Strangers & Brothers (2003)
by C.P.Snow

C. P. Snow - Strangers and Brothers, 2003

BBC Radio 4: The Classic Serial

Lewis Eliot's story is about power and the exercise of power. How men, whether at the highest pinacle of authority at Westminister or mearly in a clerk's office play the strings that give them power and influence over other people. It is also a story of how England changed over the period of his working life from the 1920's to the 1960's. It changed, and yet remained the same. Always people jockying for position, trying to outsmart each other whether in the affairs of the human heart or power over other people's lives. In a minor way, Lewis has helped shape governments; helped win wars, even; seen careers reach the stars and then explode in fragments. Curiously, for a tale of such moment, it begins in the Midland town where he was born. His family, the Eliot's, were lower-middle class and sinking; his schooling rudimentary, and his ambition... limitless.

In a world where truth and justice test the personal philosophies of even the strongest men, Eliot is the ambitious lawyer fighting the temptations that could ruin his personal life. Eliots decisions lead his career on a tempestuous journey of success, tragedy, and rekindled love. Throughout it all, Eliot realises his true "brothers" masquerade as "strangers."

A 10-part dramatisation by Jonathan Holloway. Produced and directed by Jeremy Howe and Sally Avens.

1) 'A Time of Hope' (Sunday 19th January 2003 , 3:00 p.m.)
After what seemed like a lifetime clerking in a council office, Lewis had resolved to break free: free from Leicester, free from his class, and free from his past. The ticket to his new life was passing the exam to study at the bar in London. It is July 1927. Lewis is 22 and George Passant, his night school teacher, is throwing a party to celebrate his success for passing the exams.

Dramatised by Jonathan Holloway from C. P. Snow's 1949 novel, "Time of Hope".

With Adam Godley [Lewis Eliot], Anastasia Hille [Sheila Knight], Stephen Moore [Herbert Getliffe], Danny Webb [Percy Hall], Jamie Glover [Charles March], John Standing [Leonard March], Emma Williams [Ann Simon], Laura Doddington [Marion Gladwell], Carla Simpson [Katherine March], Bill Wallis [George Passant], Brett Usher [Dr. Morris / Reverend Laurence Knight], Suzanna Hamilton [Mrs. Getliffe] and David Haig [The Narrator]. 60 minutes.

2) 'The Conscience of the Rich' (Sunday 26th January 2003 , 3:00 p.m.)
It is April 1936 and Lewis is now 31 years old. While the facists and the Republicans fought it out in Spain, Lewis navigated his way through the lower echelons of the British establishment. From obscure Midlands poverty he has risen to a fellowship in law at Cambridge University. He had a pretty wife who no one except his closest friends knew was useless. He had never been to University and learned his basic law at night school. He had never been in business and imbibed the vocabulary of management in the atheneum and the manners of privilege at the Friday night dinners of his closest friend's family - the fabulously wealthy Marches. The trick had worked. He was taken seriously and lived on the penumbra of the 300 or so people who actually run the country. Dramatised by Jonathan Holloway from C. P. Snow's 1958 novel, "The Conscience of the Rich". With Adam Godley [Lewis Eliot], Anastasia Hille [Sheila Knight], Jamie Glover [Charles March], John Standing [Leonard March], David Horovitch [Philip March], Adam Levy [Roy Calvert], Emma Woolliams [Ann Simon], Michael Culkin [Ronald Porson], Clive Merrison [Godfrey Winslow], Philip Franks [Arthur Brown], Andy Taylor [Francis Getliffe] and David Haig [The Narrator]. 60 minutes

3) 'The Masters - Part 1' (Sunday 2nd February 2003 , 3:00 p.m.)
It is January 1937 and Cambridge lies muffled under a blanket of deep snow. The quad is empty and quiet while Eliot sits enjoying the fireside. He and his wife have become use to living apart - in fact they had grown comfortable with separation. Ten years previously, Lewis had started out on the difficult road to being a barrister in London. But ill health and his ill-judged marriage had pushed his career in a different direction. He is teaching in a Cambridge college when an election is called for a new Master.

Dramatised by Jonathan Holloway from C. P. Snow's 1951 novel, "The Masters".

With Adam Godley [Lewis Eliot], Philip Franks [Arthur Brown], Matthew Marsh [C. P. Chrystal], David Calder [Paul Jago], Adam Levy [Roy Calvert], Ian Hogg [Sir Horace Timberlake], Clive Merrison [Godfrey Winslow], Andy Taylor [Francis Getliffe], Hugh Quarshie [R. T. A. Crawford], Jeremy Child [R. E. A. Nightingale], Joanna Monro [Mrs. Alice Jago] and David Haig [The Narrator]. 60 minutes.

