David Edgar

Playwright David Edgar was born in Birmingham on 26 February 1948. He was educated at Oundle School and read Drama at Manchester University. After a short career in journalism, he took up writing full-time in 1972. Journalism feeds into several of his plays including Saigon Rose and Maydays.

Saigon Rose
BBC Radio 3 Monday 21 May 1979
'Where had it started? She'd often asked herself. Where do things start? Which is the first spoke in the wheel? The first daisy in the chain? ' Vicky and Clive Brent , and their cohorts, are brought face to face with the darker side of the ' Swinging 60s ' sexual revolution, and all that its apparently liberating aspects implied. Directed by Michael Rolfe BBC Birmingham.

The Jail Diary of Albie Sachs
BBC Radio 3 Thu 21 June 1979
Abridged for radio by Madeline Sotheby. With Simon Callow as Albie. Albie Sachs, a young white South African barrister, who had made a name for himself defending people prosecuted Under the Apartheid laws, was arrested in Cape Town on 1 October 1963. He was held in solitary confinement under the 90 Days Law, which in effect allowed police to hold subjects indefinitely. Directed by Gordon House.

Pentecost The Sunday Play
BBC Radio 3 Sun 23rd Jun 1996
David Edgar's play, winner of the 1995 Evening Standard Award for Best Play comes to radio in a new adaptation by the playwright. The work is an urgent and powerful response to the turbulent past and uneasy present of Eastern Europe: an intellectual thriller and complex political parable. Director Hilary Norrish.

Talking to Mars
Drama Now BBC Radio 3 Sun 27th Oct 1996
Spanning 30 years of postwar history, the play examines the collapse of the Cold War through the eyes of an international radio station. Director Hilary Norrish.

The Monday Play: BBC Radio 4 Mon 23rd Jul 1979, David Edgar's award-winning play, specially adapted for radio by the author. With Terence Rigby as Dennis Turner. The death of a Conservative MP results in a by-election in a West Midlands town. The election campaign, between the major parties, at first follows a familiar pattern. But the intervention of an extreme right-wing racialist party, and a strike by Asian foundry-workers, which becomes an election issue, drives the campaign towards a bitter and violent climax. Director: Michael Rolfe BBC Birmingham

Saturday-Afternoon Theatre: BBC Radio 4 Sat 29th Sep 1979
'To be a Bishop, anywhere, perhaps particularly in the Church of England, needs a certain social sense, a sense, perhaps, of compromise. The problem with John Hammond is .... ‘The man's a Monk ... He's a very bright, attractive, personable, and compassionate. Mad Monk.' Directed by Michael Rolfe BBC Birmingham (First broadcast in 1977)

A Movie Starring Me
The Monday Play: BBC Radio 4 Mon 18th Nov 1991
Samantha Bond stars as American soap actress Michele, in a new play by David Edgar. Michele's appearance in a West End production of The Seagull prompts Tripper, an obsessive fan, to make Michele aware of his existence. The Shape of the Table: Two Productions:

The Shape of the Table
The Monday Play BBC Radio 4 Mon 21st Jun 1993
Pavel Prus has been a novelist, a bricklayer and a window cleaner. He is now in jail as a dissident. Suddenly, in 1989, he is asked to participate in real political power. Director: Hilary Nonish (A BBC World Service production)

1989: The Shape of the Table
The Saturday Play BBC Radio 4 Sat 14th Nov 2009
Originally staged by the National Theatre in 1990, David Edgar's powerful play charts the dramatic and dangerous transition of a fictional Eastern European country from hard-line Communism to the beginnings of Western-style democracy. It's 1989, crowds are gathering in the streets, and the Soviets are refusing to send in the troops. The government is on its own and faces a stark choice: suppress the demonstrators or instigate reform. Presented as part of Radio 4's 1989 season. Original music by Malcolm McKee. Producer/Director Peter Leslie Wild.

That Summer
The Monday Play: BBC Radio 4 Mon 15th May 1995
That summer is 1984, when the longest and bitterest strike in British mining history was at its height. And that summer is when Howard and Cressida play host to Frankie and Michele, the teenage daughters of striking Welsh miners. Director Hilary Norrish First broadcast on BBC World Service radio

Mary Barnes
The Monday Play: BBC Radio 4 Mon 26th Jun 1995
Mary Barnes struggled for years with her own madness until she met psychiatrist R D Laing and went to live in Kingsley Hall, the experimental community he founded in 1965. with Stephen Critchlow, Tessa Worsl Director Hilary Norrish. Based on Mary Barnes: Two Accounts of a Journey through Madness by Mary Barnes and Joseph Berke

The Secret Parts
Afternoon Play: BBC Radio 4 Mon 29th May 2000
A murder mystery by Eve Brook, dramatised by David Edgar. When she finds the body of one of her colleagues lying in a council house corridor, councillor Helena Kerr has immediate suspicions about the identity of the murderer. She suspects her main political opponent and sets out to prove it. Edgar married the social activist Eve Brook in 1979; she died of lung cancer aged 53 in 1998.

Something Wrong about the Mouth
Saturday Drama: BBC Radio 4 Sat 20th Jan 2007
Soho, 1958. An American wants a portrait of a woman he can't produce, dressed for an event that didn't occur. With Damian Lewis.

Playing with Fire
The Saturday Play: BBC Radio 4 Sat 27th Jan 2007
Produced at the National Theatre, London, in 2005, this play is set against the background of a riot in the fictional northern town of Wyverdale in the early part of this decade. A powerful political and personal drama in a new radio version by playwright David Edgar.

If Only Saturday
Drama BBC Radio 4 Sat 7th Jun 2014
Three politicians, one from each party, are stranded by the volcanic ash cloud of 2010. David Edgar's tongue-in-cheek drama imagines the rise, and possible fall, of the Coalition. Director Alison Hindell BBC Cymru Wales production.

Trying It On
BBC Radio 4 Friday 28 June 2019
Award-winning playwright David Edgar made his performing debut in this solo show exploring the autobiographical background to his landmark theatre play, Maydays, which recently became a 3 part series on Radio 4. The 70-year-old is confronted by his young self 50 years after his political outlook was defined by the tumultuous events of 1968. Do they share the same beliefs? If not, is it the world that’s changed, or him? Why did his generation vote Brexit? Has he sold in or sold out?

Maydays. Part 1: New Jerusalem
Afternoon Drama: BBC Radio 4 27 February 2023
David Edgar's epic theatre play from 1983 ranged across continents and decades to explore how young activists who came of age in the 1960s subsequently made the leap from the far left to the die-hard right. After revising the text in 2018, Edgar has now reworked the rich and compelling narrative into a sweeping three-part audio version.

Maydays. Part 2: Kronstadt
Afternoon Drama: BBC Radio 4 28 February 2023
David Edgar's landmark political drama continues. We leave British journalist and Socialist Vanguard leading light Martin Glass campaigning for the release of his activist friend in 1972, as we head back to 1956, to find a young Soviet army officer grappling with his conscience in a Hungary rebelling against communist rule.

Maydays. Part 3: Human Dust
Afternoon Drama: BBC Radio 4 1 March 2023
David Edgar's audio reworking of his landmark theatre play concludes. Martin has broken up painfully with his revolutionary socialist past and with fellow activist Amanda. Meanwhile Soviet dissident Pavel Lermontov has been released and is en route to London, where the lives and beliefs of the two men will collide.

David Edgar has also contributed, as a writer, to the long running Radio 4 series of dramas From Fact to Fiction.

Alistair Wyper March 2023

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