Mark Lawson Radio Plays

Mark Lawson is a familiar name to radio 4 listeners because he's the regular presenter of the weekday Arts programme 'Front Row'. He has also written some interesting radio plays, including "The Number of the Dead" for "The Wire" on Radio 3, which gave a fascinating picture of what happens on a big-news day in the studio in programmes like "The World at One".


By Mark Lawson. 21 Apr 2016. In the Vatican in the near future, 120 cardinals gather in the Sistene chapel to elect a new pontiff. For the first time since 1159, he might be English. Cardinal Faber: Nick Dunning, Cardinal Simouri: Jude Akuwudike, Rachel grealish: Lisa-Ann MaLaughlin, Matrtha Keen: Scarlett Brookes, Tom Graham: Patrick FitzSymons, Cardinal O'Callaghan: Pat Laffan, Padro Antenucci: Faolan Morgan. Producer: Eoin O'Callaghan.

    Mark Lawson's new play, HOLY FATHER (R4, 1415, 21 Apr 16) was set in the Vatican in the near future. 120 cardinals are electing a new Pope. But there is a problem; the front-runner for the position has done something in the past, before he was a priest, which probably makes him ineligible for the job. Mark Lawson has devised an excellent plot; he has a crisp turn of phrase, and the dialogue sparkled. Cardinal Faber was played by Nick Dunning and Cardinal Simouri by Jude Akuwudike; Eoin O'Callaghan was the producer.
    (......ND, Diversity website review, Apr 2016)

12 Oct 2011.....a cleverly written play about a reclusive artist. A young art historian seems to understand the hidden meanings in his work, and she shares these insights in her teaching. But the art establishment doesn't agree with her, and during one lecture she meets a stubborn individual who repeatedly says that she's wrong. It has serious consequences for both of them, and the plot had a great twist at the end.

Emmie, the young lecturer, was played by Hattie Morahan; Joss Ackland took the other lead, and Mark Lawson, of 'Front Row' fame, played himself. The producer was Eoin O'Callaghan. ND, vrpcc review, Dec 2011

    BBC blurb:
    In an intriguing murder mystery in the art world, Mark Lawson pursues a theme which for him holds particular fascination; the desire of the artist to remain illusive and anonymous behind work which is heavily codified and seemingly impenetrable. When a brilliant young art historian flies in the face of the received wisdom regarding the work of the reclusive Anderson Perrine, the artist feels a distinct invasion of his privacy. He sets about laying a series of false trails but her pursuit of him is unrelenting and he is obliged to take radically evasive action. Emmie Callaghan ....... Hattie Morahan, Anderson Perrine ....... Joss Ackland, Professor Black's commentary ....... Miche Doherty, Radio Arts Presenter ....... Mark Lawson, Gallery Announcer ....... Robin Read, Visitor to the Gallery ....... Aine McCartney, Visitor to the Gallery ....... BJ Hogg, Visitor to the Gallery ....... Mark Lambert. Producer ....... Eoin O'Callaghan.

21 Dec 10. Afternoon Play. Details to follow when I have them.

WHAT DID I SAY?....2009
30 12 2009. When Max Coleman is suspended from work for an allegedly offensive remark; he just can't figure out what on earth he might have said. Which is very odd; I thought that in England we had freedom of speech. Max Coleman ...... Neil Pearson, Juliet Coleman ...... Amy, Marston Chubbs ...... Piers, Wehner Tom Neades ...... Chris McHallem, Susan Brogan ...... Aine McCartney, Alice Irvine ...... Tessa Nicholson. Producer Eoin O'Callaghan.

9-13 Feb, Woman's Hour serial. Mystery centred on a reading group. A well known writer leaves clues in his final novel that his recently deceased wife was murdered. A policewoman member of the group has to analyse the incriminating text. Mark Lawson appears as himself; so does Melvyn Bragg. Cast: Lia Williams, Mark Lambert, Hugh Ross, Chris Pavlo, Donnla Hughes, Jill Cardo, Richard Howard, Nickolas Grace, Mark Lawson, Melvyn Bragg. Producer Eoin O'Callaghan.

