DIANA GRIFFITHS RADIO PLAYS
This page contains details of Diana's radio plays and
dramatisations, a word from Diana herself about her love of radio, and notes
about each of the plays. Two more of her dramatisations
were broadcast in
August and September 2003: Flambards ("The Edge of the Cloud", set during the
early days of aviation) and Whistle Down The Wind, and an excellent
production of Zola's "L'Assommoir" has gone out on Radio 4 as the
Classic Serial. In 2006 we had a dramatisation of Muriel Spark's
"Memento Mori", recorded in a house in Hampstead.
BBC RADIO 4 ORIGINAL PLAYS
Parents' Evening* (30 Minute Theatre, 1987)
Set to Rites* (Saturday Night Theatre, 1988)
The Hound of the Higginbottoms* (Afternoon Theatre, 1988)
The Emperor's Dream*(Afternoon Theatre, 1990)
Out of School* (30 Minute Theatre, 1992. Repeated on World Service and
The King's Hostage* (30 Minute Theatre, 1993)
Second Fiddle* (30 Minute Theatre, September, 1994)
Quite the Contrary (15 minutes, BBC Wales, January, 1995)
BBC RADIO 4 DRAMATISATIONS
Joby by Stan Barstow (Saturday Playhouse, May, 1997)
Flambards* by K.M. Peyton (The Saturday Play, April 1999)
A Many-Splendoured Thing by Han Suyin (The Saturday Play, July, 2000)
Satisfaction Guaranteed* by Isaac Asimov (Afternoon Theatre, 2002)
A Raging Calm by Stan Barstow (Womanıs Hour serial, April-May 2002)
The Small Mine by Menna Gallie (Afternoon Theatre, April 2003))
Flambards: The Edge of the Cloud* by K.M.Peyton (The Saturday Play,
tx August 30th 2003)-repeated 28 May 05.
Whistle Down The Wind* adapted from the novel by Mary Haley Bell and
screenplay by Waterhouse & Hall (The Saturday Play, tx 6th Sept 2003)
L'Assommoir* by E. Zola (Classic Serial, 3 x 60m, Oct-Nov 2004)
Memento Mori, by Muriel Spark (Classic Serial, 2 x 60m, May 2006)
Madame Bovary, by (Classic Serial, summer 2006, rpt. BBC7 Aug 2008)
Germinal*, by E. Zola (Classic Serial, 3 x 60m, Jan 2007)
The Crowded Street, by Winifred Holtby (Woman's Hour serial, 10 episodes, Aug 2007)
Cheri*, by Colette (Woman's Hour serial, Mar 2008)
Therese Raquin*, by Zola (Classic Serial, 2 episodes, Apr 2009)
Bright Day*, by J.B.Priestley (Classic Serial, 2 episodes, Jun 2010)
A Kind of Loving, by Stan Barstow (Woman's Hour drama, dram, Jul 2010)
Something Wicked This Way Come, by Ray Bradbury, dram. Oct 2011; rpt 7 Dec 2012
DIANA GRIFFITHS writes:
I was born in Neath, South Wales and educated at Neath Grammar School
and Sheffield University. Those of us who were brought up in the 1950s,
pre-television era, were nourished by the golden years of radio and
were deeply influenced by such innovative programmes as The Goon Show.
What do I mean, 'such innovative programmes as...'?
There was only one Goon Show and my generation would not miss its
weekly episode for anything. The morning after, in school, registration
was taken to a background of funny voices ('He's fallen in the water!'
'Morning Min -' 'Morning Henry -'Shut up, Eccles!') and relished
re-tellings of last night's jokes. Then, being passionate about
classical music (I played viola in the National Youth Orchestra of
Wales in my teens), I used to search the wavebands - particularly the
'Third Programme', forerunner to Radio 3 - for absolutely anything to
listen to. And, in looking for music, of course, we picked up all sorts
of other things: the Third Programme was where I first heard, quite by
accident, Dylan Thomas's 'Return Journey'; and Michael Redgrave reading
poetry by Thomas Hardy....
