Sebastian Baczkiewicz Radio Plays

Sebastian Baczkiewicz has written for radio and the stage.

Among his stage plays are The Lives of the Saints, Hello Paris, The Man Who Shot the Tiger and Dancing under the Bridge which has been produced in Rotterdam and Warsaw.

In 2000, he was appointed as the first writer in residence at the BBC. Among his radio plays are 2000 Tales, Altaban the Magnificent, Stalingrad Kiss, and an adaptation of Les Miserables.

In late 2004, the first in a series of Arthur plays was broadcast on Radio 4 featuring Iain Macdermid and Ben Wishal. S.B. wrote the first three and Steve May (q.v.) the last three.

A great radio play is a wonderful thing. It can conjure an entire world out of thin air. It can transport the listener from the emotional hustle and bustle of Ambridge to the furthest reaches of the galaxy, not to mention every stop in between.......S.B.

BBC Radio Plays
21.09.99 Altaban the Magnificent*
15.03.00 The prettiest girl in Texas*, 30m
23.10.00- 2000 Tales* (see NOTES)
24.11.00 Cruel Sunset*
29.01.02 Kings-The Loved One* (see NOTES)
05.02.02 Kings-Hazar's Chicken*
12.02.02 Kings-True Anointed*
??.10.04 Arthur*: Six plays, with Steve May
20.01.05 Language of Angels, 45m
11.09.05 The Orchid grower, R3, 90m
26.11.08 Pilgrim (series, four 45m episodes)
22.01.10 The accountant of Solyanka Square
29.03.10 Arabian Afternoon
07.09.11 Man in a Wheelbarrow
08.09.11 Fearless librarian saves the day
26.01.12 Pilgrim (series, four 45m episodes)
25.11.12 The Count of Monte Cristo*, 4 x 55m.

nk.......The Stalingrad Kiss*


Excellent play about a magician and illusionist.
....an atmospheric and unusual play about the ultimate illusionist. This play was set in the Nazi era, was full of brooding and menace, and had an extraordinary climax........ND, VRPCC newsletter, 1999

.......S.B., talking about this play in a long article about writing radio plays:
............I read a short article about a man who went to a witch doctor to make him invulnerable to death. After the witch doctor had performed the rites, the man was still not satisfied and the witch doctor offered to shoot him to prove the spell had worked. The man agreed, the witch doctor shot him and the man fell down dead. At first I was amused by the absurdity of the story but something about it kept nagging at me. What would make a man be so terrified of death he'd go to a witch doctor? Why would the witch doctor be so confident he could protect him? From that four-line article in The Guardian, I knew I had the basis of a play.

Going back to my witch doctor idea, I'd wanted for a long time to write a ghost story set in Berlin after World War II because I am very interested in mixing up genres. But I also wanted to write a drama that dealt with the consequences of war in a serious and unsentimental way. To do this, I knew I had to create believable characters that the listener could quickly identify with. I started to experiment by doing some research on the period, making notes and playing with voices until gradually my central characters started to evolve.

Sergeant Stuckart was the first to arrive. At the start of the play, he's a brash GI who brags about his war exploits. But as the action progresses, he gradually changes into a man so traumatised by his wartime experiences that he will do anything to be saved from death. Balanced against him was Frank Bailey, a shy, Cambridge-educated scientist in his early twenties with no experience of war whatsoever. It's through Frank's eyes that we witness the story. With these two very different characters and their own distinct voices, I had a powerful platform upon which to spin out the rest of the drama.

Mary Jane Cooper wins a trip to fifties Hollywood to meet her favourite film star. 45m.

2000 TALES....2000
Short plays set over the week.
PROLOGUE by Sebastian Baczkiewicz.
THE RECTOR'S TALE by Andrew Rissik.
THE PUBLICIST'S TALE by Sebastian Baczkiewicz.

