David Hunter is one of our most experienced drama producers. His recent radio productions include The Churchill Barriers, A Christmas Carol, The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, Big Broadcasts, A Night Visitor, Blink, The Journal of a Joskin andTommies. He is credited with about 300 programmes in the BBC Genome project, which goes up to 2009, and since then (2010-early 2018) he has appeared in the listings another 200 times.
Before he joined the BBC, David worked in nature conservation, as a pea sampler for a frozen food factory, as a kitchen fitter and as a stage manager at the Cockpit Theatre. Later he worked as Centre Director at Arvon’s Lumb Bank centre, as Performance Art Officer for Arts Council England and then in touring theatre – as Production Manager with Avon Touring and Paines Plough theatre companies and Literary Manager at Bush Theatre, London. His main enthusiasm is the encouragement and development of new writers.
(Partly summarised from the webpage of the Canolfan Ysgrifennu Ty Newydd Writing Centre where he was giving a course in 2016 with Neil Brand on writing radio drama.)
NOTES ON SOME OF THE PLAYS
24 Feb 18: Saturday Play - The Good Companions
By John Priestley, dram. John Retallack. A factory worker from Yorkshire sets off to make his fortune. He joins a concert troupe. Jess Oldroyd, the hero: Ralph Ineson, Miss Trant: Fenella Woolgar, Jimmy Nunn: Roy Hudd, Inigo Jollifant: Oliver Gomm, Susie Dean: Isabella Inchbald, Mr. Ridvers: Gerard McDermott, Mrs. Joe: Ellie Darvill, Monte Mortimer: Clive Hayward, Leonard Oldroyd: Gary Duncan, Mr. Joe: Philip Bretherton, Morton Mitcham: Tayla Kovacevic-Ebong, Jerry Jerningham: Adam Fitzgerald, Agent: Rupert Holliday Evans, Inspector: David Reakes. Producer: David Hunter. Music: Neil Brand. 90m. Previous versions include the three-part Eric Pringle dramatization (2002) and the 13-episode version by Neville Teller in 1971.
6 Jan 18: Saturday Play: Offshore
By Penelope Fitzgerald, dram. Michael Butt. Story about a community of people who live on barges on the Thames. Nenna: Hattie Morahan, Tilda: Rosie Boore, Martha: Molly Pipe, Maurice: Joel MacCormack, Richard: Clive Hayward, Willis: Neil McCaul, Laura: Isabella Inchbald, Fr Watson and Edward: David Reakes, Pinkie: Rupert Holliday-Evans, Antiques Man: Philip Bretherton, Louise: Kath Weare, Mrs. Hodge: Ellie Darvill. Producer: David Hunter.
THE LAMBETH WALTZ....2017
As a pianist I was interested in this play by Daniel Thurman about Rosemary Brown (R4, 1415, 26 Oct 2017). Musicians of a certain age may remember the temporary fame of the psychic and musician Rosemary Brown, who said that Liszt, Schumann, Beethoven, Schubert and others had dictated music to her from the next world. She transcribed, it seems, hundreds of pieces, and several volumes were published by Novellos and Basil Ramsay. I have played a few of them; they are very musical and to me they appear to be well-constructed, non-virtuostic pieces in the style of the composers they are supposedly from. Her Wikipedia page is worth investigating, but don't take too much notice of the 'critical reception' section, which consists almost entirely of the opinions of non-pianists! Youtube is also worth a look, where recordings can be heard. Rosemary was played by Marion Bailey, Liszt by Matthew Steer, Johnny Carson by Kerry Shale and John Lennon by Charlie Clements. The producer was David Hunter. A few days later, Rosemary's son was interviewed on Woman's Hour. (....ND, 'Diversity' website review, Dec 2017)
THE CHURCHILL BARRIERS....2017
This fascinating play by Emma Spurgin Hussey was repeated in late July (R4, 1415, 27 Jul 2017). The story is set in Orkney in 1944. On a small island, everyone needs to be flexible; each person has to do his bit. Here, a clerk and a pianist, played by David Dawson and Cesare Taurasi, work together to improve the sea defences. Production was by David Hunter.
