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Eric Ewens Radio Drama

Eric Ewens was a well-known and popular radio dramatist in the 60s, 70s and 80s.

The following piece has been contributed by Diana Griffiths; to whom, my thanks....-ND



ERIC EWENS

Eric George Ewens was an Irishman b. April 14th, 1917, the son of a Methodist minister. When asked where he was from, he always replied 'from all over (Ireland)'. He read English at Trinity College Dublin where he went on to take a PhD but never collected it. As an undergraduate, one evening, while out walking, he spotted Maud Gonne, the poet Yeats's great love, and he followed her in awe through the streets of the city.

During the 1940s and 50s, Eric worked in the BBC Radio Drama department in London. He left in the late '50s, to become a freelance radio playwright and dramatist and very soon became one of the most illustrious names in that field. His many plays and dramatisations were produced by some of the most revered and legendary names in BBC Drama: Reggie Smith (the original Guy Pringle), Ronald Mason, John Tydeman, Glyn Dearman, Michael Bakewell, John Gibson, Hallam Tennyson. He was a friend of the Irish playwright Samuel Becket and was one of the first to read 'Waiting for Godot' when it was sent up to the BBC Radio Drama department. Eric always said he was 'the other man' in the famous anecdote about Beckett:

Eric and Beckett were watching a cricket match at Lords. All was peaceful. The sun was shining, the air was balmy, there was -

'- the soft sound of leather on willow; the occasional smattering of applause -'

Said Eric, turning to Beckett.

'Who could ask for more? What a perfect day, Sam. It makes you feel good to be alive.'

And Beckett replied,

'Well...... I wouldn't go so far as to say that......'

Eric remains unforgettable to those of us who knew him. He had a brilliant, witty mind, a crazy sense of humour, an ebullient personality and was always the best of companions. Whatever he did, he did superbly and usually to excess.

Finally, he was a man of great humility. A friend went to visit him when he was on his deathbed. His mind was wandering so she took one of his radio scripts to try and remind him of his achievements. He looked at it, and he said,

'Did I write that? I must have been quite clever.'

He died on 23rd December, 1998.


    Eric didn't write poetry, and he'd probably have called the following piece a 'verse' - or worse. It's very him - very witty, silly and erudite.

    A Fragment from Kubla Khant
    by Eric Ewens


    (Note: A public house in Hoey’s Court, Werberg Street, in the Liberties of St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, sporting a bust of its most famous Dean, Jonathan Swift, on its left lapel, functioned nightly after hours in 1940.)

    Fag-ended pavements pave the ways
    To water-music where men meet
    Festooned upon the Great Dean’s gaze
    Prim sentinel of Werburgh Street.

    Returned from Connaught or from Hell
    The thirsty filter into view
    Each madcap fits the bagatelle,
    Fit framing for the bird’s-eye view

    Of him who eyes these turning worms
    Cresting the tape below and hears
    Staccato voices, false alarms:
    Lamp-posted narks have facile fears.

    Here where St Patrick’s peters out
    This side the verge of tears, observe
    Time, bowler-hatted chucker-out,
    Impartially fray sleeve and nerve.

    The daily shipwrecks of our time
    Reveal man-baiting moves of god
    Who often cannot spare a dime
    Yet spills the beans for every pod.

    SWIFT, bridged upon the drunken ship,
    A Pontiius-pilot cast in gravel
    Sees wake and wash and waves unzip,
    The hempen stitch of time unravel.

    Mass-produced saints beneath the sod
    Rummage the roots long sabotaged
    And leave no stepping-stone untrod
    No laddered ladder unsalvaged

    That offer men a second wind
    To break their fall and rise again,
    To mint their future in the mind
    A long way off the last amen.

    Where peacemakers with drunk decorum
    Wait for war or world to cease
    While at the bottom of each jorum
    The truth prevails among the lees.

    Where crazy pavements pave the ways
    From water-music they are caught
    Harpooned before the Great Deans Gaze,
    Grim sentinel of Hoey’s Court.



