JENNIFER PHILLIPS RADIO PLAYS
Jennifer Phillips is a prolific writer for radio and has written seven plays for theatre. She also writes for television. The following is a listing of her radio plays in approximate order of broadcast; BBC unless stated otherwise. Her other work is shown lower down the page.
??.??.68... Fault on the Line*
03.10.69 The trouble with you, Lilian (2 series 6 x 30 - Beryl Reid and Pat Hayes)
25.07.69 Stone Boy* 45m
27.02.72 Arms and Legs 60m
21.01.75 The fixed smile 35m
date nk...Two Plays for Arms and Legs
date nk... Tired with killing Harry (CBC)
date nk... Past Appearances
20.08.75 Birdman 30m
20.10.75 The Antique Baby
date nk... The camera always lies
13.03.76 Your tiny hand is frozen 30m
date nk... Henry enjoying himself*
07.03.77 Blow your house in*
05.08.77 Venus at the seaside 30m
date nk... Three piece suite (co-written with Jill Hyem; 6 x 30m)
date nk... Miss Lambert's Last Dance* (Capital Radio)
01.05.78 Daughters of Men* - Monday play
06.03.79 The camera often lies 30m
13.02.79 Past appearances* 30m
28.04.80 A very nuclear family*
01.10.80 The joy of the worm*
31.08.87 The glass extension 75m
03.11.87 Miss Lamb to the slaughter 30m
10.07.90 Going down backwards* 30m
19.04.91 Radio Cars series 1 (6 x 30m)*
04.11.93 Radio Cars series 2 (6 x 30m)*
date nk... Radio Cars: A Ball of Fun*, Xmas Special
06.06.94 Secret life of my Aunt Fanny* 75m
27.05.00 A far cry from Kensington* (Muriel Spark, dram. JP); Saturday play
*exist in collections within VRPCC
The Backhanded Kiss (Phoenix Theatre, Leicester)
Bodywork (Phoenix Theatre, Leicester and Hampstead Theatre)
Instrument for Love (Almost Free Theatre)
The Antique Baby (Haymarket Theatre, Leicester)
Daughters of Men (Hampstead Theatre)
The Canonization of Suzie (Soho Poly Theatre)
Four Door Saloon (Hampstead Theatre)
View by Appointment (BBC),
Wink to Me Only (BBC, own series),
The Trouble with You Lilian (London Weekend, own series).
Daughters of Men (Methuen)
Bombshell (W.H.Allen & BCA)
In addition to the above, Jennifer has written short stories, sketches and other novels under a variety of names. She worked exclusively on her own original material until dramatising 'A Far Cry from Kensington' by Muriel Sparke for the BBC in 2000. She is currently working on a novel.
NOTES ON SOME OF THE RADIO PLAYS
FAULT ON THE LINE....1968
This was Jennifer's first play produced in any medium and formed the basis of THE TROUBLE WITH YOU, LILIAN series being recorded as episode 1 a year later. It won the Writer's Guild Award for Best Comedy Script of its year.
THE TROUBLE WITH YOU, LILIAN....1969
Two series; the storyline concerns two elderly friends, Madge (Beryl Reid) and Lilian (Patricia Hayes), who, by dint of their dark imaginings, transform their uneventful lives into roller coaster rides of high drama. One episode (The Presence) has been found so far, in addition to the original "Fault on the Line"..
The series started a long association with Beryl Reid, a good example of which is "Miss Lambert's Last Dance" (see below).
In the words of the announcer: "in this play, Jennifer Phillips explores new country, and through the silent agency of a boy, lays bare the fantasies and concealed violence of a young couple's relationship in a play of telescoped time". With James Bolam, Barbara Mitchell, Hayden Jones, Hector Ross, Kathleen Helme. Produced by Charles Lefaux. 45m.
ND: .... radio-3 type play; a searching look at a relationship, where we hear more thoughts than dialogue.
THE ANTIQUE BABY....1975
I heard this as a student; it struck me at the time as a fairly miserable social story, but perhaps I was having a bad day.
Would be interesting to hear it again now. No other details available at present.
YOUR TINY HAND IS FROZEN, VENUS AT THE SEASIDE, THE CAMERA OFTEN LIES and PAST APPEARANCES formed a quartet of plays about the bitter sweet relationship of two erstwhile opera singers now scratching a living as a singing duo in clubs and seedy summer shows, their bickering often interrupted by the romantic lyrics of their performance onstage.
MISS LAMBERT'S LAST DANCE....1977
Written especially for Beryl Reid; commissioned by Tony Cornish as the opening play of Capital Radio's first season of drama.
For years Miss Lambert (Beryl Reid) has thumped out the piano accompaniments at the ballet and tap classes of a 'School of Dance' but this year's show is to be her last. As Miss Antoinette, the ballet mistress (Anne Stallybrass), struggles to impose a sense of order backstage the mothers' nerves as they dress their little darlings are not helped by Miss lambert being late. The bottle of brandy intended (along with the floral bouquet) to be presented to Miss Lambert to mark her retirement at the end of the show is opened at the beginning - to help revive her after her depressing journey. The level of the brandy in the bottle drops as Miss Lambert's spirits rise and her piano playing becomes more and more erratic as the show progresses but even Miss Antoinette is unprepared for the finale.
