Radio Plays, 2015

ex-R4 forum/ 'beebotron' / R3 drama forum /

14 Nov: Saturday Play - Black Dog
By Katie Hims. A woman abandoned by her husband; left to care for her seven year old son and a black dog. 90m. Claire Rushbrook as Clare, with Ralph Ineson, Alexander Aze, Adam T Wright, Will Howard, Caolan McCarthy, Nahel Tzegal, Karl Queensborough, Stephen Critchlow, Rachel Davies, Peter Wright, Amelia Lowdell, Rosa Yevtushenko, Greta Dudgeon, Rebecca Ineson, Deeivya Meir, Debra Baker, Jessica Turner, David Houslow, Evie Killip and Chris Pavlo. Producer: Mart Peate; music: Nina Perry; cellist: Danny Keane.

    Summary of Jane Anderson's comments from RT:
    Clare and her husband Richard live happily together, with their young son. Then one day Richard does not come back from work. Over the next decade Clare receives information about her husband: stolen kisses with a teaching assistant, twice-weekly visits to a therapist and a secret about his childhood, but she discovers a lot more about herself.

3 Sep: The Toffee Tip
By Johnny Vegas. Described in RT as semi-autobiographical. Two boys, both skint, hear about a local dumping ground for shop-soiled sweets and try to find it. They have to deal with baffling bus routes, a travellers' camp, a gang of bullies and other obstacles. Will they get there? Mick: Joshua Moodie, Martin: Michael Pennington, Johnny: Ethan Coughlin, Ian: Joe Gaffney, Jimmy: Jimmy Metcalfe, Mark: Mark Pennington, with Johnny Vegas, Peter Slater, Tigga Goulding, James Langtree-Brown. Produced by Johnny Vegas.

    Brief summary of Chris Gardner's writeup in RT:
    ...set in the Pennington household where young Johnny is feeling the pinch. His favourite soft drink has been replaced with 'council pop' (water). But when he hears of the Toffee Tip, where the sweet shop's spoiled confectionary gets dumped, life gets a lot better. With his pal Ian he begins to search.

2 Sep: The Interrogation
By Roy Williams. A new series of crime stories. This one is about the son of a well-off scrap metal dealer. DS Matthews: Kenneth Cranham, DC Armitage: Alex Lanipekun, Tom: Luke Norris, Debbie Ross: Susan Brown. Producer: Mary Peate.

    Jane Anderson, RT (summarised by ND): The last series left us on a cliffhanger; Matthews and Armitage were being held hostage at gunpoint and a shot rang out. We now discover that Armitage who took the bullet but he's back at work after time in hospital. The duo's relationship is in tatters - until they conduct an interrogation together...

20 Aug: Red and Blue
By Philip Palmer. Ep. 2 of 3. Bradley Shoreham, wargames and future-scenario expert, is hired to stress-test the emergency services. His divide-and-rule tactics provoke hostility, especially from a senior police officer who doesn't seem quite up to the job. Bradley: Tim Woodward, Alessandra: Sara Kestelman, Harry: David Houslow, Katie: Jane Slavin, Alan: Stephen Critchlow, Claire: Christine Kavanagh, with Rhiannon Neads, Alex Tregear and Jessica Turner. Producers: Toby Swift and Gemma Jenkins. The plot in this powerful drama was was linked to the previous episode though it could also be heard as a stand-alone story.

18-19 Aug: Undercover Mumbai
By Ayeesha Menon, recorded on location in India, from Indie producer Goldhawk Essential. Disgraced policewoman Alia Khan is released from prison and looks for work at a run-down Mumbai hotel, but murder follows her to her new place of work. In spite of no longer being a police officer, she becomes involved. In two 45m episodes.Alia: Prerna Chawla, Ratna: Shivani Tanksale, Jamal: Kenny Desai, Yamraj: Abhey Mahajan, Meenakshi: Ratnabali Bhattacharjee, Faisal: Prashant Prakash, Bala: Prabal Panjabi, Mrs. Gomes: Radhika Mital, Snr. Insp Desai: Rajit Kapur, with Joy Sengupta, Sohrab Ardeshir, Adhir Bhat, Satchit Puranik, Neil Bhoopalam, Preetika Chawla, Nadir Khan and Vivek Madan. Produced by Nadir Khan; directed by John Dryden.

