April 2007
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Lots of interesting dramas and other programmes were broadcast in the last quarter, a number of them with a medical or scientific slant.

A new dramatisation of Robert Louis Stevenson's DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE, by Yvonne Antrobus was broadcast as a recent Saturday Play (R4, 1430, 3 Feb 07). Radio drama has come a long way in the last thirty years -just listen to a 70s Afternoon Theatre if you doubt it - and this is the best version I've heard. We had flashback and letters, much as in the original story, excellent casting, and an imaginative script. Dr. Jekyll (and Hyde) was played by Adam Godley, Utterson was David Horovitch, and Enfield was Mark Straker; Claire Grove was the director.

AMBUSHED BY TIME by Kate O'Reilly (rpt, R4, 2102, 26 Jan 07) was an extraordinary piece about acute memory loss. Katrin has lost 20 years of memories, and cannot remember what happened yesterday; when she looks in the mirror each morning she screams in fright as she sees her reflection twenty years older than it should be. Joe, a married man, has lost his recent memories but the process is slowly removing everything else. His wife is dreading the day memories of their marriage disappear; will he still know her? Catherine McCormack and Ronan Vibert were Kartin and Kate; John Taylor and Roland Jaquarello produced and directed.

THE NO. 1 LADIES' DETECTIVE AGENCY, by Alexander McCall-Smith, had another series (R4, 4 episodes, beginning 1415 8 Feb 07). These are wonderful tales, and the characters are well-drawn. Mma Ramotswe eventually finds a way of marrying her reluctant fiance, and all is nicely set up (perhaps) for another series. Claire Benedict plays the lady detective, with Nadine Marshall as her trusty assistant, and Joseph Marcell as the amiable Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni. The director was Kirsty Williams.

The village of Kelstone in Kent was taken as the fictional location of an outbreak of avian 'flu among the human population, caused by a nasty, mutated flu virus capable of killing a man in a few days. There's no antidote. THE INFLUENCE, by Sebastian Baczkiewicz (R4, 1415, 21 Feb 07) took the form of an investigative drama about a village being shut down by the military for health reasons. Jason Merrells was Baxter, the investigative journalist, with Tom Ward and Lucy Akhurst taking leading roles. The director was Steven Canny.

CAESAR, by Mike Walker (Classic Serial, 1502, R4, 3 episodes beginning 25 Feb 07) the final series of "Romans", took the story of Rome's rulers through to the collapse of the Empire in A.D. 475. As the empire began to disintegrate, Victoria Poppea found an opportunity to wield power in spite of being a woman. These plays draw on several sources, including Suetonius and later Roman histories, and are first-rate. A large and varied cast was involved over the three episodes, and Steve Canny directed.

IN FORM - RONDO (R4, 1415, 12 Mar 07) was a drama-documentary of the kind which often doesn't work: a play built around a picture, building, or piece of music, with an expert interrupting periodically to explain how the work is constructed. I was pleasantly surprised; Louise Ramsden had done a seamless job combining David Huckdale's comments on Saint-Saens' Rondo Capriccioso with a romantic comedy about a broken relationship, written in the same form: theme and variations.

Stella, the proprietor of a sandwich bar, jilted by her fiancé, is determined not to cancel the wedding, so she sets off looking for a replacement groom. Her friend fixes her up with a series of disastrous dates, but eventually helps her to find the secret of love – and the perfect sandwich. Miranda Keeling was Stella, with Antonio Gil-Martinez as Carlos. The play also starred David Holt, Dan Crow and Greg Hobbs; Peter Leslie Wild directed.

A companion play going out a week later (R4, 1415, 19 Mar 07), by Tim Jackson, was based around a late Beethoven piano sonata. The musical expert was John Lill, arguably the best pianist in England; more fascinating listening.

