Sally Avens Radio Plays


Marcy Kahan's humorous afternoon play (R4,14 Jan 2011) was very welcome on a gloomy January day. Ed is about to give a big presentation at work. On the way there he accidentally causes a national celebrity to fall off his bike. He's carted off to hospital, and the next Ed hears is that the guy has gone into a coma. He agonises about whose fault it was, and whether he should he go to the police and own up. Stephen Mangan turned in an excellent comic performance as Ed, with Naomi Frederick as his girlfriend and Sean Baker and Joanna Monro as work colleagues. The production was by Sally Avens.
.........ND, Diversity Website drama review, Apr 2011

The Six Loves of Billy Binns....2010
R4, 1415, 21 Apr 10. By Richard Lumsden. A man aged 110 years drops a teacup, and it falls slowly, second by second, to the floor. As it falls, the loves of Billy's life flash before him, one last time. Tom Courtenay as Billy, with Alison Pettitt, Tanya Franks, Ella Smith, Joanna Monro, Keeley Beresford, Gbemisola Ikumelo, Walter Lumsden. Producer Sally Avens.

Messageboard comments included:

........the kind of play where you're driving alone in rain and you have to pull over into a lay-bye to listen it out.

.......A stunner. With no warning!

.......very good, Tom was outstanding. The film This Happy Breed came to mind.

........A gem of a play - with Tom Courtenay giving another fine performance in the central role.....

BIG IN SAMOA by Marcy Kahan....2010
Friday Play, 1 Jan 10, 2100 hrs.
Starring Tom Goodman-Hill and Hugh Bonneville. Directed by Sally Avens.

8 Nov 08; Saturday play by Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran. A highly entertaining play about a snobbish wine merchant with a failing business who finds that has watch, inherited from his father, once belonged to a world famous Nazi. He's torn between selling it and perhaps saving his business, or keeping it and watching his business disappear. (Entrepreneurs will suggest a third option: turning the business around - but that's not what the play is about)

Miriam Margolyes plays Lila, the Jewish matriarch from hell, and Allan Corduner is Gerald, the man with the watch. There is a strong supporting cast, including Sophie Winkelman, Nicholas Goodeson, Harriet Walter and Jonathan Tafler. This was one of the best plays of the year. The producer was Sally Avens.

Sound Barriers (R4, 2102, 24 Aug 07) was about a young mother who befriends two of her neighbours and little by little changes their lives. The story emerges through the thoughts of Jenny, a social worker (Caroline Quentin), Ian, the deaf man (Steve Day) and an elderly widow (Patricia Routledge). It wasn't really a play at all, but three skilfully intercut monologues. When writing this review I found to my surprise that Mel, the young woman, was missing from the cast list; then I realised she had no lines at all, my picture of her: beautiful, sad, and in desperate straits, had emerged through the words of everyone else. This was a poignant and moving piece, and the broadcast, a repeat from about a year ago, was well-deserved. Sally Avens directed.
....ND, VRPCC newsletter

THE BIRDS....2007
26 May 07. By Daphne du Maurier. This isn't based on the film, but the original short story. The dramatisation is by Melissa Murray, who has about twenty original radio plays and dramatisations to her credit. Flocks of murderous birds gather in the hedgerows and trees in a small Cornish village. Nat, a former military man who's just moved in, knows something is wrong when seagulls start flying into the walls of his cottage. Eventually there's a siege. Then things get worse ... directed by Sally Avens, and stars Neil Dudgeon, Nicola Walker, Jade Williams, Gerard Horan, Carl Grose, John Dougall and Rachel Bavidge. Music by David Pickvance.

R4, 1415, 17 Nov 06. A thought-provoking Friday play about corrupt business practices. Martin's house has been built along with hundreds of others on a flood plain. When the estate gets flooded, and a young girl dies, he discovers first-hand how big business operates. Producer Sally Avens. Stars Neil Dudgeon, Claire Rushbrook, Shaun Dooley. ............ND, VRPCC newsletter.

A new play to mark Howard Barker's sixtieth birthday commissioned by radio 4, (R4, 2000, 18 Jul 06), directed by his long-time colleague Richard Wortley, veteran of 2,000 radio plays and probably the most experienced radio drama producer in the country. It concerned Johannes Aventinus, a humanist scholar of the 16th century. Like many scholars of the time, he travelled the roads of Europe on foot, collecting material for scholarship, visiting libraries and begging hospitality from wealthy patrons. At the age of 53, Aventinus married for the first time. His only child was born in his absence, and on hurrying home in winter to join his wife and child, he perished on the way; no-one knows how.

In this play, we encounter the scholar in the course of his last journey. The weather is appalling, but he sees distant lights at a big house, so he assumes that he will at least get lodgings for the night. When he reaches the house, he is let in by an elegant, intelligent woman who shows him the library - where, to his surprise, she has his works in profusion. Has he been led there deliberately? And why? The cast included Michael Pennington, Sean Baker and Barbara Flynn. ........ND, VRPCC Drama Review, Sep 2006

MAN IN THE MOON ....2006
By Richard Lumsden, R4, 20 Jun 06. Verse drama, with Tom Courtenay. Producer Sally Avens. Entered for the Tinniswood Award. More on the Richard Lumsden page.

By Fiona Mackie. Set in Lyme Regis, this play links Mary Anning with a young girl and a woman stranded by the tide in Lyme Regis in 2005. With Susan Jameson, Ella Smith, Gillian Bevan, Catherine Butler, Gerard McDermott (token male?). Director Sally Avens.