14 Aug: My Brilliant Divorce
By Geraldine Aron. A comedy drama about ... (hidden clue in title) ... When Angela's husband leaves her for another woman she is initially cheerful about her freedom. It doesn't last. The play is a little gem; full of wry observations about divorce and loneliness and the heartache associated with breakup, made all the more memorable by its humorous treatment. Angela: Caroline Quentin, Max: James Lance, Vanessa: Claire-Marie Hall, Mother: Sally Grace, Mr. Tripp: Matt Addis. Producer: Liz Anstee.

13 Aug 15: Red and Blue
Bradley Shoreham returns. By Philip Palmer. This is a new series of three dramas focusing on the work of a fictional wargames expert who now hires himself out to other institutions, inventing scenarios which put their emergency planning procedures under test. In this play (ep. 1 of 3) he sells his services to an international financier. The series continues next week (20 Aug). Bradley: Tim Woodward, Alessandra: Sara Kestelman, Mark: Jonathan Bailey, Waiters: Chris Pavlo, Mark Edel-Hunt. Produced by Philip Palmer.

    Comment from ND
    .... the drama in these episodes is excellent, and Tim Woodward is admirable as Bradley Shoreham. I was less happy however with the climate-change implications of parts of the plot. As a scientist of 35 years experience I am unhappy with the politicisation of the effects of man-made carbon dioxide, which, so far as I can see, are miniscule.

For the reasons why the man-made global warming theory is untenable, see my energy website, habitat21.co.uk.

3 Aug 15: Silk: The Clerk's Room
By Mick Collins; spin-off from TV. Episode 1 of 3, broadcast on successive days. Head legal clerk Billy Lamb believes Shoe Lane is on the brink of financial collapse. He makes a bid to secure some work from an unscrupulous solicitor. Continued on 4 Aug. Billy: Neil Stuke, Bethany: Amy Wren, Jake: Theo Barklem-Biggs, Rose: Alex Tregear, Anthony: Mark Edel-Hunt, Ray: David Houslow, Lee: Josef Atkin, with John Macmillan, Jessica Henwick, Amelia Lowdell, Chris Pavlo, David Houslow, David Acton, Stephen Critchlow and Jessica Turner. Producer: Sasha Yevtushenko.

Ep. 2: A rift at Shoe Lane causes prosecution to be pitted against defence, with Billy and his deputy John competing for control of the clerk's room. Continued on 5 Aug. Cast - as yesterday.

Ep. 3 - conclusion. Billy struggles to save Shoe Lane, and he turns to an unscrupulous solicitor. Cast etc - see 3 Aug.

9 Aug: Classic Serial: The Antiquary
By Walter Scott, ad. Mike Harris. Ep. 2 of 3. Family secrets, hidden treasure and hopeless love. Scott: David Tennant, narrator; Oldbuck, the antiquary: Richard Wilson, Edie: Alexander Morton, Sir Arthur: Stuart McGugan, Isabel: Melody Grove, Lovel: Dominic Rye, Geraldin: Christian Rodska, with Charles Davies, John Wark, David Haydn and Beth Tuckey. Music: Ross Hughes and Esben Tjalve. Producer: Clive Brill. Indie. (Brill Productions).

25 Jul 15: Saturday Play: Diamonds Are Forever
90m drama: James Bond story by Ian Fleming, dram. Archie Scottney for Jarvis & Ayres (Indie production). Bond investigates a New York crime syndicate's plot to smuggle diamonds out of British mines in Africa. This was an entertaining tale, very well done. Bond: Toby Stephens, M: John Standing, Supt. Harris: Nigel Havers, Rufus B Saye: Alan Shearman, Tiffany Case: Lisa Dillon, Shady Tree: Alex Jennings, Felix Leiter: Josh Stamberg, with Stacy Keach, Jared Harris, Kevin Daniels, Andre Sogliuzzo, Darren Richardson, Matthew Wolf, and Martin Jarvis as Ian Fleming. Produced by Rosalind Ayres, directed by Martin Jarvis.

