Two Men from Delft
by Stephen Wakelam

Stephen Wakelam - Two Men from Delft

BBC Radio 3: Drama on 3

Broadcast: Sunday 4th February 2007 @ 8:15 p.m.

Stephen Tompkinson stars as Antony van Leeuwenhoek, the discoverer of bacteria, in Stephen Wakelam's play, set in late 17th-century Holland.

Holland 1675. Van Leeuwenhoek, a surveyor in Delft, has a passion for microscopes. Around the time of the death of his close friend Johannes Vermeer, who also used lenses to aid his painting, van Leeuwenhoek makes an astonishing discovery while examining rainwater, canal water and plaque from his teeth: tiny life forms that he called "animalcules" or bacteria. It is the dawn of modern microbiology.

Being an untrained scientist, he is unwilling to give away the secrets of his microscopes. He asks Christiaan Huygens a member of the Royal Society in London to present his findings to the scientific community.

At the same time, Huygens becomes drawn into van Leeuwenhoek's work as executor of the Vermeer estate a sensitive role that eventually gives rise to a bitter dispute between the two families.

With Stephen Tompkinson [Antony Van Leeuwenhoek], Alex Jennings [Christiaan Huygens], Alex Tregear [Elisabeth Vermeer], and Emma Noakes [Maria Van Leeuwenhoek].

Original music by Sylvia Hallett with the viol played by Vanessa Coode.

Directed and produced by Jeremy Mortimer and recorded on location in Hampstead in December 2006.

75 min.


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