..........Some of Eric's broadcasts are listed below.:

BBC Broadcasts:

1985 Claudius the God (Robert Graves)
1985 I, Claudius (Robert Graves)
1984 Mr. Norris changes trains (Isherwood)
1981 The Levant Trilogy (Manning)
1981 The Balkan Trilogy (Manning)
1979 At Swim-Two-Birds (Flann O'Brien)
1979 The Third Policeman, reading
1979 Under the Volcano (Lowry)
1973 Trollope Ho!
1972 A Single Man (Isherwood)
1969 Thomas Day
1969 From Maupassant to Mao or Whatever Happened to Mrs. Warren?
1969 O Haydon, Haydon!
1967 Snow on the Roses
1965 Nineteen-Eighty-Four (Orwell)
1965 Odd Man Out (Green)
1961 Don Juan in Cephalonia
1959 The Voice of Shen (Joyce)


NOTES


CLAUDIUS THE GOD....1985
29 Jul 85. Cast:

Claudius...............................................Timothy West
Messalina................................................Mel Martin
Herod.................................................Harold Kasket
Callistus.............................................Colin Starkey
Pallas................................................Jamie Roberts
Engineer..............................................Robin Summers
Xenophon................................................Brett Usher
Polybius..............................................Alan Thompson
Vinicius.............................................Graham Blockey
Plautius.............................................Ronald Herdman
Caractacus............................................Henry Stamper
Calpurnia............................................Frances Jeater
Narcissus...............................................Brian Smith
Agrippina..............................................Narissa Knights

Producer: Glyn Dearman.


I, CLAUDIUS....1985
22 Jul 85. Cast:

Claudius...............................................Timothy West
Livia...................................................Mary Morris
Sibyl.................................................Tessa Worsley
Livy..................................................Lockwood West Young
Claudius........................................Andrew Downer
Pollio..................................................David Garth
Germanicus...........................................Graham Blockey
Camilla..........................................Verity Ann Meldrum
Augustus...............................................Garard Green
Medullinus...........................................Arnold Diamond
Postumus..............................................Jamie Roberts
Sejanus............................................Geoffrey Collins
Caligula..............................................David Learner
Calpurnia............................................Frances Jeater
Mother.................................................Mary Wimbush
Cassius...............................................Alan Thompson
Messalina................................................Mel Martin
Sergeant.................................................Colin Starkey
Producer: Glyn Dearman.


    I, CLAUDIUS and CLAUDIUS THE GOD....1985
    Superb dramatisation of the famous Roman epic by Robert Graves, with Timothy West. 22 Jul and 29 Jul, both 90m; directed by Glyn Dearman. There's a wonderful sound effect in one of the scenes where there's a battle involving elephants. TV cannot do this...SM Carol McShane. (....ND, Diversity website).



MR. NORRIS CHANGES TRAINS....1984
5 Aug 84. A play based on the novel by Christopher Isherwood. Dramatised in 2 parts by Eric Ewens. With David March, Michael Maloney, Sheila Grant and Hilda Schroder. Produced by David Spenser. Complete cast list:

Mr. Norris..............................................David March
William Bradshaw....................................Michael Maloney
Helen Pratt............................................Sheila Grant
Fraulein Schroeder...................................Hilda Schroder
German Official/Policeman/Waiter.....................Danny Schiller
Friedrich/Otto...........................................Haydn Wood
Schmidt.................................................Adrian Egan
Baron Von Pregnitz......................................Sean Arnold
Whore/Portress.......................................Denica Fairman
Anni..................................................Deborah Paige
Bayer......................................................Wolf Kahler



THE LEVANT TRILOGY....1981
By Olivia Manning and dramatised for radio in three parts by Eric Ewens. 23 Nov 81. Cast :
Harriet Pringle.........................................Anna Massey
Guy Pringle...........................................Jack Shepherd
Simon Boulderstone.....................................Tim Woodward
Dobbie Dobson........................................Stephen Thorne
Bill Castlebar.....................................Geoffrey Beevers
Jake Jackman............................................Peter Craze
Aidan Pratt............................................John Livesey
Edwina Little........................................Frances Jeater
Angela Hooper..........................................Sheila Grant
Colin Gracey...........................................Hugh Dickson
Toby Lush.............................................Nigel Lambert
Major Cookson...........................................Alan Dudley
Lord Pinkrose...........................................John Warner
Sergeant Ridley.......................................Michael Spice
Corporal Vincent....................................Stephen Garlick
Major Hardy..........................................John Westbrook
Major Lister......................................Nicholas Courtney
Peter Trench........................................David McAlister
Lord Lisdoonvara.......................................Anthony Hyde
Arnold..................................................George Parsons
Producer: John Tydeman.

