JILL HYEM RADIO PLAYS
Jill Hyem was former Chair of the Radio Committee
of the Writers' Guild of Great Britain. She has a very long list
of radio credits, and has also written for television; some of
her titles are known to everyone, not just radio buffs - "Tenko", for
example, and "Waggoners' Walk".
Jill's own website is at: www.jillhyem.co.uk
Note from Jill to ND, 'Diversity'.....:
......At my first meeting with a radio drama editor in the 1960s I was told, "Never write a play with more than one or two women in the cast. They always catch each other's tone." As a young actress that was a red rag to a bull. From then on my plays had mainly female casts. It was this body of work for women that led to my being asked to co-write the TV series "Tenko".
Radio has always been my favourite medium. It combines the intimacy of the novel with the freedom of film. Above all, it requires the creative participation of the listener. Their imagination is challenged just as the writer's is.
Over the years radio allowed me an enormous variety of work. I was not typecast as in TV. In radio I could write for the daily serial as well as plays of all types - suspense, horror, comedy, human interest, social drama.
I have been lucky enough to work mainly with excellent producers - Jane Morgan, Kay Patrick and, more recently, Cherry Cookson. All three value their writers.
Alas, the current system of commissioning means that the decision-making processes are lengthy and increasingly remote from the writer. If an idea does somehow filter through, one is no longer able to write on the crest of enthusiasm. All the same it is still the main source of original drama and, as such, must be cherished.
A list of Jill's radio work is shown below:
|sketches for "Mon. Night at Home" || pre 1963
|Better than Nowhere. || 1963, 60m
|Parrot Fashion. || 1964,15m,JBM
|Out of Step. || 1964,15m,JBM
|Jackpot || 1964,15m,JBM
|Jigsaw || 1964,15m,JBM
|A Foot in the Door|| 1965,30m
|The Dales (with Alan Downer)|| until 1969
|Once Bitten || 1966,60m
|Third Girl Wanted || 1967,30m
|Evening Out || 1967,30m
|Dear Girls (serial,w.Andrew Sachs) ||1968
|The Ropewalk (with Alan Downer)|| 1969,90m
| Waggoners Walk (w. Alan Downer)|| 1969-1979
|The Winds of Heaven (M.Dickens)|| 1971,90m
|Kate & Emma (M.Dickens) || 1972,90m x 2
|A Shape like Piccadilly || 1971,60m
|Swap || 1972,45m
|Recess || 1973
|Equal Terms || 1973
| Bang,Bang-You're Dead(M.Spark)|| 1974,45m
|Thank You || 1974
|Now She Laughs,Now She Cries ||1975,90m
|Dog in a Manger || 1976,45m
|Blight || 1977,90m
|Remember Me (Giles Cooper award) ||1978,90m
|Look at Mr. Punch|| 1979,60m
|Buzz || 1979,15m,JBM
|Footsteps || 1979,15m,JBM
|Tick Tock || 1979,15m,JBM
|Marking Time || 1980,30m
|Look at Mr. Punch || 1980
|A Case to be Answered || 1981,90m
|Three Piece Sweet (w.J.Phillips) ||1982,30m x 3
|Origami (Spine Chillers series) ||1983,45m
|Humanisation of George Mayhew ||1984,45m
|Where are you,Juliet?(R.Timperley)|| 1987,90m
|The Years Between (D. du Maurier) ||1995,90m
|Death Drop (B.M.Gill) `|| 1996,90m
|No signposts in the sea (V.S-West) ||1998,45m
|Past Refrain || 1999,60m
|Life Sentence || 2001,45m
|The Mind's Eye || 2002,45m, rpt.2004
|The Road to Lichfield (P.Lively) ||2002,45m
|Down, down, down you go ||2005,45m
(JBM=Just Before Midnight)
Information supplied by Jill Hyem.
one or two of the early plays are missing from VRPCC;
see LOST PLAYS page for details.
NOTES ON SOME OF THE PLAYS
A SHAPE LIKE PICCADILLY....1966
A girl working in a library strikes up a friendship with a young man she meets during her lunch hour. Gradually it transpires that he cannot read. She decides to take a hand. Anne Stallybrass, Nigel Anthony. 60m.
THE ROPEWALK 1969 90m
This is an interesting play for those with long memories, because it
was a try-out for "Waggoner's Walk". It's set in a lodging house, and
tells of the people who live there. It uses the same
theme music as "WW" too... with Patricia Gallimore as Heather Benfield,
Anthony Hall as Fred Scruff, Rosemary Francombe as Lynn Dixon, Lynda
Gardner as her sister. Also stars Lockwood West, Joan Miller, Barry
McCarthy, Michael Spice, Leslie Dwyer, Hazel Copham, Peter Williams,
Peter Baldwin, Brian Haynes, Alan Cotter. Produced by Keith Williams.
This is what Radio Times said:..."The Ropewalk is a
stout Victorian house, long since converted into flats, situated in a part of
London where there is always a fair amount of comings and goings.
The play covers the lives of the inhabitants over one weekend - and,
most particularly, one coming and one going".
