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Piccadilly Radio: Independent Radio Drama
Nigel Deacon


For a brief period in the late 70s and early 80s, Piccadilly radio produced a small amount of high quality radio drama. There were science fiction stories, drama-documentaries of crime, and a series of programmes, dramatised, about the life of the Polish pianist-composer Chopin. Most of these have been archived; there are probably other programmes too. I have assembled as much information as I can from the recordings and from two snippets sent by MM from Bournemouth University (see below).

A few well-known names were involved in the production of these programmes. Some of them became well-known later.

So - here are the production details of a few plays and dramatisations from Piccadilly Radio. Note that this is Piccadilly Manchester, not London.

ND, March 2015


CHOPIN: A CONSPIRACY OF SILENCE ....c1978
Written and presented by Richard Stinton. Broadcast on Piccadilly Radio in five 27-minute episodes. This is a dramatic reconstruction of a previously unknown chapter in the love life of Polish pianist and composer Frederick Chopin. It also uses long excerpts and occasionally a complete piece from some of his best piano writing, and includes his first published piano piece (by no means negligible) which he composed at the age of 7. The opening and closing music for each episode is the C minor study from Chopin's op. 25. The episode titles are:

1.First Love
2.A Surprise Invitation
3.Romance in Paris
4.The Cover-Up
5.The Triumph Of Love

The cast: Chopin: Chris Kaye, Countess Delphine Protowszka: Brigit Forsyth, Georges Sand: Delia Corrie, Franz Liszt: Stuart Richmond. Other characters played by Geoffrey Banks, Andy Rashleigh and Kate Lee. Series production assistant: Andy Johnson. Chief Sound Engineer: Les Woolham. Produced by Piccadilly Radio and the Independent Local Radio Network; producer Tony Hawkins. I think the broadcast date was approximately 1978; sorry for any spelling errors; I had to get the names off the recording ... Ed.


THE LAST ROSE OF SUMMER....1977
Written by Stephen Gallagher; six part serial. An excellent science fiction story. Mitchell was played by John Munday, Randell by Charles Foster The Voice of Central Command by Chris Kaye Baxter by Malcolm Brown, Avery Sim was played by David Marlowe. Killoran was played by Mike Hurley, Mrs Mitchell by Diana Mathur, and the nurse was played by Barbara Greenhalgh. The shopkeeper and Mrs Giloray were played by Meg Johnson, Uncle Arthur by David Marlowe, Morden by Alan Bardsley, the librarian and WPC Parkins by Barbara Greenhelj. The museum attendant and Mr Greenbaum were played by Charles Foster. Supermarket manager and library attendant were played by Malcolm Brown, Supermarket assistant, pilgrim and Cary by Chris Kaye; Collinson and the video show presenter were played byMike Hurley. The Last Rose of Summer was produced by Tony Hawkins, engineered by Pete Bakerand recorded at Studio 3, Piccadilly Radio, Manchester.

Casting details of this play and the two sequels (see below) provided by Steve Wilson - many thanks, Steve.

The Last Rose of Summer, Hunter's Moon and The Babylon Run is a trilogy of science fiction serials made for Piccadilly Radio. THE LAST ROSE OF SUMMER was syndicated around most of the commercial stations in the UK and led to two sequels. As you probably know, radio drama on commercial radio is now non-existent.


HUNTERS' MOON....1978
By Stephen Gallagher. 8 part serial, as described above. Randell was played by Charles Foster, Globo by David Marlowe, Mitchell by John Munday. Killoran was played by Mike Hurley, Morden by Chris Kaye. Carol Hayman as Baylem, with Ian Flintoff as Marius. Booscroob was played by Jim Pope; bird, Peter Wheeler, the worm, Colin Weston, Colm, Ian Flintoff, and Palmer, Chris Kaye. Willis was played by Graham James, Mrs Mitchell by Diana Mathur, the captain by Malcolm Brown and the mate by Will Casey. The chapel receptionist and Moskey were played by Peter Wheeler. The priest and Peerson by Malcolm Brown and the nurse by Barabara Greenhelj. The voice of the Weck was by Chris Cabe. Hunter's Moon was engineered by Pete Baker and produced by Tony Hawkins.


THE BABYLON RUN....1979
By Stephen Gallagher. 4-part serial. Follows on from Hunters' Moon.
Willis was played by Alan Rothwell Scorkia by Russell Dickson, Tair by Gwen Taylor, Ella Desmond by Richard Forsyth, Kyle by Ian Flintoff, Kittyvale - James Tomlinson, Kane was played by Martin Oldfield, Saras - Peter Chandler, Randell - Charles Foster, The voice of Babylon by Mike Hurley. SM Pete Baker, Producer Tony Hawkins.


