Michael Bakewell radio plays

Michael has been involved radio drama since the fifties - everything from Giles Cooper to Agatha Christie. He has directed, produced (what's the difference?!) and dramatised the work of other writers. He was married to June Bakewell (q.v.).

Here are details of a few plays in which he's been involved. There are many more on the Agatha Christie page - go to Radio Plays followed by Writers. You'll also find another Michael Bakewell entry on the Writers page.

A new production of UNDER THE LOOFAH TREE. by Giles Cooper (R4, 1415, 7 Feb 06) was made to mark the 40th anniversary of the death of the author.Cooper remains one of the giants of the radio play. His masterpiece Under the Loofah Tree, first broadcast in 1958, made full use of the BBC's radiophonic workshop, then only recently established. This new production displays Cooper's mastery of minimalistic form with a simple premise - a middle-aged man takes a leisurely bath and lets his mind drift over his life. Apart from a couple of interruptions, that's it.

Donald MacWhinnie, Cooper's first producer, called the play "........forty-five minutes of highly distilled experience crystallised into a sound - complex: words, rhythms, evocative noises, fused into a kind of musical score which constantly stimulates the ear and the imagination". The play was preceded by Michael Bakewell talking to Ric Cooper (younger son of Giles) about his father; Michael Maloney was the man, with Jenny Funnell, Thomas Helm, Sam Kelly, Iam Masters, Bernard Cribbins and Sandy Walsh. The producer was Martin Jenkins.

Click here for the full article:
Under the Loofah Tree -Michael Bakewell & Ric Cooper

When In Rome....2003
12 Apr 03,by Ngaio Marsh. It's 1970s Rome and Chief Detective Inspector Alleyn is incognito and on the trail of a vast drugs syndicate, but he hasn't reckoned on murder. Produced by Michael Bakewell.

The Penthouse Apartment ....1998
28 July 98. By William Trevor, dramatised by Michael Bakewell. A shy spinster leads a quiet life - until she is invited to visit the opulent home of her neighbours. With Dorothy Tutin, Bryan Pringle and Ada Russo. Director Enyd Williams.

A Caribbean Mystery ....1997
27 Nov 97, R4, and preceding 4 weeks. The conclusion of Michael Bakewell's five-part dramatisation of Agatha Christie's novel. Starring June Whitfield as Miss Marple. Two murders and now an attempted suicide - are they somehow linked? With George A Cooper, Alison Pettitt and David Thorpe. Director Enyd Williams.

Chris Everett adds:......Whilst reading the Archers page, I noticed you have missed a credit for Jack May. He played Theoden (as only Jack May could with that wonderful voice) in the 1987 radio serialisation of Lord of the Rings dramatised by Brian Sibley and Michael Bakewell and produced and directed by Jane Morgan and Penny Leicester. Whether you like Tolkien or not this has to have been one of the most ambitious and successful radio dramatisations of all time. I think it is a shame that the recent films did not maintain the some of the same production values (music, songs, some casting, editing). Although the visual effects were extremely good it is hard to make them match the power of imagination - the strength of radio drama. Anyway, another credit for Jack.....................thanks Chris..............N.D.......

27 Apr-15 Jun 1095; serial, Light Programme, 8 x 30m. By Philip Levene. A number of scientists disappear. Andrew and Helen try to find out why. Cast: Robert Urquhart, Gwen Cherrell, John Dearth, Arnold Marne, Richard Williams, Dorothy Holmes-Gore, John Cazabon, Peter Claughton, Trevor Martin, James Thomason, Haydn Jones, Joan Matheson, Malcolm Hayes, George Hagan, John Hollis, John Glen, Godfrey Kenton, Gabriel Woolf, Anthony Viccars, John Boddington, John Graham, Norman Claridge, Duncan McIntyre. Producer Michael Bakewell.

Third programme, BBC, 4 Jun 59.
Desmond- Kenneth Griffith
Jane- Frances Cuka
Alfred- Toke Townley.
Produced by Michael Bakewell.

Giles Cooper:
"as long as radio exists, drama will be written for, because it can handle some plays better than any other medium- in particular, plays in which the writer has to make the audience accept a world other than the one they see around them." Thus spoke Giles Cooper - and when one considers some of the worlds which he has explored, one sees the truth of this remark: the terrifying schoolchildren in Unman, Wittering and Zigo; the isolated military community guarding Mathry Beacon long after the war has stopped; the indomitable Augusta Forefinger assembling in her garden the statues of her grandfather from the far corners of the world - Giles Cooper has created his own worlds and made them terrifyingly real.

"Dangerous Word" is the least fantastic of his plays - it is concerned with the administration of justice in modern Africa. A man is sent to be district magistrates in Combermere. He finds the white community there arrogant, complacent, and totally cut off from the coloured community around them. He is determined to give equal justice to black and white, but he carries this out like a fanatic. Opinion turns against him, and he finds his actions being misinterpreted. He persists and disaster follows. Giles Cooper has said that the play is the tragedy of a man who sees himself as a dispenser of justice and is cast down for his arrogance. He discovers there is no absolute justice.

The above is summarised from an article by Michael Bakewell written in 1961 in "From the Fifties" in the book of the BBC radio drama series.

copyright Nigel Deacon / Diversity website

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