Dirk Maggs Radio Plays

Dirk Maggs originally trained as an SM (studio manager) at the BBC. He became a radio producer, worked for the BBC until 1995, and then went freelance. Some of his radio broadcasts (loosely "drama", as relevant to this website) are listed below.

Dirk Maggs' site should be consulted for details and for his other work. The site can be found at


2021 Low - David Bowie, by Sean Grundy
2019 Puckoon, by Spike Milligan, ad. Ian Billings
2018 Low, by Sean Grundy
2016 Stardust, by Neil Gaiman
2016 How the Marquis got his coat back, by Neil Gaiman
2015 Far Side of the Moore, by Sean Grundy
2014 Good Omens, by Neil Gaiman
2014 Ebola, by Mike Walker
2013 Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman
2012 Interiors, by Johnny Vegas, Stuart Lee & Rob Thirtle
2011 Cry Babies, by Kim Newman
2011 The Death of Tom Inglis
2010 Boscobel
2010 Badfellas
2010 My Mad Grandad
2007 A night in the Ukraine
2004 Tim Merryman's Days of Clover (4 x 30m)
2004 Night Class, by Johnny Vegas (5 x 30m)
2004 The hitch-hiker's guide to the galaxy (several series)
2004 All fingers and thumbs
2004 Miss Morrison's Ghosts
2003 The Gypsy, The Last Seance, The 199 Adventure by A. Christie
2002 The gates of Baghdad, Witness for the prosecution, by A. Christie
2002 Lean on me (6 x 30m) comedy series
2001 2001: A Space Odyssey (abridged by Dirk Maggs), reading
2001 Professor Branestawm, series, dramatisations, devised by D.M.
2000 Ben-Hur
1999 Voyage, by Stephen Baxter (5 x 30m)
1998 Man of Soup, by David Stafford (6 x 30m)
1998 The Gemini Apes, written by Dirk Maggs
1996 Independence Day UK
1995 Peter Pan
1995 Judge Dredd - the day the law died
1995 The amazing Spiderman
1994 Batman - Knightfall
1993 Superman - Doomsday & Beyond
1992 Inside Sasha - comedy series
1992, 1991, 1990: Flywheel, Shyster & Flywheel, 3 series
1990 Adventures of Superman, series 1
1989 Batman - The Lazarus Syndrome
1988 Superman on trial, written by D.M.


10 Jan 21: Classic Serial slot: Low - David Bowie
By Sean Grundy, rpt. Inspired by the chaotic life of David Bowie during the making of the Low album released in 1977. The play looks into the mind of David Bowie during his years in Berlin. After leaving LA, which he later said had brought him to the edge of sanity, Berlin influenced his recovery and inspired him to create this well-known album. Bowie: Daniel Weyman, Iggy Pop: Kerry Shale, Tony Visconti: Martin Sherman, Roy Martin: Tom Alexander, Rony Haag: Scott Capurro, Coco: Laurel Lefkow, Angie: Helene Maksoud, Zowie Bowie: James Morley, Brian Eno: Wilf Scolding. Producer: David Morley; director: Dirk Maggs. 57m. Indie (Perfectly Normal).

28 Dec 19: Saturday Play - Puckoon
By Spike Milligan, adapted by Ian Billings. In 1924 the Boundary Commission was given the job of working out the new boundary between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic. Because of the usual cock-ups and the incompetence of the officials, the broder ends up going through the middle of the small town of Puckoon. The Daily Mail said 'Pops with the erratic brilliance of a careless match in a box of fireworks'. In the foreword, Milligan said that writing it nearly drove him mad, and he signed off by thanking the human race for being the butt of all of his jokes. Dan Milligan: Ed Byrne, Spike Milligan: Barry Cryer, with Pauline McLynn, Kate harbour, Jane Milligan, Wilf Scolding, David Shaw-Parker, Colm Gleeson and Tom Alexander. Producer: David Morley, director: Dirk Maggs.

