Gaynor MacFarlane Radio Plays

A few of Gaynor's Plays:

05.11.23 The Betrothed, in 2 eps
04.11.23 The Fall (Berlin Wall, 1989)
08.05.23 Leaving, in 2 eps
13.03.23 Hindsight
14.02.23 Happy Birthday, Mr. President (rpt)
14.11.22 The 5000, in 3 eps
10.07.22 Mansfield Park, in 2 eps
29.06.22 Lanny
16.06.22 Life Rights
11.11.21 This Thing of Darkness, series 2
14.06.21 Making Peace
20.02.21 The Beautiful & the Damned, in 2 eps
28.01.21 Voodoo Macbeth
20.07.19 Black Water
26.06.19 Everybody's Got Conditions
31.07.18 Festival, by Sarah Wooley
22.01.18 4/4 Four comedy dramas by Sarah Wooley and Robin Brooks
13.01.18 Memento Mori*
05.01.18 Intelligence*
12.04.17 In Here
22.04.17 Pinter & Bakewell: Two Plays*
03.12.16 Somewhere in England
03.12.15 Angela Morley*
13.11.14 Triple Word Score
13.11.14 Planning Permission
08.11.13 Moving Music
28.09.12 Hard Boiled Eggs & Nuts
02.12.10 The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency, 2 eps
10.09.04 The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency, series
01.12.06 Folie a Trois
10.02.05 The Doll's Tea Set*
30.01.04 Mapping the Heart*
19.12.03 Turtle Diary
20.03.03 King of Shadows
20.08.02 The rocks below*
27.10.00 The weight of water*


THIS THING OF DARKNESS (R4, 1415, 11 Nov 21) by Anita Vettesse, with monologues by Eileen Horne, marked the beginning of a new series based on the real-life experiences of a forensic psychologist and her work in secure prisons. Dr Alex Bridges is a forensic psychiatrist and psychotherapist, assessing and treating perpetrators of violent crime. In episode 1 she assesses a young woman on her release; she has served ten years for arson. Does she still present a risk to society? Alex was played by Lolita Chakrabarti, Sarah by Melody Grove and Paul by Robert Jack. These plays have attracted much positive comment on R4 forums. This play and the others in the series were produced by Gaynor Macfarlane and Kirsty Williams for BBC Scotland. (...Suttonelms radio review)

BLACK WATER .... 2020
A play which I have not yeard heard but which has been highly recommended to me is BLACK WATER, by Joyce Oakes, adapted from the novella for radio by Sarah Woolley (R4, 1430, Saturday Play, 20 Jul 19). A young political writer, Kelly, meets a U.S. senator and the pair hit it off. They leave in the evening by car but there is an accident; the car ends up underwater and the girl dies. The story is clearly based on the Kennedy / Chappaquiddick Island incident, in which Ted Kennedy drove off a bridge into swampy waters, got out of the car, left the scene and did not report the accident for several hours. His female companion drowned. Kennedy was found guilty of leaving the scene of an accident. Kelly was played by Lydia Wilson and the senator by Elliot Cowan; Laurel Lefkow played the mother and also narrated. The producer was Gaynor Macfarlane. (...Suttonelms radio review)

    Audio Drama Awards: Best Adaptation was won by Black Water: An American Story by Joyce Carol Oates, adapted by Sarah Wooley for BBC Scotland.

Sarah Wooley's play about Tennessee Williams, EVERYBODY'S GOT
CONDITIONS (R4, 1415, 26 Jun 19) was set in 1961. He had written 'The Night of the Iguana' which had some good parts for women but Katharine Hepburn wasn't interested in performing in a long run so he did some rewriting and offered the supporting role to Bette Davis. This led to a number of problems, most of them originating from Ms. Davis. Williams was played by Justin Salinger and Davis by Amelia Bullmore; Gaynor MacFarlane was the producer. (...Suttonelms radio review)

31 Jul 18: Festival
By Sarah Wooley, set in 1962, when the novelist Elizabeth Howard, later married to Kingsley Amis, took on the job of running the Cheltenham Literary Festival. In 1956 she had been one of its resident young writers. The job of running the event was far from straightforward. Elizabeth: Melody Grove, John Moore: Tony Gardner, Colin Howard: Will Howard, Kingsley: Jonathan Forbes, with Emma Handy (three parts) and John Lightbody (three parts). Producer: Gaynor Macfarlane.

