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Melanie Harris Radio Plays

Melanie is a producer from "up north" - Manchester. Apart from the plays listed below- that's all I know.... N.D.


CAUSE CELEBRE....2011
BBC details, slightly edited: 25 Jun 11; R3, 120m. The Old Vic Theatre's recent production of Terence Rattigan's courtroom drama, directed by Thea Sharrock, with Anne Marie Duff and Niamh Cusack.

2011 is the centenary of Terence Rattigan's birth. Cause Celebre was originally a radio play, produced by the BBC in 1975. Rattigan was fascinated by a sensational murder trial at the Old Bailey in 1935 concerning an elderly architect allegedly killed by his much younger wife Alma and George, their handsome odd-job boy. The popular press had a field day - tales of sex, drugs, alcohol and gore were plastered across the papers. The play follows the course of the murder trial and its impact on Edith Davenport, the morally upright forewoman of the jury. Edith is forced to reconsider her initial condemnation of the life-affirming, morally relaxed Alma.

Cast:
Joan Webster ..... Lucy Black
Francis Rattenbury .... Timothy Carlton
John Davenport .... Simon Chandler
Croom-Johnson ..... Richard Clifford
Christopher .... Oliver Coopersmith
Edith Davenport .... Niamh Cusack
Alma Rattenbury ..... Anne-Marie Duff
Montagu ..... Rory Fleck-Byrne
Tony Davenport .... Freddie Fox
Irene Riggs .... Jenny Galloway
Judge ...... Patrick Godfrey
O'Connor .... Nicholas Jones
George Wood .......Tommy McDonnell
Stella Morrison ....... Lucy Robinson
Clerk of the court .....Tristan Shepherd
Casswell ....... Richard Teverson
Wardress ....... Sarah Waddell
Sergeant Bagwell ....... Michael Webber
Coroner ....... Tristram Wymark

The play was directed by Thea Sharrock and produced by Polly Thomas for Sparklab, from the recent production by the Old Vic Theatre.

Assistant director.... Eleanor While
Original music..... Adrian Johnston .
Executive producer...... Melanie Harris.


ALONE TOGETHER....2010
4 Jul 20; by Neil McKay. About R.S.Thomas, Welsh poet, priest and bird watcher. Producer Melanie Harris. 90m.


AND SO SAY ALL OF US....2010
2 May 10, R3; Sunday Play. Ahead of the general election, Radio 3 broadcast a topical new play by Prof. Dan Rebellato of the Department of Drama and Theatre at Royal Holloway, University of London.

Written in collaboration with Linda McLean and Duncan Macmillan, the play, ‘And So Say All of Us’, skewers the absurdities of the the general election.

Dan Rebellato: “The election isn’t really generating serious debate. There’s a strange speech act that seems to have overtaken politics. In an election campaign, we need to know literally what politicians are promising; instead we have this curious evasion, a blank locution, phrases literally untrue but which sound as if they mean something - but without any references. The slogans are getting more and more vacuous. They sound like they might be meaningful but who knows what they mean?”

    Cast: Louisa Lytton, Derel Riddell, Amelia Bullmore, Michael Begley, David Annen, Tom Goodman-Hill, Effie Woods. Producer Melanie Harris; director Polly Thomas.

    ND comment - This was a first-class piece of writing, in the best "Radio 3" style, and the production was excellent too. It was by turns hilariious and thought-provoking. If any politicians were listening I hope they experienced a very uncomfortable 90 minutes.

    More about the play on the Dan Rebellato page.

AMAZONIA....2010
By Garry Lyons. 7 Feb 2010. Play about Arthur Ransome, double agent in Russia; who later became a children's writer. Producer Melanie Harris, 90m. R3.


FALL....2009
28 Jun 09, R3. By Zinnie Harris; thriller about politics in a developing country. 90m. Producer Melanie Harris.


BURIED....2009
Friday Play by Steve Jacobi, 5 May 09. About Steve's friend Mark Higson; a civil servant who blew the whistle on the Iraqi arms scandal in 1989. A backdrop of news extracts from the period accompanies this study of a brilliant but troubled man who lost everything when he acted on his conscience.

Cast: Mark ...... John Lloyd Fillingham, Steve ...... Michael Begley, Man from FO/Journalist ...... Malcolm Raeburn, Lord Justice Scott ...... Rob Pickavance, Teddy ...... Wilson Presiley, Baxendale/Cheryl ...... Deborah McAndrew. Directed by Melanie Harris. Broadcasts Fri 4 May 2007 21:00 BBC Radio 4 (FM only) and Fri 15 May 2009 21:00 BBC Radio 4.


My Uncle Freddie ....2004
31 Jul 04. Part of series ....Award-winning comedy series by Alex Ferguson about a boy and his uncle, set on Tyneside in 1939. 5: `I'll Tell You what Love Is'. Charlotte invites Lecky to her tea party for two and tells him that she is going to have a baby - she has been kissed on the mouth by Lecky, so she must be pregnant. With Shaun Prendergast and Jamie Bell. Director: Melanie Harris.