4) 'The Masters - Part 2' (Sunday 9th February 2003 , 3:00 p.m.)
It was December 1937. It had been a dismal year. The Germans and Japanese had started up their war machines and the Master at the Cambridge college where Lewis was a Fellow of Law had just passed away. His death threw the college into turmoil and ranker as his colleagues plotted and counter-plotted the succession. There were two candidates: Crawford, a brilliant scientist, ambitious, and in Eliot's view, vain but associated with the anti-appeasement faction against Hitler; and Jago, Eliot's man, a good teacher but an undistinguished academic, unconcerned with the world outside their cloister. The election was to be immediately before Christmas and neither candidate had a majority of the 12 Fellows. They needed both the Returning Officer's vote and a defection from Crawford's camp. Against all his rational instincts Eliot promised to chase down one of the imbittered old-guard to see if he couldn't secure them a turncoat at the last innings. The Reverend Despard-Smith, at 70 years, the most lonely and resentful of all the 'rightists' in college, seemed most worth a try.

Dramatised by Jonathan Holloway from C. P. Snow's 1951 novel, "The Masters".

With Adam Godley [Lewis Eliot], Anastasia Hille [Sheila Eliot née Knight], Adam Levy [Roy Calvert], Philip Franks [Arthur Brown], Matthew Marsh [C. P. Chrystal], David Calder [Paul Jago], Joanna Monro [Mrs. Alice Jago], Clive Merrison [Godfrey Winslow], Hugh Quarshie [R. T. A. Crawford], Jeremy Child [R. E. A. Nightingale], Andy Taylor [Francis Getliffe], Peter Howell [Reverend A. E. Despard-Smith], Patrick Godfrey [R. S. Robinson], Carla Simpson [Betty Vane] and David Haig [The Narrator].

60 minutes.

5) 'The Light and the Dark' (Sunday 16th February 2003 , 3:00 p.m.)
Eliot spent the first years of the war scared stiff, and he was right to be. He was about to find himself at the heart of a project that would threaten the future of civilisation. They were fighting the Germans, the Americans weren't yet in the war, the League of Nations had fallen apart, and the enemy was poised to invade Europe. His private life was in shreds - his wife, a suicide. He shut up his Chelsea house and at age 35 he was living ridiculously, wandering between his club, a Pimlico bed-sit, and rooms in a Cambridge college of which he was a Fellow. Those of his Cambridge colleagues with any vim had gone into the war effort. Eliot was in Whitehall, in a close, consultative role with energy minister Sir Thomas Bevill. Bevill's Permanent Secretary and Eliot's immediate boss was the self-regarding Hector Rose. One Autumn afternoon he was summoned for a little talk.

Dramatised by Jonathan Holloway from C. P. Snow's 1947 novel, "The Light and the Dark".

With Adam Godley [Lewis Eliot], Adam Levy [Roy Calvert], Juliet Aubrey [Margaret Davidson], Rupert Vanisttart [Hector Rose], Anne-Marie Duff [Rosalind Calvert], Peter Marinker [Houston Eggar], Anthony Calf [Gilbert Cooke], Kenneth Collard [Willie Rumtofski], Carla Simpson [Betty Vane] and David Haig [The Narrator].

.60 minutes

6) 'The New Men' (Sunday 1st June 2003 , 3:00 p.m.)
Eliot's war was spent locked in the race against the germans to split the atom. It was the greatest adventure of his life. The biggest thing he had ever been involved in. You could say he was the crucial link between the nuclear research facility at Barford and Whitehall. On the one hand he was struggling to keep the scientists under some semblance of control, among them his brother Martin and his former Cambridge colleague, Walter Luke. On the other, he fought to keep his masters in government convinced that nuclear research was a vital initiative. On an April evening in 1943, he arrives at the hanger in Barford, where the atomic pile - a huge, concret cube - loomed like an eastern religious monument. Here he finds that there are problems in the development.

Dramatised by Jonathan Holloway from C. P. Snow's 1954 novel, "The New Men".

With David Haig [Lewis Eliot], Tim McInnerny [Martin Eliot], Jeremy Swift [Walter Luke], Claire Skinner [Irene Eliot née Brunskill], Adrian Scarborough [Eric Sawbridge], John Carlisle [Sir Hector Rose], Sean Baker [Captain Smith], Andrew Wincott [Edgar Hankins], and Rolf Saxon [David Rubin].

60 minutes.

7) 'Homecomings' (Sunday 8th June 2003 , 3:00 p.m.)

