Jonathan Raban pitched in with radio plays before he turned himself into a major travel writer. "At the Gate" stretched our analogue imaginations. Mystery voices in the drainpipes of a home created by an enthusiastically maverick Yorkshireman, David Greenwood, who links with my Midland associations as he studied Engineering at Birmingham University.
William Boyd, novelist, playwright and academic also popped by my radio scene. Another established television writer adapted the Boyd novel (his first?) "A Good Man in Africa" and gave me the chance of casting against type, Alan Rickman, as the fat eponymous colonialist. It upped my status with another very capable assistant, Elaine, when we escorted each other to the Shaftesbury Avenue morning premiere of a new movie featuring the emerging film star Mr. Rickman.
I experienced sharp edged writing by the Eton College teacher and house-master Angus Graham Campbell. Subjects ranged from anorexic girls to Keats as a trainee doctor (Fallen Angel). Angus is a big wheel in the Keats society. One more "Jack the Ripper" suspect, an ex Head Boy at Eton "Supping with the Devil" gave us a chance to record assembley rituals at "High Table" in the sensual atmosphere of the college.
I met the thoroughly amiable Stephen Berkhoff in his bomber jacket. His proposed playproved too 'fruity' for radio.
The rise of David Hare as a reflector on modern politics reminds me of another politically motivated writer, David Caute. I think we 'pulled off' his radio portrait of the atomic spy Karl Fuchs, played with sombre integrity by a radio star, Stephen Murray, even more immortalised as a regular character in "The Navy Lark". A modest, dignified man with a voice-to-die-for.
I 'touched the hem' of the Nigerian writer and Nobel Prize winner, Wole Soyinke. I met him - also in a bomber jacket - his jeep eratically parked outside the studio. He thought, correctly, that one of my cast wasn't good enough. I shuffled the pack suggesting this actor therefore play the shorter role of the narrator, trying to save face. Wole Soyinka is an inspiratiional thinker, though I find his plays a touch stolid on the wireless. But on this occasion he acted the now "missing" performance and rescued his own adaptation.
Caryl Phillips is a magic man from St. Kitts and Leeds. Another bit of 'hem touching' but a really stimulating world view person and media star; a cracking novelist and cricket lover.
I 'broke' a studio piano, my colleague simulating the keys being played by a goat. (Chopin's Piano, by D.Z.Mairowitz) with pitch perfect narrative by Bernard Hepton. And Barbara Jefford had her fingers broken (only pretend) in "The Stalin Sonata" by the same author.
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