BBC World Service Drama

Known World Service plays and series from 1990-1999, including those from Suttonelms' previous list plus various additions from all over.

This is "Work in Progress".



(00-00-1990) A Kind Of Alaska (Harold Pinter)
Inspired by Oliver Sacks book 'Awakenings', the play is about a woman, Deborah, who awakes from sleeping sickness, only to find her mind completely changed. Deborah's brother-and-law and sister, Hornby and Pauline, talk to her while she comes to terms with reality. Deborah - Anna Massey, Hornby - Harold Pinter, Pauline - Carol Boyd

(20-08 to 13-09-1990)
The Norman Conquests (Alan Ayckbourn, dram Neville Teller) Produced by Gordon House. Three plays - all different, but featuring events that take place over the same weekend with the same six people. They can be heard in any sequence. Norman - Robin Herford, Annie - Diane Bull, Reg - Simon Jones, Sarah - Tessa Peake Jones, Tom - Jon Strickland, Ruth - Lisa Rider. Music by Peter Ringrose. (3 x 90m) (NB: These plays are available on CD and as digital downloads.)

1: Table Manners.

2: Living Together.

3: Round & Round The Garden.

(00-00-1990) Night & Day (Tom Stoppard)
Adaptation of the 1978 stage play, later broadcast on Radio 3.


(07-07-1991) The Physicists (Friedrich Durrenmatt, trans James Kirkup)
Short of nuts for your fruitcake? Here are Newton, Leibniz and Moebius living in an asylum in Switzerland; a police inspector trying to work out which one of them is guilty of murder. With Nickolas Grace, John Shrapnel, Jonathan Cecil, Sian Phillips, Brett Usher, Jenny Howe and Petra Markham. Adapted and directed by Hilary Norrish.


(15-03-1992) Lost For Words (Ken Blakeson)
No synopsis. (90m)

(30-07 to 03-09-1992) Raffles - Series 3 (E W Hornung, adap David Buck)
A BBC Radio 4/BBC World Service co-production. Starring Jeremy Clyde as A. J. Raffles and Michael Cochrane as Bunny Manders. Theme music by Jim Parker. Directed by Gordon House. (6 x 30m) (NB: Transmission dates may be those for Radio 4.)

1: No Sinecure - The gentlemen thief is dead. Facing life without his partner-in-crime - Bunny's newspaper sparks a surprise.

2: To Catch A Thief - London's High Society suffers some audacious jewel robberies, but for once the cracksman is not Raffles.

3: An Old Flame - The gentlemen thief has many criminal and sporting adversaries, but none as formidable as Jacques Saillaid.

4: The Raffles Relics - The gentlemen thief decides to re-equip in a most unconventional manner - then joins a manhunt.

5: The Knees Of The Gods - As if life wasn't sufficiently perilous, the gentleman thief and Bunny join the army and head for Africa.

6: The Last Word - War-scarred Bunny returns to London, determined to restore his extraordinary friend's reputation.

(00-00-1992) Out Of School (Diana Griffiths)
No synopsis. (30m) (NB: Originally broadcast on Radio 4's Thirty Minute Theatre, and BBC Wales.)

(00-00-1992) The Pipsqueak (Steve Walker)
The biography of a minor civil servant from Galaxy HQ who is sent to assume total power on planet Earth in the early 60s. Our hero Synat-ra meets JFK, Macmillan, Kenyatta. His love of planet Earth is overwhelming but his sexual orientation veers towards giraffes. An epic tale of human aspiration and potential spanning past and future. Directed by Gordon House. (60m)

(00-00-1992) Successful Strategies (Pierre de Marivaux, trans Timberlake Wertenbaker)
Period 1733 "Timberlake Wertenbaker's translation defies the old rule that you can't do Marivaux in English. Marivaux here analyses the chessboard element of love in which caprice mixes with strategy. A rich rose-decked Comtesse, turning infidelity into a style, whimsically abandons her lover, Dorante. Instead she takes up with the posturing and absurd Chevalier. And, in order to get her revenge, the latter's abandoned lover, the Marquise, forms an amorous alliance with Dorante. What this leaves out of account, however, are the servants (shrewd maids and valets anything but green) who in Marivaux are both victims of their employers' passions and skillful tacticians in their own right." (The Guardian) Comtesse - Penelope Wilton, Marquise - Gillian Barge, Dorante - Phillip Franks, Chevalier - Phillip Voss. With Ian Bartholomew, Niall Buggy, Elizabeth Ryder and Collin Costalow. Directed by Hilary Norrish. (NB: Also broadcast on Radio 3.)