Earlier, there was Childrenıs Hour......Then there were
the radio plays, scenes from which are still with me though I've
forgotten specifically where they came from.... We were always tinkering with the wireless, sliding up and down the
wavebands. And it was only years later, when I started writing, that I
realised how deeply into my mind it had all gone, so that I knew,
instinctively, what to do with the medium of Radio and how it worked on
the listener. I have also written a small amount of drama for stage, but
Radio is my first love.
NOTES ON THE PLAYS
SET TO RITES (directed in Manchester by Sue Hogg)
'Too early in the year yet, to say whether Diana Griffiths's SET TO
RITES will end up as 1988's best Stone Age comedy, but sure as
pterodactyl eggs are pterodactyl eggs, it will end up being the only
one. Highly speculative in nature, sometimes wildly amusing and at other
times rather silly, SET TO RITES posits an age when women keep men in
their place (the hunting grounds, or the local hostelry where a muddy
beverage called lumph is consumed in vast quantities)....' (Peter
Davalle, THE TIMES, 25th January 1988
(directed in London by Tim Suter)
At a school parents' evening, a teacher is confronted by parents of a
has never heard of, who is not on her listı. Is she going mad?
This was the
first radio play Diana Griffiths ever had broadcast on 'Thirty Minute
THE HOUND OF THE HIGGINBOTTOMS....1988
(directed in Manchester by Sue Hogg)
'.....The rich old vein of Radio 4 whimsy was mined in Diana
This was a quirky and animated drama about one Henry Higginbottom, a
woebegone teacher (Malcolm Hebden) who is undergoing a strange kind of
breakdown. He has become obsessed with the sound of imaginary dogs,
is really (of course) being hounded by time, work and the expectations
others, notably his wife Lydia, a successful romantic novelist. One
unresisting into the depths of Harry's florid fantasy life, with many
unforced laugh along the way.'
(Nigel Andrew, THE LISTENER, 30th June 1988)
THE EMPEROR'S DREAM....1990
(directed in Cardiff by Jane Dauncey)
'It promises to be a suitably enjoyable and evocative St David's Day
Welsh writer Diana Griffiths.... Her new play, a a Celtic-Roman
her fourth radio play and concerns a wimpish Roman Emperor who finds
girl in Roman-occupied fourth-century Wales - though the dream becomes
a druidic nightmare in Griffiths's hands. Its inspiration was one of
tales in the Welsh book of legends, THE MABINOGION, she says. The
Emperor Magnus maximus comes to Wales after having a vision of a
girl, Elen. He marries her, stays for seven years and then returns to
'Griffiths' version is more Celtic satire than bardic myth, a kind of
Asterix fantasy in which nationalistic prejudices are happily
Romans, for instance, are clearly upper-class English - 'top drawer
school'- while Elen is a bit of a wayward Boadicea, her father a
carouser and the rest of the Celts witty, wily and uproarious.'
(David Gillard, RADIO TIMES, 1990)
THE KINGıS HOSTAGE ....1993
(directed in Cardiff by David Hunter)
A fictional drama from the life of Gwenllian, the last in the line of
Welsh princes of the House of Aberffraw. In 1282, after the death of
mother Elinor de Montfort, and the defeat of her father, Llywelyn ap
by Edward 1 of England, Gwenllian, 14 months old, was taken by Edward
incarcerated in a nunnery in East Anglia. There she remained until
at the age of fifty five. Cast: Gwelliam - Sheila Allen, Blanche - Nicola Goodchild, directed in Wales by David Hunter.
SATISFACTION GUARANTEED (directed in Manchester by
'Isaac Asimov's classic sci-fi story, dramatised by Diana Griffiths.
prototype domestic service robot is tested by the shy, neglected wife
Barnes) of an ambitious, insensitive scientist (William Hope). Tony
(Nicholas Blane) is programmed to please. He can't get angry or harm
But then Tony begins to show her affection......'
( Gillian Reynolds, THE DAILY TELEGRAPH, Friday 8th February 2002)
A strange and most curious thing about this production was that,
was 'selected' listening or 'the weekıs choice' in all The 'quality'
newspapers without exception, and an excerpt was chosen and played in
programme 'Pick of the Week', Diana Griffiths was never mentioned by
the dramatist by anyone - except Gillian Reynolds, as above.(unlabelled review tapes,
L'ASSOMOIR, by Zola....2004
.........summary of part of a review by Gillian Reynolds, the
Daily Telegraph's radio correspondent........
