Ian Curteis Radio Plays

21.04.00 Eroica
06.04.02 The Falklands Play 90m
17.09.02 After the Break 45m
??.??.03 Miss Morrison's Ghosts
13.06.03 Love 45m, rpt. from 2001
20.06.03 Love, 2
27.06.03 Love, 3
04.07.03 Love, 4
25.11.04 Love, 5
02.12.04 Love, 6
09.12.04 Love, 7
24.01.14 The Road to Yalta
17.09.16 The Bargain: Robert Maxwell and Mother Teresa


Beethoven in Vienna. Biographical, at an important point in Beethoven's life.

-from an article in the Daily Telegraph, 29 November 2001, written by Nigel Reynolds, Arts Correspondent.

A TV play about the Falklands War that the BBC refused to show a decade ago because it was "too Right-Wing" and sympathetic to Mrs. Thatcher is finally to be put on Radio 4 in April, on the 20th anniversary of the start of the war. "The Falklands Play" by Ian Curteis caused enormous controversy when the playwright disclosed in 1986 that the BBC would axe the 1m drama unless he rewrote parts to show Mrs. Thatcher, the Prime Minister, in a less flattering light.

He refused, and the play, which looks at the political background to the war and was commissioned as a major three-hour TV drama to be shown on the 5th anniversary of the Argemtinian invasion, was dumped. There were angry debates in Parliament and the BBC was accused of left-wing bias.

Curteis said yesterday that, with the 20th anniversary looming, he had written to Greg Dyke, BBC Director-General, earlier this year to ask if the Corporation would now consider broadcasting the play. The idea "slowly filtered through the system" and it was agreed it would be cut to a 90-minute radio play.

His anger at the time was heightened because he was asked to write a play sympathetic to Mrs. Thatcher's decision to retake the Falklands as "a corrective" to two other BBC plays, "Tumbledown" and "The Queen's Arms" that had been critical of the Government and, in the second, shown British soldiers as drunken louts. In "The Falklands Play" Curteis showed Mrs. Thatcher in tears. He was asked to rewrite scenes of Mrs. Thatcher's Cabinet meetings to show ministers as hypocrites, taking military decisions for ulterior political motives.

Curteis, formerly married to Joanna Trollope, the novelist , said, "The changes would have totally destroyed what the play was about, but unless I made them, I was told it would be cancelled, which I couldn't believe. But it was. I am a great admirer of the BBC but this was absolutely corrupt. Many at the BBC could not stand Margaret Thatcher". Despite making heavy cuts, Curteis says "the play fulfils my objectives". The Radio 4 spokesman said "there is a big difference between doing something like this very close to the event and after a 20-year gap. The situation has changed".

THE FALKLANDS PLAY - short review
It is now nearly twenty years since our conflict with Argentina, and fifteen years after they pulled the plug, the BBC broadcast The Falklands Play, by Ian Curteis (R4, 1430, 6 Apr 02). A quality production, good dialogue (close to the truth?) and a vivid portrayal of our ex Prime Minister, along with the mediocrity of some of her ministers, whose names we have forgotten. Mrs. Thatcher was accused afterwards in the House of fighting an unnecessary war, and her reply is worth quoting: " Tragic this war may have been, but may I point out to the Right Honourable gentleman that he would not enjoy the freedom of speech which he puts to such excellent use unless people had been prepared to fight for it". Patricia Hodge played Mrs. Thatcher, and there was a strong supporting cast, including John Standing, Patrick Godfrey and Clive Merrison. (Nigel Deacon, VRPCC newsletter, Apr 02)

A play about the spy George Blake, and Sean Bourke. With Jack Klaff and John O'Mahoney. George Blake escaped from Wormwood Scrubs thanks to luck and the daring of Sean Bourke. But once in Russia, their enforced exile together doesn't seem to be much better than the cell they once shared. Other cast members: Paul Humpoletz, Jilly Bond, Ian Brooker. Directed by Sue Wilson.

An unusual love story between two elderly people; with Bernard Hepton and Barbara Leigh Hunt. When May's husband dies, her friend Ferdy tells her that he has been deeply in love with her for 47 years. She is 76 and he is 79, and their adventures begin. Directed by Tracey Neale; repeated from about a year earlier. This play was written as a one-off, but was well-received, and three more were commissioned.