22 Jan 18: ep. 1 4/4: Introduction & Allegro
By Robin Brooks and Sarah Wooley. A new comedy drama recording the exploits and life of the members of a fictional string quartet. Paul: Alasdair Hankinson, Fergus: Simon Donaldson, Archie: Robin Laing, Skye: Shauna Macdonald, Lucy/Claire: Karen Bartke, Philippe/Usher/Guard: Nick Underwood, Hans/journalist/fan: Kenny Blyth. Producer: Gaynor Macfarlane. Music supplied by the Edinburgh Quartet.

    29 Jan: 4/4: Scherzo
    By Robin Brooks and Sarah Wooley. Ep. 2. The Benjamin Quartet, with its new member, has played to a tiny audience In Brussels. Fergus has been taken ill with a suspected heart attack. Paul, the new member: Alasdair Hankinson, Fergus: Simon Donaldson, Archie: Robin Laing, Skye: Shauna Macdonald, Claire/receptionist: Karen Bartke, ,taxi driver/doctor: Kenny Blyth. Producer: Gaynor Macfarlane. Music by the Edinburgh Quartet.

    5 Feb 18: 4/4 Rondo Mysterioso
    By Robin Brooks and Sarah Wooley. Ep. 3. After a difficult night in a casualty department in Brussels, the quartet is invited to play at a festival in Lucca. Paul: Alasdair Hankinson, Fergus: Simon Donaldson, Archie: Robin Laing, Skye: Shauna Macdonald, Kelly: Karen Bartke, with Kenny Blyth, Nick Underwood and Finlay Welsh. Producer: Gaynor Macfarlane. Music by the Edinburgh Quartet.

    12 Feb: 4/4 Finale Con Porca
    By Sarah Wooley. Ep. 4. After playing in a festival in Lucca, the quartet is on its way home. Then the musicians receive another booking. Paul: Alasdair Hankinson, Fergus: Simon Donaldson, Archie: Robin Laing, Skye: Shauna Macdonald, Kelly: Karen Bartke, with Laurie Brown and Kyle Gardiner. Producer: Gaynor Macfarlane. Music by the Edinburgh Quartet.

    FOUR-FOUR .... 2018
    I enjoyed the new comedy drama entitled 4/4 (pronounced FOUR-FOUR) by Sarah Wooley and Robin Brooks (4 episodes beginning R4, 1415, 22 Jan 18). They all had musical titles: Introduction & Allegro, Scherzo, and so on. A violinist in a well-known string quartet has died, leaving a vacancy for first violin. Will young Paul, able but inexperienced, be up to the job? This is the first time that Sarah has written with someone else. We hear about the exploits and life of the quartet, and some of the scrapes they get into. The series was very entertaining; for me the high point was episode 4, where the plot centres around a dead pig. Paul was played by Alasdair Hankinson. Archie by Robin Laing, Fergus by Simon Donaldson, and Skye by Shauna MacDonald. The producer was Gaynor MacFarlane. (....Suttonelms radio review)

13 Jan 18: Saturday Play- Mememto Mori
By Muriel Spark, ad. Robin Brooks, from the novel. Strange play about a group of elderly people targeted by a troublesome person on the telephone. A detective investigates, and everyone becomes a suspect. Dame Lettie Colston: Patricia Hodge, Geoffrey Colston: Jim Norton, Charmian Colston: Colette O'Neill, Mabel pettigrew: Monica Dolan, Alec Warner: William Gaminara, with Keth Weare, Ellie Darvill, Neil McCaul, Isabella Inchbald and Georgie Glen. Producer: Gaynor MacFarlane.

5 Jan 18: Intelligence
By Sarah Wooley, based on Muriel Spark's time with MI6. Muriel: Jessica Hardwick, Sefton Delmer: Stuart McQuarrie, Marcelle / Nurse: Lucianne McEvoy, Erich / Officer: Finn den Hertog, Betty: Francesca Dymond, Crips/Hans/Engineer: Robin Laing. Producer: Gaynor MacFarlane.

