Richard Wortley:
- Graduation and Early Years

Graduating from Oxford University in Modern History and one year in teaching, I spent ten years with BBC Educational Radio covering a range of dramatised subjects. From 'How Things Began' (a long standing pre-Jurassic Park type of science series) to Jane Austen for schoolchildren in Borneo, though what they made of English 18th century manners is hard to gauge, via the battlefields of Crecy and Waterloo. 'The Spy That Came in from The Cold' - John le Carre and Keith Barron in the 'young leading men' section of Spotlight - vote, vote vote for Dennis Potter, etc. The art thoughts of Edward Lucie Smith, the photography thoughts of Eric de Mare, the writing thoughts of Alan Sillitoe and his family deaths from tuberculosis, the ecology notions of John Seymour. A weekly nature trail 'Farmer Collins' in many. many episodes (Fred Yule, ITMA star from the war years as the farmer; Nigel Anthony as Tony his eager teenage pupil). Live bloopers (slipped discs in a vinyl sense): the walls of Jericho failing to fall down, Mitchell's Spitfire failing to take off on its 'inaugural flight' (witnessed on the two o'clock transmission by me and the studio's star guest - his son). That sort of thing.

My 'Condor' moment was lighting Iris Murdoch's cigarette as she contemplated her lonely path of atheism and I produced other religious tie-ins with social morality tales. I recall six hundred pupils in a school hall geared to my production of an American family in crisis. The headmistress chose to muffle the sound by parking her large white handbag in front of the listening equipment - a tiny transistor. The Harlem accents of the cast further confounded the Cheshire audience; I had relished our authenticity; the term "learning curve" comes to mind... Many of these early 1960s broadcasts were, as I say, live on air, which, in my case, included a white Russian exile having a fit of sadness in the middle of her reminiscences. My heroic actress (Jean England) playing her eleven year old son, part of a long tradition of women acting boys with unbroken voices, darted back and forth from one side of a mono microphone to the other as son and mother. The broadcast finished - there were no listener comments or complaints.

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