7 Jul 18: Saturday Play: Low
By Sean Grundy. Play about David Bowie, when he was making his album "Low" in 1977. Bowie: Daniel Weyman, Iggy Pop: Kerry Shale, Tony Visconti: Martin Sherman, Roy Martin: Tom Alexander, Rony Haag: Scott Capurro, Coco: Laurel Lefkow, Angie: Helene Maksoud, Zowie Bowie: James Morley, Brian Eno: Wilf Scolding. Producer: David Morley; director: Dirk Maggs. 57m.

STARDUST (R4, 17-18 Dec 2016 in two episodes and repeated over Christmas) was one of the best plays of the year. It was based on the story by Neil Gaiman and adapted by Dirk Maggs. It tells of the adventures of a young man from the village of Wall, which borders the magical land of Faerie, and which has contact with it just one day in every nine years. The hero is Tristran, a youth whose origin can be traced back to a magical encounter between his father and a young lady on one of these special days. Tristran foolishly promises his sweetheart that he will bring a fallen star back to her, and if he succeeds, they will marry.

In Faerie, stars are living creatures, and the one Tristran seeks is called Yvaine. In the quest, we meet many curious creatures which can only exist successfully on radio: three ageing witches who need to capture and kill Yvaine to regain their lost youth; four dead sons of the Lord of Stormhold and three living ones; the dead sons appear as ghostly observers, while the living sons plot constantly to kill each other to succeed their father. Stardust is a story of great imagination, and Gaiman has enough ingenuity to ensure that every loose end is securely tied up. The result is that we can identify with his world and want his characters to succeed.(....ND, Diversity Website review, Dec 2016)

(R4, 1415, 4 Nov 2016) by Neil Gaiman, adapted by Dirk Maggs, was a short but very welcome sequel to his epic 'Neverwhere', set in 'London Below'. The BBC blurb runs like this: The Marquis de Carabas has been having a rather stressful time of it. Being killed by the villainous duo Vandemar and Croup, having his body sold by the sewer people, and brought back to life with the aid of Old Bailey is enough to test the endurance of most people. But as if that isn't bad enough, the Marquis has lost his coat. It's not just any old coat. It is mysterious and unique and makes him the man he is. And he wants it back. (....ND, Diversity Website review, Dec 2016)

The astronomer Patrick Moore was commemmorated in FAR SIDE OF THE MOORE (R4, 1415, 30 Mar 15), a play by Sean Grundy about the early life of Patrick Moore, the astronomer, and the events surrounding the origins of the programme "The Sky At Night", which he presented for fifty-five years. This received very good reviews from many quarters, including the Daily Telegraph's Gillian Reynolds, the website of "The Sky At Night", and the British Astronomical Society website.

It's set in 1957, and the little-known Patrick is living with his mother in East Grinstead. He studies the heavens and writes popular factual works on astronomy, and science fiction under a pseudonym. When his latest book Suns, Myths And Men gets a bad review from the academic Henry King, Patrick is in despair and, when the phone rings, he expects more bad news. Martin Mobberley said that although the play is fiction, loosely based on facts, they had gone to great lengths to get the certain details right; for example, they recorded one of Patrick's typewriters to get the Woodstock typewriter key-pounding correct. Essentially, this was the story of how a self-taught astronomer and eccentric became the presenter of The Sky At Night. It also talks about Patrick's lost love, who died in a german air raid when he was still a young man. Overall it is a story of triumph against the odds; he would never have been hired without producer Paul Johnstone (Daniel Weyman) having faith in his scientific expertise and natural gift for communication.

Patrick was played by Tom Hollander and his mother by Patricia Hodge. Felicity played Lorna, Daniel Weyman was Paul Johnstone, and Anton Lesser was Dr. Henry King, the jealous academic. Dirk Maggs directed, for Indie producer Perfectly Normal Productions. (....ND, Diversity Website review, Apr 2015)

GOOD OMENS....2014
By Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman; 3 hours in length, spread between 22 Dec and 27 Dec.