(25-06 to 30-07-1993) Sherlock Holmes (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)
Originally produced as 24 x 30m stories for BA in-flight entertainment, six were broadcast on the World Service. With Roy Marsden as Holmes and Roger Moffatt as Watson.

1: The Priory School.

2: The Second Stain.

3: The Copper Beeches.

4: The Norwood Builder.

5: The Red-Headed League.

6: The Sussex Vampire.

(00-00-1993) Spanish Gold (George A Birmingham, dram Neville Teller)
(5 x 30m)


(22-01-1994) Laura Singer (David Z Mairowitz)
No synopsis.

(11-05 to 22-06-1994) The Reduced Shakespeare Radio Show (wri/perf Adam Long, Reed Martin, & Austin Tichenor)
Produced for the BBC World Service by Laughing Stock Productions, this is a six-part examination of the works and life of William Q Shakespeare. Produced by Colin Collino and John Etchells for Laughing Stock Productions Ltd. Editing/post-production John Etchells. Recorded at LTC Studios. Additional Material by: Andrew Howard, Dan McLaughlin, Mark Sellin, Daniel Singer, & Jess Winfleld (6 x 30m) (NB: Released on cassette by Laughing Stock; The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) ran for nine record-breaking years at the Criterion Theatre in London's West End. It has become one of the world's most popular shows, playing frequently in a variety of languages.)

1: Romeo & Juliet.

2: Hamlet.

3: The Histories.

4: The Tragedies.

5: The Comedies.

6: Shakespeare's Little Known Trip To America.

(29-10-1994) Betrayal (aka Single Spies) - An Englishman Abroad / A Question of Attribution (Alan Bennett)
A double bill of Alan Bennett plays, adapted for BBC Radio.

An Englishman Abroad focusses on Guy Burgess, while A Question of Attribution has another of the Cambridge spies as its central figure: Anthony Blunt, who remained in England and whose identity as a spy was only made public much later. Directed by Susan Roberts. (NB: Both are available on BBC CD.)

(00-00-1994) Into The Blue (Robert Goddard, dram Neville Teller) (8 x 30m) (NB: Was available for a time on BBC cassette.)

(00-00-1994) Waiting For Lefty (Clifford Odets, adap Bill Morrison) Series of related vignettes, framed by the meeting of cab drivers who are planning a labour strike. With Ed Bishop, William Hootkins, Bob Sherman, Bradley Lavell, Theresa Gallagher, Malcolm Ward, Paul Panting, Melanie Hudson, Jonathon Tafler, Michael Fitzpatrick. Directed by Ned Chaillet. (NB: Repeat from Radio 3, 11-03-1994.)


(26-03-1995) 2004 (Wally K Daly)
Out of a chaotic society generated by crime and violence steps a man with a mission, preaching a vision of a crime-free nation. With Bill Nighy and Derek Waring. Directed by David Hitchinson.

(00-00-1995) Arms & The Man (George Bernard Shaw, adap Michelene Wandor)
One of at least four adaptations of Shaw's comedy. (60m)

(00-00-1995) The Long Road to Freedom (Nelson Mandela, adap Michelene Wandor)
Abridgement of Mandela's autobiography. (12 x 15m)


(05-03 to 09-04-1996) House Of Cards (Michael Dobbs, adap/dir Neville Teller)
Francis Urquhart is the chief whip of the Conservative party. When Margaret Thatcher resigns as leader, he remains neutral and after a general election where the conservatives are returned with a reduced majority, he fully expects the new Prime Minister, Henry Collingridge, to give him his just reward: a senior Cabinet post. When he's informed that he is to stay in his current position, he devises a plot to unseat Collingridge and ensure his own election as party leader which would make his Prime Minister. Daniel Massey - Francis Urquhart, Amanda Root - Mattie Storin, Anton Lesser - John Krajewski, Geoffrey Whitehead - Henry Collingridge, Colin Confry - Roger O'Neill, Dennis Hawthorne - Maurice Metcalfe, David Timson - Greville Preston, Roger May - Frank, Keith Drinkell - Charles Collingridge. (6 x 30m)

1: The Insane Route.

