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Schools and Teachers: Radio Plays

The obvious play about teaching which hasn't been written yet is the story of how our education system has changed over the last 25 years.

John Clare commmented recently in his Daily Telegraph column that secondary teachers have been told to implement 547 government initiatives over this period.

Such a play would need a teacher to write it....

There are many plays about schools and teaching, but the ones below are among the best. Listen to them if you can, and enjoy. They are listed in approximate order of broadcast.

BBC RADIO PLAYS
Unman, Wittering and Zigo, by Giles Cooper
Syrup of Figs, by Joe Eaton
1980 An English Lesson, by Paul Thain.
The Passion Flower Hotel (Erskine, ad. Bert Coules)
1975 End of Term, by E.H.Hendry
The Browning Version, by Terence Rattigan
Marking Time, by Jill Hyem
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, by Muriel Spark.
1985 Conversations from the Engine Room, by Nick Warburton
1990 The Demon Headmaster, 4 episodes, by Gillian Cross
The Head Man, by Jonathan Smith (several plays)
King Street Junior (100+ episodes), by Jim Eldridge
1991 Breaking Up, by Peter Roberts.
2006 To serve them all my days, by R.F.Delderfield (ad. S. McKenna)
2008 Higher, by Joyce Bryant

NOTES

UNMAN, WITTERING AND ZIGO
An ambitious young teacher is demoralised by his class, who claim to have done something to his predecessor. See Giles Cooper page.

SYRUP OF FIGS
The girls' school from hell.

THE PASSION FLOWER HOTEL
Very funny "sex comedy" set in a girls' school, adapted by Bert Coules. 90m.

END OF TERM....1975
29 Jan 75. By "E.H. Hendry". Very funny play about a little-known private school where all is not well. There has been a catastrophic loss of pupils, the staff are resting on imaginary laurels, and it's approaching the end of term. Stars Richard Briers/Peter Sallis/Nigel Lambert/Norma Ronald. 45m. Producer Martin Jenkins. (......I am grateful to Alan Stokes, who supplied a recording - ND)

AN ENGLISH LESSON....1980
By Paul Thain. A London teacher tries to explain the Irish question to a sink-class.

MARKING TIME
A rather sad play about a once-keen teacher who is no longer respected by his pupils or his colleagues.

HEADLINES
By Melville Jones. With Paul Walker. An ill-mannered female student at a secondary school is appallingly rude to a teacher. A convoluted play, leading eventually to her come-uppance. I think mid to late 80s.

THE PRIME OF MISS JEAN BRODIE
A radio adaptation of the famous novel about the schoolmistress with radical ideas, who isn't quite so clever as she thinks. She learns this by the end. The story is set in the thirties, when women with views were not appreciated in the way they are now... a totally absorbing play. At the time of writing I do not have the casting / production details to hand. 90m; I think Saturday Night Theatre, around 1980.

Breaking Up....1991
By Peter Roberts, who has many years' experience of teaching. A hilarious schools comedy, with the staff in revolt, the school in financial turmoil, and the oiks running riot. 60m, afternoon play, only broadcast on longwave; can't remember why. With Norman Rodway, James Telfer, Carl Wright.

THE HEAD MAN
Several plays broadcast in (I think) two series. Please see Jonathan Smith's page. Jonathan has a great deal of experience as a teacher, and there's no better person to write about "The Learning Game".

TO SERVE THEM ALL MY DAYS....2006
Five afternoon plays broadcast on successive days - serial set in a small public school between the wars. See Cherry Cookson page (Producers). Excellent drama, well-received by those commenting on the BBC radio 4 message board. Repeated on radio 4, Apr-May 2008.

Higher….2008
12 May 08. Comic play by Joyce Bryant. Karen is the new head of the Geography Department – renamed Geographical Tourism – at Hayborough University, which isn’t quite part of the elite Russell Group of top universities.  It is Open Day for the department and Karen is keen that she attracts the right students. Cast: Karen ...... Sophie Thompson, David ...... Mark Heap, Jim ...... Jonathan Keeble, Barbara ...... Sue Ryding, Maura ...... Maggie Fox, Angela ...... Sue Kelly, Harry ...... Ben Hood, producer Gary Brown.

Nigel Deacon / Diversity website

Above plays known to exist in VRPCC collections

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