LOVE, 2....2003
May and Ferdy find an abandoned baby on the steps of the rectory. Meanwhile, Archdeacon Pocket is making enquiries as to the nature of their relationship. Bernard Hepton and Barbara leigh Hunt, with Helen Ayres, Philip Joseph, Jennie Stoller, Martin Hyder, Laura Doddington; dir. Marc Beeby.

When a journalist looks for scandal among members of the local church community, May and Ferdy's relationship becomes the object of some unwelcome attention. But Ferdy is a shrewd old bird, and he has a plan to turn the tables. With supporting cast Philip Joseph, Martin Hyder, Jennie Stoller, Helen Ayres, Carolyn Jones; dir. Marc Beeby.

May and Ferdie go on holiday to Wales, but find themselves involved with burglaries and squatters. Same cast as before, with John Baddeley, Stephen Critchlow, Caria Simpson, Priyanga Elan; dir. Marc Beeby.

Curious tale based on real events concerning the principal of a woman's college in Oxford. Miss Morrison and her successor, Miss Lamont, go to Paris and experience some odd events. They write a book describing what happened. But the publication triggers doubts about their integrity, and there is an action in the High Court.

....ND comment - nicely illustrates that highly intelligent people don't have any more sense than the rest of us.

The final three plays in the series by Ian Curteis. May and Ferdy are living together, but refusing to get married in spite of all the pressures. With Barbara Leigh Hunt, Bernard Hepton, Stuart McLoughlin, Nicholas Boulton, John Rowe, Jennie Stoler, Robert Hastie and Stephen Hogan. Producer/director Marc Beeby.

......There has been another series by Ian Curteis (final, he says) of Love, with Barbara Leigh-Hunt and Bernard Hepton (weekly, beginning R4, 1415, 25 Nov 04) . May and Ferdie are well-known characters to Afternoon Play listeners, and the plots interesting and well worked out. I liked the story of a local widow needing money to avoid having to sell up and move. She has her late husband's manuscript describing his exploits in the war, and she reckons that publication will enable her to settle her debts. That's when the problems start. Simone (the widow) was played by Ann Bell, and the producer was Marc Beeby...N.D., VRPCC newsletter, Dec 2004...

24 Jan 2014. By Ian Curteis. The drama re-imagines Feb 1945 and the events surrounding the Yalta (in Soviet Ukraine) conference through the eyes of British spy Donald Maclean. It was a time when Hitler's armies were exhausted and in retreat. World leaders Roosevelt, Stalin and Churchill met at Yalta, a resort, to determine the future shape of Europe. Lord Halifax - Christopher Godwin, Balfour - Matthew Marsh, Maclean - Geoffrey Streatfield, Melinda Maclean - Kelly Burke, with David Seddon, Steve Toussaint, Ewan Bailey. Producer Jonquil Panting.

17 Sep 2016: Saturday Play - The Bargain
By Ian Curteis, based on an actual encounter between Robert Maxwell and Mother Teresa. They met in 1988 when Teresa was visiting London. She died in 1997 and has recently been canonised. Robert: David Horovitch, Teresa: Charlotte Cornwall, sidekick: David Sibley, Sister: Geraldine Alexander. Producer: David Ian Neville.

    Jane Anderson (RT), summarised by ND:
    They make an odd couple at first glance; not just because of the size difference: Mother Teresa, recently declared a saint, and media tycoon Robert Maxwell. But as disparate as their lives may have been, their paths did cross for a few hours in 1988, when the nun petitioned him for funds for her orphanages.

    Ian Curteis' play is an imagined glimpse of their meeting. There is no written record of what happened, but there is plenty of information separately available about both. The play is written as a mental wrestling match; both are fighting for something they really want. Teresa is seen as media-savvy; Maxwell has unexpected grace and humility.

    [It is noteworthy that when Maxwell pocketed the cash from all those pension funds, he never touched the money he'd put aside for Mother Teresa - Ed].

Burgess and Maclean
Churchill and the Generals

Nigel Deacon / Diversity website / 2016, updated 2019

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