FREDERICK BRADNUM PLAYS
Frederick Bradnum was one of the most prolific and reliable or radio
dramatists, producing over forty years some sixty original works, as well
as numerous adaptations. He maintained a very high standard, always fresh
and innovative, never dull or predictable. His earliest known credit was
for a fifty-minute play called NO COMMEMMORATING STONE, broadcast in 1954,
and his last was for a touching half-hour ghost play called THE TERRACED
HOUSE, given in 1994. Between them, he produced a remarkable sequence of
intelligent, challenging plays and features: mysteries, thrillers, social
and satarical comedies, imaginative fantasies, and complex studies of
character and relationships. His range embraced the ninety-minute play
for 'Saturday Night Theatre' and the fifteen-minute play for 'Just Before
Midnight', and he also produced biographical accounts of Rimbaud, Crabbe,
Richard Hillary and Wilkie Collins.
His early work includes a haunting evocation of a military unit
becalmed by inaction (NO GOING HOME, 1957); a play about Adelaide Bartlett,
the Victorian murderess (CHLOROFORM FOR MR. BARTLETT, 1957); and perhaps his
first considerable play, HEDGEHOG (1961), in which Stephen Murray played
the husband of an East-European wife, driven to her death by political
extremists (and played by Muriel Pavlow). In 1970, he produced a masterpiece
GOOSE WITH PEPPER, starring Trevor Howard and broadcast four times, most
recently in 1988, to mark the death of its star. This superb play gave
Howard a peach of a part as a retired brigadier unable to forget a past
failure in the field. Jack Watson was equally fine as the imperturbable
sergeant-major who becomes the focus for his fears.
Much fine work followed: DEGAS CELLINI MING (1975), an elegant play about
an oddly motivated burglar; CREEPERS (1977), in which a wily policeman
persists until a house yields up its secret; CIRRHOSIS PARK (1979), a
bitter play about an unpleasant family; GAME OF CHANCE (1985), a teasing
thriller in which an intended victim turns the tables; DEATH DUTIES (1987),
about a centenarian harried by his grasping relations; THE MOTE IN THE EYE
(1987), in which old friendships are renewed with unsettling consequences;
THE OLD PALS ACT (1989), a subtle whodunit unfolding through the tensions
in a close-knit group with a great deal to hide; and ROLAND'S AFTERLIFE
(1992), a 'dark-grey comedy', with Derek Fowlds as a wealthy businessman
whose return to life after a brief 'death' causes considerable upheaval.
In the field of adaptation, Bradnum's masterpiece was undoubtedly his
extended serial version of Anthony Powell's DANCE TO THE MUSIC OF TIME in
25 substantial episodes, spread over the four years 1979 to 1982, and
brilliantly recreating Powell's world and those who inhabit it.
|The Heiress(Goetz)(dram)||Home ||20.9.1952
|Danger (Producer) 30m||Home ||1953/4
|Mr. Goodjohn & Mr. Badjack||Third ||c1958
|Hedgehog||Home ||2.10.61 w. Stephen Murray
|The Fist||Home ||26.1.1963
|Pennicote's Truth||Home ||13.8.1966
|Goose with Pepper||R4 ||17.9.72
|The Recruiter||R4 ||9.9.1973
|The Wooden Shepherdess||R4 ||17.3.1974
|A Dead Man on Leave||R4 ||8.9.1974
|The Young Lady from Midhurst||R3 ||12.10.1974
|The General of the Dead Army||R4 ||20.10.1974
|Degas Cellini Ming||R4 ||25.5.1975
|Springers England||R4 ||5.7.1976
|Craven's Stone||R4 ||25.2.1977
|The Girl Who Didn't Want To Be....||R4 ||16.9.1978 rpt 26.1.80
|Goose with Pepper||R4 ||8.4.1979
|Viviette/Thomas Hardy||R4 ||18.2.79
|Other Days Around Me||R4 ||1.3.1980
|The man who lived among Eskimos||R4 ||22.2.1981
|Cirrhosis Park||R4 ||3.5.81
|The Autonomous Murder Complex||R4 ||5.12.1981
|I did it exceptionally well||R4 ||27.2.1983
|The Bishop's Wife||R4 ||04.06.1985
|Game Of Chance||R4 ||27.7.1985
|Death Of Robert de Cerilley||R4 ||10.5.1986
|You are not alone in the house||R4 ||15.06.86.1986
|Death Duties||R3 ||20.10.87
|The odd business at Narvik||R4 ||2.7.88
|Dead Treasure ||R4 ||5.3.1988
|The Old Pals Act ||R4 ||10.6.1989
|A Secret Journey||R4 ||09.09.1990
|One Way Or Another, dram||R4 ||18.06.1991
|Roland's Afterlife||R4 ||25.1.1992
|Mother! or The Unwise Son||R4 ||20.05.1992
|What become of Peter Wish?||R4 ||03.09.1992
||The Terraced House||R4 ||3.1994
Murder Most Foul s2e2 (docudrama): Bullets & Ballistics, R4 17.01.1992
(?)Dark Place in a Lonely Wood - date nk - music by Humphrey Searle. Late 60s/early 70s.
