I remember Glyn very well. In the 1980s I was an actor, and from
1987-89 a member of the BBC Radio Drama Co (RDC). During that
worked on a number of Glyn Dearman productions. From an
actor's perspective, the keynotes of Glyn's character were his
consummate professionalism and businesslike manner. While a serious
artist and totally dedicated to the craft of Radio Drama, he never lost
sight of the practicalities of the job in hand and, being an ex-actor
himself, he always considered the needs of his cast. Consequently,
with Glyn at the helm you could always guarantee that, no matter how
technically complex a drama you might be working on, the production
would stick to its recording schedule, be finished on time ...and
everybody would get proper tea-breaks!
To be fair, while few matched Glyn's standards of efficiency, most BBC
drama producers were pretty good in this respect. There were a
notorious few, though (who shall remain nameless) who infuriated us RDC
regulars with their vague, head-in-the-clouds, 'artsy' approach:
typically calling the whole cast at the start of every day, just to
leave most of us stranded for hours in the green room with no idea when
we might be needed, while they did take after take of one scene, trying
to get a sound effect right. You got none of that nonsense with Glyn.
His actors would be called only as required, and the call schedule was
always arranged to make the most efficient use of everyone's time.
...And God help the actor who wasn't ready in the green room when
expected: with Glyn, an 11.45 call meant you'd be rehearsed, on mic
and going for a take by 11.50 !
Of course, there was a flipside to this approach: one that we weren't
so keen on. In a recording environment, actors will always tend to be
dissatisfied with the take they've just done. We're convinced that if
we could just have one more shot at that scene, this time we'd 'crack
it'. Glyn never paid any heed to that sort of thing, and quite right
too. He knew that if he indulged one actor's insecurities we'd all be
at it, and the schedule would go out of the window. In a Glyn Dearman
production, unless there were really knotty technical problems, scenes
rarely went beyond two or three takes. Indeed, he occasionally took us
by surprise, secretly keeping the tape machines running during a final
pre-take rehearsal. Clever, that: he knew that the best performances
often come before the big red "Recording' light comes on. RDC members
were used to this brisk approach. Visiting 'star' names were often
left floundering: there they'd be, stood at the mic, working themselves
up for the 'proper' take, only to hear Glyn on talkback: "That was
lovely, everybody: very nice. Scene 34 next. Onwards and upwards!"
To get a flavour of what it was like to work with Glyn, you could do no
better than watch a copy of Stewart Parker's 1985 TV play "Radio
Pictures". Drawn from Parker's own experience of writing for radio and
shot in a real radio drama studio, its evocation of the atmosphere and
its lampooning portrayal of standard BBC working practices is
devastatingly accurate. Even more devastating, though, is Geoffrey
Palmer's performance as the drama producer "Glyn Bryce". It is a
perfect, note-for-note, gesture-for gesture caricature of Glyn Dearman!
How they got away with it, I'll never know. I can't imagine what Glyn
must have thought of it himself. All his little foibles and attributes
are there: the blazer, worn over a pastel-coloured v-neck...the
thinning, slightly bouffanted hair swept over the bald spot...the
ever-present bag of sweeties at his side...the brisk, businesslike
manner. It's HIM!
Well, almost. Bear in mind that I said 'caricature'. The real Glyn
Dearman was a much warmer and more positive human being than the rather
offhand, callous character in Parker's play might lead you to believe.
In studio, Glyn was The Boss: you didn't mess him around, and you
didn't want to. You wanted to do your best for him because you knew he
was doing his best for the production as a whole - and you can't ask
better than that, can you ?
Many thanks, Ken, for taking the trouble to write this for us.
(Readers may be interested to know that Ken starred in many plays during
the 80s and 90s by Paul Thain, Hattie Naylor, James
Saunders, John Spurling, Michael Butt, Steve May, Steve Walker
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