2004 - ALFRED BRADLEY AWARD
Anthony Cropper is the winner of the seventh Alfred Bradley Bursary Award with his play Telling Stories. The judges - playwright and novelist Willy Russell; Caroline Raphael (Commissioning Editor at Radio 4); poet and author Jackie Kay; actor Barbara Marten; Petra Bradley (daughter of the late Alfred Bradley); and Melanie Harris (project director, Northern Exposure) - selected Telling Stories from over 280 entries.

Anthony's play focuses on four people who seem set on destroying each other. They meet for a meal. They bicker and fight, they flirt and tell stories. They chip away at each other, pouncing on weaknesses.

Their varying interpretations of that evening highlight the difficulties of communication. The characters are out to score points and they raise the stakes until one of them breaks.

Willy Russell said: "As soon as I began reading the play, I had that unmistakeable sense of being drawn into an expertly drawn world.

"I liked the script's sense of daring and its ability to present the bleakness of these lives without the play itself ever becoming bleak or nihilistic.

"Although this is a muscular, robust and meaningful drama, the author understands the need to engage and entertain his audience."

-*HEART 60m 2003
A vile murder has been committed.....a repressed young man is arrested on suspicion of murdering a young woman. His parents, an ordinary couple, suddenly find themselves in the middle of a nightmare. This part (the first half of the drama) is told from their point of view. With Brigit Forsyth and Paul Copley as the parents; also with Claude Close, Danny Burns, Sarah Parks. Directed by Kate Rowland. Friday play, 25 Apr 03.

-*ATTACK 60m 2003
The second part of the murder inquiry, from the point of view of the idiosyncratic female detective leading the investigation. The story is set against the backdrop of a small town which wants answers and a quick arrest. Excellent reading of a superb script. With Sarah Parks as D.I. Hard, Danny Burns as Smithy, Brigit Forsyth as Mary, Paul Copley as Bill; also stars Sally Walsh, Des Cummings, Claude Close. A different director... Melanie Harris. Friday play, 2 May 03.

NORTHERN EXPOSURE.....a new initiative...2002
..........The January seminar gave some hope for those interested in writing or listening to radio drama. About forty people attended with the sex ratio in favour of the female by about 65/35. The age range ran from old (me) down to twenty, with the majority in the 40 to 50 age range. Melanie Harris, a BBC Northern (Manchester) producer, ran the event. Some practical exercises were done towards the end of her discourse and the whole was capped by the audio presentation of four openings to radio dramas. (Donald Campbell, writing about "Northern Exposure", a BBC drama initiative, in 2002 - see main articles page for the full text)


I See the Moon ....2001
18 May 01. By Alex Ferguson. A thrilling ghost story about a lost childhood, told by a man whom no one believes. With Cliff Howells, Kathryn Hunt, Russell Dixon and Mary Cunningham. Directed by Melanie Harris.


IN A GROVE....2000
By Ryunosuke Akutagawa. Classic Serial, 19 Mar 2000; set in 10th century feudal Japan. For more information see separate review.


Roberto Sultana ....1999
14 Sep 99. By Katie Hims. Nine-year-old Shelly writes to her hero Roberto Sultana who is away looking for a man with a limp. Her mother will not eat, talk or get out of bed. Shelly needs some help. With Sarah Tingle, Christopher Horner and Liz Smith. Director Melanie Harris.I seem to remember this as a frenetic comedy ... ND...


In the Solitude of the Cotton Fields....1999
7 Mar 99, Radio 3. By Bernard-Marie Koltès.

A bleak dissection of an enigmatic encounter between two men offering a fascinating and discomforting vision of the concerns of Western society. The play dramatises a nocturnal encounter in a grim, urban setting between a pair who are generically characterised as "The Dealer" and "The Client."

For more about this play see Jim's review.

Directed by Melanie Harris in Manchester.


The Grey Man ....1997
6 Nov 97. By Gill Adams. Betty and John Wilkinson both live a lie. Their son is dying in California. When John reluctantly travels out to bury him, he hides at the back: he is the grey man in the crowd. With James Bolam and Rachel Davies. Director Melanie Harris.


CLOSE ENOUGH TO TOUCH....1997
By Fred Lawless. Dram-doc, R4. 27th Sep 97, Saturday Playhouse. This is the dramatised story of the loss of the submarine HMS Thetis in Liverpool Bay on 1st June, 1939, which cost 99 lives. To read more about it see Jim's review.


Missing Mandy ....1997
by B. Dooley. 30m. Afternoon play. Peter is dumped by his girlfriend - how will he cope? With Ian Dunn, Joanne Sheridan, Val Lillee. Directed by Melanie Harris.

compiled by Nigel Deacon / Diversity website

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