Tom Mallin: Spanish Fly

BBC Radio 3: Sunday Play

Broadcast: Sunday 18th September 1977

Novelist Melissa Manchester is dying and is having a crisis of identity. Who is she? Why is she? Is she? So along with her husband Ramirez, they have decided to make a film of her life - a little 16mm effort - acting all the main parts themselves while using children from the village for the kids roles. The tension between the couple increases as they try and finish the film before the illness finishes Melissa.

With Gwen Watford [Melissa], Rod Beacham [Ramirez], Irene Sutcliffe [Mother], Penelope Reynolds [A Girl / Simone], Walter Hall [Harold / The Headmaster], Jean Rogers [Melissa, as a child], Timothy Bateson [Grandfather / An Old Spaniard], Michael Tudor Barnes [Edgar / The Narrator], Anne Rosenfield [Clarissa], Heather Bell [Elizabeth / Roberta], Kenneth Shanley [A Politician / A Waiter / A Priest], and Mary Clare Nash [Wardress / Rosemary].

Directed by Richard Wortley

85 min.

Tom Mallin (1927 to 1977)

In 1970, when he was 43 years of age, he realised his passion: A stage play, ‘Curtains,’ was produced at the Canonbury Theatre, London, and then travelled to the Edinburgh Festival’s Traverse Theatre, where it was directed by Michael Rudman. Also in that year, Alison & Busby published his first novel, ’Dodecahedron.’ Alison & Busby went on to publish four more of his novels, while the early 1970s found a series of his plays being produced in London and the emergence of his radio playwriting career, first through Guy Vaeson’s production of ‘Curtains,’ then through the prolific, energetic and enthusiastic BBC Radio director Richard Wortley.

Tom died of cancer around Christmas 1977.

Radio plays by Tom Mallin:

Curtains - stage play, 1968 - performed at the Traverse Theatre, 1970, then elsewhere; produced for radio by Guy Vaesen; published by Calder & Boyers 1971

Downpour - broadcast 1971

Rooms - broadcast 1973

Birds of Prey - (not produced), 1973

Two Gentlemen of Hadleigh Heath - broadcast 1973

The Lodger - broadcast 1974

Vicar Martin - broadcast 1974

Whispers - (not produced), 1974

Spanish Fly - broadcast 1977

Halt! Who Goes There? - radio play, 1977, broadcast posthumously; a winner of a Giles Cooper Award 1978 and published in ’Best Radio Plays of 1978’ by Methuen, 1979)


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