Gwyneth Lewis's SUNBATHING IN THE RAIN (R4, 1415, 23 Mar 07) attracted a lot of attention on the BBC messageboard. It was a play about depression, which is experienced by about a third of us at some time in our lives. There is still an attitude in society that it is probably your fault. The play made it clear that if you're medically depressed, it's possible your lifestyle may have caused it; if so, your priorities and attitudes have to change. There's an inspirational checklist of suggestions at the end of the play; it wasn't a drama in the true sense of the word but it was riveting. Siriol Jenkins, Robert Pugh and Hywel Emrys were in the cast, and the director was Kate McCall.

EXPAND THIS, by Mark Lawson, (R4, 1415, 26 Mar 07) was a rather unsettling 45 minutes about the power of the internet. A man is giving a lecture about what happened to his son and daughter, after his daughter was unknowingly photographed performing a sexual act at a party. The photo ends up on a website, Dad's job is affected, and the situation escalates as the picture is duplicated and circulated around the world. And in spite of the consequences, including the breakup of a family and a death, no-one had done anything illegal. I had doubts about it as a radio drama, but it was a reminder about what can happen if the wrong material gets onto the web or, for that matter, into an email. More than one employee has lost his job by making online comments about his boss. Alex Jennings, Haydn Gwynne and Lynne Seymour starred, and the director was Eoin O'Callahagn.

With their pension scheme in collapse and debts mounting up, a husband and wife decide to play the system. That was the plot in GOING FOR BROKE, by Mike Yeaman, (R4, 1415, 28 Mar 07) a comic morality tale for the financially aware - or unaware. Les Dennis and Felicity Montague were Colin and Marion, plotting their own bankrupcy after a trail of carefully planned reckless spending; Toby Swift directed.

DR. FREUD WILL SEE YOU NOW, MR. HITLER, by Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran started with the true incident of young, bed-wetting Adolf being referred to the newly-opened children's psychiatric hospital in Vienna at the time Sigmund Freud was working there. There is no evidence that the two ever met, but the play uses the potential meeting as a way of investigating what made Hitler tick. The cast included Toby Jones as Hitler and Sophie Winkelmann as Freud's daughter Anna. Allan Corduner was the famous doctor, and Peter Kavanagh directed.

There has been another series (6 x 30m) of COUNT ARTHUR STRONG'S RADIO SHOW, ending a couple of weeks ago (R4, 1130, 4 Apr 07), which attracted strong opinions on the BBC messageboard; more comments in favour than against. There is a body of opinion which says that variety is an out-of-date format with nothing going for it. The majority, however, thought Steve Delaney's brand of incompetent dithering irresistibly funny. One person described him as "Harry Worth meets Les Dawson", and it's difficult to find a more accurate summary of his style.

Radio plays are all about conflict; without it, you don't have a story. This was well illustrated in THREE LARGE BEERS, by David Nobbs (R4, 1415, 10 Apr 07); three men separately visit the same Indian restaurant on the third Thursday of every month. They decide to be sociable, and make up a threesome. But it doesn't work out. They gradually realise that ... well, you have to hear the play, but at the heart of their problems lies a woman. This was an excellent comedy; I'm surprised that David Nobbs hasn't done more for radio. Tim McInnerney, James Fleet and Jeremy Swift were the men, and the director was Liz Webb.

Other good things have been THE BRINGER OF PEACE by Martyn Wade (an interesting biography of Gustave Holst, composer of "The Planets"), TWENTY-ONE CONVERSATIONS WITH A HAIRDRESSER, by Carolyn Scott-Jeffs (the relationship of one woman with her stylist over half a lifetime) and JIM AND TONIC, by Dan Jamieson (an informative comic play about whiskey and how it's made). There were also plays by Katie Hims, Shelagh Delaney and Martin Jameson; I missed hearing these but have the recordings.