Nick Warburton's episode 17 APR 1917 (R4, 1415, 17 Apr 17) was not set on the battlefield. After being too close to an explosion, Captain Mickey Bliss has got his 'Blighty' (a non-fatal wound which means he's off the battlefield and will soon be sent home to England, if he survives) and is now fighting for his life in a military hospital in France. The hospital is for officers only; it's not good for the other ranks to see their commanding officers with shell-shock or dying of their wounds. A steady stream of visitors from England calls at the hospital to see their unfortunate menfolk and in many cases, to say goodbye. The narrator was Indira Varma, and Mickey was played by Lee Ross, with Clare Corbett, Pooky Quesnel and Pippa Nixon; the series producers were again Jonathan Ruffle, Jonquil Panting and David Hunter.
We have had a further series of TOMMIES (R4, 1415, beginning 11 Nov 2016), by Jonathan Ruffle, Nick Warburton and Avin Shah. The first episode focused on the women combatants and drivers of the Serbian Army. Next we were at the last day of the Battle of the Somme and Signals-Captain Mickey Bliss is back, close to where he started, with 141 days and countless deaths behind him.
In episode 3 we joined Mickey on leave in Paris, where he's drawn into the shady world of intelligence and politics; the war continues in spite of enormous loss of life and zero military progress. The final play was very different (it is credited to Jonathan Ruffle in RT but to Avin Shah on the BBC website); we are in a prisoner-of-war camp in Turkey; it's 2 Dec 1916 and the starving captives are working as slave labour on the Baghdad - Berlin railway. This drama is far removed from the trenches; it's more about survival of the individual than World War 1. On hearing it I wondered how the oriental mind could be so rigid, brutal, and unthinking.
The producers for 'Tommies' are David Hunter, Jonquil Panting and Jonathan Ruffle. The series 'Tommies' is becoming an amazing collection of WW1 material, entirely based on documented facts - diaries, letters, etc., many of them obscure and unknown until now. There has never been a drama project like it. One learns more about the reality of the conflict than one could find in a dozen textbooks. So far we have had 24 episodes, and because each is broadcast 100 years to the day after the event, there will be plenty more. (....ND, 'Diversity' website review, Dec 2016)
..........Another run of 4 programmes about World War 1, TOMMIES, began in October. (R4, weekly, beginning 21 Oct 15), illustrating the events of a particular day exactly 100 years ago. The episodes were written by Nick Warburton, Michael Chaplin and Jonathan Ruffle (2). It is worth noting that the first episode of the previous series of Tommies, broadcast on 14 Oct 2014 and written by Nick Warburton, has reached the last 5 for the next Tinniswood Award. These stories are based on actual experiences, taken from soldiers' diaries and letters, around which the drama is constructed. They are extremely effective and show with great clarity some of the awful events of war and how front-line soldiers, most of them not regular soldiers, had to cope. There was a varied cast, but Indira Varma did the narration and appearing in most of the episodes were Neet Mohan, Chris Pavlo, Pippa Nixon, Mark Edel-Hunt and David Acton. Production was shared by Jonquil Panting, David Hunter and Jonathan Ruffle. (....ND, 'Diversity' website review, Dec 2015)
15 Sep 2015: John Osborne - The Author Of Himself
By Stephen Wakelam. Rpt. from 2 Sep 2013.Play about the first meeting of actor / writer John Osborne and theatre manager George Devine as they discuss the play 'Look Back In Anger'. John Osborne - Samuel Barnett, Nellie - Joanna Brookes, George Devine - Jonathan Coy, Anthony Creighton - Harry Livingstone, Tony Richardson - David Seddon. Producer David Hunter.
Jonathan Holloway's new play THE CARTER MYSTERIES - INCIDENT OF THE RUSSIAN VISITORS (R4, 1415, 17 Apr 15) was interesting. The Carter warehouse is one which used to study items which people want to put into long-term storage. We're talking decades. It holds items which were put there before the first world war, and the second ... and have never been reclaimed. Perhaps some of the people who deposited them are dead; no-one knows. So the warehouse is crammed with history. Then two Russians appear, looking for a long-lost table. They are upfront with Phil, the owner of the warehouse; if he doesn't sell it to them, they will steal it anyway, and probably beat him up into the bargain; the choice is his. He has just a few days to decide. Lisa was played by Jeany Spark and Phil by Stephen Greif. The producer was David Hunter.
(....ND, 'Diversity' website review, Apr 2015)
THE HISTORY OF TITUS GROAN*....2011
The famous trilogy by Mervyn Peake, now supplemented by a fourth volume written by his widow; six one-hour episodes, starting 10 Jul 2011. Classic Serial.
Brian Sibley, one of our most experienced writers (he did 'Lord of the Rings' with Michael Bakewell) has done the new dramatisation.