THE FIRST INTERCITY....1980
By Barry Hill; produced by Tony Hawkins. Broadcast LBC 1980 (produced for Piccadilly Radio). A play about a speed trial for locomotives. Cast: Paul Clayton, Nona Williams, Anthony Wingate, Simon Molloy, Geoffrey Wheeler, Robert Keegan, Will Tacey, John Jardine, Charles Foster, Andy Abrahams. Not in VRPCC collection, but is held by Bournemouth University LBC archive. ....information from Madeleine Midgeley - many thanks - ND


MURDER BY GASLIGHT....c1985(?)
A series of five programmes: drama-documentaries of five Victorian murder cases, written by Leo Knowles. Some were narrated by Leo McKern; others by Stratford Johns. The year of transmission is not known.

1. No Ground For Complaint
Narrated by Leo McKern. Edinburgh, 1857. Outside the High Court, a huge crowd. Inside, a packed public gallery. The prisoner, a young girl, steps from the prison van as if it is a carriage and into the dock as if it is a box at the theatre. In Glasgow, where she lived and where her lover died, public opinion has condemned her in advance. That's why she is being tried in Edinburgh. Her name is Madeleine Hamilton Smith. Cast: Madeleine Smith: Di Mather, Emile Levanjalier: Andy Rashleigh; other parts played by Charles Hagith, Barbara Greenhalgh, James Tomlinson and Chris Gay. SM Pete Baker; directed by Mark Radcliffe and produced by Tony Hawkins.

2. Death Calls At Tea Time
The Sarah Jane Roberts murder case. Narrated by Stratford Johns. The man of the house receives a letter asking him to sell a piece of land. Whilst he is out, and his invalid wife is, as usual, in bed, their maid answers the door to a stranger. When he arrives back, a crowd is outside the house. The maid has been murdered. Sarah-Jane Roberts, the victim, was played by Kate Lee; Mr. Greenwood: Tony Wingate, Mrs. Greenwood: Paula Tilbrook. Superintendant Bent: Peter Wheeler, Robert Hailes: Will Pacey. Other characters played by members of the cast. SM Pete Baker; directed by Mark Radcliffe and produced by Tony Hawkins.

3. The Maybrick Mystery
Narrated by Stratford Johns. The Florence Maybrick case. James Maybrick is the husband of a woman half his age; he is a hypochondriac and on many medications, including arsenic. His wife is having an affair with a younger man. Maybrick begins to experience stomach pains, which become worse and worse. Eventually he dies. His brother thinks he has been poisoned. Florence Maybrick: Diana Mather, James Maybrick: Robert Keegan, Alfred Brierley: James Tomlinson, Alice Yapp: Rosalie Williams, Nurse Gore: Liz Brailsford, Michael Maybrick: Brian Southwood, Sir Charles Russell: James Tomlinson. Produced by Tony Hawkins.

4. Chain Of Evidence
The Herbert Bennett case. Narrated by Stratford Johns. Herbert Bennett: Peter Wheeler, Mary Bennett: Kate Lee, Alice Meadows: Paula Tilbrook, The police inspector and S. Douglas: Tony Wingate, Edward Marshall-Hall: Will Tacey. Produced by Tony Hawkins.

5. Murder By Gaslight
The Adelaide Bartlett case. Narrated by Stratford Johns. Adelaide Bartlett: Eileen O'Brien, Edwin Bartlett and Edward Clark: John Jardine, Edward Bartlett, Sr: George Hagan, George Dyson: Keith Ladd, Dr. Leitch and Court Clerk: Stuart Richman, Doggett and Jury Foreman: Alan Partington, Dr. Stephenson and Sir George Padgett: George Hagan. Series engineered at Alpha Sound Tape Tricks by Steve England and at Smile Studio by Steve Bowley. Assistant producer Mark Radcliffe, series produced by Tony Hawkins.

It is possible that there was more than one series because the information below also reached me:


Wicked Charlie, Innocent Bill....1985
Programme 5 in the Murder by Gaslight series (Piccadilly Radio). Dramatised true story, set in Victorian England. Written by Leo Knowles, narrated by Leo McKern. Cast: Graham Roberts, Delia Corrie, Victoria Hardcastle, Will Tacey, Charles Haggarth(?), Brian Southwood, James Tomlinson, Paul Clayton, Andy Abrahams, Charles Foster, Kate Leigh(?). Engineered by Pete Baker; edited by Mark Radcliffe; produced for Piccadilly Radio by Tony Hawkins. Year given as 1985. (information from Madeleine Midgeley, Bournemouth University; many thanks. This play is not in VRPCC collections. )



ND, VRPCC, Mar 2015.




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