IN HERE.... 2017
Keeping up with the spirit of the times, we had a hostage play in IN HERE, by Eileen Horne (R4, 1415, 12 Apr 17). There are gunmen in a gymnasium; they have already shot a man who lies bleeding; the place is surrounded by police. Unknown to the criminals there's a woman hiding in the changing room. Suddenly her mobile 'phone rings. Can she remain concealed - and can she help the police? The woman was played by Ruby Ashbourne, Bill Paterson was the senior police officer, and the gunslingers, Raheem and Afzal, were played by Waleed Akhtar and Farshid Rokey. The producer was Gaynor Macfarlane.

I was impressed by Pinter's Play BETRAYAL and the accompanying play KEEPING IN TOUCH by Joan Bakewell (R4, 1415, 22 Apr 17). Both plays relate to the love affair between the two writers in the 1960s. Pinter's play has the scenes in reverse chronological order, the happier moments between the lovers not occurring until quite late in the play. It's very vivid, though as a person with no experience of affairs I couldn't pretend to understand much of it; I could see little except an enormous downside, and if it was a share deal I would steer well clear. The Bakewell play seemed to me to be lighter and fresher (and to me, similarly puzzling) but it was interesting to have a view from the other side. 'Betrayal' starred Olivia Coleman, Andrew Scott, Charles Edwards and Gerard McDermott and was produced by Gaynor Macfarlane. In 'Keeping in Touch', Rachel and Tom were played by Charlotte Riley and Colin Morgan, and the producer was Charlotte Riches. (....Suttonelms radio review)

Caryl Phillips' play SOMEWHERE IN ENGLAND was a dramatization of his novel 'Crossing the River' (R4, 1430, 3 Dec 2016). Caryl was born on St. Kitts but has lived his whole life in England and America.The story is set in Yorkshire during WW2 and is about a love affair between a white working-class Englishwoman and a black US soldier being treated as second-class by his officers because of the colour of his skin. Listening to this play makes one realise how much social attitudes have changed for the better in the last thirty years; certain scenes made me cringe with embarrassment, but it's no good editing these scenes for current audiences and pretending these things never happened. Joyce was played by Helen Longworth and Travis, the black officer, by Rhashan Stone, with support from David Seddon, Jason Barnett, Karen Bartke and others. The producer was Gaynor MacFarlane.(...Suttonelms radio review)

"1977" was the title of the latest radio play by Sarah Wooley (R4, 3 Dec 15). In 1977 the novel 'Watership Down' was made into an animated film, which Sarah watched fairly recently. After the film there was an interview with the editor, Terry Rawlings and the director, Martin Rosen. They were talking about all aspects of the film and eventually got on to the subject of the score.

Malcolm Williamson had been given the job of composing the music but unfortunately when the time came to record it, it was incomplete; in fact the conductor, Marcus Dods, found that it was barely started; there were just two short sketches lasting about 7 minutes. Furthermore the rehearsal, with full orchestra booked, was only days away. Dods was desperate to find someone to supply him with a full score. He turned to his long-time friend Angela Morley and she rapidly did a beautiful job of orchestrating Williamson's fragments, assisted by Larry Ashmore. Then Dods cautiously asked if she would take over as the film's composer.

Sarah noticed at this point that the conversation between Rosen and Rawlings began to stall. Rosen said that Angela hadn’t worked in a long time out of choice...... What did he mean? Why hadn’t she worked? She was clearly brilliant.... so Sarah looked her up.

What emerged was a fascinating story, and this play.

Angela Morley was born in Leeds in 1924 as Wally Stott. Wally was a self-taught musician, joining the Oscar Rabin band in 1941 and then Geraldo’s band in 1942 as a saxophone player. Stott studied Geraldo’s orchestrations; he took harmony lessons and composition with Matyas Sieber, and studied conducting with Walter Goehr. He was soon able to give up playing to concentrate on composing and arranging. By 1953 he was appointed musical director for the British arm of Philips Records. He wrote music for the theme tune for Hancock's Half Hour, The Goon Show, and film scores.

However he was plagued with a struggle of gender identity. After the death of his first wife and marrying again, he made the difficult decision to undergo gender reassignment surgery. Wally said of Christine, his second wife, that it was only because of her love and support that he was able to deal with the trauma. He had his surgery in Switzerland in 1970 and returned to England as Angela Morley.