If you want a really big story, superb characters, magnificent
acting, and an adaptation which can be pleasurably measured
against the original for accuracy, don't miss the classic serial
on Radio 4, L'Assommoir, Zola's great novel, dramatised in three
episodes by Diana Griffiths (Sunday, repeated Saturday).
On the page, it teems with detail and atmosphere, of the high dark
tenements of 19th-century Paris, of the struggle of Gervaise to
earn a living, get on, bring up her children and of the forces
that will, inevitably, bring her back to destitution, despair and
The transforming thing about the novel is that Zola makes you see
why. The marvellous thing about this adaptation is you can hear
it through the acting of Claire Goose and John Thomson at the
head of a cast in which you can distinguish every voice, every
nuance. Pauline Harris directs, brilliantly. This is Radio 4 at
its very best and, at last, a classic serial that deserves the
Many thanks to Diana for supplying much of the
Nigel Deacon / Diversity website.
NOTES ADDED BY N.D.
SET TO RITES....1988
With Jane Hazelgrove, Neil Capel, Meg Wynn Owen, Peter Rumney.
THE EMPEROR'S DREAM....1989
Magnus Maximus - Richard Mitchley
Lucius - John Biggins
Elen - Di Botcher
Bronwen - Tricia Banham
Eudaf - William Ingram
Cynon - Mark Lewis Jones
By Diana Griffiths.
With Dillwyn Owen and Ray Llewelyn.
Directed in Wales by Jane Dauncey.
Thirty Minute Theatre, 20 Sep 94.
An all-male string quartet faces problems when their violinist
disappears and the only available replacement is a woman.
By K.M.Peyton. Christina is sent to live with her uncle and his sons
in their home - once grand, but it has seen better days. The uncle is
not very amicable, and there are emotional undercurrents. With Richard
Pearce, Ellis Beavan, Ben Crowe. Dir. Sally Avens. Broadcast 3.4.99
ANY SPLENDOURED THING (dram)....2000
By Han Suyin. Based in Hong Kong, 1949. A Eurasian doctor falls in
love with an English journalist. The Communist Revolution is taking
place on the mainland and refugees are fleeing to Hong Kong in large
numbers. The story is semi-autobiographical. Stars Sarah Lam and
Nick Reding. Broadcast 29.7.00. (also: see John Dryden page for info.
drama set in Hong Kong)
SATISFACTION GUARANTEED (dram)....2002
Satisfaction Guaranteed (R4, 1415, 8 Feb 02) , dramatised by
Diana Grifiths, was a tale by Isaac Asimov. US Robots employee
Larry Belmont agrees to let his rather dowdy and submissive wife
field-test a new house robot, a handsome humanoid called Tony. He
is unprepared for the transformation which takes place in his wife,
and so are the neighbours. An entertaining story; well-told.
Nicholas Blane was Tony, and the director Pauline Harris.
ND, VRPCC newsletter, Apr 2002
FLAMBARDS,2-THE EDGE OF THE CLOUD....2003
It's 1912, and Christina and Will have eloped in the Rolls...Will
wants to train to be a pilot. It was much more hazardous then than
it is now . With
Ellie Beaven as Christina and Richard Pearce as Will; other cast
members are Paul Downing, Patience Tomlinson, Ben Crowe, Kenneth
Gilbert, Malcolm McKee. Stephen Tomlin, Marian Kemmer; directed
by Rosemary Watts and produced by Sue Wilson.
L'ASSOMOIR, by Zola....2004
Diana Griffiths' dramatization is superb, but there's no getting
away from the fact that Zola
writes about a world much harsher and harder than ours. A couple
of people contacting the website have even called his stories "depressing";
I don't agree, but I know what they mean........
Muriel Spark's observation of old age, set in London in the 1950s.
Stars Geoffrey Whitehead, Marcia Warren, Prunella Scales, Elizabeth
Spriggs, Windsor Davies, Thelma Barlow; produced by Pauline Harris.
Classic Serial, 2 x 60m.
Radio Times.....the production was uunusual; it was recorded
in a large house in Hampstead rather than a studio. The living room was
packed with every spare chair in the house and turned into a combined
rehearsal room and recording studio. The whole cast used a single microphone,
stepping in closer whenever their character had dialogue.