    Summary of J.A.'s comments:
    A comic masterpiece.... two angels, one working with God and the other with Satan, form an unholy alliance. Unfortunately, there has been a bit of a mix-up with the birth of the Antichrist, and the American ambassador's son might not be the child to bring on Armageddon after all. The fate of our planet will be decided after 'Any Questions' on Saturday ... [an enormous cast including Mark Heap, Peter Serafinowicz, Josie Lawrence, Phil Davis, Ben Crowe, Tracey Wiles, Jim Norton, plus a few BBC personalities as themselves. Members of the GQT team (Pippa Greenwood, Bob Flowerdew and Eric Robson) appear in the Boxing Day episode. Producer: Heather Larmour; Sound Design: Dirk Maggs; BBC Northern Ireland]

      ND comment:
      It's reassuring to learn that cock-ups are as common amongst angels as they are with us. Two of them spend eleven years looking after a boy they believe to be the Antichrist, and then find out it's not him.... there begins a frantic search for the Prince of Evil; can they find him in time for Armageddon? Excellent stuff.

18 Dec 14. By Mike Walker. Summary of BBC notes: ....dramatization of the true story of the discovery in 1976 of the deadly Ebola virus. Following the death of a Belgian nun, a team of brave virologists was flown deep into the rainforest of Zaire to study and fight the virus with only the most rudimentary of equipment. The play is narrated by a member of that team, Prof. Peter Piot, who went on to run the UN Aids programme. He is now director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Peter Piot, Jude Owusu, William Hope, Tracy Wiles, Nathaniel Martello White and Martin T. Sherman. Producer: David Morley; director: Dirk Maggs. (Indie; Perfectly Normal Productions - ND)

    This is the story of an entity set upon finding a host to feed upon. Once inside a human body, the soft tissues and the sinews securinig the organs are attacked. The surface of the tongue and the lining of the stomach are dissolved away, internal and external bleeding begins and the brain eventually short circuits.... it sounds like something from Alien ... This is a description of one of the first deaths from the Ebola virus in the Ngaliema hospital in Kinshasa way back in 1976.
    ( ... summary of Jane Anderson's notes in RT)

      The play reconstructs the events of 1976, when a thermos flask containing the blood of a dead Belgian nun was received in Antwerp for study by a small group of young virologists. They identified Ebola, then began the fight aginst it. I hope the BBC are able to make the play available to NPR in America, where Ebola panic is high and all memory of it being a known disease with known methods of cure appears to be absent.
      ( ... summary of additional points made by Gillian Reynolds in DT review, 13 Dec 14.)

        ND comment......See also John Fletcher's play EBOLA ATTACK, 9 Oct 04, World Service, about a serious Ebola outbreak in Uganda in summer 2000. (Rpt. 23 Jul 05)

.......Dirk Maggs devised a superb drama epic lasting about five hours and broadcast over several days. NEVERWHERE (R4 and R4extra, 16-22 Mar 13) was dramatized from Neil Gaiman's novel of the same name. To paraphrase Jane Anderson in Radio Times: Hundreds of feet beneath the streets of London is a city of shadows. In the sewer canals and disused Tube lines another world exists, home to the people who have slipped through society's cracks through choice or accident. This is the setting ... a fantasy as dark as the subterranean sewers and stations.The intricate layers of sound (by Dirk Maggs), the sumptious orchestration and the haunting rendering of life underground .... it's a cliche to say that the best pictures are on radio, but this is as close to a cinematic effect as it gets....

This is how Dirk described it ......Richard Mayhew is a young Scotsman who has come to London and has a high-powered job. Then he messes things up by rescuing a poor injured girl in the gutter, who turns out not to belong to London as we know it, but to be someone from London Below; the world under London, a mythical historical and magical world of warring factions; a rich mixture of sub-cultures no-one knows about. Richard becomes part of a group, trying to find his way back up to the world he knows.

This was a tour de force ... many memorable characters and a cast of about 30 actors. We had James McAvoy, Natalie Dormer, Benedict Cumberbatch, Christopher Lee, Bernard Cribbins, David Harewood and Johnny Vegas. There were evocative names for some the characters: Door ( a girl who can conjure up a door in a blank wall; useful if you can do it), the Marquis de Carabas, Hunter, Old Bailey, Mr. Figgis and the Angel Islington. It was a memorable radio event, a classic adventure of good against evil. The drama was produced by Heather Larmour and directed by Dirk Maggs. BBC Northern Ireland. (.....ND, Diversity website review, Sep 2013)

INTERIORS .... 2012
15 Mar 12, rpt. 3 Sep 14. By Johnny Vegas, Stewart Lee and Rob Thirtle, rpt. A story highlighting the flaws in the British property market in the run-up to the current economic crisis. Johnny Vegas as Jeffrey Parkin, with Ben Crompton, Jo Enright, Catherine Kinsella, Joe Ransom, Rachel McGuinness and Peter Slater. Producer: Sally Harrison; directed by Dirk Maggs and Johnny Vegas.