There is more information about the play on Sarah's page . Angela was played by Rebecca Root, Christine by Debra Baker, Marcus Dods by William Gaminara and Terry Rawlings by Bryan Dick. Production was by Gaynor Macfarlane. (...Suttonelms radio review)

This play, by Ben Tagoe (R4 1415 12 Jun 15) was set in the very competitive world of Nigerian Competitive Scrabble. A young man passionate about the game travels from Scotland to his father's homeland to try out for the Nigerian team. He meets people there who are as equally gifted but more focused, and rapidly learns that there is more to winning a competition than talent. The Scottish Nigerian was played by Tunji Kasim and Amira, the girl he meets when he arrives, by Adura Onashile; the producer was Gaynor Macfarlane. (...Suttonelms radio review)

This play (R4, 1415, 13 Nov 14) was Sarah Wooley's new comedy drama based on a true story; the architect Erno Goldfinger planned to buy a row of Victorian terraced houses with a view to demolishing them and building a modernist home for himself. This was the story of his battle for planning permission, against some particularly stubborn locals. It was interesting to learn that Goldfinger did in fact have a connection with Ian Fleming. Goldfinger was played by Justin Salinger, Ursula Blackwell by Melody Grove and Cecil, the dominated husband, by Michael Maloney. The producer was Gaynor Macfarlane. (...Suttonelms radio review)

Sarah Wooley's latest play, MOVING MUSIC (R4, 1415, 8 Nov 13) was biographical; it concerned the composers Philip Glass and Steve Reich, who worked together for a while as furniture removers before they became recognized as composers. This play imagined some of the scrapes they got into. Bryan Dick and Justin Salinger took the lead parts, with Ian Batchelor, David Seddon and Nancy Crane doing the rest. The producer was Gaynor MacFarlane.

This play, by Colin Hough (R4, 1415, 28 Sep 12) was the curious title of a play about the early life of Arthur Stanley Jefferson, a.k.a. Stan Laurel, who went on to become one of the most gifted comedians in history. He is a teenager; he is desperate to perform on the Glasgow stage, and he is supported by his mother, Madge, a former actress. The two of them have problems dealing with father, who wants Arthur to help run his Metropole Theatre. A nurse is hired to look after Madge; she is unhelpful to Stanley and dispenses useless advice and spite in fairly equal measure. But eventually Stanley gets his chance to perform in front of an audience. Will he make it? The title, incidentally, comes from the Laurel & Hardy film "County Hospital". James Anthony Pearson played Arthur, Alexandra Mathie was his mother, John Paul Hurley was A.J, and the producer was Gaynor MacFarlane. (...Suttonelms radio review)

Recently (2-3 Dec 2010, R4) we had another two very agreeable episodes of THE No.1 LADIES' DETECTIVE AGENCY, dramatised by the author, Alexander McCall Smith. These understated, easy-paced, slightly humorous stories set in Botswana are a pleasure to hear. They are not so much good against evil as good against 'misguided'. The 'detective-lady' is always old-fashioned, gentle and sympathetic, even towards her adversaries. Mma Ramotswe is played by Janice Acqua, Mma Makutsi by Nadine Marshall, and Mr. J.L.B.Matekoni, by Ben Onwukwe. The producer was Gaynor MacFarlane.

The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, by Alexander McCall Smith (R4, 1415, 4 episodes, beginning 10 Sept 2004) was in an unexpected style, slightly reminiscent of "Ballylenon" by Christopher Fitzsimon. A lovely serial, dramatised by the author from his novel, set in Botswana. Precious Ramotswe, an independent lady, has been left some money on the demise of her father, and she sets up as a detective. She has commonsense, an innate understanding of human nature, but no clients. In the first episode, there is some scene-setting; she is joined by a clever girl from secretarial college, and finally gets some work. Her first job is to check the bona fides of a man who has appeared from nowhere claiming to be a girl's father. But a darker case is hinted at for episode 2; a man has lost his little boy, and there are hints that a witch-doctor may be involved . Claire Benedict plays the detective, and she is helped by Happy (Gbemisola Ikumelo) and Mr. Maketoni (Joseph Marcell). The director was Gaynor MacFarlane. (...Suttonelms radio review)

Fri. 30 Jan 04, afternoon play, 45m. An adventure story set in 1950 in the rainforest of Brazil. Scots-born Kristina Morrison is thrown together with opinionated American, Ray Epstein, when their light aircraft crashes in the jungle. Kristina finds herself torn between two men, Ray and her explorer father, Felix, via the diary of his failed expedition twenty five years before. ....info. sent by Greg Linden

Kristina Morrison ...... Gayanne Potter
Ray Epstein ...... Stuart Milligan
Miss Spence/Brazilian Woman ...... Monica Gibb
Fred/Mr Hugo ...... Paul Young
Directed by Gaynor Macfarlane.