The drama involves a lot of telephone conversations, so a
vintage phone was set up in the hall. The kitchen held all the
Mammoth 10-part dramatisation. Stars John Hurt as narrator and Sarah Smart as Emma.
MADAME BOVARY was a Woman's Hour serial in ten 15-minute episodes, broadcast in September
2006. It starred John Hurt as the narrator and Sarah Smart in the title
role and was directed by Pauline Harris. It was a 'Pick of the Day' in The Guardian and
the Radio Times.
DG: "The chief difficulty to overcome in dramatising the
novel was to gain the audience's initial empathy for Emma, who, though
fascinating, is not a very sympathetic character."
GERMINAL .... 2007
Zola, dram. D. Griffiths. Classic Serial, 3 x 60m. Broadcast dates 14, 12 & 28 Jan 07;
repeated each following Saturday at 9.02 pm. Directed by Pauline Harris.
The serial starred Joe Absalom. This was a Radio Choice for many national
papers, including the Sunday Telegraph and The Guardian, who said: 'This
adaptation by Diana Griffiths does it justice.'
DG: "There was some public discussion, as there was with
Zola's L'Assommoir, about the use of regional accents in the production:
since the original novel was set in a mining community in the northern
French coalfield, in the English translation we transferred it, as a rough
equivalent, to the Yorkshire coalfields."
THE CROWDED STREET....2007
By Winifred Holtby. Woman's Hour serial.
Ten 15-minute episodes, August 2007, starring Claire Goose as Muriel, directed by Pauline
character of Delia Vaughan (played by Deborah McAndrew) was loosely based on that of
Vera Brittain, Winifred's close friend".
This cut beautifully into almost pure drama. It went out in 5 episodes on Woman's Hour, March 2008, and
had a wonderful cast: Lindsay Duncan
was the narrator, Frances Barber - Lea; Joseph Millson - Cheri, Bridget Forsyth - Cheri's mother. It was
a 'radio choice' in the Telegraph.
Dramatisation by Diana Griffiths of the novel by Emile Zola, set in mid-19th century Paris, two parts.
Therese and Laurent have murdered Camille and are free to marry. Their wedding night is not happy - they feel the ghost of Camille infiltrate their every thought and action.
Therese ...... Charlotte Riley
Laurent ...... Andrew Buchan
Camille ...... Toby Hadoke
Mme Raquin ...... Pauline Jefferson
Michaud ...... Rob Pickavance
Suzanne ...... Deborah McAndrew
Pierre/Beggar ...... Drew Carter Cain
Music consultancy: Philip Tagney; directed by Pauline Harris. First episode 19 Apr 09.
BRIGHT DAY by J.B.PRIESTLEY....2010
Dramatised by Diana Griffiths; broadcast on BBCR4 as a Classic Serial in two one-hour episodes:
1: Sunday 30th May 2010 at 3.00pm
Repeated Saturday 5th June at 9.00pm
2: Sunday 6th June at 3.00pm
Repeated Saturday 12th June at 9.00pm
Priestley's stories are often preoccupied with time, and how relatively trivial incidents can have a profound effect on a person's life.
A KIND OF LOVING....2010
A fiftieth anniversary remake of Stan Barstow's classic. It's set in fifties Yorkshire, published in 1960. An humorous and poignant account of 20-year-old Vic Brown's infatuation for Ingrid. Dramatised by Diana Griffiths, with Lee Ingleby, Rebecca Callard, Kate Layden, Fine Time Fontayne, Stephen Hoyle, Jake Norton, Seamus O'Neill, Deborah McAndrew and Conrad Nelson. Producer Pauline Harris. Woman's hour serial, 10 episodes. July 2010.
A comment from the BBC messageboard read:
Acting is spot on and in so many ways the dilemnas of male/female relationships as explored by Barstow seem little changed since then...
I had forgotten this was the first of a trilogy so I'm now going to read the others.
STRIKE FOR A KINGDOM....2012
30th June, 2012, 2.30pm. By Menna Gallie; dramatised by Diana Griffiths. Set in the Swansea Valley during the 1926 miners' strike,
with Paul Rhys as D.J. Williams. Saturday Drama.
Asterisked plays in vrpcc collections.
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