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Rod Beacham Radio Plays

Rod Beacham, actor and playwright.... this page contains a piece about Rod's radio plays written by Barry Pike, a listing of those which have been broadcast by the BBC, and finally a few notes about individual plays, with cast lists where known.

Rod Beacham's Radio Plays, by Barry Pike
Rod Beacham was well-known as a radio actor for some years-he's in some of the Maurice Denham MAIGRET series - but he also deserves to be remembered as a rewarding radio dramatist. Between 1977 and 1994 he wrote around fifteen plays for BBC radio, including a number for "Saturday Night Theatre". His first play, SUNDAY VOICES, was broadcast in November 1977 and his last, THE KISS, in March 1994. He is now best remembered for the series of intelligent thrillers he wrote for "Saturday Night Theatre".

Of these, we know five: THE HUBRIS FILE (1982); THE GORTYS TRIANGLE (1983); THE INTER-CITY CONTRACT (1985); THE SLEEPERS OF FALLOW'S CROSS (1986); and PRINCE OF THIEVES (1987). Also preserved (within VRPCC) are FRAME OF DEFERENCE (1981) , a science fiction spoof, and a half-hour play HAVE A NICE DAY (1992).

THE HUBRIS FILE concerns the disappearance of a junior member of the government, whose personal diary is sent by post to Intelligence. His political ambitions have left him no time for his wife, who leaves him for another man; also, he appears to be on the track of a double agent. Despite his disappearance, he figures in the play by way of a series of flashbacks arising from the diary. It's a clever piece fof work, ingenious and absorbing.

THE GORTYS TRIANGLE is set on Crete, where a young man has drowned in unresolved circumstances. His visiting cousin, an archaeologist, acts as catalyst to the subsequent action, pushing and probling so that the truth of the young man's death eventually emerges. David March is in great form as the Greek policeman involved.

THE SLEEPERS OF FALLOW'S CROSS is an Intelligence thriller set at a high-level clinic for mental disorders. The potential for abuse of the clinical procedures forms the spring for the action, which twists and turns most gratifyingly. But who are the sleepers? Mr. Beacham lets us know that only when he is ready to tell us.

THE INTER-CITY CONTRACT is perhaps the best of these plays, a cracking contribution to that most alluring of sub-genres, mysteries set on trains. On board the London-Edinburgh sleeper are a richly varied group, both passengers and crew proving capable of springing surprises. Among those present are a hired killer and his intended victim, but neither is identified until the moment is ripe. There are some grand performances, notable from Margot Boyd as a septuagenarian mountaineer, Steve Hodson as a self-possessed smoothie, and Alan Downer as the irascible Welsh steward. It is all quite marvellous and nothing done on radio 4 nowadays comes within a mile of it.

PRINCE OF THIEVES is a light-hearted thriller rather in the vein of THE LADYKILLERS and the TV series PORRIDGE (though most of the action takes place outside the prison in which the play opens). Peter Vaughan presents to the life the sly and self-regarding Prince, the criminal mastermind of a successful plan to steal 3M in gold bullion. He's akin to Ronnie Barker's TV character, but, in the end, much more unpleasant. This doesn't disturb the comic balance of the play, which is consistently enjoyable and has the advantage of not only Peter Vaughan's performance but also a bravura display of uninhibited eccentricity by June Tobin, as the gang's reluctant landlady.

Barry Pike

THE RADIO PLAYS:

??.11.77 Sunday Voices
14.05.79 The Sun is Bleeding*
22.03.80 Go Down In Darkness
27.04.80 The Last Dirty Man*
21.05.81 Disconnection*
12.09.81 Frame Of Deference*
31.07.82 The Hubris File*
30.07.83 The Gortys Triangle*
27.04.85 The Inter-City Contract*
21.09.85 Thanks For Looking After Jeannie
15.02.86 The Sleepers Of Fallow 's Cross*
21.02.87 Prince Of Thieves*
14.04.92 Have a nice day*
1994: The Kiss*

*known to exist in collections within VRPCC

NOTES

THE KISS....1994
A rather odd play where a young man tries to sign up an elderly, arrogant actor for a part. The resolution is not what anyone expected, and there is a futher twist at the end. About 30m; probably Thirty Minute Theatre.

Prince of Thieves....1987
Another memorable comedy play...Mr. Prince has just come out of jail and is planning another Big Crime ... . with the aid of his two ex- cronies and a nutty academic, a genius who can open electronic locks including the ones in security vaults - unfortunately he sees himself as an avenging angel where his wife is concerned...Stephen Moore is Prof. Pargetter, Peter Vaughan is Jack Prince, and his long-suffering henchmen are played by Alan Thompson (Worm) and Trevor Nichols (Cruncher). ND,articles page

Inter-City Contract....1985 This is an "enclosed environment" thriller, set on the overnight express sleeper to Edinburgh. It introduced me to my two favourite 'radio actors', Melinda Walker and Steve Hodson. A mixture of whoduunit and whydunnit, it has a glorious "over the top" performance from the delightful Margot Boyd as the archetypical explorer and round-the-world woman and first-rate 'blue stocking'.. A cracker of a play. (Donald Campbell, VRPCC newsletter)

THE SUN IS BLEEDING....1979
With Steve Hodson, Manning Wilson and Elizabeth Bell. Produced by David Spenser.14 May 79, Monday Play, rpt. 20 May 79, afternoon theatre. In an ancient kingdom, priests and soldiers pursue a witch through a foggy marsh. Later on, twelve beautiful girls are lined up for the summer solstice. One of them is to be sacrificed to the Sun God.

Cast List:
Young Priest...........................Steve Hodson
Old Priest...........................Manning Wilson
Wild Woman...........................Elizabeth Bell
First Villager..........................Rod Beacham
Rhya...................................Heather Bell
Bran..................................Andrew Branch
Old Woman...............................Margot Boyd
Shura.................................Debby Cumming
Second Villager.......................William Eedle
Gloin................................Michael Goldie
Liril....................................Josie Kidd
Alys.................................Hilda Kriseman
Ranald............................Geoffrey Matthews

compiled from information supplied by Roger Bickerton

Nigel Deacon / Diversity Website

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