Michael Hastings: The Reith Affair

BBC Radio 3: Sunday Play

Broadcast: Sunday 23rd August 1998 @ 10:10 p.m.

Michael Hastings' play examines the triangular relationship between the future founder of the BBC, John Reith, his fiancée, Muriel Odhams, and and his best friend, Charlie Bowser. The play opens during the First World War as Reith is invalided out when he is struck in the cheek by a bullet in October 1915.

Written for radio by Ian McIntyre, a former controller of Radios Three and Four, who read John Reith's lifelong diaries for his 1993 biography of Reith, "The Expense of Glory" on which the play was largely based.

With John Sessions [John Reith], Samuel West [Charlie Bowser], Martha Leishman [Jean Reith, John's Sister], David Collings [Reverend Dr. George Reith, John's Father], Keeley Hawes [Muriel Reith née Odhams], Tracy Wiles [Maysie Bowser née Henderson], Alastair Danson [Peter Eckersley, Chief Engineer with the BBC], Geoffrey Whitehead [Neville Chamberlain, the Prime Minister], John Turner [Stanley Baldwin, the Prime Minister], Timothy Bateson [Sir William Beardmore], Hugh Dickson [Sir William Noble, the Chairman of the Broadcasting Committee], Derek Waring [Max Beaverbrook], Jenny Lee [Mrs. Philip Snowden], Christopher Wright [William Joynson-Hicks, the Home Secretary], Brian Parr [Muir], and Louisa Ffolkes [Maysie's Maid].

Other parts were played by members of the cast.

Music composed and performed by Barrington Pheloung.

Directed by Peter Kavanagh.

Re-broadcast on Sunday 28th March 1999 @ 9:00 p.m.

85 min.


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