AT SWIM-TWO-BIRDS....1979
A play based on the novel by Flann O'Brien. Adapted by Eric Ewens. Produced by Ronald Mason. 26 Aug 79, rpt. R3 Sun 2 Nov 80. The play takes place in Dublin, in the 1930s, in the 'kingdom of the mind' of its main character, Myles.

Flann O'Brien is the pseudonym of Brian O'Nolan, born in 1910. His work is an experimental blend of satire, fantasy and farce. He was well known for his newspaper column written under the name "Myles na Gopaleen". He died in 1966.

Cast List :
Myles...................................................Niall Buggy
Uncle.............................................Patrick McAlinney
Jesuit/Sweeney.....................................Allan McClelland
Tipster/Lamont.........................................Sean Barrett
Conan/Moling......................................David Blake Kelly
Finn/Trellis........................................Denys Hawthorne
Brinsley.................................................Jim Norton
Kelly/Casey...........................................Harry Webster
Shanahan................................................Kevin Flood
Furriskey..............................................Donal McCann
Ronan/Corcoran...........................................Alan Barry
Bryne/Tracey..........................................Wesley Murphy
Pooka.................................................Patrick Magee
Fairy...................................................Kate Binchy
Orlick...................................................Tom McCabe
Cow...................................................Elizabeth Morgan




A HA'PENNY FROM HELL....1979
24 Jul 79; Four famous libel cases which captured the imagination of the public. No. 4: by Eric Ewens. In 1964 Leon Uris was sued by Dr Dering for comments made about him in his book 'Exodus'. The trial was to prove one of the most harrowing ever heard in a British court. Narrated by Michael Tudor Barnes; Lord Gardiner - MALCOLM HAYES, Colin Duncan, QC - DAVID GARTH, Dr Clauberg - JOHN JUSTIN, Judge - GODFREY KENTON, Dr Dering - GEORGE PRAVDA, Woman patient - IRÈNE PRADOR, Dr Brewda - PRUNELLA SCALES, Dr Hautval - HILDA KRISEMAN, Reader/Foreman - DANNY SCHILLER, Court Official - BRIAN CARROLL, Produced by CHRISTOPHER VENNING.

THE THIRD POLICEMAN....1979
By Flann O'Brien, adapted by Eric Ewens in ten parts. Reader Patrick Magee. First episode 1 May 79. The wonderful, surrealist novel which touches the parts other writers cannot reach. You will either love it or find it totally incomprehensible.

UNDER THE VOLCANO....1979
A novel by Malcolm Lowry. Adapted for radio by Eric Ewens. Music by Graham Collier. Produced by John Tydeman R4, 9 Mar 79. Cast list :

Narrator..............................................Paul Scofield
Geoffrey Firmin.......................................Norman Rodway
Yvonne...................................................June Tobin
Hugh................................................Denys Hawthorne
Dr. Arturo Vigil........................................William Fox
Jacques Laruelle........................................David March
Signor Bustamente...................................Trader Faulkner
Everard...............................................Gordon Dulieu
Cervantes.........................................Gregory de Polnay
Maria....................................................Eva Stuart
Dios..................................................Andrew Branch
Policeman/Indian.............................................John Bull


THE BALKAN TRILOGY....1974
Written by Olivia Manning, and dramatised for radio in three parts by Eric Ewens. Cast:

Harriet.................................................Anna Massey
Guy...................................................Jack Shepherd
Yakimov................................................Aubrey Woods
Clarence...................................................John Rye
McCann...............................................Denis McCarthy
Inchcape.............................................Manning Wilson
Woolley..............................................Godfrey Kenton
Sophie.............................................Magdalena Buznea
Galpin..................................................Hector Ross
Dobson...............................................Stephen Thorne
Bella................................................Kate Coleridge
David Boyd.............................................David Timson
Klein...................................................Alan Dudley
Mrs. Ramsden............................................Betty Hardy
Miss Turner..........................................Gladys Spencer
Mrs. Truslove..................................Betty Huntley-Wright
Harriet.................................................Anna Massey
Guy...................................................Jack Shepherd
Yakimov................................................Aubrey Woods
Clarence...................................................John Rye
Inchcape.............................................Manning Wilson
Klein...................................................Alan Dudley
Lord Pinkrose..........................................Gerald Cross
Bella................................................Kate Coleridge
David Boyd.............................................David Timson
Mrs. Turner..........................................Gladys Spencer
Mrs. Ramsden............................................Betty Hardy
Dobson...............................................Stephen Thorne
Galpin..................................................Hector Ross
Freddie...............................................Vernon Joyner
Toby Lush.............................................Nigel Lambert
Dubedat.............................................Anthony Daniels
Sasha...................................................Peter Pacey
Harriet.................................................Anna Massey
Guy...................................................Jack Shepherd
Yakimov................................................Aubrey Woods
Charles Warden.....................................Christopher Good
Lord Pinkrose..........................................Gerald Cross
Alan Frewen.............................................William Fox
Clarence...................................................John Rye
Archie Callard/Sasha....................................Peter Pacey
Gracey................................................Rolf Lefebvre
Ben Phipps..............................................Sean Arnold
Major Cookson...........................................Alan Dudley
Dubedat.............................................Anthony Daniels
Toby Lush................................................Nigel Lambert
Producer: John Tydeman.


Trollope Ho! ....1973
By Eric Ewens, produced by John Scotney. A Canter Towards Barchester. Radio 4.


A Single Man....1972
- by Christopher Isherwood. Produced by Richard Wortley. Radio 4.


THOMAS DAY....1969
2 Aug 69. By Eric Ewens. With Martin Jarvis / Denys Hawthorne / Hector Ross / Gay Soper.


From Maupassant to Mao or Whatever Happened to Mrs Warren?....1969
A Shavian Entertainment by Eric Ewens. Produced by Christopher Holme. Third Programme.


O HAYDON, HAYDON!....1969
13 Nov 69. 15m. Play in the form of a monologue, compiled from journals of Benjamin Robert Haydon by Eric Ewens, with Leonard Rossiter as Haydon, and Wilfrid Carter as narrator.
    His journals are unparalleled in the whole of English literature for their agonised frankness. "Merciful God that Thou shouldst permit a being with thought and feeling to be so racked. The melancholy demon has grappled my heart and crushed its turbulent beatings in his clammy clenching fingers"' (Radio Times)

Material used: 'The Diaries of Benjamin Robert Haydon', published Harvard University Press 1960-66; total number of words 1706, duration 15'21". Music: Radiophonic effects by BBC Radiophonic Workshop (Malcolm Clarke). Haydon, once held as painter of genius, ended his life by his own hand on 22nd June 1846 after years of bitterness and neglect.

Cast :
Haydon.............................................Leonard Rossiter
Narrator................................................Wilfred Carter

Produced by Hallam Tennyson.


LATE CALL....1969
SNT, 1 Nov 69. For the last 15 years, since 1949, Sylvia Calvert has managed the residence of Palmeira Court. She's been doing this kind of work since she managed her first boarding house at Bognor in 1920. With her is her husband, Arthur, who has been limited in what he can do since a gas attack took his lungs in WWI. Now 65-years-old and with high blood pressure, Sylvia's accepted her doctor's opinion that she retire. The residence of Palmeira Court will miss her as they realise she brought a lot of comfort to them, many of whom were old and most of whom were lonely. As a parting gift, they've given her a clock so she can set for her 'late call'. No longer will she have to be an early riser; she must make time her slave and to never let it be her master.

With the death of their eldest son, Len, in WWII and daughter, Iris, on the roads, Sylvia and Arthur have turned to their only surviving child, Harold, a recently widowed headmaster, and accepted an invitation to live with him. He and his children, now young adults, live in Melling, a residential area of Carshall, the West Midlands new town. At first, Sylvia cannot adjust to the jungle of supermarkets, 10-pin bowling alleys and recreation areas; to the committees and purposeful entertaining involved in the creation of a new society. Above all, Sylvia can't understand Harold's odd, thrusting idealism and the strange behaviour of her grandchildren. But a chance meeting and a family crisis give her the chance to fulfil herself...

A compassionate portrait of an elderly - and frustrated - woman adjusting to new town life and finding a new purpose in living.