22 July 11 Cry Babies
Joy, a cryo-genetic child, experiences a very strange childhood. (R)

Written by Kim Newman.

Barty and Angela Flitcroft are having a baby, by the popular method of delayed obligation parenthood, based on the science of cryo-genesis which everyone thought would be used for freezing sick old rich people until cures for their ills were developed, but instead it is being used by busy, professional couples who no longer have to put off having children. These couples can conceive their child and leave the Polish surrogate mother to take over and carry them to term. Then, they put the new-borns on ice until they're ready to make space in their lives to become parents!

In Kim Newman's science-fiction Afternoon Play 'Cry Babies', we follow the life of one of these cryo-children, Joy Flitcroft, and experience what it is like to be revived and then forced back into stasis every few years. As Joy ages at a much reduced rate while in the cryo-machine, she is also educated by the voice of the SleepLearn programme. This advanced education, coupled with the slow growth rate, marks Joy, and her fellow 'cry-babies' out from the 'normal' children, and they experience cultural bias, bullying and different laws, all while coping with the sudden 'jumps' from one period of freedom to the next.

Cry Babies is a science fiction satire, extrapolating from current trends in medical science and society in general to look at the way family ties may change in the future. The structure, scenes set years apart, allows us to have a sweeping view of future history, and make observations about the way current obsessions might alter. But at heart it's a story about irresponsible, self-absorbed parents and a child who suffers from an economically privileged but emotionally sterile upbringing.

Dr Rossiter ..... Alex Jennings
Angela Flitcroft ..... Natasha Little
Barty Flitcroft ..... Rupert Degas
SleepLearn Machine ..... Sarah Douglas
Joy ..... Sia Alexander
Roger ..... Colin Morgan
Jeff ..... Sam Alexander
Aruna ..... Emma Darwall-Smith
Daisy ..... Kirsty Stuart
Ari ..... Rob Kendrick
Marketa/Girl ..... Emma Handy

Music Composed by Jeremy Paul Carroll
Executive Producer Dirk Maggs
Producer/Director: Neil Gardner
A Ladbroke production for BBC Radio 4.

20 May 11 The Death of Tom Inglis
Lesley Manville stars in the true story of Frances Inglis.

This modern tragedy also stars Phil Daniels and William Gaminara.

When 22 year old Tom Inglis falls out of the back of a moving ambulance and suffers terrible head injuries he is brain damaged and unable to communicate. His family struggle to cope with his disablement, and his mother believes he is in constant pain. Set against the doctors, she becomes increasingly desperate to relieve his suffering. She begins a journey that leads her to action no mother would ever want to contemplate.

Frances (Frankie) Inglis ..... Lesley Manville
Alex Inglis ..... Phil Daniels
AJ Inglis ..... Sid Mitchell
Professor Derick Wade ...... William Gaminara
Miranda Moore QC ...... Samantha Beart
Dr Arvin ..... Rupert Degas
Sacha Wass QC ..... Felicity Duncan
Katie Wheatley ...... DeNica Fairman
Mr Vindlacheruvu ..... Imran Khan
Music: Chris O'Shaughnessy
Writer: David Morley
Director: Dirk Maggs
Producer: David Morley
A Perfectly Normal Production for BBC Radio 4.

28 Aug 2010 Boscobel
Historical thriller that follows the future Charles II after his father's execution. Saturday Play (R).

A tense and thrilling dramatisation of a real-life escape story from Ian Curteis, starring Simon Woods (Cranford, Rome) as King Charles II. Defeated in battle following the execution of his father, the future Charles II must flee England or die. Over a thrilling 40-day journey, young Charles has much to learn - how to live rough, how to evade capture and how to earn the kindness of strangers.