A feature of recent broadcasting has been the number of programmes discussing global warming, many of them badly-researched and usually missing the point. Tony Benn hit the nail on the head in a recent "Any Questions" when he said that climate change hysteria isn't really about carbon dioxide; it's about politics and money and having to share some of the Earth's resources with those who have less. I was contacted in January by Tom Heap, presenter of the BBC Science programme "Costing the Earth"; he was after information on wind turbines. My experience (I have one on test) is that these are expensive ornaments. His programme hasn't appeared, presumably pre-empted by the government inquiry into them announced last month.

Nigel Deacon / 12 Apr 07

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The period since the last review has been overshadowed by the death of Rodney Wingfield; radio playwright and crime writer, whom I had known since 1994. He was instrumental in setting up the Diversity website, giving valuable help (and contacts) at a stage when I was tempted to give up, and was an interested member of the Vintage Radio Programme Collectors' Circle. He was a hugely talented radio writer and crime novelist, and a warm-hearted man of great integrity.

It's good to see some regular drama on BBC7; the 9.15pm slot often has a good 45-minute play, and during one week in August we had Christopher William Hill writing about the jinx of Tristan and Isolde, Paul B. Davies on Coleridge and spying in Somerset, Maggie Allen's picture of a grieving widow, a horror story by Tony Ramsay and Ray Jenkins's tale of archaeologists stealing Buddhist treasures from lost towns along the Silk Road.

Radio 4 has had a mixed bag including a lot of repeats, which is probably normal for the holiday season. Four of the seven dramas in the week 16-23 June, for example, (afternoons plus the Friday Play) had been broadcast before.

Nick Warburton was Christopher Martin-Jenkins' guest in "View from the Boundary" on Test Match Special, 26 May, at Headingley. Nick talked about radio plays and cricket, and the similarities between them. Cricket can be relatively dull (I have a friend who says it's the one sport which is improved by not being able to see it), but it's punctuated by highlights, and it's these which determine the course of events. Rather like a play.

Nick mentioned that he had a cricket-based play going out on 6 Jul 07, entitled LAWN WARS, about a man who tries to bowl the perfect off-break. The original title (vetoed) was "The one which went on with the arm", but it probably wouldn't be understood by non-cricket fans, so "Lawn Wars" had to do.

RT described it six weeks later as a gentle comedy about relationships, property and cricket. A comment on the BBC messageboard read "Another gem from that ever-reliable writer for radio, Nick Warburton. The performances by Anna Calder-Marshall as Alice, Robert Daws as Rob, and Richard Johnson as Anthony, the wicked brother-in-law, were so spot-on that I had to remind myself that it was just make-believe. It is moving, very funny, and of an almost Monty Python level of eccentricity." Peter Kavanagh was the director.

Nick said at the end of his interview that he's working on a 5 part dramatisation of Luke's gospel.

We have had a Tom Stoppard season to mark the playwright's seventieth birthday, and a re-make of his ALBERT'S BRIDGE (R4, 2102, 29 Jun 07) featured Paul Copley as the philosophy graduate who found the answers to many of life's questions by tackling a job he could never finish despite the calculations of his bumbling civic employers. He floated loftily above others, both mentally and physically, but learns that looking down on others isn't the best way to get on with them. David Hitchinson directed the production.

The next day we had a new radio adaptation, by Stoppard, of ARCADIA, a scintillating play in which present day researchers seek to find the truth about people and events from a former time - in this case, about 200 years earlier.It was broadcast by Radio 3 in the year of its first performance at the National Theatre, 1993. The action displays both past and present, opening in 1808 before switching to the 1990s. The listener learns the truth of both eras, but, predictably, the modern researchers construct a false picture of the past, which gathers sufficient momentum to displace the true one. It juggles notions of literature, Mathematics, landscape gardening and love through the lives of the inhabitants of Sidney Park, Derbyshire. It starred Jason Watkins, Nicola Redmond, Jack Laskey, Jade Williams and Carey Mulligan; the director was Jessica Dromgoole.