20 Jul 15: The Gold Killing
By Paul Sellar. Thriller. Notes for ep. 1 of 2. Joe Stein was a boxer but is now a shrewd entrepreneur. He begins his rise up the social ladder. Then he has the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to invest in a Ghanaian gold mine... it results in a series of murders. Set on Ghana's gold coast. Conclusion tomorrow. Joe: Robert Glenister, The Marquess: Pip Torrens, Tony: David Houslow, with Amelia Lowdell, Obi Abili, Alex Tregear, Rhiannon Neads, Stephen Critchlow and Danny Sapani. Producer: Sally Avens.

29 June 15: Road to St. David's
By Douglas Livingstone. The colourful celebrations of ancient myths at the St. David's Day festival are the setting for a story about two pilgrims seeking help from the city's two saints. David: Matt Addis, Sonia: Faye Costelow, Owen: Matthew Morgan, Jean: Grainne Keenan, with Charlotte Worthing and Ioan Meredith. Producer: Jane Morgan.

Summary of remarks by Gillian Reynolds, DT:
17 Jun 15, afternoon. A new play by Mike Walker. It is based on fact, set at the Duchess of Richmond's ball held 200 years ago. Napoleon has escaped from Elba and the Duke of Wellington has arrived for what will be the Battle of Waterloo. Wellington: Simon Paisley Day, the Duchess: Jane Slavin, Talleyrand: Stephen Greif.

Summary of remarks by Gillian Reynolds, DT:
By John Priestley. Mon 15 Jun, R4 Extra. Three couples meet up to celebrate the day they were married, 25 years ago, in the same church by the same vicar. There's a photographer coming from the local paper, the wine is ready, and the speeches. Then comes the news that none of the marriages was legal. For the first time in 25 years, they are all free of their matrimonial bonds. Alun Armstrong, Brenda Blethyn, Alan Bennett, Nicola Pagett.

18 Apr: Saturday Drama. By Simon Armitage. Play inspired by the film maker Derek Jarman. Two people, Bella and Jude, are stranded by floods on their isolated farm; self-sufficient and more or less content. They have enough stored food for the indefinite future, and are sitting tight. Then one day, they rescue a stranger. He stays with them and upsets their equilibrium. The play is loosely 'science fiction' set in the near future. Bella: Amaka Okafor, Jude: Catherine Cusack, Gregor, the stranger: Gabriel Constantine. Producers: Jeremy Mortimer and Kate Bland. Directed by JM.

R4, 30 Mar 2015. By Sean Grundy; a play about the early life of Patrick Moore, the astronomer, and the events surrounding the origins of the programme "The Sky At Night", which was presented by him for fifty-five years.

(Notes summarised from Gillian Reynolds' review, DT)
The best thing in ages was Monday’s Afternoon Drama on Radio 4, Far Side of the Moore, in which Tom Hollander played Patrick Moore in Sean Grundy’s neatly constructed account of how an eccentric amateur became Britain’s favourite astronomer. It wouldn’t have happened without a BBC TV producer Paul Johnstone (Daniel Weyman) having faith in Moore’s expertise and natural gift for communication.

If Moore’s widowed mother (played by Patricia Hodge) had not home-schooled her delicate son he might never have developed his passion for stars and skies. The necessary tension in the play sprang from setting Moore up against a jealous academic rival, Dr Henry King (played by Anton Lesser).

By fate, accident, or amazing luck, Moore got onto the small screen, monocle, mannerisms and all, and made us all see the universe anew. The play wouldn’t work on TV because Hollander looks nothing like Moore. But, in sound, he captured him heart, soul and voice.

    Summarised from BBC Publicity:
    It’s 1957 and the little-known Patrick is living with his mother in East Grinstead. He studies the heavens and writes popular factual works on astronomy, and science fiction under a pseudonym. When his latest book Suns, Myths And Men gets a bad review from the academic Henry King, Patrick is in despair and, when the phone rings, he expects more bad news.

    This is the story of how a self-taught astronomer, whose Moon maps were later used by the Apollo missions, became the presenter of The Sky At Night. It’s also the story of a mysterious love affair, and a window into the mind of one of the nation's favourite broadcasters.

    Cast: Tom Hollander as Sir Patrick Moore; Felicity Duncan as Lorna; Patricia Hodge as Gertrude; Anton Lesser as Dr Henry King; Charlotte Ritchie as Eileen Wilkins; David Shaw-Parker as Leonard Miall; Simon Treves as Arthur C. Clarke; and Daniel Weyman as Paul Johnstone. Producer/David Morley. Directed by Dirk Maggs. Indie (Perfectly Normal Productions).

