Radio Plays based on letters or correspondence

By Rony Robinson. A man and woman work in the family archives. The man unexpectedly receives a bundle of letters, all from women, all answering a lonely hearts advert he didn't place. With David Calder, Barbara Marten, Helen Flanagan, Sacha Dhawan. Producer Pauline Harris. 30 Dec 08.

27 Jul 2006. By Steve Merrett. A love affair based almost entirely on correspondence, with a happy ending. True story.

19 sep 2006. By Isobel Mahon. A widow finds some love letters from her late husband to - a man.

EX LIBRIS....2006
By Nicholas McInnerney, R4 1415, 31 Jan 06. A woman receives a legacy: a cottage previously inhabited by her aunt, an academic. She finds a bundle of old letters. That’s where the story begins.

This play attracted interesting comments on the Radio 4 messageboard. “It was a gripping journey through a matrix of affairs of the heart; it didn't wallow or focus on grief but took the reader on a fantastic journey through a huge gamut of emotional experiences. The academic context was spot-on, too, and readily accessible to the average listener.” (C.H.)

“From the opening strands of Bach´s cello suites to the last this drama had class written all over it”. …just the tonic I needed clearing up after last night´s New Years´Eve bash. Lets hope this sets the trend for the year ahead. (‘penguin’, a frequent contributor to the R4 messageboard).

10 Feb 04. A married and respectable translator conducts a passionate correspondence with a raffish German prince. With Bill Nighy. Produced by Claire Grove.

Jane Sellars' account of growing up in the 1970s. She kept most of the letters her mother wrote to her when she was in the first year at Manchester University but her replies were mostly lost. She's recreated the letters as if she was 19 again, writing back to her mother who was at home with two other daughters on a very tight budget. Vanessa Rosenthal's dramatisation brings it back to life. Dramatised by Vanessa Rosenthal. 5 x 15m, starting 8 Mar 04.

Not sure if this is the correct title - but the play is a docu-drama about the relationship between Barnes-Wallis, the inventor of the amazing "bouncing bomb" (tested on a reservoir just outside Uppingham - the Eyebrook, I think) and the girl he was to marry. The play is based on letters found by his daughter after his death, after a long and happy marriage: Barnes was seventeen years older, and yet they had fifty-four years together. He had the gift of making difficult things seem simple...just listen to the way he explains the principles of calculus to his fiancee. Written by Ray Brown.

Ellen Brassheart's Obduracy….2000
By Jennifer Howarth (R4, 3 Nov 00, 1415): this play looked at the relationship of Ellen Terry to George Bernard Shaw. They exchanged intimate and revealing letters over many years before finally meeting. A similar programme, The master and the boy (R4 6 Nov 00, 1100), looked at Shaw's correspondence and friendship with the heavyweight boxing champion Gene Tunney; it was presented by the boxer's son, Jay. Shaw had always admired Ellen Terry's skills as an actress, and was similarly impressed by Tunney, who applied himself scientifically and logically to the defeat of each opponent. Programmes about Shaw's life are often more interesting than the preachy tone of his plays. (ND, VRPVV newsletter, Dec 2000)

By A.Hallett. A drama-documentary based on 60 year old letters written by wartime evacuee Gerald Meadows, who was evacuated to South Africa during the war. If I remember rightly, the play has a short interview with Gerald Meadows at the end. R4, 16 Sep 99.

c 1990? By Derel Chapman. A girl born just before WW2 shows artistic talent and becomes an art student. This play is expressed as a sequence of letters read by the girl, ending up as a middle-aged woman looking back over her life so far. BBC; rpt. c1998 on ABC Radio National.

compiled by Nigel Deacon / Diversity website

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