2: The Dart Of Chance.

3: The Unkindest Cut.

4: In Hot Pursuit.

5: The Path To Danger.

6: Death & The Maiden.

(23-11-1996) The Moonhunter (Peter Tinniswood)
With Peter Jeffrey, Jane Lapotaire, Kerry Shale. Producer Gordon House. (60m)

(20-12-1996) The Will & The Way (W W Jacobs)
No synopsis. (30m)

(00-00-1996) Murder At The Cameo (adap Bill Morrison)
Presumably a dramatisiation of the 1949 murders at the Cameo Cinema, Liverpool which led to the longest trial in the English courts and the eventual abolition of capital punishment.

(00-00-1996) Pride & Prejudice (Jane Austen, adap Michelene Wandor)
Dramatised for the World Service English programme. (15 x 15m)

(00-00-1996) Short Stories For Christmas (Various)
(5 x 15m)

1: Not So Tiny Tim, Or, God Bless Us, Everyone (John Mortimer, read by Nicholas Le Prevost)
Christmas, 1893. Ruthless millionaire Sir Timothy Cratchit winters in the Moroccan sun. He has no time for carols or good deeds. But the spirit of Ebenezer Scrooge has come to show him Christmas a hundred years on.

2: The Archbishop’s Egg (Lawrence Scott, read by Lawrence Scott)
A ganja-filled Rasta chances upon a weeping, bleeding statue of the Madonna in this cautionary tale of miracles, mobile phones and goat’s blood, set in Trinidad.

3: Christmas Present (Maeve Binchly, read by Hannah Gordon)
A young boy discovers a dubious but highly effective way of showing three generations of a family the true meaning of Christmas Day.

4: The Investigators (David Belbin, read by Edward de Souza)
Ian and Ruth are researching a thesis to prove that paranormal events have a rational explanation. Armed with a video recorder and a determination to stay up all night, they enlist the help of a lonely student. But ghosts are never quite what they seem …

5: Masquerade (Roy Heath, read by Burt Caesar)
Finebone recalls Christmas preparations in a traditional Guyanan masquerade band: mesmeric music; dancers with apparently boneless legs; a traffic-stopping papier-mâché bull and, of course, Mother Sally – the great transvestite performer on stilts.


(01-03-1997) The White Devil (John Webster)
With Anton Lesser.

(14-06-1997) Way Upstream (Alan Ayckbourn)
Another Gorden House Ayckbourn, with Adam Godley, Jenny Funnell, Russell Dixon, Samantha Bond, Neil Pearson, Emily Raymond and Jillie Meers.

(00-00-1997) Kingdom Come (Roy Kendall)
A two-part sequel to Kendall's 'Body & Soul'. The King changes his religion to Hindu and causes problems for the Archbishop and the government. With Michael Williams as the Archbishop of Canterbury, & Penelope Wilton as his long-suffering wife. (2 x 60m)

(00-00-1997) The Mill On The Floss (George Eliot, adap Michelene Wandor)
Dramatised for BBC English World Service. (15 x 15m)

(00-00-1997) The Speculator (Balzac, adap Stephen Wyatt)
A version of Le Faiseur by Balzac. A sparkling stage version of Balzac's witty comedy about a financial speculator on his uppers.


(05-10-1998) Casual Slaughters, by Perry Pontac.

(14-11 to 05-12-1998) Hard Times (Charles Dickens)
Starring John Woodvine as Gradgrind, Tom Baker as Josiah Bounderby and Anna Massey as Mrs Sparsit. (4 x 60m) (NB: Not to be confused with a later 2007 version starring Kenneth Cranham.)