It was well reviewed in Radio Times by Jane Anderson:
"Everything about this production - writing, direction, sound effects and casting - is spot on".
Cast: (ep. 3) - Luke Tredaway, David Warner, Hogo Hocking, Carl Prekopp, Miranda Richardson, James Fleet, Tamsin Greig, William Gaunt, Fenella Woolgar, Claudia Blakley, Oliver Hallinan, Adrian Scarborough, Gerard McDermott, Jane Whittenshaw, Susie Riddell. Producer Jeremy Mortimer; director David Hunter.
UPDATE... WINNER OF BBC AUDIO DRAMA AWARD:
Best Adaptation 2011:
The History of Titus Groan dramatised by Brian Sibley
Producers: David Hunter, Gemma Jenkins and Jeremy Mortimer,R4
By Peter Morgan. A young woman is urgently admitted to hospital, to give birth. What happens in the next few minutes tests the judegment and the understanding of everyone in the room. With Philip Fox, Katy Kavanagh, Golda Rosheuvel, Sam Dale, Gbemisola Ikumelo, Caroline Guthrie. Producers Steven Canny, Jonquil Panting; director David Hunter. Must have been crowded in the recording studio.
A SMALL DOSE OF FAME....2009
16 Oct 09. By Stephen Wakelam. Based on events in Morgan Forster's life. The play considers the conflict in Forster's mind between the public image and the private man. He was sometimes frank about sexual matters in his novels, at a time when such things were rarely discussed, much less aired in public. Producer: David Hunter.
Superb dramatisation by Dave Sheasby of Kurt Vonnegut's science fiction novel,the book rooted in his witnessing of the bombing of Dresden during World War II. The main character in this 90-minute parable has a disability; he drifts unpredictably through time, viewing different parts of his life, not able to control where he goes. That's the point of the play; it's not really a science fiction story; it's about the helplessness felt by an individual when the world around him descends into chaos. The cast: John Guerassio as the narrator, Andrew Scott as Billy Pilgrim. Lots of other well-known actors further down the cast list. Produced by David Hunter. Repeated on R4 in early 2010.
INCIDENT AT BOULONVILLIERS....2009
R7.Three Second World War veterans return on a coach trip to Normandy and are forced to confront a difficult incident back in 1944 - and consequently their own "heroism". Cast includes Geoffrey Whitehead, David Hargreaves, Michael Mears and Ella Smith. Broadcast July 2009 , produced by David Hunter.
WHEN TO RUN....2008
26 Feb 08, afternoon play, 45m. Sophie Woolley brings a new version of her one-woman stage show to the radio; a bizarre story of three women who run; a dog-walker in search of romance and a man who looks a bit like Tony Soprano.
Julia ...... Katy Cavanagh
Shelley ...... Sophie Woolley
Emma ...... Tracy Wiles
Celia ...... Liza Sadovy
Producer...... David Hunter.
THE DOPPLER EFFECT....2007
"Playwright Sheila Goff and six actors create an up-to-the-minute Christmas story". (RT) - with Laura Molyneux, Alex Lanipekun, Joannah Tincey, Sam Pamphilon, Anna Bengo and Lloyd Thomas. Director David Hunter.
THE HISTORY BOYS....2006
This is Alan Bennett's new play about education, recently showing at the National Theatre. The play is adapted by Richard Wortley, probably the most experienced radio play producer in the country, with 2,000 radio plays under his belt . It was recorded in the BBC's premier drama studio, Maida Vale 6, London, and broadcast on Radio 3, 12 Mar 2006. A very unusual feature of the recording was that it was done without scripts, since the actors were playing the same parts on the stage later in the week. The cast included Richard Griffiths, Geoffrey Streatfield, Frances de la Tour, Clive Merrison, Samuel Anderson and Samuel Barnett; the producer was David Hunter and Richard Wortley directed.
Before Bennett started writing the play he re-read Giles Cooper's "Unman, Wittering and Zigo. *The History Boys" are kinder than the murderous schoolboys in Cooper's play, but some of the banter between master and class is similar. In Bennett's play, the boys are meant to be 17 or 18 and clever, and with the beginnings of wisdom. They are tolerant and understanding of one another, and perhaps this explains the spell which their charismatic teacher, Hector, casts over them. At the heart of the play are four characters with contrasting outlooks on teaching and school - Hector, passionate about his subject but with no interest in exams, a young coach, Irwin, dedicated to teaching exams tricks and being an educational yes-man; a traditionalist who teaches history without gimmicks or passion, and a headmaster obsessed with results. The play won an Olivier Award at the National. The play is in the BBC Radio Collection. ....N.D., VRPCC newsletter.