Adapted for radio by Eric Ewans from Angus Wilson's 1964 novel, "Late Call".

With Marjorie Westbury [Sylvia Calvert, 65-year-old Retired Hotel Manager], Geoffrey Wincott [Captain Arthur Calvert, Sylvia's Husband], Brian Haines [Harold Calvert, Sylvia's Widowed Son], Alaric Cotter [Mark Calvert, Harold's Son], John Rye [Ray Calvert, Harold's Son], Susan Maudsley [Judy Calvert, Harold's Daughter], Pauline Letts [Sally Bulmer, Welfare Officer], Peter Tuddenham [Geoff Bartley], Jan Edwards [Muriel Bartley, Geoff's Wife], Anne Murray [Shirl Egan, Timbo's Wife], Frederick Treves [Timbo Egan, Former Schoolteacher turned Farmer], and Hilda Kriseman [Mandy Egan, Shirl's Young Daughter]. Other parts were played by Madi Hedd, John Bryning, and Hilda Kriseman. Produced by Norman Wright. (.........thanks Jim)


SNOW ON THE ROSES....1967
A dramatic duologue by Eric Ewens. Producer: Christopher Holme. Based on Maria Edgeworth's letters. Broadcast 13 Dec 67. Cast: Maria Edgeworth.-.Edith Evans, Mrs. Edgeworth - Eithne Dunne.


Nineteen-Eighty-Four....1965
Adapted by Eric Ewens from Orwell's 1948 novel. Mon 11 Oct 65, Home Service. Thought Police. Big Brother. Orwellian. These words have entered our vocabulary because of George Orwell's classic dystopian novel, "1984". The story of one man's nightmare odyssey as he pursues a forbidden love affair through a world ruled by warring states and a power structure that controls not only information but also individual thought and memory, 1984 is a prophetic, haunting tale.

More relevant than ever before, 1984 exposes the worst crimes imaginable - the destruction of truth, freedom, and individuality. If you're in an area where they're building a wind farm to 'combat climate change' - there's a phrase loved by the propagandists - you'll have experienced this first-hand.

Cast: Patrick Troughton [Winston Smith], Sylvia Sims [Julia Brown], John Collin [O'Brien], Cyril Shaps [Emmanuel Goldstein], Hector Ross [Charrington, the Junk Shop Owner], Norman Wynn [The Old Man], Alan McClelland [Syme], Michael McLean [TV Announcer], John Derr [Tom Parsons], Cecile Chevreau [Mrs. Parsons], Mary Wimbush [Gwenda], Gordon Faith [Ampleforth], and Elizabeth Proud, Brian Hewlett [The Children: Janie and Peter Parsons]. Producer John Gibson.


ODD MAN OUT....1965
29/03/65, by F.L. Green, ad. Eric Ewens . Monday play.


Don Juan in Cephalonia....1961
A conversation piece by Eric Ewens based on 'Conversations on Religion with Lord Byron' by James Kennedy M.D. Produced by Rayner Heppenstall. Third Programme.


THE VOICE OF SHEN....1959
Passages from Finnegans Wake by James Joyce freely adapted by Mary Manning. Arranged for broadcasting by Eric Ewens. Incidental music composed by John Beckett and conducted by Bernard Keeffe. Production by Michael Bakewell. 12m.
    Selected at Drama Annual Review for production excellence and performances by Cyril Cusack and others. Incidental music specially composed by John Beckett and played by Ad Hoc Orch. conducted by Bernard Keeffe. Songs sung by Dominic Behan and cast. 27 May 59.

Cast :
Shem...................................................Cyril Cusack
Shaun................................................Donal Donnelly
Anna Livia Plurabelle.............................Patricia Leventon
H.C. Earwicker........................................Patrick Magee
First Dubliner......................................Jack Cunningham
Second Dubliner.....................................Dermot McDowell
Third Dubliner.........................................Hamonn Keane
Radio Announcer......................................Denis McCarthy
First Washerwoman....................................Mary O'Farrell
Second Washerwoman...................................Peggy Marshall
Chorus...............................Sheila Brennan, Gillian Cromer Jane Jordan Rogers, Sheila Manahan, Denys Hawthorne, Harold Reese, John Scott, P.G. Stephens, Keith Williams.





compiled by Nigel Deacon / Diversity website

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