1954 The Saint and the Sinner (Tirso de Molina)
1954 The Trickster of Seville & The Guest of Stone (Tirso de Molina)
1954 Belshazzar's Feast (Calderon)
1955 The Ghost Sonata (Strindberg)
........compiled from information supplied by Roger Bickerton, Barry Pike, Mike Lloyd, Liz M and Greg Linden
Jack Adrian's obituary of
Frederick Bradnum from the Independent (18 Jan) contained the following story:
Bradnum submitted a new radio play (his seventieth, or thereabouts) to the BBC
Drama Dept. in the late 1990s. It was rejected, and some weeks later, he was
sent a package for new writers, explaining how to write radio plays....rather
like telling Beethoven how to write symphonies.
This reminded me of recent
conversations with a few VRPCC members, some of whom are in touch with
playwrights. They report that the lack of a regular 90 minute drama slot
means that some plays are being compressed into a form which is far too
short. Material has to be simplified, truncated, or in the case of biographies,
omitted, and this makes the writer's job extremely difficult. Some have found
the whole process so frustrating that they no longer write radio plays.
Others are turning to new media; I recently heard from one playwright
(with forty broadcast plays to his credit) that he is writing drama for
the internet because it gives him more creative freedom than the BBC....
(Nigel Deacon, VRPCC newsletter, Apr 02)
ONE WAY OR ANOTHER....1991
R3, 18 Jun 91. By Leonardo Sciascia.
Translated by Sasha Rabinovich, dramatized by Frederick Bradnum. An adaptation by Bradnum of another of Sciascia's
Sicilian "crime" tales, this one pretty obviously leveled against Opus Dei.
With Daniel Massey as the Painter, John Moffatt as Don Gaetano, John Rye as
Scalambri. Producer Glyn Dearman.
By Frederick Bradnum. A youngster turns the tables on evil-minded adults. 5 March 88; recorded 5 Nov 87.
Producer: Graham Gauld. With
Paul Gregory ,
Alexander John ,
Karen Archer ,
John Gray ,
Steven Harrold ,
Julie Berry ,
Andrea Kealy ,
Avril Clarke ,
Audrey Leybourne ,
Anna Conrich ,
THE ODD BUSINESS AT NARVIK....1988
A strange episode which happened in World War 1, with supernatural overtones,
reputedly based on real events. Interesting, odd play.
see Jim's Review . Radio 3. A harried 99-year-old, pursued by relatives who want to stake their claim to their inheritance....
A senior government
scientist marries a lady who is deemed "unsuitable" by the
authorities - his work is confidential; he designs defence
systems. But how far should his bosses be able to go in matters
affecting his private life?
With Phyllida Nash, George Baker, Garard Green, Brian Smith, Harold
Kasket, Avril Clark. Dir. Graham Gauld.
THE AUTONOMOUS MURDER COMPLEX....1981
With Robert Ellis, Catherine Willmer, Pauline Letts, Francis Jeater,
Bridget Turner, William Nighy. An ex-soldier, only just out of
Northern Ireland, has nightmares. A disturbing alter-ego
emerges from his subconscious, threatening his sanity, and begins
to affect the people around him. Dir. Graham Gauld.