Sat 31 Jan, "The Wire", 60m, R3. Drama about a broadcaster on a major news network who has to face a crisis on-air. I thought this Mark lawson's best radio play so far. Gillian Reynolds wrote of it, in the Daily Telegraph: ..............it took place in a radio studio, was about the news and what lies behind it. It had the convincing ring of close observation, brimming with gossipy detail.

Tim Freeman, played by Tim McInnerney, presents a three-hour midday news magazine. He's an old hand; his yound female sidekick is making her debut. It's an ordinary day: an interview with a minister in a radio car, listeners 'phoning in and texting opinions, traffic and travel, headlines, sport.........an unexpected story breaks: some young men are holding hostages in a city bank. Shots have been heard.

We hear the producer react, and Tim's inner dialogue; Tim on-air; Tim off-air in the studio. Eoin O'Callaghan did this script proud. (For those who haven't yet heard the play I've only quoted a small part of Gillian's review, and taken out 'spoilers' - ND)

Cast details: Tim McInnerney, Lia Williams, Amy Marston, Inam Mirza, John McAndrew, Pamela Miles, Paul Panting, Michael Elwyn. Producer Eoin O'Callaghan.

......by Mark Lawson, (R4, 1415, 26 Mar 07) was a rather unsettling play about the power of the internet. A man is giving a lecture about what happened to his son and daughter, after his daughter was unknowingly photographed performing a sexual act at a party. The photo ends up on a website, Dad's job is affected, and the situation escalates as the picture is duplicated and circulated around the world. And in spite of the consequences, including the breakup of a family, no-one had done anything illegal. It was a reminder about what can happen if the wrong material gets onto the web or, for that matter, into an email. More than one employee has lost his job by making online comments about his boss. Alex Jennings, Haydn Gwynne and Lynne Seymour starred, and the director was Eoin O'Callahagn. .......ND, VRPCC newsletter, Apr 07.

The play was shortlisted for a radio award - I think a Sony Award - for 2007, along with Charles Wood Conspiracy at Sevres and Steve Gooch - McNaughton. This last play was the eventual winner.

The Third Soldier Holds His Thighs....2005
18 Feb 05; Friday play by Mark Lawson. Eleanor Bron /Ewan Bailey /Simon Callow /Jon Glover /Ron Cook /Geoffrey Whitehead /Greg Hicks /Peter Wickham /Peter Spruce /Daniel Evans /Mark Straker.

The Man Who Had 10,000 Women....2003
26 Nov 03. By Mark Lawson . On the day of the death of the novelist George Simenon, creator of the Inspector Maigret series, a Parisian detective with a slightly familiar name is asked to investigate the mysteries, sexual and political, in Simenon's life.

(R4 1415 7 Mar 03), a literary comedy, was Mark Lawson's second radio play. The Vatican decides to stop the slide of literature towards the base and obscene by canonising either Evelyn Waugh or Graham Greene. Priests explore the two writers' characters, and their very different attitudes to almost everything emerge. John Sessions was Waugh, Simon Day was Greene and Peter Wickham and Daniel Evans were the clerics; the director was Robyn Read. ....ND, VRPCC newsletter, Apr 03.

(Mark Lawson as presenter)..................There have been other worthwhile things on radio recently: John Hegley acting the fool in a short series of plays loosely concerned with biking around the country on a camping holiday; a series presented by Mark Lawson on Northern comics; and yet another series of I.S.I.H.A.C, with an outstanding show, the best I've heard, with guest Heinz Wolf and broadcast on R4, 1830, 6 Dec. ....ND, VRPCC newsletter, Dec 1997.

compiled by Nigel Deacon / Diversity website

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