Ian Curteis is a prolific writer for radio and television. His most well known play is The Falklands Play, the story of how Margaret Thatcher's government went to war with Argentina, which was first broadcast on both Radio 4 and BBC 4 to mark the 20th anniversary of the Falklands War.

Charles II ..... Simon Woods
Derby/John Penderel ..... Kevin Eldon
Wilmot ..... Chris Larkin
George Penderel/Whitgreave ..... Simon Treves
Gifford/Woolf ..... Malcolm Brown
Carlis/Colonel ..... Stephen Carlile
Betty/Jane ..... Kate Sachs
Mrs Woolf/Cook ..... Jill Shilling
Director: Dirk Maggs
Producer: Rebecca Pinfield
An Above The Title production for BBC Radio 4.

5 Jul 2010 Badfellas
Comedy drama by Andy Lynch. Two wheeler-dealer brothers get into trouble in Las Vegas.

Danny Brewer and his long suffering fiance Jan go to Las Vegas to get married, after many years of failed attempts. But it isn't long before they've lost all their money and the wedding looks doomed again. Danny's brother Bernie attracts the eye of a gay Elvis impersonator, who could be the salvation they desperately need.

Bernie ..... Johnny Vegas
Danny ..... Ricky Tomlinson
Jan ..... Nicola Stephenson
Elvis Impersonator/Salvatore ..... Rupert Degas
Lulla Belle/Serena ..... Lorelie King
De Ricco/Henchman ..... Michael Roberts
Marge ..... DeNica Fairman
Directed by Dirk Maggs
Produced by David Morley
A Perfectly Normal production for BBC Radio 4.

1 Jan 2010 My Mad Grandad
Woman's Hour Drama, 5 episodes.

By Mike Scott. Touching and funny tale of family quarrels and misspent old age, drawing on Scott's own childhood in Lancashire.

Mum ...... Alison Steadman
Dad ...... Matthew Kelly
Old Gil ...... Bernard Hill
Grandad ...... Kenneth Cranham
Haryley ...... Johnny Vegas
Mercy ...... Gwyneth Powell
Gil ...... Stephen Rac
Kenny ...... Joshua Swinney
Muffin ...... Tomas Brennan
Directed by Dirk Maggs.

A Night in the Ukraine.2007
Christmas 2007. Special adaptation of the Marx Brothers' award-winning musical, written by Dick Vosburgh and loosely based on Chekov's play The Bear.

Seedy lawyer Serge B Samovar comes to collect a debt owed by the late husband of Mrs Pavlenko. Mayhem erupts in a series of classic routines and quickfire wordplay which threatens to destroy the very fabric of polite society in pre-revolutionary Russia.

Serge ...... Michael Roberts
Carlo ...... Frank Lazarus
Mrs Pavlenko ...... Lorelei King
Nina ...... Jessica Martin
Constantin ...... Stephen Carlile
Gino ...... Graham Hoadly
Music by Frank Lazarus, producer/director Dirk Maggs.

This saga has been running for about 20 years, and any comments are superfluous ... there are websites devoted to this show. The earlier series were very fine; a blend of zany escapism and science fiction. The later series were put together by Dirk Maggs after the death of Douglas Adams and keep well to the spirit of the original story, William Franklin taking the part of the late Peter Jones. All of these are issued on cassette and CD as part of the BBC Radio Collection.

All Fingers and Thumbs....2004
Afternoon Play, R4, 1415, 29 Dec 04. By Alan Stafford A romantic comedy about communication. Sign language interpreter Marie wants more deaf people to enjoy the theatre. So does director Tom - but not if it involves a bothersome spot-lit woman waving her arms about on his stage.

Clive/Jamie/Gordon ...... Brian Bowles
Tom ..... Bill Nighy
Helen ...... Felicity Montagu
Marie ...... Susannah Doyle
Sal ...... Jenny Eclair
Michael ...... Steve Day
Paula ...... Fifi Garfield

Directed by Dirk Maggs.

Alan Stafford adds .........I'm a believer in tight dialogue, subtext and plenty of scope for the actor's contribution to the part.

ND adds ... humorous, well-written; very "visual" in the images it conjures up.