      There were some interesting observations about the play on the Sky At Night website. There was also some coverage on the British Astronomical Association website , where the overall impression was favourable. Martin Mobberley said that although the play is fiction, loosely based on facts, they had gone to great lengths to get the sound effects right. They even recorded John Mason using one of Patrick's typewriters to get the Woodstock typewriter key-pounding correct.

Another very fine play from Goldhawk, set in India during the 1990s; a turbulent period in that country. The struggles of the Indian underclass in a society where the wealthy are above the law. R4, 1500, Classic Serial beginning 22 Mar 15, broadcast in three episodes. The novel is by Rohinton Mistry, adapted by Ayeesha Menon and Kewel Karim. In a remote Indian village, horrific violence erupts against a few individuals.... this play is described in more detail in the April review.

10 Mar 15. Mystery story by Ruth Rendell, adapted by Mike Walker. The story dates from 1976. Middle-aged accountant Arthur and his wife Gwen have a comfortable if rather dull life together. Then the charming and successful writer Reeve Baker steps into their lives. He is everything they're not: interesting, extroverted and likeable. Slowly their domestic harmony starts to crumble. Arthur: Reece Shearsmith, Gwen: Laura Piper, Reeve: Michael Maloney, with Rachel Atkins and David Holt. Produced by John Dryden. Indie production (Goldhawk Essential). Rpt.

THE MARK....2015
By Karen Brown. 6 Mar 15. The play is based on a true story. An ambitious policeman is duped into believing his work life and his love life are both on track. It isn't so ... Dean, the PC: Matthew McNulty, Jen: Rachel Leskovac, Ian: Craig Gallivan, Laura: Rachel Austin, Sgt. Walker: Roger Morlidge, DI Edwards: Hugh Simon. Produced by Pauline Harris.

    Chris Gardner in RT, summarised by ND:
    An ambitious young police officer falls for a nurse. He is too smitten to notice the signs of danger which creep into the narrative. Karen Brown has transformed a fairly ordinary story into a slow-burning melancholic drama of some substance. The narration allows us to hear the likeable lad's thoughts ....

26 Feb. By John Dryden. John's plays have a distinctive realism; they are generally recorded on location, using local actors. This is a gritty drama set in Mumbai. The story takes place against a vivid soundscape of Indian city life. A man walks into a couple's home and says that he thinks that it's his own house. But he's confused; he has suffered some sort of memory loss. He is befriended by a street child, but everything still seems to be going round in circles. The story gradually comes together, piece by piece, until at the end we realise the significance of the child.

David Crawford, in RT: ".......As the plot gradually coalesces, the missing pieces of his life are sketched in increasingly darker shades, until a final chilling scene which is pitch black."

Man: Vivek Madan, Child: Faezeh Jalali, Couple: Siddharth Menon/Shivani Tanksale, Neighbour: Suhaas Ahuja, Nita: Prerna Chawla, Homeless woman: Ayeesha Menon, Buddy: Namit Das. Producer: Preetika Chawla; directed by John Dryden. RT didn't mention that this was an Indie production (Goldhawk).

2-part Classic Serial beginning 22 Feb. A really interesting plot with excellent casting; the story is by Javier Marias (pronounced 'Havier') and adapted by Michael Butt. It's set in Spain but English accents abound. A man, Victor, is in bed with a new girlfriend; suddenly she feels ill and dies with no warning. He creeps out of the flat. He's shocked but not unduly upset; he hardly knew her, but he is intrigued, and he begins to poke around. Victor: Julian Rhind-Tutt, Luisa: Emma Fielding, Tellez: John Rowe, The King: Malcolm Sinclair / Nicholas Grace. Produced by Eoin O'Callaghan.

By Annie McCartney. 7 Feb 2015; rpt. 8 Feb. A rapid response to something in the news. This play was about the NHS.

    BBC info:
    Newspaper headlines and even the radio screams at us daily that the NHS is in crisis. "Immigration, lack of investment, over medication abuse by a growing number of patients who know their rights but not their responsibilities." Whatever the reality there is thin white line of overworked medics holding the system together, but for how much longer can this go on?