Kings (R4, 1415, five plays beginning 15 Jan) told various stories of the reign of the biblical King David. The first three were by Sebastian Baczkiewicz, and the others by Kate Clanchy. All were good, but I was particularly taken by "The Loved One" where Saul, on the brink of defeat by the Philistines, commands Anat, the witch, to foretell his fate. She conjures up old friends and enemies in the fire, and they speak with him...the images invoked by this scene were excellent. ....ND, VRPCC newsletter, 2002

1. True Anointed
Eleazar, King Saul's chief of staff, has been sent to find a shepherd boy.

2. Hazar's Chicken
A young shepherd boy is persuaded to act as David's spy.

3. The Loved One
King Saul is the brink of defeat at the hands of the Philistines.

4. Michal, Saul's Daughter
by Kate Clanchy. In David's harem, three of his wives fight over their relative status.

5. Abishag, The Virgin
By Kate Clanchy. David is dying in a fetid room, tended by his latest wife Abishag.

ARTHUR....2004 ...................... we have had an exciting series of stories by Sebastian Baczkiewicz and Steve May about King Arthur, the cast list apparently compiled by a dyslexic speller (Lanslot, Camlot, Galhot, Gwenfar.... though "Merlin" survives intact)........ND, VRPCC newsletter, Dec 04

.............Written by Sebastian Baczkiewicz (plays 1-3) and Steve May (4-6), the six plays tell the tale of Arthur, a powerful tribal leader who brings political stability to 5th century Britain but fails to deliver a golden age. The action takes place in Britain between 493 AD and 515 AD. BBC Radio 4 produced the plays for airing Oct-Nov 2004. Music by Zbigniew Preisner, with additional music by Lucinda Mason Brown. Produced and directed by Jeremy Mortimer and Gordon House.

Arthur- Ben Whishaw
Morgan- Jane Lapotaire
Young Morgan -Eve Best
Merlin -Ian McDiarmid
Ector -James Laurenson
Keir -Nicholas Boulton
Gaura -Pam Ferris
Bryce -Christian Rodska
Kerwyn -Stephen Hogan
Aidan -Phillip Joseph
Rhyannon -Emily Wachter
Young Gwenfar -Alice Ford
Bedvere -Shaun Dooley
Lot- Clive Russell
Soldiers -Damian Lynch, Robert Hastie and Jason Chan

Play one 'The Sword of the King'
A seventeen year old Arthur has grown up as Arran, stable boy to Ector of Cantia. He is visited by Merlin and begins to have waking dreams about a moment in his early childhood when he was taken from his mother by Merlin and given to Sir Ector. Arthur comes to London. Sir Ector is killed. Rival warlords Bryce and Kerwyn each put themselves forward to take the sword from the stone and claim kingship and fail. Then Arthur steps forward........... The action of the play lasts over two days in January 493 AD.

Play two 'The Black Dog'
The tribal leaders refuse to acknowledge Arthur king. Arthur is determined to impose law and effectively starts a civil war. Arthur falls in love with Rhyannon, the young wife of King Lot of the Orkneys. He sleeps with Rhyannon, who becomes pregnant. Keir challenges Arthur, and the sword of kingship shatters in his hand. The action of the play covers two months from March - May 493 AD.

Play three 'The Lake'
Through a message delivered by Gwenfar, Merlin directs Arthur to the sacred grove, and he receives 'Excalibur' from the Lady of the Lake. It is revealed that Rhyannon is in fact Margawse, Arthur's half-sister. The action of the play covers the last weeks of 493 and the first weeks of 494.

Play four ' The Moon Eats the Sun'
-by Steve May. Seven years have passed. For the last five years, Arthur has ruled with his Queen, Gwenfar, at his side. There is stability in the kingdom, and Camlot is established by the sacred lake. But Keir has broken his agreement with Arthur and has led a raiding party into Christian King Pellyn's lands across the Humber. The action of the play takes place in March 501 AD.

Play five 'The Grail'
-by Steve May. Fourteen years have passed, and two young men are making their way to Camlot: Mordred, now twenty-one, and the 15 year old Galhot, son of Lanslot and Elaine. They see Lanslot and Gwenfar bathing in the river together, and when they reach Camlot, Mordred challenges Lanslot to combat.... Arthur sends Galhot on a quest to find the Holy Grail. The action of the play takes place in 515 AD.

Play six 'The Last Battle'
- by Steve May. Gwenfar and Lanslot have been sentenced to death for adultery and treason. Merlin's vision of Camlot is fading fast. The land around the sacred lake is barren and the lake itself is polluted. The only answer to Camlot's problems appears to be war against the Saxons who have settled on the East Coast. Arthur, Gawain and his knights set out to fight the Saxons. The action of the play is continuous from Play 5.

R4, 1415, 20 Jan 05. Tale set in New York in the 1920s. An art dealer is set to sell an ancient illustrated manuscript to a steel billionaire, but his partner and the text have gone missing. With M. Emmet Walsh, Brendan Coyle, Nicholas Boulton, Nathan Osgood, Helen Longworth, Kate Harper, Jason Chan. Director Claire Grove.