(00-00-1998) An Inspector Calls (J B Priestley, adap John Foley)
Starring Bob Peck as Inspector Goole, John Woodvine as Arthur Birling and Maggie Steed as Sybil Birling. The production was directed by Rosalyn Ward. (NB: Repeated 14-07-2007 on BBC7.)

(00-00-1998) Les Liaisons Dangereuses (Pierre Choderlos de Laclos, adap Christopher Hampton)
An award-winning two-part presentation of the 1985 play, based on the 1782 epistolary novel by de Laclos. It is the story of the Marquise de Merteuil and the Vicomte de Valmont, two rivals who use sex as a weapon to humiliate and degrade others, all the while enjoying their cruel games. The play was also the basis for the successful film Dangerous Liaisons. This radio version won the Grand Award for Best Entertainment Program at the New York Radio Festival. Narrator - John Moffatt, Vicomte de Valmont - Ciaran Hinds, Marquise de Merteuil - Lindsay Duncan, Madame de Tourvel - Emma Fielding. With Adam Godley, Alison Pettit, Joanna David, Elizabeth Spriggs, Sarah-Jane Holm and Charles Simpson. (2 x 60m) (NB: Repeated in 2009 on BBC7.)

(00-00-1998) The Moonstone (Wilkie Collins, adap Michelene Wandor)
Dramatised for BBC English World Service. (15 x 15m)

(00-00-1998) Plantation (John Pilkington)
Radio adaptation of Pilkington's own stage play, produced by Andy Jordan (broadcast January/February). (60m)

(00-00-1998) Prophetess Of Exeter (Lucy Gough)
A radio version of Gough's 1989 stage play Joanna, directed by Gordon House. (NB: Previously broadcast on Radio in 1997.)


(18-05-1999)Harvest (Manjula Padmanabhan)
With Nina Wadia.

(20-08-1999) The Uncertainty Principle (Marcy Kahan)
A comedy set in 2099; a world where everyone knows his lifespan. People live at the appropriate pace. Short-lifers are frenetic short-attention-span, beer-swilling hedonists; long-lifers are more laid back: advocates of lifelong learning, retraining for different jobs each decade, and making long term investments. When a short-lifer overstays his welcome by not dying at the right time, why does it have to be kept secret? Kerry Shale and Clive Swift were Adam and Igor. Directed by Gordon House.

(07-11-1999) Dead White Males (David Williamson)
A satirical approach to postmodernism and university ethics by one of Australia's best known playwrights.

(11-12-1999) Blithe Spirit (Noel Coward)
One of at least three BBC adaptations of Coward's classic (1983's starring Peggy Mount and 2008's with Maggie Steed as Madame Arcati).

(25-12-1999) The Picture Of Dorian Gray (Oscar Wilde)
Another of many adaptations... (NB: This may be the two-parter that was also broadcast 31-01 to 07-02-2000 as Radio 4's Classic Serial, with Jamie Glover, Ian McDiarmid and Steven Pacey, directed by Gordon House.)

(00-00-1999) Cribb & The Black (Steve Walker)
The true story of Tom Cribb, world champion boxer in the bareknuckle era, and the challenge by Tom Molyneaux (Tom the Black), an American slave who eventually became a free man. With Shaun Parkes as Tom Molyneaux, Pat Roach as Tom Cribb. Also stars Burt Caesar, James Cosmo, Robert Bathurst, Cecilia Noble, Justine Midda, William Roberts, Justine Miller, Chris Emmett, Harry Myers, Ben Crowe, Giles Fagan, Chris Pavlo. SM Peter Ringrose. Produced by Gordon House. (60m)

(00-00-1999) The Lady Vanishes (Ethel Lina White, dram Neville Teller)
Unknown version for what was also Teller's first abridgement for BBC Radio - 1956's The Wheel Spins - possibly with Renee Asherson, Jenny Funnell, Mark Tandy, Geraldine Fitzgerald and Michael Roberts. (90m)

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