OTHER DAYS AROUND ME....1980
By Frederick Bradnum 1.3.1980. With Cheryl Campbell, William Fox, Pauline Letts, Brian Carroll, Carole Boyd, Eva Stuart, John Bott, Michael McStay. A young woman is found outside the front door of a well-off retired couple; she has lost her memory. Gradually they piece together what has happened. 80m. Producer Jane Morgan.
25 Feb 77, afternoon theatre. With Sarah Golding, Clive Swift, Mary Wimbush.
Afternoon theatre, 11 Jul 77, with Hugh Dickson, Prunella Scales, Monica Grey.
Afternoon theatre, 24 Aug 75; with Sarah Badel, Michael Kitchen. Offbeat love story.
DEGAS CELLINI MING....1975
25 May 75; afternoon theatre. With Norman Shelley, Manning Wilson, Elizabeth Morgan, Kate Coleridge, Denys Hawthorne.
THE YOUNG LADY FROM MIDHURST....1974
R3, Sat 12 Oct 1974; 10:40 p.m. On Thursday 17th June 1875, a Miss Dickinson claimed to have been indecently assaulted in a compartment she shared with an army officer on the Petersfield to Waterloo train. The accused, Colonel Baker, was a man of some wealth and distinction. As to what happened on that train on that journey we have only the sworn testimony of Miss Dickinson, given at the trial of Colonel Baker, for Baker was never asked for his version, and it is possible that the real truth was never told - or wasn't at the time. What were the true facts of the incident? Frederick Bradnum suggests a possible solution.
With Nigel Davenport [Colonel Valentine Baker], Maria Aiken [Kate Rebecca Dickinson], and Rolf Lefebvre [The Narrator]. Other parts were played by John Bull, Michael Deacon, Paul Gaymon, Stephen Thorne, and David Timson.
Produced by John Tydeman.
A later production was broadcast on Radio 3 on Wednesday 12th November 1980 with the following cast and director:
Geoffrey Palmer [Colonel Valentine Baker], Emily Richard [Kate Rebecca Dickinson / Mrs. Enigma], Frederick Bradnum [The Narrator], Alexander John [The Reverend Brown / Judge], Michael Spice [Sergeant Atter / Gent], Graham Faulkner [Guard / Counsel], Brian Haines [Porter / D.C.C], Martin Friend [Passenger / Gent], and John Bott [Chairman / Gent]. Directed by Jane Morgan.
THE WOODEN SHEPHERDESS....1974
11 Mar 74. The second volume of the novel The Human Predicament by Richard
Hughes, upon which Frederick Bradnum has based his play. Michael Hordern is narrator.
'The Human Predicament is conceived as a long historical novel
of my own times culminating in the Second World War. The
fictitious characters in the foreground are wholly fictitious. The
historical characters and events are as accurately historical as I
can make them.' (Richard Hughes) Set in 1924-34.
Mary Wadamy - Elizabeth Weaver,
Gilbert Wadamy, MP - David Sinclair,
Augustine Penry-Herbert - John Rye,
Polly Wadamy - Julie Hallam,
Ludovic Corcos - Timothy Bateson,
Jeremy Dibden - David Timson,
Joan Dibden - Sandra Clark,
Janey - Elizabeth Revill.
Adolf Hitler- Haydn Jones,
Baron Walther von Kessen - David March,
Prioress - Betty Huntley-Wright,
Mitzi von Kessen - Denise Bryer,
Col Otto von Kessen - Brian Haines,
Franz von Kessen - Stephen Thorne,
Dr Reinhold Steuckel - David March,
Count Arno Lepowski - Brian Haines,
Gell - Diana Olsson,
Captain Rohm - Vernon Joyner.
Producer - Charles Lefeaux.
By Frederick Bradnum, Home Service, 8 Jan 62. 90m. A peculiar convoluted play about an Eastern European wife whose husband and family attract the attention of spies during the Cold War. With Stephen Murray, Muriel Pavlo, David Palmer, Nadine Hanwell, Paul Hansard, Will Leighton, Griselda Hervey, Anthony Vickers, Nigel Anthony, Philip Morant, Julian Summers, Wilfrid Babbage, Donald mcKillock, John Pullen, Kenneth Dight(sp?), Andrew Irvine. Producer Archie Campbell. My attention wandered; it's not Bradnum's best play, but interesting nevertheless.
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