26 Nov, weekly, repeated May 2010. A unusual fantasy, in four episodes. William Palmer, also known as Pilgrim, is cursed in 1185 for denying the existence of realms other than the human world. He is cursed with eternal life, and has to walk between the lands of men and magic forever.

This is a little like a cross between 'Lord of the Rings' and 'Dracula'; the plays conjure up powerful images, and the plots are exciting.

Cast: Paul Hilton, Jamie Foreman, Paul Rider, Noma Dumezweni, Janice Acquah, Lloyd Thomas, Inam Mirza, Chris Pavlo, Stephen Critchlow, Agnes Bateman. Producer Marc Beeby.

comment from the bbc messageboard, edited for anonymity:............

    I love this, it reminds me of Alan Garner's stories, where everyday reality is spliced, and spiced, with the magic otherworld. The drama of history repeats itself in the present, and ancient superstitions are a metaphor for our ever-present fears and dreams. A powerful and fascinating drama with great emotional depth. It succeeds in being poetic and convincing at the same time. - ......."h".

    The music for episode of 'Pilgrim' ep. 3 was a track called The Lost Sheep from an album called 'Felefeber', Norwegian Fiddle Fantasia, played by Annbjorg Lien.

22 Jan, afternoon play. Russia's recent past.

The Casper Logue Affair, 29 Mar 10; rpt. 29 Aug 11, rpt. Modelled on the famous "Arabian Nights".

7 Sep, afternoon play.

8 sep, afternoon play.

Four more interesting stories: 26 Jan - 16 Feb.

1.Crowsfall Wood. An old friend of William Palmer is possessed by a forest spirit. With Karl Johnson, Faye Castelow, Susan Engel, Dudley Sutton, John Rowe, Adam Billington, Rikki Lawton.
    An old man, happily married for fifty years, deserts his wife for a 24-year-old and elopes into Crowsfall Wood. She must be a witch.... but the old man has savage supernatural powers of his own. Palmer has been making libations to keep Tadek safe, but this year he forgot, and now powerful forces are awakening.... (paraphrased from Gillian Reynolds' review in RT)

2.Sookey Hill. A man is cursed and slowly turns into a hare. Sound effects made this very believable and frightening. With Ralph Ineson, Kate Fleetwood, Carl Prekopp, Gerard McDermott, Alex Tregear, Simon Bubb.

3.Aisley Bridge. Pilgrim is drawn into the world of the Lanes and the immortal children who live there, following the disappearance of a local girl. With Victoria Inez Hardy, James Lailey, Kasper Hilton-Hille, Nishi Malde, Faye Castelowe, Lizzy Watts, Simon Bubb, Adam Billington.

4.Lindie Island: Pilgrim is asked to sacrifice a man he has kept safe for centuries in exchange for a bargaining chip in his negotiations with the king. With Adam Billington, Carl Prekopp, Kate Fleetwood, Pamela Merrick, Jimmy Akingbola, Nicky Henson.

All produced by Jessica Dromgoole and Marc Beeby. Paul Hilton plays William Palmer, 'Pilgrim'.

25 Nov 12; first episode of new dramatization by Sebastian Baczkiewicz, 4 x 55m, Classic Serial. The Count of Monte Cristo is the well-known adventure novel by Alexandre Dumas. The story takes place in France, Italy, islands in the Mediterranean, and in the Levant during the historical events of 18151838. It focuses on a man who is wrongfully imprisoned for fourteen years, escapes from jail, acquires a fortune and sets about getting revenge on those responsible for his imprisonment. He destroys his enemies systematically and ruthlessly, and at the end, it becomes clear that the innocent young man we met at the beginning of the story is no longer recognisable.

This is a great dramatization, comparing well with earlier BBC versions. There is emphasis on detail and realism; the prison scenes are especially chilling. The cast: Ian Glen as Edmond, Jane Lapotaire as Haydee, with Josette Simon, Paul Rhys, Kate Fleetwood, Karl Johnson, Toby Jones, Stephanie Racine, Zubin Varla, Ben Crowe, Will Howard, Sarah Thom, Paul Stonehouse, Lizzy Watts, Adam Nagaitis, Eleanor Crooks, Joe Sims, Robert Blythe. Producers Jeremy Mortimer and Sasha Yevtushenko.

Nigel Deacon / Diversity website

Asterisked plays known to exist in VRPCC collections

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