THE DOLL's TEA SET....2005
By Sue Glover; afternoon play. Cara is four years old when her mother disappears. Time passes...will her mother ever return? And if not, why not? With Liam Brennan, Jimmy Chisholm, Simon Donaldson, Claire Knight, Grant O'Rourke, Gayanne Potter, Wendy Seager. 45m.

DART, by Alice Oswald (R4 1415 25 Feb 03) was a poem about the river Dart, describing it from source to estuary, and thankfully not in rhyme. It covered the everyday and the mystical, and was "a portrait of a place, a time and a river with extraordinary insight and beauty" (RT). Poetry is my blind spot, but it held my attention throughout. It was performed by Tom Goodman-Hill, Gareth Thomas and Joanna Tope and was produced by Gaynor Macfarlane. (...Suttonelms radio review)

2003-03-20 King of Shadows
By Susan Cooper , dramatised by Beatrice Colin. A magical adventure story set in the present day and in Elizabethan England. A young American travels to London. Visiting the theatre for the first time, he falls seriously ill. When he awakes, he has gone back 400 years in time. Director: Gaynor MacFarlane, Rachel: Buffy Davis, Queen Elizabeth: Sally Dexter, Harry: Tom George, Will: Robert Glenister, Doctor: Martin Hyder, Nat: Adam Sims Arby/Richard Burbage: Andrew Woodall.

2002-12-03 Out of the Blue - Shadow Melodies
By Patricia Hannah. There are 3 episodes; I'm only logging the last one. RT blurb, summarised:"On his unexpected odyssey, the embalmed body of Lenin has ended up on the island of Tost. He enjoys the company of Henrik Ibsen while Angela tries to work out what to do with him". Producer .......... Gaynor MacFarlane, Vera .......... Julie Austin, Lenin .......... James Bryce, Sadie .......... Carol Ann Crawford, Ola .......... Stella Forge, Angela .......... Vlckl Uddelle, Boris .......... Steven McNicoll, Nancy .......... Ann Scott-Jones, Pete and Ibsen .......... Paul Young.

By Beatrice Colin: On a Scottish island in the 1950s, identical twins have to come to terms with a long-hidden secret. Broadcast as afternoon play, 45m. With Deirdre David, Mairi Gillespie and Derek McGhie; dir. Gaynor Macfarlane.

ROB ROY ...2002
By Walter Scott; serial. 26 Jan 02, ad. Judith Adams. Adventure, heroism and love, set during the Jacobite rising of 1715, in three parts. Produced by G.M, with Sean Chapman, Tom George and Alec Heggie.

By Beatrice Colin: On the night of 5th Mar 1873,, two Norwegian immigrants were murdered on the Isles of Shoals. Over a century later, a photographer discovers a collection of papers giving an eyewitness account of the murders. With Nancy Crane, Derbhie Crotty, Emma Fielding, Karl Johnson; dir. Gaynor Macfarlane. Broadcast in 10 12-minute episodes.

(1999-08-21) So Much Blood
(Simon Brett, dram Bert Coules)Charles Paris takes his one-man show to the 1999 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, filling a vacant spot at a student venue which is a hotbed of behind-the-scenes drama, until a stage dagger turns murderously into a real one. With Bill Nighy, Jimmy Chisholm and John Paul Hurley. Director Gaynor Macfarlane.

(1999-03-19) Ain't It Grand To Be Bloomin' Well Dead
(John Clifford, inspired by Federico Garcia Lorca, dir Gaynor Macfarlane) w/Graham Turner, Tom McGovern, Liam Brennan and James Bryce - Leslie examines his relationship with his mother, his sexuality and his death.

Nigel Deacon / Diversity website

Asterisked plays known to exist in VRPCC collections

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