A REGENT'S TALE by David Pownall (R4, 1415, 9 Jul 07) concerned the poet, Richard Brinsley Sheridan, well-known as a playwright but also a Member of Parliament and, for a time, a close friend of the Prince of Wales. Having faced his father's refusal, over many years, to give up the throne, the Prince turned to Sheridan for advice. David Pownall suggests what might have happened between the two. The play stars Richard E. Grant as the playwright and Anthony Glennon as the Prince. The cast also included Frances Tomelty as the narrator, whom readers may remember as the SM in Stewart Parker's "Radio Pictures", David Horovitch and Gerard Murphy. Eoin O'Callaghan, who has worked with David Pownall for many years, directed.

A SECOND TO MIDNIGHT (R4, 2102, 13 Jul 07 and 20 Jul 07) was an exciting two-part Friday Play by Andrew Walker and Christopher Reason about the oil industry in Nigeria and some of the conflicts of interest between the indigenous people and those, like us, who use the oil. This play attracted much comment on the BBC messageboard, from drama enthusiasts and energy experts, and was well-received. It had a feel of Saturday Night Theatre about it, with good pacing and plot development over the two episodes. It starred Ian Puleston-Davies, Charlotte Emmerson, Cyril Nyi, Brigit Forsyth ("Thelma" from "The Likely Lads", I recently discovered) and was produced by Gary Brown.

A TWO PIPE PROBLEM (R4, 1415, 23 Jul 07) was Michael Chaplin’s comedy about two old actors who end up in the same retirement home. To quote Moira Petty in "The Stage", 'Richard Briers and Stanley Baxter, having unhappily played opposite each other as Holmes and Watson, lived out the roles for real with much harrumphing after Ken Campbell’s ventriloquist’s doll went missing. Stir in Wendy Richard and Elizabeth Spriggs and you have an acting masterclass.'

A religious comedy with a wonderful title, TONY'S LITTLE SISTER AND THE PARADOX OF MONASTICISM (R4, 1414, 6 Aug 07) was a comic look at St. Anthony, hermit, ascetic and founder of Christian monasticism, told from the viewpoint of his angry little sister and written by Caroline and David Stafford. Anthony lives in a cave and starves hinself into a trance so that he hallucinates devils and believes all kinds of nonsense. He is periodically visited by his sister, who tries to talk sense into him. But in a world which seems to be run by lunatics, who is the fool? Anthony was played by Duncan Preston, Stana was Tim McMullan, and Samantha Spiro was the sister; Marc Beeby was the producer.

THE KERLOGUE (R4, 1415, 8 Aug 07) was a dramatisation by Dermot Bolger of a little-known episode from World War 2. In 1943, 168 injured and shipwrecked German soldiers were rescued by a small Irish cargo ship from the Bay of Biscay in rough weather. When the Kerlogue arrived on the scene, in response to a German warplane which "buzzed" them, there were about three hundred wounded, shot and burned german sailors in the water. The crew began to haul the sailors on board, but many of the men taken out of the sea were found to be dead and had to be slipped back to be replaced by others. That's how it went on, for ten hours. There were fourteen Germans on the eleven-foot long bridge, fifty-seven in the tiny engine room ... eventually the ship could hold no more, and had to head for port, leaving half of the men still in the water facing certain death. The full story can be found on the website www.irishships.com. This was an excellent production; the cast included Frank O'Sullivan, Stephen O'Rourke, Owen Roe and Ronan Wilmot; Gemma McMullen produced.