BLOW YOUR HOUSE IN....1977
- concerns the classic 'chain' of house sales and purchases with three couples in very different social circumstances. The overall business of the deals is being carefully orchestrated by one estate agent. Mr. Hassel (Alfred Marks) takes a pride in his professionalism and the smoothness of his sales patter. His private life has its satisfactions too: he is a star of the local operatic society and currently rehearsing the role of Nankipoo in the Mikado - so it is not surprising that Gilbert and Sullivan exert an influence on the proceedings, with Mr. Hassel only finally losing his grip when the couples in the chain make friends and take control. With Tobie Robins, Christopher Good, Pat Gallimore, Patsy Byrne, Malcolm Hayes, Peter Craise, Petra Markham; piano played by Martin Goldstein - mainly G&S fragments. Producer Richard Wortley.
DAUGHTERS OF MEN....1978
......Jennifer Phillips....that total English rarity, a female comic dramatist with talent (Morley, Punch).
THE JOY OF THE WORM....1980
This is the true story of the character who appears briefly with the asp hidden in a basket of figs in the final scene of Shakespeare's "Anthony and Cleopatra". Usually referred to as 'Fool' in Shakespeare's cast list his name is Necco, a henpecked peasant, who is even more frightened of snakes than he is of his wife. He takes the easy option and steals one from a snake charmer without realizing that it will have had its poison fangs removed. Luckily for the course of history, this snake escapes and he has to trap a wild one.
By now his wife has worked out that Cleopatra is going to use the snake to kill Caesar. This will make Necco the Saviour of Egypt. Impressed by this idea, he rehearses what he will say to the Queen 'I wish you joy o' the worm' - it would make light of his courage and stick in her mind so she won't forget him when she's celebrating afterwards (A lot of research went into this one to make the domestic detail as authentic as possible).
A VERY NUCLEAR FAMILY....1980
With Prunella Scales, Rod Beacham, Glynis Brooks, James Warwick. Produced by Liane Aukin.
GOING DOWN BACKWARDS....1990
....the play showed that, contrary to received opinion, women not only possess a sense of humour but use it to illuminate. This kind of comedy is too rare to let slip. (Gillian Reynolds, Daily Telegraph). Thirty Minute Theatre with Beryl Reid and Brenda Bruce.
RADIO CARS....1991 and 1993
19.4.91 series 1 (6? x 30m)*: dodgy business, tasty motor, heavy night, long time dead, moving target
4.11.93 series 2 (6? x 30m)*: wide boy, an equal match, a nasty crunch, a tidy sum
Christmas special, 1993*: A ball of fun, 45m.
By Jennifer Phillipps. An outstanding collection of light comedy-dramas set in the world of a dodgy minicab
company. The ongoing plot is that a well-off young lady has inherited the company, full of ne'er-do-wells
operating on the fringes of the law. She's expected to sell it as a going concern. However, she ends up
running it, along with Ed, the guy on the telephones, who also tries to get off with her. The writing is
very sharp and the plots excellent, and like all the best comedies, these can be heard over and over again.
There's not a weak moment. Gary Waldhorn plays Ed; director Richard Wortley.
.....Jennifer Phillips gave me humorous casting
opportunities, especially with her wryly comic series, "Radio
Cars", first off the block before television produced a similar
setting. Jennifer, with her insider knowledge of genially crooked
minicab drivers, gave me a platform for the neat comedy timing by
the likes of Harriet Walter, Gary Waldhorn and Neil Dudgeon.......
(from Richard Wortley, "Some Reflections of a Lifetime in Radio", Diversity website, 2005.)
....Part of the fun is the way Jennifer Phillips gets you right to the heart of a scene , no messing, and has you laughing before you realise what is going on. It moves fast, rings true, and feels sure about where it is taking you..... (Gillian Reynolds, Daily Telegraph)
A FAR CRY FROM KENSINGTON....2000
By Muriel Spark, dramatised by Jennifer Phillips. A witty slice
of 50s London is evoked by the eccentric and engaging occupants of
a rooming house near South Kensington station, and the charming
gentlemen and ladies of the shabby but genteel world of publishing.
With Celia Imrie, Sorcha Cusack and Bill Wallis. Directed by
Viv Beeby. (...BBC publicity)
(This play was repeated in the classic serial slot a year
later: 26 Aug 01.)
PRESS COMMENT ON SOME OF THE STAGE PLAYS
FOUR DOOR SALOON
She draws her characters with a scalpel, but never for a moment loses the true playwright's clear-sighted objectivity. The piece is splendidly funny, frightening and enthralling drama. (Tinker, Daily Mail)
INSTRUMENT FOR LOVE
'A writer with at least a dash of Jane Austen's acute and needling femininity'. (Barber, Daily Telegraph)
'A highly original play. Jennifer Phillips has written a tender comedy about the relationship between two women and the devil can take the rest of us.' (Frame, Evening News)
THE CANONIZATION OF SUZIE
'Jennifer Phillips' brisk comedy takes well-aimed pot shots at Life's theoreticians. Far and away the best in London.' (McFerran, Time Out)
'Backhanded Kiss' is unremittingly funny, a kind of transcendental farce. (Critchley, The Guardian)
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