Richard Wortley:
- More highlights -

Other highlights excluding any dates of broadcast (though some are retained in the BBC archives):

James Saunders, whose work I produced for several years. 'Random moments in a May Garden' which should have been entered for the the Prix Italia prize and wasn't. 'The Island', a converted stage play which should not have been entered for the Prix Italian and was, 'The Magic Bathroom' (blackly comical if not magical) and 'The Flower Case' - a comedy private eye and classic role to show off the studiously vague manner of John Le Mesurier.

Don Haworth (not Don Howarth who is also a playwright with whom he has been confused) I inherited for a while from his Lancashire roots. Distinguished documentary film maker and discover of Fred Dibnah (the eccentric steeplejack and television personality).

His host of highly original radio plays included in our partnership 'Events at the Salamander Hotel' - an imaginary story of notable reality featuring a colourful wild card Peter Woodthorpe. 'Talk of Love and War' (two Second World War pilots - Don was a bomber pilot and himself at the age 19). Here we had a young Bill Nighy with his unusual gift of floating not emoting his voice into the microphone. And his war companion was played by the talented Hugh Ross, their duologue printed for the Giles Cooper Award 1981. 'On a day in summer in a garden' had speaking dock plants under threat from humans starring Colin Blakeley as wise old Grandad dock leaf with Julie Hallam as young vulnerable and less wise. Don and I coincided before the demand of focus groups suggested to at least some of the planners that the audience attention span was wavering, hence an assault on transmitting long plays. We "flew" with Colin Stinton, a better age for Lindberg than Stuart Granger in the movie who was too old for the role, though the world-class film star had flown in real-life Second World War combat. Our "Crossing the Atlantic" was in two parts, one and a half hours each; well Charles Lindberg, Hitler supporter notwithstanding, was the first to do it and had to take his time about it.

Donald and I also roamed with the prehistoric dinosaurs, not computer graphics merely talking, in English conveniently, where Robert Stephens was a whole legend in his lunch hour and Alan Bennett philosophised as Thesaurus Rex - a snip at two hours.

Susan Hill adapted a few of her own distinguished novels. But I remember her best for original radio plays e.g. a taut domestic drama with Sian Phillips, Dinsdale Landen and myself rather in one corner (I had worked with them both before). And Susan relaxed with Ian Richardson in the other, where she was more au fait with the RSC and his major performances there.

Two touching duologues as "Autumn" and "Winter" gave me Cyril Luckham and Doreen Mantle "Winter". "Autumn" had already flourished with Bernard Hepton, , long since retired from Camp Commandant in 'The Colditz Story' and June Brown, soon to go into Eastenders, though her wartime memory 'off microphone' took in one dreamy encounter with the grass of Green Park circa 1943. My uncoded message to Mrs Wells is we still await 'Spring' and 'Summer'.

A previous run-in with Susan had given me my five minutes of fame with the magical Dame Peggy Ashcroft, a person interested in the absolutely everything who only used her Damehood to gain a quick response to calls for domestic help.

Judi Dench (again) was with me as her companion, this time sporting an impeccable Irish accent, half her gene pool - 'parallel monologues'.

For those who enjoy the fame game I jump to writers more associated with the stage, and note an adaptation of her novel 'The Woman in Black, which has now been running in London's West End for over 21 years.

We begin with the Bard - who else? - but our master poet with all his grasp of human nature, the man of mystery who never kept a diary, is a pig to do on the radio and please spare me attempts at modern dress.

I tried 'Romeo and Juliet' - what else? A very young and sounding Juliet (Harriet Walter) had to be a bonus and Elizabeth Spriggs as the nurse repeating all the lessons learned from her icon Peter Brooke - which had to be a bonus too.

I failed with 'Richard II' as I was not prepared enough, so David Suchet won my University Challenge Award for understanding the root of all the characters including his own, Bolingbroke. And Harry Andrews (John of Gaunt) was most touching in studio side-chat about his prostate problem. Ann Bell provided grace and poetic certainty. John Hurt (Richard II) sat upon the ground and told sad stories of the death of kings. The reason I wanted to do the play was I heard him in my head uttering those particular words.

It may be worth noting as an antidote to my sulky reservations, that a spirited buccaneer, Clive Brill, backed by an American millionaire, and Penguin audio books, has directed all 38 Shakespeare plays for sound, including Henry VI, with classical English actors. A unique achievement perhaps, certainly chutzpah.

The stage, however, gave me the most absorbing playwright of my career - Howard Barker. He has written over 80 plays as well as volumes of poetry, most of them published by John Calder and many performed by a company devoted solely to his work. Yet his most successful play (commercially at least) 'we' commissioned directly for radio, from a ten line synopsis in the form of a poem, appropriately enough.

'Scenes From An Execution' has the central character Galactia (Glenda Jackson). A strong prolific mother, free spirit and painter refusing to 'execute' the type of heroic genre picture the cynical Doge of Venice (Freddie Jones) has in mind. Our four daytime rehearsals were followed each night for Miss Jackson by five hours on stage (Eugene O'Neill). She would walk to her theatre, no hint of stretch limo.

The radio play won the greatly coveted 'Prix Italia' in a shortened version of ninety minutes against pundit expectation that this was still far too long for juries listening in a second or even third language.

Howard and I flew to Sardinia to accept the award as part of an elaborate ceremonial - long speeches or what? But a chandelier atmosphere of Baroque architecture. On the 'local, plane homewards we changed at Rome, sharing the journey with livestock and standing in the aisles.

Glenda Jackson became the Labour M.P. For Hampstead but before that she had repeated her dynamic Galactia here at the Almeida theatre in Islington, two hundred metres from where Gordon Brown (Chancellor of the Exchequer) had, allegedly, fallen on his fork. Stimulating times...

'Victory' by Howard Barker was back to an adaptation from a Kenny Ireland stage production. Howard's visceral imagination, anarchic sense of history and belief in violent passion takes him along many paths including humorous quips he later tries to eliminate. The primary target for student theses, I often wonder how much his comic feeling for more than the absurd is allowed to enter their calculations.

Cunt is top of the list as a taboo word in broadcasting. In Howard's play it is deliberately placed in the mouths of the officer class restoring Charles II to his throne. It took the BBC's internal board of censors a whole year of deliberation before it was broadcast uncut. The play introduced me to the luminous acting of Juliet Stevenson as Bradshaw, the widow of a puritan polemicist.

'The Early Hours of a Reviled Man', come to think of it, was another radio original. An oblique study of the fascist doctor, Celine, and my debut with Ian McDermid - one of the greatest interpreters of Barker's prose poetry.

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