Mark Shand is the winner of the 2006 biennial Alfred Bradley Award, which commemorates the life and work of the well-known radio producer, and aims to encourage new radio writing talent in the BBC North region. ABIGAIL ADAMS (R4, 1415, 23 Aug 07) is about a misfit teenager who, as she falls from the top of her apartment block, contemplates why she’s turned out how she has – from her beloved linen suit and red trainers to her penchant for strong tea. Abigail was played by Rebecca Ryan, Mum by Siobhan Finneran, and Dad by James Quinn; the director was Justine Potter. Jeremy Howe, judge and Commissioning Editor commented: "Drama on Radio 4 has launched the careers of hundreds of writers - it is a part of what we do. In the last year we have commissioned over 20 first time writers for the Afternoon Play alone. We are delighted to be premiering Mark Shand's delightful, witty, life affirming play ... he is a writer to watch ... the kind of writer Alfred Bradley would have championed." Mark comes from Rochdale and recently completed a diploma in Writing for Performance at the University of Bristol. The runners-up were "The Votes Are In" by Andrew Turner, "Cobwebs" by David Hodgson and "James And Jack" by Mark Griffiths.

SOUND BARRIERS, by Sarah Daniels (R4, 2102, 24 Aug 07) was about a young mother who befriends two of her neighbours and little by little changes their lives. The story emerges through the thoughts of Jenny, a social worker (Caroline Quentin), Ian, the deaf man (Steve Day) and an elderly widow (Patricia Routledge).It wasn't really a play at all, but three skilfully intercut monologues. When writing this review I found to my surprise that Mel, the young woman, was missing from the cast list; then I realised she had no lines at all, my picture of her: beautiful, sad, and in desperate straits, had emerged through the words of everyone else. This was a poignant and moving piece, and the broadcast, a repeat from about a year ago, was well-deserved. Sally Avens directed.

Immediately after the play I heard COSTING THE EARTH: THE WIND RUSH GENERATION (R4, 1502, 31 Aug 07), in which Miriam O'Reilly investigated wind farms. As many scientists know, most of them are delivering virtually no useful power to the Grid, and they are astronomically expensive. They are causing our electricity bills to increase significantly, and they are diverting our attention away from what matters - developing a rational energy policy for this country, which will have to include a significant contribution of nuclear energy. There is no choice about this, unless we want regular power cuts and Third World status.

The programme obviously touched raw nerves, including those of politicians; there was a half-page spread about it in the Daily Telegraph the next day. Tom Heap's expose of domestic wind turbines, mentioned in the last review, still hasn't been aired; perhaps the plug has been pulled whilst the government decides what 'spin' to put on the wind turbine fiasco.

Back to drama ... a year after the death of her boyfriend, a young woman drives down to Devon to scatter his ashes. In QUINTESSENCE, by Rachel Joyce (R4, 1415, 31 Aug 07), it quickly becomes clear that Faith also wants to take her own life. She stops at five service stations on the way, and at each she meets a retired angel who tries to help her. The angels were played by Trevor Peacock, Trevor Martin, Thelma Barlow, Geoffrey Beevers and Margaret Robinson; Faith was Julie Cox and the director Clive Brill.

Julian Simpson was the author of another repeated Friday Play, FRAGMENTS (R4, 2102, 31 Aug 07) in which a teenage girl is accused of the murder of a retired Royal Marine. There seems to be no motive; the evidence is circumstantial, and the convoluted plot flicks between police interviews, recordings from electronic "bugs", and uncomfortable conversations between the girl and her mother. John Carlisle played the 70-year-old Grant, Lesley Sharp was mother, and Sarah Smart was Kelly, indistinguishable from a genuine spoilt teenager. The producer was Karen Rose, and the author directed.

We are also being treated to an experiment – five successive Friday plays comprising the series NUMBER TEN by Jonathan Myerson and others beginning R4, 2102, 7 Sept 07. The first episode, directed by Clive Brill, was excellent; let's hope he maintains the pace.

Nigel Deacon / 10 Sep 07

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This review is slightly early, so I've had no chance to comment on the Christmas schedules, which won't be out for a few days. This is also the season when my time for drama is limited, so apologies for it being slightly shorter than usual. If your favourite play doesn't appear, the reason is - I missed it.