    The series presents writers with the chance to respond to events in the news, beginning on a Monday when an idea is selected through to Friday when the programme is recorded and edited. Dr McCormick: Patrick Fitzsymons, Julia McCormick: Aine McCartney, Mr Hughes: Alan McKee, Mrs O'Connor: Marcella Riordan, Producer: Eoin O'Callaghan.

By G.F.Newman, based on his novel "Crime and Punishment". It began on 19 Jan: ten episodes broadcast on successive weekdays. Before every episode there was a rather stilted health warning explaining that the story was politically incorrect; it reflected the values and attitudes prevalent at the time. Series 2 covers the years 1961-1970 and describes a family's history against the backdrop of a revolution in crime. In episode 1, Joey finds Brian's gun hidden at his house, so he calls the police. Joey: Toby Jones, Cath: Denise Gough, Brian: Joe Armstrong, Leah: Jasmine Hyde, Jack: Luke Allen-Gale, Narrator: Ross Kemp. Produced by Clive Brill. Indie (Brill Productions).

16 Jan: Take Me To The Necropolis
Play 3 on geographical themes: by Oliver Emanuel. We are taken on a journey through Glasgow's Necropolis. While celebrating their graduation, Alice takes Sasha on a secret trip to a graveyard. Sasha is not impressed, but after a lot of bubbly and some dope, it seems that imaginary boys and dead people can talk to them. Alice: Emerald O'Hanrahan, Sasha: Rebecca Hanson, Willy: Lewis Binnie, Gipsy queen: Alison Peebles, Lead Buchanan Sister: Rosalind Sydney, Actor: Liam Brennan. Other roles by Pearl Appleby, Amu Conachan, Michael Collins, Phillip Laing, Lorn MacDonald, Lorne McFayden and Hamish Riddle. Producer: Kirsty Williams.

    ....JA comment, RT:
    ......a mesh of actual and supernatural events; the collision of two worlds .....spectacular layers of audio, from ghostly voices to haunting harps.

3 Jan: Saturday Play: Cocktail Sticks
By Alan Bennett. An autobiographical play where Alan reflects on his early life with affection and some sadness. He and his mother had thought that the lives of others were somehow richer and better than their own. Now he's older, it's clear, looking back, that this was quite untrue. The material is drawn from his memoirs, adapted by Gordon House from a production by Nicholas Hytner which was on at the National Theatre in 2012. Narrator: Alan Bennett, Alan Bennett....Alex Jennings, Mum....Gabrielle Lloyd, Dad and Neville Coghill (the Chaucer man) .... Jeff Rawle; other parts played by Sue Wallace and Derek Hutchinson. Producer: Gordon House.

    ....ND comment:
    Very warm play illustrating what AB does best; putting the past under the microscope, and making sense of it. The story is touching and poignant and acutely observed. We hear from the teenager, the middle-aged man, and the elderly, respected writer. The two Alans (AB himself and Alex Jennings) are uncannily alike, separated by half a lifetime. There's also a mention of Russell Harty, who was taught History by a person I used to work with ... it's a small world.

    The play received a long and favourable write-up by Gillian Reynolds in the Daily Telegraph, 7 Jan 15. Here's my summary of part of it:

    ...Gordon House always brings out Alan Bennett's words in exactly the right way, higlighting the tune in the words and the careful arrangement of voices. In this play, with Bennett as narrator, it worked well, turning the trio of Alan, Mam and Dad into a quartet. Bennett's own, grown-older voice balanced the harmony perfectly.

    When radio sounds right, the inner eye can see every detail in the scenes. I saw the kitchen cupboard in Mam's empty house at the start of the play, with its dried-up crystallised cherries; the tube of cocktail sticks hidden behind the dessicated coconut.

    During his narration, Bennett said that you don't put yourself into what you write; you find yourself there....

By Tolstoy; ten hours of drama broadcast in a single day, 1 Jan 15.

    Summarised comment from Jane Anderson, RT:
    ...The production demanding the most of the listeners ... the ten-hour epic, spread across the whole day. A big ask for any listener, but the combination of Tolstoy's evocative writing and Celia de Wolff bringing together an excellent cast (John Hurt, Simon Russell Beale, Lesley Manville, Harriet Walter, Phoebe Fox, Paterson Joseph and Roger Allam) makes it the radio event of the year.

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Note: 'Harper' is a radio drama listener who has been in touch with me for many years.


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