so appealing.(VRPCC newsletter, Spring 01)
3 Jan 01. Ex-Headmistress Emma Harper writes a column for a village newspaper. When she is poached by the local radio station, her gossip programme cause controversy, anger and revenge. Emma - Marcia Warren, Sid - David Holt, Mr. Mole - Ian Brooker, Major Drum - Robert Lister, Vicar - Geoff Holman, Mrs. Cowley - Sara Coward, Ms. Spratt - Sharon Muircroft.
Jack Acorn: Disputed Inheritance....2001
24 Jan 01. When Fred Melthorpe inherits an estate from his estranged father, he also inherits Jack Acorn, the general factotum. But Jack is not all that he seems and there are unpleasant discoveries to be made. Jack - John Webb, Fred - Stephen Tomlin, Joey - Alex Trinder, Mrs. Simcock - Pauline Jefferson.
Conversations on the London Train....2002
Anyone familiar with the way employees are treated today will enjoy this story; a sensitive play by a master playwright. It must be his sixtieth or thereabouts....starring James Quinn as Stan, Christine Mackie as Annabel, Judith Davies as Mrs. O'Coughlin, Matthew Lewney as Brian, and James Cymbal as Jim, the Singing Train Manager. Directed by Polly Thomas. Radio Times: "An ordinary train journey offers a life-changing and heart-warming opportunity to two ordinary people who share their hopes and fears in this light-hearted, gentle story".
Nigel Deacon / Diversity website
|Cosby Methodist Church|
|Links to other Sites|