CAPTAIN CORELLI'S MANDOLIN (R4, 1415, 17-20 Sep 07) occupied the afternoon play slot for 4 days, and gave a less indigestible version of the well-known story. It's a romantic tale set during World War II on the island of Cephallonia. Pelagia is engaged to Mandras, an fisherman who has joined the Greek army. But whilst still engaged she falls for Captain Corelli, who is technically the enemy, and they decide to marry. Then Corelli disappears, only reappearing forty years later, during which time Pelagia has remained alone, waiting for him. The cast included Celia Meiras as Pelagia, Daniel Philpott as Corelli; Tom Goodman-Hill narrated. The dramatisation was by Katie Hims, and the producer was David Hunter.

For a six week period beginning in mid- October we had FAME AND FORTUNE by Frederick Raphael occupying both the Friday Play and Saturday Play slots (R4, ep. 1 on Sat 6 Oct, rpt Fri 12 Oct 07) . For those that are not aware, this is a novel, a sequel to "The Glittering Prizes", which followed a group of Cambridge graduates into the academic and media worlds of the 1960s. It was televised many years ago, with Tom Conti as its Jewish hero, Adam Morris.

In the radio adaptation of Fame and Fortune, Tom Conti is back as Morris. It's set when the characters have reached middle age. The cast also features Miranda Richardson, Nigel Havers and Angela Down. The producer was Jo Wheeler and the director Dirk Maggs.

It had a "Classic Serial" feel about it, and a number of people wrote to the BBC messageboard asking if one-off play should disappear for several weeks in favour of a serial. I suppose the answer is - it depends on which plays and which serial you're talking about. Nevertheless the fortunes of the rather unpleasant individuals in Raphael's novel continued to provoke interest in some quarters, and showed quite nicely that high intelligence doesn't prevent stupid or selfish behavour.

The novel marks Raphael's return to fiction after a personal block following the death of his daughter, the artist Sarah Raphael, in 2001, at the age of 41. Raphael comments, regarding bereavement, "People tell you it gets better. It doesn't. You become different. It becomes a feature of life. There is a certain reckoning with mortality. But you can't spend you whole life advertising this to people".

WINDSCALE, by Paul Dodgson (R4, 1415, 8-9 Oct 07) was broadcast on two successive days and told the true story of what happened at Windscale in 1957. This was a time when America and Britain led the world in nuclear technology. Britain was developing its own atomic bomb, using plutonium produced at Windscale in its two atomic piles. But during October 1957, there was an accident during routine maintenance. It was usual, at regular intervals, to allow the graphite core to heat up slowly, to release the energy which builds up when it's irradiated. But the temperature measuring instruments were inaccurate (footnote for scientific readers below #), and little by little, the core became dangerously overheated.

The fuel melted, fuel cans burst, the uranium caught fire, and the scientists had no experience of how to deal with it. At one stage they were poking scaffold tubes, in relays, into the radioactive nuclear core to free the red-hot fuel elements so they could shut the pile down. They struggled for several days, and did everything they could think of – for example, pumping carbon dioxide into the core -but nothing seemed to work; it was beyond them. As a last resort they tried flooding the pile with water, fearing acetylene or hydrogen release, but not knowing what else to do. Luckily it worked, and the fire died down.

Meanwhile a cloud of radioactive dust containing iodine, plutonium, caesium and polonium isotopes had been released and was drifting south-east towards northern cities. The press reports of the day were muted, to prevent public panic, but it was clear to most people that a serious incident had occurred, and that the eventual consequences were likely to remain unknown.

Paul Dodgson's excellent play looks at that dramatic week through the eyes of Camilla who was a child at the time of the accident and whose father worked at the plant. Thirty years later we meet her again as she revisits those events. Camilla was played by Nicola Stephenson, young Camilla by Jessica Pearson, and the parents were Ben Crowe and Susan Cookson. Music was by Paul Dodgson and the director was Sara Davies.