Taking the Picture....2005
8 Feb 05. By Melissa Murray. The true story of an audacious art theft in 1956. Two students decide to claim a picture they believe belongs in Ireland. With Owen McDonnell, Stephen Hogan, Jim Norton, Renee Weldon, Marcella Riordan, and Jon Glover. Director Sally Avens.

By Shelley Silas. With John Harvey. Dramatised from the book by Paul Scott. 9 x 60min, Classic Serial. Produced by Sally Avens. Excellent standard of dramatisation. Varied cast - including Lia Williams, Jeremy Northam, Gary Waldhorn, Shiv Grewal, Mark Bazeley, Hugh Dickson, Matthew Thomas-Davies, Benedict Cumberbatch, Sam Dastor, Stuart McLoughlin.

By Mike Walker. A true story of love and adventure in the early days of flying. Could a record-breaking pilot be heading for the electric chair? With Susie Porter, James Purefoy, Walter Lewis, Kate Fleetwood, Declan Wilson, Gerard McDermott, Alan White, Damien Lynch. Director Sally Avens. Saturday afternoon play.

by C.P.Snow (R4 beginning 19.01.03, broadcast as the Classic Serial. This is the story of Lewis Eliot; his humble beginnings in Leicester, early legal work, getting a Fellowship at a Cambridge college, the election of a Master, and the many gifted, unusual and odd people he met on the peripheraries of academia and Whitehall. For those familiar with the novels, the titles of the episodes were: 1)Time of Hope, 2)The Conscience of the Rich, 3)The Masters, 4)The Masters (sic), 5)The Light and the Dark. Particularly well-done was the election of the new college Master; clever academics jockeying for position throwing poison darts at each other whilst the old Master lies dying. The plays starred Adam Godley, David Haig, Clive Merrison, Andy Taylor, David Calder and Jeremy Child, and the dramatisation was by Jonathan Holloway; Sally Avens & Jeremy Howe directed. (N.D., VRPCC newsletter, Apr 03)

FLAMBARDS (dram)....1999
By K.M.Peyton, adapted by Diana Griffiths. Christina is sent to live with her uncle and his sons in their home - once grand, but it has seen better days. The uncle is not very amicable, and there are emotional undercurrents. With Richard Pearce, Ellis Beavan, Ben Crowe. Dir. Sally Avens. Broadcast 3.4.99 and 28.5.01. Classic Serial.

27 Jun 98; by Jeremy Front. A young surgeon arrives at Duncombe. His female patients seem to be suffering from a curious complaint - the cure for which is marriage to the new doctor. With Marston Bloom,Geoffrey Whitehead, Alison Pettitt, Sophie Thompson and Jane Booker. Directed by Sally Avens.

75min. Dramatisation by Dawn Lowe-Watson of the work by Rumer Godden. Two sisters, their mother and a younger brother go to stay in France but the mother is hospitalised; the children are put up at a country house, where unforeseen things happen...there they meet Eliot, his temperament an odd mixture of cruelty and kindness, the rather cathartic lady of the house, from whom it is difficult to get much sense, and a servant who falls in love a little too easily...with Ellie Bevan as Cecile, Abigail Doherty as Joss, Keira Jansen as Hester and Luke Newbery as the young brother. Also starred Michael Maloney as Eliot, Claire Marchione, Rachel Atkins, Theo Fraser-Steele, Shaun Baker, Jenny Lee, Brian Parr and Chris Wright. Directed by Sally Avens.

    London based Radio Drama producer Sally Avens is in the hot seat for this week's Producer's Choice. We have aired several of Sally's productions on BBC 7 so far but her five selections are new to the network:

    Notes on some of her other plays are shown further down the page.

    - A Soldier's Debt by Nick Warburton (original tx: 18/01/99)
    - Hungarian Birdsong by Niall Ashdown (original tx: 09/08/02)
    - Cross My Heart and Hope to Fly by Sarah Daniels (original tx: 22/03/02)
    - My Last Week with Modolia by Ben Moor (original tx: 27/10/99)
    - Turning the Hut by Nick Warburton (original tx: 06/08/03)

    DETAILS ON THE ABOVE (Greg Linden)

    Mon 15 Mar, 11:00 - 11:45 45 mins (18 January 1999)
    A Soldier's Debt: By Nick Warburton. A missing recording of `Macbeth' creates a unique tie between three people in war-torn West Africa. With Amanda Root, Paul Rhys and Burt Caesar.

    Tue 16 Mar, 11:00 - 11:45 45 mins (9 August 2002)
    Hungarian Birdsong: Niall Ashdown's one-man show gives an insight into father-son relationships and bird watching.

    Wed 17 Mar, 11:00 - 11:45 45 mins (22 March 2002)
    Cross My Heart and Hope to Fly: As three characters tell their individual stories they find not only sadness but also a great deal of humour. With Pauline Collins.

    Thu 18 Mar, 11:00 - 11:45 45 mins (27 October 1999)
    My Last Week With Modolia: A unique and magical love story set in a world where nothing is quite what it seems. Written and performed by Ben Moor.

    Fri 19 Mar, 11:00 - 11:45 45 mins (6 August 2003)
    Turning the Hut: When Jimmy asks Clara to teach him to read an unlikely relationship develops. Drama starring Penelope Wilton.

Nigel Deacon, Diversity Website

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