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Anthony Minghella Radio Plays



Anthony Minghella died unexpectedly in early 2008, before his time. We extend our condolences to the family. He will be much missed.

Anthony Minghella was best known as a film director, but wrote radio plays early in his career. He came from the Isle of Wight; his family still makes Minghella's ice cream - a rare delicacy.

As for the radio plays, I know of two; they are also of high quality.

THE PLAYS

CIGARETTES & CHOCOLATE....1988
Unusual play which begins with an extended scene on an answering machine... This play was (I think) the first classic play put out on BBC7.

TWO PLANKS AND A PASSION....1986 and 1998
Anthony Minghella's account of an Easter in York six hundred years ago. The citizens are to perform the Mstery Cycle to Richard II and Anne of Bohemia. This has been done twice by the BBC - in 1986 and 1999; two distinct productions.

Both versions are held by VRPCC. I think the 1986 is slightly better than the 1998.

1998: 27 March, R4, 90m. With David Batley, Chris Drury, Craig Heaney, Terence Hillyer, Felicity Montague, Julian Fellows, Julia McKenzie, Ken Jones, James Grout, Bill Nighy, Sophie Thompson, Tim McInnerney. Directed by Bruce Hyman and Anthony Minghella.

1986 Details to follow; in about ten years at present rate of progress. Recording supplied by Clive Lever.
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Clive alerted me to the following press release, from the BBC Press Office, 25 Apr 08.

ANTHONY MINGHELLA

Jeremy Howe, Radio 4's Commissioning Editor for Drama, said: "We want to mark the tragic death of Anthony Minghella with a celebration of the work of this peerless storyteller, a writer who always pushed the boundaries while telling stories you just want to listen to, and who created some of the best radio drama ever."

Radio 3 will broadcast Works In Progress on Saturday 10 May at 8.30pm. This was originally recorded by Anthony Minghella in February 2000. In five short programmes, he talked about the creative process behind his films, as he was preparing his adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's novel The Talented Mr Ripley.

In two five-minute episodes from the series, Minghella talks about his approach to writing and film-making, the art of collaboration with the composer, actors and production crew and how circumstances conspired to help him find his unique projects.

This is followed by the Prix Italia Award-winning Hang Up at 8.40pm, a radio drama starring Anton Lesser and Juliet Stevenson, written by Minghella and first broadcast in 1987. Written specially as a ballet score for the London Contemporary Dance Theatre, choreographed by Jonathan Lunn, this short play of a late night phone-call between two lovers is a study of lost innocence, deception and treachery.

Radio 4 broadcasts Minghella's original play for radio, Cigarettes And Chocolate on Saturday 3 May at 2.30pm. The Giles Cooper Award-winning production starring Juliet Stevenson and Bill Nighy was first broadcast nearly 20 years ago and tells the story of Gemma, her unexplained silence and refusal to speak and how her circle of friends and lovers react.

This is followed by a repeat of a 1994 edition of With Great Pleasure, at 3.30pm, in which Minghella talks about the four pieces of literature that inspired him most. Joining him are Alan Rickman and Juliet Stevenson to read his chosen selection of prose and poetry, including works by Beckett, Larkin and Pablo Neruda.

Minghella's Two Planks And A Passion will be broadcast on Saturday 10 May, at 2.30pm. The 90-minute play is a comic account of the citizens of York preparing a dramatic performance for Richard II and his long-suffering Queen, Anne of Bohemia. The royal visit is cause for anxiety, civic pride and very hard work, but most of all it inspires the Guildsmen of York to give the best performance of the Passion play they have ever produced.

Anthony Minghella was born in 1954 on the Isle of Wight. He studied at the University of Hull and lectured in drama there until 1981. He began writing for BBC Television during the Eighties, and his work included episodes of Boon and Grange Hill. Other television work included three episodes of Inspector Morse and in the late Eighties he wrote The Storyteller series (published as Jim Henson's The Storyteller in 1988) and Living with Dinosaurs.

He also wrote plays for theatre, television and radio. In 1991, he wrote Truly, Madly, Deeply (1991), which first appeared on television, then moved to the cinema. Minghella returned to radio drama in 2006 with Eyes Down Looking on Radio 3 in 2006 starring Jude Law, Juliet Stevenson and David Threlfall. He wrote and directed the film The English Patient (1997), based on the novel by Michael Ondaatje. In 1999, he wrote and directed The Talented Mr Ripley (2000) and Cold Mountain (2003), based on the novel by Charles Frazier, was released in 2003. He also wrote the original screenplay for Breaking And Entering (2006), starring Juliette Binoche and Jude Law. Most recently he co-wrote and directed the TV film, The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency. He died in March this year.

T.M.

Nigel Deacon / Diversity website

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