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"Radio Radio" - Radio Plays

Clive Lever suggested the title - plays concerned with the business of radio - how radio plays are made, foul deeds in Broadcasting House, and so on. I must also mention the television play "Radio Pictures" - about the recording of a radio play. Ken Cumberlidge has written about this on our Radio Articles page (q.v.).

So - here we go ...

c1959 Galton & Simpson - The Bowmans (Tony Hancock episode)
c1980 Val Gielgud - Death at Broadcasting House
c1972 Timothy West - The gun in my right hand is loaded
c1975 Keith Waterhouse - The Last Phone-In
1978 Barry Campbell / Frank Marcus - The killing of Sister George
1982 Peter Whalley - Who shot Ada Tansey?
1984 Michael Bartlett - Two minutes to the top of the hour
1986 D.McGillivray - The Farndale Avenue housing estate townswomen's guild Dramatic Society Murder Mystery Radio Show
1989 Tom Webster - A Very Meticulous Death
1988 A Long Wave Goodbye, by Lalage Hitchcock
1996 David Renwick - Angry Old Men
1999 David Pownall - Blitzma
2001 Tom Holland - Our Man in Athens
2004 Charlotte Goodwin & Pamela Wells - The Distance Between
2012 Jack Klaff - Flying Backwards

NOTES

The gun in my right hand is loaded....c1972
By Timothy West. This play is famous by reputation, but no-one seems to have a copy. It has every radio cliche in the book. Update..... the play was never broadcast, but a few people have copies. It lasts about 20 minutes.

THE LAST PHONE-IN....c1975
Local radio, and the phone-in programme from hell ......

THE KILLING OF SISTER GEORGE....1978
11 Dec 78. For six years, Sister George, a district nurse, has been the star of a television 'soap'. Then one day the actress playing her gets a knock on the door. With Sheila Hancock, Anna Calder Marshall and Eleanor Bron. 55m. Adapted by Barry Campbell from the story by Frank Marcus. Produced for the BBC by Gordon House. Rpt. in Australia (ABC) c1998.

Who shot Ada Tansey?....1982
Someone is murdered during the recording of a "Soap" at Broadcasting House. 90m.

Two minutes to the top of the hour....1984
Play set in a local radio station where two of the programme presenters can't stand each other. A good "closed environment" play.

The Farndale Avenue housing estate townswomen's guild Dramatic Society Murder Mystery Radio Show....1986
by David McGillivray. 21 Dec 86. This contains every radio cliche you can think of, muffed sound effects, and atrocious acting ... it's really the same joke as Timothy West's "The gun in my right hand is loaded". But a good listen, nevertheless. Jack Adrian told me about this - many thanks.


A Long Wave Goodbye....1988
By Lalage Hitchcock. R4 Afternoon Play. Broadcast: Thursday 31 Mar 88, 3:00 p.m.

"A Long Wave Goodbye" looks at the life of radio fan, Laura, who cooks to 'PM', gardens to 'Woman's Hour', and sometimes shares a bath with Richard Baker. Her husband Tom, on the other hand, is sick of her obsession with radio and tries to bring her attention back to him and their home.

Can radio be a substitute for life? According to Tom, it "feasts off itself like a black hole". And of the personalities that, to his wife, have become surrogate friends, he says bitterly: "You fall in love with their voices and create beautiful faces to go with them, but you'd be appalled if you knew what they really looked like. They wouldn't 'be' on radio if they were worth looking at."

Tom eventually tries to communicate with his wife by writing a radio play: 'Goodbye and Take Care'. He appears on "Woman's Hour"; his play is discussed on "Kaleidoscope"; chosen for "Pick of the Week", and he eventually makes the news on "PM". But has he been able to reach his wife?

With Michael Graham Cox [Tom], Zelah Clarke [Laura], Caroline Gruber [Linda / Liz Montague], Richard Tate [Dan], Diana Olsson [C. S. Darling], and Margot Boyd [Mrs. Antrobus].

Other parts were played by John Baddeley, David Goodland and members of the cast. Also taking part were Derek Cooper, Gordon Clough, Margaret Howard, Jenni Murray. Valerie Singleton, Paul Vaughan, and Peter Donaldson who plays himself (The BBC Announcer). Directed by Jeremy Mortimer. 60 minutes. (.....Notes by Jim, aka s-j; many thanks - ND.....)

A VERY METICULOUS DEATH*....1989
9 Dec 89, 70m. Thriller by Tom Webster. A play about the making of a radio play. Suddenly one of the actors croaks....


ANGRY OLD MEN....1996
Superb radio play growing out of "The Burkiss Way" (which David Renwick co-wrote with Andrew Marshall). 90 min.

Blitzma....1999
By David Pownall. Tommy Handley was the man who made the nation laugh during the darkest days of the Second World War, in his surreal wartime radio extravaganza `ITMA' (It's That Man Again). Handley's main target was Adolf Hitler, who could not understand why the British continued to defy him - until Goebbels explained that it is all down to `ITMA'. With Sam Kelly, Gerard Murphy and Stella Gonet. Director Martin Jenkins.

OUR MAN IN ATHENS....2001
Thucydides' history of the Peloponnesian War is not an obvious candidate for radio dramatisation, but Tom Holland's Our Man in Athens (R4 1415 30 Jul 01) made it accessible to the ordinary listener. A veteran war reporter finds himself under siege in the studios of Radio Free Athens, under attack by Sparta. John Simpson, the BBC correspondent, played Thucydides, and the cast included Tim Piggott-Smith, Sean Barratt and Bill Wallis.

THE DISTANCE BETWEEN....2004
An interesting first radio play by "double act" Charlotte Goodwin and Pamela Wells. On the day of recording, a writer finds his radio play in the hands of a producer who hasn't had time to read it. As the studio actors go through the drama, the writer obsesses over his female protagonist, blurring the line between fact and fiction. With Andy Hockley as the writer, Julia Hills as the producer, Polly Lister as the actress and Jez Thomas as the actor. Produced by Kate Chapman and Jenny Stephens. More about this play on RADIO PLAYS page (Articles 8).

Nigel Deacon / Diversity website

All of the above plays known to exist in VRPCC collections


FLYING BACKWARDS....2012
19 Jun 12. Radio play about making a radio play. By Jack Klaff.

Johnnie is back in Cape Town to record his new radio play - his first in his home town after many years abroad. In the cast, to Johnnie's surprise, is Vicki, with whom he had a passionate affair decades ago.

Cast:
Vicki/Maureen........................ALICE KRIGE
Johnnie.................................JACK KLAFF
Ma.......................................DOREEN MANTLE
Deon/Andrew/Bruce.................VINCENT EBRAHIM
Tyrone...................................DON MCCORKINDALE
Michelle/Lizzie........................HELEN SZYMCZAK
Producer/Director: David Ian Neville.

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