Getting the Joke....2005
by Neil Brand (R4, 1415, 20 Oct 05) examined an incident in Donald
McGill's life. For 60 years, McGill had created some of the most
popular seaside postcards in the land. In 1954, aged 80, he was
arrested on obscene publication charges. In today's climate, his
humour seems harmless enough, but things were different then.
McGill's were time-honoured themes: the saucy chamber maid, the eager
old maid, the flirt, the suave seducer, the final surrender and the
bungled honeymoon, all sketched with meticulous care and capped with
a clever double-entendre. Obscene? Nonsense! John Wood played McGill,
Ann Beach was Molly, and the director was David Hunter. ....N.D., VRPCC newsletter.
I was pleased to see a
Perry Pontac play on the schedules; he's one of our best comic
writers. Readers may remember his "Hamlet, part II" and
"Nothing Personal" - the play about the eskimo and the bank
manager. In the words of a guy on the R4 messageboard: I was
having a lousy day...dealt with Alzheimer afflicted mother...sat in
cat vomit on the window sill..put off yet again cleaning filthy
house...then I heard the start of Perry Pontac's "Incurable
Romantics" (R4, 1130, 16 Dec 05) and my day was transformed.
Three geriatric gents in a rest home in Florence turn out to be
Shelley, Keats and Byron who, contrary to popular myth, did not die
tragically and romantically but are eking out their old age no doubt
paid for by the top sales of their oeuvres due to their early demise.
Fanny Brawn, Keats' early love interest arrives as a raddled old hag
looking up her old flame after her Texan husband dies. Byron chats
her up and she comments "I'm sweatin' like a weasel in a waffle
iron". Funny, literate, and beautifully comically acted.
John Moffatt played Keats, John Rowe was Shelley and John Wood was
Byron; Sandra Dickinson was Fanny, and the director David Hunter. ....N.D., VRPCC newsletter.
Keeping Anne Marie....2003
By Dave Sheasby. Solicitor Eric Crowson tells a twisty tale involving the law, the media, a single mother, a hopeful couple and a little baby girl. With Geoffrey Whitehead, Hannah Storey, Carolyn Pickles, Sean Baker, Jemma Churchill, Simon Donaldson. Director David Hunter. Rpt. BBC7, Feb 08 (as below).
Excerpt from BBC7 newsletter, Feb 08: Dave Sheasby's powerful story about surrogacy tells of a woman's struggles with her conscience and her decision to carry a child for another couple. Starring Geoffrey Whitehead, Carolyn Pickles, Hannah Storey and Sean Baker.
By Philip Pullman. Our heroine, 11 year old Lyra Balacqua, goes on a journey through the frozen Arctic, parallel universes, and even the world of the dead. Director David Hunter. (...Penny Fabb; Complete guide to science fiction on British Radio 1927-2004)
THE SUBTLE KNIFE....2003
By Philip Pullman. The second book of "His Dark Materials" starts in our world, when 12 year old Will accidentally kills a man. He escapes into a parallel world where he meets 11 year old Lyra, and together they acquire the most powerful weapon in the world - the subtle knife. Director - Janet Whitaker. (...Penny Fabb; ib.)
THE AMBER SPYGLASS....2003
By Philip Pullman. A colossal war is brewing in heaven, and Lyra and Will have been separated. They must find each other and journey onward - for only together can they protect the future of the cosmos. Director - David Hunter. (...Penny Fabb; ib.)
THE BRIDGE AT COOKHAM....2000
By Sheila Goff. 3 short plays: (1) ICE CREAM, (2) SWANS and (3) SUNBURN. Three couples from three different generations spar in three simultaneous plays all set in the vicinity of the bridge over the Thames at Cookham. With Helen Ayres, Thomas Arnold, Jasmine Hyde, Kenny Blyth, Claire Corbett and Alex Trinder. Directed by David Hunter.
MR. LOVEDAY'S LITTLE OUTING....2000
Dram Jonathan Holloway.
Angela Moping visits her father in the asylum. His loyal
secretary is Mr. Loveday. Stars Charlotte Attenborough, Barbara
Leigh-Hunt, Stephen Throne. Dir. David Hunter.