Chris Gutteridge (Oct 03) adds the following
"I'd wanted to hear this play ever since I learned of
its existence, which must have been about ten years after Waggoners
Walk was taken off.
I've just returned to 2003 after ninety minutes back in the Belsize
Park of 1969. The same vividness and intensity I remember feeling,
when listening to the daily serial version, came right back. A listener to The Rope
Walk today, senses dulled with exposure to sex and violence in films
and on TV, would doubtless find it tame, but in 1969 the world it
presented to the average Home Service listener must have seemed
shockingly cosmopolitan, with its anti-Vietnam demo, its lonely
girl from the North, prepared to offer her virginity to a stranger
in squalid bedsit, and its bouncer from a Soho clip joint, where a
young prostitute dies of a heroin overdose. Much nearer to Play for
Today than the cosy world of Mrs Dale and her pristine china tea
So many interesting things about the production too: the setting is
almost identical to the serial; the only major differences are the
name changes for the house (which interestingly doesn't have a street
name in the play), and the new flatmate, who becomes Barbara in the
serial, rather than Heather. Different actresses too for the three girls in the top flat, but all sounding identical in the play to the women who played them in the serial. Peter Tyson in the play was played by Michael Spice, who actually played Lynn's second husband in the serial (Matt Prior) , rather than Peter.
But away with my anorak. These are things that have lain unconsidered
for many years now. I still miss Waggoners Walk, but listen to the
Archers still..." Many thanks, Chris, for this contribution)
EQUAL TERMS 1973 30m
It's difficult to have a proper conversation with a person who
occupies the moral high ground; or, if you're a patient with depression,
by a person who's not had a breakdown. But there are ways of evening
the score. With Sylvia Sims as Mary Jessop, Ann Linn as Imogen Drew.
Directed by Jane Morgan.
Afternoon play; two female characters, 45 minutes, social story.
Regrettably no cast list on the recording.
BANG, BANG, YOU'RE DEAD....1974
- A short story by Muriel Spark. Adapted by
Jill Hyem. Produced by Betty Davies: When they were children,
Sybil & Desiree had looked alike. As grown women there was still
something - if you looked at Desiree quickly you might mistake her
for Sybil. But only for a moment. They weren't really alike at all.....
R4 25-Sep-1974. Cast List : Christine Finn, Jill Bennett Ella, Betty
Huntley-Wright , Elizabeth Morgan, Alan Dudley, David Timson, Grizelda
Harvey, Hector Ross, Carole Boyd, John Rye, Sean Arnold, Peter
NOW SHE LAUGHS, NOW SHE CRIES....1975, 90m.
A ground-breaking piece at the time. A wife leaves her husband to live with another woman.
The play examines their relationship and society's attitude to lesbianism. It received much praise both from listeners and critics, although the BBC cancelled the afternoon repeat "in case of offence". Their action prompted much protest, not only from gay women but from many listeners, including a vicar who called it "a wonderful play about love."
With Angela Pleasance as
Carol, Penelope Lee as Leah. Also stars Patricia Leaventon, Paul
Chapman, Jill Brooke, Leanne Orchin, Barry Shaw, Sheila Wilcocks,
Diana Robson, John Bull, Terry Gilliam, Paul Gaimann and Stephen
Thorne. Produced by Jane Graham.
DOG IN A MANGER 1976
Amusing play about a husband who doesn't know when he's well off.
He wants to leave his wife because he's bored. Unknown to him, so is
she...it's the dog which brings matters to a head. And his wife's
friend adopts a strategy which doesn't work out as intended. With
Basil Moss as George, Richard Coleman as Rowley, Judy Cornwall as
June Norma Ronald as Fenella. Percy Edwards plays Basil the dog...
Produced by Kay Patrick.
Producer: Kay Patrick R4 6-Aug-1977 : With Ruth Goring, David Markham,
Grizelda Harvey, Betty Baskcomb, Betty Hardy, Sheelah Wilcocks, Margot
Boyd, William Eedle, Roy Spencer, Gudrun Ure, Irene Sutcliffe, Joanna
Wake, Michael Goldie, Cherie McAuliffe, Anne Rosenfeld.
REMEMBER ME 1978 90m
This is the ultimate revenge play, pushing even Nick Fisher's
"Turning of the Tide" into second place. A woman who
rents out rooms entertains some guests... it's only after
some odd coincidences that her plan, and the reasons for it, are
revealed...we slowly realise that she is mad.. Her revenge does not work out in the way
she expected, but there's
no doubt that it is complete. With Jill Balcon as Thelma, Julian
Glover as Paul, Sarah Badell as Margot; also starring Peter Tuddenham,
Pauline Letts, Margot Boyd and Rowene Roberts. SM Carol McShane.
Directed by Kay Patrick.
LOOK AT MR. PUNCH 1979
I think Jill would admit that this is not a nice play. The subject
matter is grim. A happy couple with two young children are watching a
Punch and Judy show. Father wanders off, and mother goes to buy some
ice creams...that's when things start to go wrong. With Robert Lindsey
as the adult Philip, Ben Savrille as young Philip, Barbara Flynne as
Susan, Brigit Forsyth as Carol, and Michael Spice as Tom. Also starring
Sally Gibson, James Tomlinson, Victoria Hardcastle, Wilf Durham. Directed
in Manchester by Kay Patrick.
