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.

Barry Pike

The Heiress(Goetz)(dram)Home 20.9.1952
Danger (Producer) 30mHome 1953/4
Mr. Goodjohn & Mr. BadjackThird c1958
HedgehogHome 2.10.61 w. Stephen Murray
The FistHome 26.1.1963
Pennicote's TruthHome 13.8.1966
Goose with PepperR4 17.9.72
The RecruiterR4 9.9.1973
The Wooden ShepherdessR4 17.3.1974
A Dead Man on LeaveR4 8.9.1974
The Young Lady from MidhurstR3 12.10.1974
The General of the Dead ArmyR4 20.10.1974
Degas Cellini MingR4 25.5.1975
Springers EnglandR4 5.7.1976
Craven's StoneR4 25.2.1977
CreepersR4 2.4.1977
VivietteR4 17.7.1977
The Girl Who Didn't Want To Be....R4 16.9.1978 rpt 26.1.80
Goose with PepperR4 8.4.1979
Viviette/Thomas HardyR4 18.2.79
Other Days Around MeR4 1.3.1980
The man who lived among EskimosR4 22.2.1981
Cirrhosis ParkR4 3.5.81
The Autonomous Murder ComplexR4 5.12.1981
I did it exceptionally wellR4 27.2.1983
ComradesR4 18.12.83
The Bishop's WifeR4 04.06.1985
Game Of ChanceR4 27.7.1985
DeceptionsR4 28.10.1985
Death Of Robert de CerilleyR4 10.5.1986
You are not alone in the houseR4
Death DutiesR3 20.10.87
The odd business at NarvikR4 2.7.88
Dead Treasure R4 5.3.1988
The Old Pals Act R4 10.6.1989
A Secret JourneyR4 09.09.1990
One Way Or Another, dramR4 18.06.1991
Roland's AfterlifeR4 25.1.1992
Mother! or The Unwise SonR4 20.05.1992
What become of Peter Wish?R4 03.09.1992
The Terraced HouseR4 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)


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 John Baddeley, Paul Gregory , Alexander John , Karen Archer , John Gray , Steven Harrold , Julie Berry , Andrea Kealy , Avril Clarke , Audrey Leybourne , Anna Conrich , Mollie Weir.

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.

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.

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.

25 May 75; afternoon theatre. With Norman Shelley, Manning Wilson, Elizabeth Morgan, Kate Coleridge, Denys Hawthorne.

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.

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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