By Sheila Goff. Emma buys a doll's house very like the house in which she grew up. The model is made by a local craftsman. This is a creepy, atmospheric play. With Jasmine Hyde, Julia Ford and David Thorpe. Directed by David Hunter.
Flotsam & Jetsam....1999
By Nick Darke. A family tale based in Porthnant Bay, Cornwall. Gone Fishing
has the same setting. With Carl Grose, Diana Berriman, Mike
Shepherd, Emma Rice, Bec Applebee, Rachel Atkins, Sue Hill. Dir. David
NOW YOU SEE IT, NOW YOU DON'T....1999
Missed this, so no information apart from the cast: Tristan Sturrock,
Alison Pettitt; dir. David Hunter. By Jonathan Holloway.
THE SURPRISE SUMMER....1999
By Jonathan Holloway. Set on the Edinburgh Fringe...John, an ex-teacher, takes
his one-man show there; he has a treacherous
manager and less than ideal love affair. Stars Stephen
Critchlow, Tracy Wiles. Dir. David Hunter. 5 x 12m.
By Dave Sheasby. 7 May to 11 June 1999. A six-part comedy-drama, sequel to One Flat Summer. A punter who is mad on horse-racing sets up a syndicate to part-own a horse of his own - and race it.With Gillian Bevan and Gerard McDermott; dir David Hunter.
Donkeys Led by Lions....1999
By Dave Sheasby. I thought the title was the wrong way round, until I got the pun... a Derby schoolteacher decides to be a "conshie" in the First War but his decision has a devastating effect on his life and his family. Society has never liked individuals with minds of their own, and in those days, one did not question authority. People 'knew their place'. With Ian Dunn, Andrea Gascoigne and Joan Walker; dir. David Hunter.
5 x 12m. By Jonathan Holloway. Set in Cornwall. Cast: Elaine Pyke, Tim McInnerney,
Iwan Thomas, Becky Hindley. Dir. David Hunter.
5 x 12m. By Jonathan Holloway. Social story set in Cornwall. With Charlotte Coleman,
Elaine Pyke. Dir. David Hunter.
THE REAL DENNIS TRUELOVE....1998
By Dave Sheasby. R7. Fine Time Fontayne stars as Dennis, a bank employee who escapes his job to head off on an adventure, hoping the police don't catch him. First broadcast as a Womans Hour drama serial in June 1998, produced by David Hunter.
By Sheila Goff. 45m. A black comedy of revenge set in Dog's Bodies Kennels and Pet Emporium, Pinner. With Tina Gray, Shirley Dixon, Frances Jeater and Geoffrey Whitehead. Director David Hunter.
WILL YOU LOVE ME TOMORROW?.....1998
By Sheila Goff. A chance meeting between Carol and old boyfriend George conjures up their Walthamstow past. With Siobhan Stamp, Gerard McDermott and Sarah Rice. Director David Hunter.
THE AFFAIR AT GROVER STATION....1997
A ghost story based on a short story by Willa Cather. Dram Jonathan Holloway.
Terrapin Rodgers recounts to Will Carter the riddle of his friend's
death. Carter becomes involved, and terrified. Stars Kerry Shale,
Nancy Crane, Stuart Milligan. Dir. David Hunter.
Based on a short story by Walter de la Mare. Dram Jonathan Holloway.
Cast: Samuel West as Rupert Withers, Margaret Robertson as Seaton's
Aunt, Andrew Wincott as Arthur Seaton, Tereas Gallagher as young Seaton,
young Withers by Melinda Walker, Patience Tomlinson as de Witt.
Music composed & played by Adrian Johnston; directed by David Hunter.
By Sheila Goff. Twenty-five years ago, Kay exchanged country singing stardom for a company car. Now she is visited by the all-too-familiar Jay - the original rhinestone cowgirl. With Sheila Hancock, Alice Arnold and Sean Baker. Directed by David Hunter.
THE KING¹S HOSTAGE ....1993
By Diana Griffiths.
A fictional drama from the life of Gwenllian, the last in the line of the Welsh princes of the House of Aberffraw. In 1282, after the death of her mother Elinor de Montfort, and the defeat of her father, Llywelyn ap Gruffydd by Edward 1 of England, Gwenllian, 14 months old, was taken by Edward and incarcerated in a nunnery in East Anglia. There she remained until her death at the age of fifty five. Cast: Gwelliam - Sheila Allen, Blanche - Nicola Goodchild, directed in Cardiff by David Hunter.
copyright Nigel Deacon, Greg Linden and VRPCC / Diversity website
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