Writer, producer, musician....his plays often have musical themes... and yes, this is Paul Dodgson the composer.
WINDSCALE, by Paul Dodgson (R4, 1415, 8-9 Oct 07) was broadcast on two successive days and told the true story of what happened at Windscale in 1957. This was a time when America and Britain led the world in nuclear technology. Britain was developing its own atomic bomb, using plutonium produced at Windscale in its two atomic piles. But during October 1957, there was an accident during routine maintenance. It was usual, at regular intervals, to allow the graphite core to heat up slowly, to release the energy which builds up when it's irradiated. But the temperature measuring instruments were inaccurate (footnote for scientific readers below #), and little by little, the core became dangerously overheated.
The fuel melted, fuel cans burst, the uranium caught fire, and the scientists had no experience of how to deal with it. At one stage they were poking scaffold tubes, in relays, into the radioactive nuclear core to free the red-hot fuel elements so they could shut the pile down. They struggled for several days, and did everything they could think of – for example, pumping carbon dioxide into the core -but nothing seemed to work; it was beyond them. As a last resort they tried flooding the pile with water, fearing acetylene or hydrogen release, but not knowing what else to do. Luckily it worked, and the fire died down.
Meanwhile a cloud of radioactive dust containing iodine, plutonium, caesium and polonium isotopes had been released and was drifting south-east towards northern cities. The press reports of the day were muted, to prevent public panic, but it was clear to most people that a serious incident had occurred, and that the eventual consequences were likely to remain unknown.
Paul Dodgson's excellent play looks at that dramatic week through the eyes of Camilla who was a child at the time of the accident and whose father worked at the plant. Thirty years later we meet her again as she revisits those events. Camilla was played by Nicola Stephenson, young Camilla by Jessica Pearson, and the parents were Ben Crowe and Susan Cookson. Music was by Paul Dodgson and the director was Sara Davies.
The Windscale power station, on the same site, was shut down in 1981, and is now the UK's demonstration project for complete decommissioning of a power-generating reactor; a pilot for what will probably be the biggest waste of public money for a generation, though it must be said there are plenty of other contenders for the title. Meanwhile in the UK our nuclear expertise has all but disappeared and University Physics departments are being allowed to close.
# footnote - there is an oversimplification here. The problem was that the energy which builds up during irradiation - the "Wigner Energy" (see Google) - only does so if the core is below a certain temperature. The scientists thought, therefore - 'heat it up'. But the Wigner energy doesn't come out uniformly; it does so in bursts. The temperature measuring equipment was probably OK, but at the time they couldn't believe the readings they were seeing. Overheating was the result.
Later reactors were designed to operate above the Wigner temperature and avoided this problem....ND
HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN....2005
Radio Times:....Fairy tales and history are intertwined in this life of Hans Christian Andersen, a story which begins in the spinning rooms of a lunatic asylum in Denmark and ends with international acclaim for his work. With Rachel Atkins, Jonathan Bullock, Ben Crowe, Daniel Goode, Catherine Harvey, Helen Longworth, Tim McMullan, Louise Plowright. Music composed by Paul Dodgson, who also directed the play. ....Broadcast on two successive days; episode 1 entitled "The kiss of the ice maiden" and episode 2 "Immortality". 25.5.05.
THE LIFE AND LOVES OF LORENZO DA PONTE....2005
1415, 9 Feb 05.From childhood to old age, Lorenzo da Ponte's life was packed with excitement and intrigue. He was the librettist for Mozart's operas; he started as a nobody living in poverty; for a while he joined the priesthood; he ended up living in obscurity, but bankrupt and happy. Gerald Harper was Old Lorenzo, Bertie Carvel was Young Lorenzo, Adam Paulden was boy Lorenzo, and Paul Dodgson was Mozart. Pauline Harris directed.
A Grey Seal Odyssey....2003
13 Jan 03. Bill Paterson narrates the first in a five-part series following the epic journey of a male grey seal around the coast of the British Isles in search of a mate. The dramatic story of the seal's journey is set against a backdrop of sounds recorded on location. Ep.1: at nine years old, Selkie has reached maturity and leaves the shores of Great Blasket, off the tip of southern Ireland, on the first leg of a hazardous journey that will take over a year to complete and will require every ounce of his stamina and resourcefulness. Sound recorded by Chris Watson; produced by Sarah Blunt.
22 Feb 02, afternoon play. When a couple hear their daughter's music playing in a department store, it's the first time they've heard her voice since she disappeared four years earlier. Rpt. 18 Jun 04. 45m.
Five new stories performed on stage at the Bath Literature Festival. When an office cleaner becomes computer literate, her working life takes on a new dimension. Written by Paul Dodgson; read by Stephanie Cole.
R4, 1415 8 Nov 99 - This play had Christian Rodska as a wife-deserter and womaniser giving up his job to follow an ex-girlfriend to Barcelona in order to busk in a string quartet. Rodska is particularly good at cutting asides and insults, and this play was full of them.
From Galway to Graceland ....1999
16 Feb 99. PD as producer. By Sue Teddern, based on a song by Richard Thompson. In a remote Irish village Marie becomes increasingly fixated with the music of Elvis Presley. One night, after a bitter row, she walks out of her home and sets out on a journey to Graceland. With Marcella Riordan, Struan Rodger and Clare Cathcart.
BETJAMIN'S WOMEN....date nk
1-In a Bath Teashop
2-Death in Leamington Spa
3-A Subaltan's Daughter
Nigel Deacon / Diversity website
Above plays known to exist in VRPCC collections
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