It is August 1945 and Eliot is working in Whitehall as Chief Liaison with Britian's Nuclear Weapons Establishment at Barford. The news that the Americans had beaten Barford to the atom bomb knocked the stuffings out of them. Walter Luke, their chief scientist, had wanted to send a delegation to the States to tell them not to use the bomb in anger - not to let the spider out of the box. Then when the first bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, they were appalled and ashamed. Then the second bomb on Nagasaki left many of them winded. Close on it's heels came something that would make Barford utterly unbearable - a spy.

Dramatised by Jonathan Holloway from C. P. Snow's 1956 novel, "Homecomings".

With David Haig [Lewis Eliot], Tim McInnerny [Martin Eliot], Jeremy Swift [Walter Luke], Juliet Aubrey [Margaret Davidson], Adrian Scarborough [Eric Sawbridge], Robert Lang [Sir Thonas Bevill], David Collings [Austin Davidson], Ian Hughes [Geoffrey Hollis], John Carlisle [Sir Hector Rose], Sean Baker [Captain Smith], and Stephen Moore [Herbert Getliffe].

60 minutes.

8) 'The Affair' (Sunday 15th June 2003 , 3:00 p.m.)
The 'affair' was very odd. It happened at the Cambridge college where Eliot had taught law before the war. Then, the college had scooped him up and resurrected his faltering career and had maintained a place in his affections ever since. In 1954, Eliot was semi-detached from the university and had his head down in co-ordinating the development of the British atom bomb. Indeed, it was atomic research that took him back to the college and dropped him into the midst of the affair that was pre-occupying the senior common room. It was pure Dreyfuss - like the famous affair of the French colonel, it was a miscarriage of justice perpetrated by unsound evidence and was as much based on prejudice as on fact. His brother, Martin, who had returned to Cambridge when he left Barford met him off the early train one April morning...

Dramatised by Jonathan Holloway from C. P. Snow's 1960 novel, "The Affair".

With David Haig [Lewis Eliot], Tim McInnerny [Martin Eliot], Jeremy Child [R. E. A. Nightingale], Hugh Quarshie [R. T. A. Crawford], Geoffrey Whitehead [Francis Getliffe], Jonathan Coy [Arthur Brown], Sean Barrett [Paul Jago], Peter Blythe [Dawson Hill], Clive Merrison [Godfrey Winslow], David Acton [Julian Skeffington], and David Tennant [Donald Howard]. 60 minutes

9) 'The Corridors of Power: An Even Bet' (Sunday 22nd June 2003 , 3:00 p.m.)
It's 1955 and Eliot has turned 50. He was blessed with a beautiful wife and a beautiful child. Although not a career civil servant, he was now a fixture in Whitehall. His job was to co-ordinate Britian's atomic bomb project - not a task he relished. The Cold War cast a chill shadow across them all. One spring evening in the run-up to the General Election, he and his wife, Margaret, were invited to a party in Lord North Street, the London home of Roger Quaife, a youngish Conservative MP who was beginning to be talked about. It was an evening that set Eliot on one of the most extraordinary adventures of his career.

Dramatised by Jonathan Holloway from C. P. Snow's 1964 novel, "The Corridors of Power".

With David Haig [Lewis Eliot], Iain Glen [Roger Quaife], Juliet Aubrey [Margaret Eliot née Davidson], Ronald Pickup [Lord Reginald Collingwood], John Woodvine [Lord Gilbey], Jeremy Swift [Sir Walter Luke], Geoffrey Whitehead [Sir Francis Getliffe], John Carlisle [Sir Hector Rose], Christopher Rozycki [Michael Brodzinski], Julia Watson [Caroline Quaife], Avril Clarke [Diana Skidmore], David Leonard [Douglas Osbaldiston], Rolf Saxon [David Rubin], and Simon Firth [Philips].

60 minutes.

10) 'The Corridors of Power: The Choice' (Sunday 29th June 2003 , 3:00 p.m.)
In the summer of 1957 they were in the thick of the terror known as the Cold War. The debacler at Suez had damaged Britian's standing at the top table; toppled a Prime Minister and made the new Conservative government very nervous. Eliot was working in Whitehall along side the new rising star of the Tory cabinet, Roger Quaife. The prize on offer was the greatest of Eliot's career. Against type and presidence, Quaife was working on a plan to scrap Britian's atom bomb. It was something Eliot believed in with every fibre of his being. This proposal will soon be published in a white paper that would mark an astonishing turnaround in Conservative thinking. Eliot was worried about their e nemy, Brodzinski, and decided to confide in his colleague, Douglas Osbaldiston...

Dramatised by Jonathan Holloway from C. P. Snow's 1964 novel, "The Corridors of Power".

With David Haig [Lewis Eliot], Iain Glen [Roger Quaife], Juliet Aubrey [Margaret Eliot née Davidson], Ronald Pickup [Lord Reginald Collingwood], Geoffrey Whitehead [Sir Francis Getliffe], John Carlisle [Sir Hector Rose], Emma Brown [Ellen Smith], Julia Watson [Caroline Quaife], David Leonard [Douglas Osbaldiston], Paul Venables [Monteith], Rolf Saxon [David Rubin], and Stephen Critchlow [Traford].