Tim Merryman's Days of Clover....2004
18 May 04. 4 x 30m. By Ray Connolly

Tim thinks he's in line for promotion, but his boss has other ideas. Redundancy after 22 years with Brennan, Matthews and Silcock. The contents of his desk presented to him in a black bag and the re-possession of his car. Surely, that's all, but no, his wife has been promoted on the day his boss tells him "with your pension and everything you'll be in clover".

Tim Merryman ...... Duncan Preston
Amy ...... Tessa Peake Jones
Holly ...... Catherine Shepherd
Joe ...... Leo Bill
Colin ...... Nick Burnell
Newsagent ...... Tom George
Charlotte ...... Cathy Sara
Belle ...... Rachel Preece

Director: Dirk Maggs

Night Class....2004
Series began 13 Jan 04. Johnny Vegas stars in this darkly brilliant comedy about loss, failure, alcoholism, loathing, desperation, loneliness and other humorous subjects.

Johnny is a failed Butlins Redcoat on extended, and if the holiday camp have anything to do with it, permanent leave. To keep the wolf from the door (and because the Job Centre insists), he accepts a job as a night class pottery tutor in St. Helen's. But his hopeless, lonely pupils are totally ill-equipped for the tornado of emotional wreckage he is about to inflict on their empty lives.

Comment from ND - the highlight of the series was an episode in spectacularly bad taste where a dog is cremated in the kiln. "Johnny Vegas" is a comic masterpiece.

Johnny ...... Johnny Vegas
Kieran ...... Tony Burgess
Rebecca ...... Fiona Carew
Sandra ...... Rebecca Front
Nathan ...... Christian Knowles
Ken ...... Adrian Manfredi
Chloe ...... Lyndsey Marshal
Paul ...... Tony Pitts
Anne ...... Gwyneth Powell
Carol ...... Nicola Stephenson

Written by Johnny Vegas, Tony Burgess and Tony Pitts. Music specially written by: Paul Heaton. Performed & Arranged by: Paul Heaton and Tony Robinson. Directed By: Dirk Maggs. Produced By: Helen Chattwell and Bruce Hyman

THE GYPSY....2003
R4, 03.03.03. By Agatha Christie. Dickie Carpenter is a war-wounded soldier; he's haunted by a strange ghostly woman. His friend Robert tries to work out what is going on, and to separate fact from fiction. He finds himself fighting for his own life. The adaptation is by Doug Lucie; stars Michael Fenton-Stevens as Dickie, with Hilton McRae as Robert; with Eleanor Tremaine, Jennie Stoller, Vivien Heilbron; directed by Dirk Maggs and produced by Bruce Hyman. 30min.

LEAN ON ME....2002
With Julia McKenzie, Maureen Lipman, Gary Waldhorn and Stephen Mangan. Directed by Dirk Maggs. 6-part sitcom series.

Book at Bedtime - 2001: a Space Odyssey
William Roberts reads a ten-part serialisation of Arthur C Clarke's ground-breaking novel, abridged by Dirk Maggs. R4, early Jan 01. Abridged by D.M. and produced by him.

By Stephen Baxter. 12 Apr - 10 May 1999, R4. 5 x 30m. John F Kennedy survives the 1963 Dallas shootings, and issues a new challenge - a manned mission to Mars. An outstanding production in every way. I wonder now if we will ever see a manned Mars landing......stars Laurel Lefkow, Vincent Marzello, William Dufris, Michael Roberts, Frank Lazarus, Russell Bentley, William Roberts, Mel Taylor, Rolf Saxon. SM Paul Dealey, music Wilfredo Acosta, directed by Dirk Maggs.

R4, 25,12,98. At the time of writing this (20 December), 3 longer plays are due to be broadcast. The Gemini Apes by Dirk Maggs, as writer and director, (Christmas Day) promises to be entertaining - anything by him is of high quality. He was involved with the Superman, Batman and Judge Dredd broadcasts some time ago, and is obviously a DC Mags fanatic. ...........ND, VRPCC newsletter, Dec 1998

MAN OF SOUP....1998
Good quality comedy series. See British Comedy website.

Nigel Deacon / Diversity website

Most of the above broadcasts known to exist in VRPCC collections

Back to top

Radio Plays
Wine Making
Cosby Methodist Church
Gokart Racing
Links to other sites
Contact Us