MARKING TIME 1980 30m
A rather sad story about an elderly teacher. He was an excellent
Classics master, but the subject faded away, as did his enthusiasm
for what replaced it. With Richard Hurndall as Mr. Crabtree, Georgina
Anderson as his sister, Michael Spice as the headmaster, with the
children of St. Barnabas & St. Philip's Primary School. Directed by
A CASE TO BE ANSWERED 1981 90m
A play about a man with a past. A young couple and the relationship
between them......it changes when the woman bumps into a down-and-
out. With Clive Francis, Mary Wimbush and Sue Wallace; dir. Kay Patrick.
ORIGAMI 1983 45m
A Japanese businessman lodges with a woman and her son. But after
he arrives, the child has disturbing dreams, and a figure from the
past turns the Origami lessons into something more menacing. With
Sean Barratt as Mr. Shimoja, Carole Boyd as Helen Bestall, with
Christopher Scoular, Helen Worth, Kate Lee. Directed by Kay Patrick.
THE HUMANISATION OF GEORGE MAYHEW 1984 60m
A light-hearted play; George Mayhew is a busy middle-aged bachelor
with a finger in nearly every pie and a seat on every committee. Then his path
crosses that of Ellie ... his life veers wildly off course,
and he becomes a little more human. With John Rowe as Mayhew, Moir
Leslie as Ellie, John Hollis as Reg; also stars Danny Schiller and
William Hope; directed by Kay Patrick.
WHERE ARE YOU, JULIET? 1987 90m
A woman moves into rented rooms... but the previous occupant doesn't
seem to have moved out; at least, not fully....with Julie Berry as
Rowena and Juliet, Sheila Grant as Juliet's mother, Hannah Lavender
as her daughter. Also stars Linda Gardiner, Seeta Indrani, Sean
Barratt, Frank Morey, Graham Kirk, Edward de Sousa, Jonathan Tafler,
James Quinn, Joan Campion. Directed in Manchester by Kay Patrick.
THE YEARS BETWEEN.....1995
by Daphne du Maurier, dramatised by Jill Hyem.
When her MP husband is reported killed in action, Diana Wentworth
rebuilds her life and takes over his seat. Then he returns. With
Diana Quick, Roger Allam, David Collings, Frederick Treves, Peter
England, Tessa Worsley, Michael Tudor Barnes, Derek Waring. Produced
by Cherry Cookson. R4 13-May-1995.
PAST REFRAIN 2000 60m
----Past Refrain (R4 8 Sep 00, 8pm) by Jill Hyem was a rather
frightening play about Lara who hears a foreign nursery tune on
the car radio, and is terrified by it. There follows a careful
investigation of her past to find the cause. There was an impressive
cast, including Ben Crowe and Mary Wimbush; Cherry Cookson directed.
(VRPCC newsletter, Dec 00)
LIFE SENTENCE 2001 45m
A child murderess is about to be released after 14 years in prison. In a series of linked monologues we see how she has affected the lives of five women for whom her action has also meant a life sentence, They are her sister, a warderess, a prison governor, her best friend and the victim's mother. Her release triggers off deep feelings in all of them, and for one a determination to take revenge.
A theatre version was subsequently performed.
Steadman as the mother, Maureen Beatty as the warder; also stars
Honeysuckle Weekes, Irene Sutcliffe, Janice Aqua, Philip Joseph.
Directed by Cherry Cookson.
THE ROAD TO LICHFIELD 2002 45m
An excellent story about love and how our perceptions of it
change as we get older.
An ordinary middle-aged man, happy in his marriage, meets a sympathetic
lady whilst she is visiting her dying mother. They have a lot in
one thing leads to another...I was reminded of "Brief Encounter",
except that this is more believable. The affair develops slowly and
sympathetically; the ending is gentle and under-
stated. A dramatisation which works well in spite of being crammed
into a 45 minute slot (Barry Pike tells me it's a full length novel)
, and well-cast; with Kate Buffery as Anne,
David Troughton as David, Sean Baker as Don, Gerard McDermott. Also
stars Geoffrey Whitehead, Paula Jacobs and Helen Longworth. Directed
by Cherry Cookson.
DOWN, DOWN, DOWN YOU GO....2005
31 Jan 05
A beautiful but lonely part of Dartmoor is the setting
for this psychological thriller about the past
haunting the present as a woman who has been involved
in a sailing accident tries to come to terms with her
feelings of guilt. A creepy tale to put alongside
"Remember Me". With Helen Longworth, Jamie Glover,
Becky Hindley, and Jessica Crossley. Director Cherry
BACKTRACK .... 2007
10 Feb. Begins in a centre for the homeless. Jan is roped in as a volunteer. She comes into contact with a young
down-and-out with whom she becomes almost obsessed. Saturday play. With Maxine Peake, Joseph Kloska, Mark Straker.
Producer Jane Morgan. 55m.
Nigel Deacon / Diversity Website
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