60 minutes.


Notes on C. P. Snow

Charles Percy Snow was born in 1905, one year before my grandfather. He was to become Lord Snow, a well-known scientist, politician and writer, but his first years were humble enough.

His parents lived in Leicester, where his father was a clerk in a shoe factory. Strangely enough, he acted as a church organist while being a life-long socialist.

They had four sons. Charles (known as Percy untill he married in 1950) was the second. The youngest was Philip, who was very close to Charles and wrote a fine biography. Cricket, reading and table tennis were favourite pastimes of the young Snows.

Charles was a bright pupil at a local school where he started as a scientist (a classical education was not available). He became a student at University College, Leicester, and later made it to Cambridge. He went to Christ’s College where he became a Fellow in 1930.

There he became a close friend of the famous older mathematician G.H. Hardy. Snow wrote a biographical introduction to Hardy’s “A Mathematician’s Apology”.

Although he was schooled as a scientist, his hidden agenda was to become a writer. Still at Cambridge he wrote his first novel “Death under Sail” (1932), a whodunnit modeled by the Agatha Christie classics. In 1934 came “The Search”.

But what is really impressive is that Snow conceived in that period the idea for a novel sequence of ten or eleven novels. Many people make big long term plans, but few realize them. Snow really did write eleven novels in the “Strangers and Brothers” sequence. The first one was published in 1940, the last in 1970!

But, before going deeper into the Strangers and Brothers sequence, let’s follow his biography. In 1939 he became a civil servant, a career that lasted nearly twenty years. “During the War he was with the Ministry of Labour, where he was responsible for the allocation of scientific personnel, and after the War he was appointed consultant for the recruitment of scientists to government service. From 1945 to 1960 he served as a Civil Service Commissioner. In 1947, after serving as an adviser for three years, he became a member of the Board of Directors of the English Electric Company. With Labour’s victory in 1964 Snow resumed his official connection with government - as Parliamentary Secretary for the Ministry of Technology and as Lord Snow, of Leicester.” (Jerome Thale) Much of these connections with high civil servants and with government will be found in his novels.

In 1950 he married Pamela Hansford Johnson, who was a novelist herself. They had one son together, Philip.

In the 1950’s he became famous. The publication in 1951 of The Masters made his name as a writer. But apart from this, Snow was something like a pundit. He had been writing for a popular scientific magazine, he wrote for The Times Literary Supplement and when television started he was often asked in talking programs. This culminated when he was asked to give the Rede Lecture in 1959.

Strangers and Brothers

The series traces the career of Lewis Eliot from his boyhood in a provincial town, through law school and years as a fellow at Cambridge, to an important government position; in many respects Eliot’s career parallels that of Snow himself. Although the series has been read as a study of power, or as an analysis of the relationship between science and the community, it is primarily a perceptive and frequently moving delineation of changes in English life during the 20th century. The novels in the series are:

Strangers and Brothers (1940)

The Light and the Dark (1952)

Time of Hope (1949)

The Masters (1951), which is set in an “Oxbridge” college and depicts the closed politics and power struggle between the Fellows when they have to choose a new Master. Two opposing candidates emerge and with them two parties, fighting an ever more fierce election. In this novel we already see the nucleus of the idea of The Two Cultures: Arts versus Sciences.

The New Men (1954), set in the second World War with British scientist working hard to help the military. But they become uneasy when the possibility of a nuclear weapon is hinted at.

Homecomings (1956)

The Conscience of the Rich (1958)

The Affair (1960), again the college of The Masters is the scene. The college dismissed a Fellow for scientific fraud, but the decision is fiercely contested in what looks like a new Dreyfus Affair.

Corridors of Power (1964), a fine view into the machinations of national and international politics.

The sleep of reason (1968), a moving novel about a trial for the killing of a child.

Last Things (1970)

Snow’s other novels include his first novel Death under Sail (1932), The Search (1934), In Their Wisdom (1974), and A Coat of Varnish (1979).

Science and Government (1961), a collection of essays concerning the vocation of the scientist; biographical studies such as A Variety of Men (1967), The Realists (1978), and The Physicists (1981); and Public Affairs (1971), a collection of lectures about the benefits and dangers of technology.

Snow is most remembered for his 1959 Rede Lecture: The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution, which triggered off a remarkable public discussion. Here he notes that the breakdown of communication between the sciences and the humanities is a major hindrance to solving the world’s problems.

....thanks to 's-j' (aka Jim) of radiofans for supplying these notes....ND....

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