The Windscale power station, on the same site, was shut down in 1981, and is now the UK's demonstration project for complete decommissioning of a power-generating reactor; a pilot for what will probably be the biggest waste of public money for a generation, though it must be said there are plenty of other contenders for the title. Meanwhile in the UK our nuclear expertise has all but disappeared and University Physics departments are being allowed to close.

LOVE CONTRACT, by Mike Bartlett (R4, 1415, 14 Nov 07) was an interesting second radio play by the winner of the 2006 Tinniswood and Imison Radio Drama Awards. Emma works in a large office complex, supervised closely by her manager. It's only when she begins seeing Darren, one of her colleagues, after work, that she realises just how closely she's being watched. She's in serious danger of breaking her contract - the "Love Contract". There was one very nasty graveyard scene, but that didn't stop it being a well-constructed play; a two-hander between Emma (Claire Rushbrook) and her manager (Ellie Haddington), who subjects her to a series of increasingly intimidating interviews. Echoes of Orwell's "1984". The producer was Claire Grove.

Gillian Plowman, author of a number of radio plays which explore relationships, including the spooky "Sea Change" from 1995, was the author of BONIFACE AND ME (R4, 1415, 4 Dec 07), an outstanding play looking at the situation in Zimbabwe (ex-Rhodesia) and the consequences for the charismatic head teacher of a village school. A divorced woman begins to write to an African child she met on a holiday. Soon she is writing to several children, and helping with their education. She finds more love and friendship from them than she does from her own family. Harriet Walter was Nell, Boniface was Jude Agoutika, and the producer and director were Catherine Bailey and Annie Castledine. A number of writers to the messageboard said that the play had them in tears; another person pointed out that this is hardly helpful; we must accept that there are some things we can only observe, and perhaps one of them is the tragedy which is Zimbabwe.

MY BLUE WEDDING (R4, 1415, 5 Dec 07), an comedy play by Lawrence Marks and Maurice Gran, took the idea of the imaginary childhood friend a stage further. Graham used to have an imaginary playmate when he was young. Now he's an adult he finds he's the imaginary friend - of a person in a parallel universe, on a planet called blue-world, and he can be summoned there at a second's notice. He thinks he's having a nervous breakdown. Which world is imaginary, and which is real?

Graham was played by Michael Maloney, his blue-world owner by Toby Longworth, and direction was by Liz Anstee. A long time since radio 4 did a play like this; let's hope the enthusiastic comments on the messageboard encourage the BBC to chance their arm again.

At the time of writing that's all I've heard, apart from another eries of Andy Hamilton's comedy set in Hell, OLD HARRY'S GAME, which was up to its usual high standard. I am expecting good things from my recordings of THE BLUE ROOM by Simenon, adapted by Ronald Frame, which went out on 12 Nov, and THE SENSITIVE, by Alastair Jessiman, broadcast 28 Nov 07, both of which were well-received, also MEMORIALS TO THE MISSING, by Stephen Wyatt (R4, 8 Nov 07), which followed moves during the First World War to establish an Imperial War Graves Commission.

I have three other bits of news – Ronald Frame has a play 'The Shell House' going out early in 2008, Jonathan Smith has “The Tennis Court” scheduled for broadcast on 18 Jan 2008, and Nick Warburton, who won the Tinniswood Award last year, has a series of five plays based on the Gospel of Luke being broadcast as afternoon plays from 17-21 Dec 07.

Nigel Deacon / 12 Dec 07

# footnote - there is an oversimplification here. The problem was that the energy which builds up during irradiation - the "Wigner Energy" (see Google) - only does so if the core is below a certain temperature. The scientists thought, therefore - 'heat it up'. But the Wigner energy, being concerned with the solid phase, doesn't come out uniformly; it does so in bursts. The temperature measuring equipment was probably OK, but at the time they couldn't believe the readings they were seeing. Overheating was the result.

Later reactors were designed to operate above the Wigner temperature and avoided this problem.

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