John Tydeman Radio Plays

John Tydeman is a well-known radio producer with a distinguished record; he worked with the young Tom Stoppard, Alan Melville, Joe Orton, Stephen Dunstone and Rhys Adrian. He joined the BBC in 1960 and was a drama director; he was head of Radio Drama from 1986 to 1994. Richard Wortley tells me that he produced all of Rhys Adrian's plays.

The late 80s to the mid 90s was a difficult time for writers and dramatists. At that time, the corporation seemed to be run by bureaucrats who had little or no interest in radio drama, and it showed. There were some good plays, but many expert writers had their scripts returned, plays about social problems were the norm, and listeners switched off in large numbers.

The commissioning process was made cumbersome and formulaic and many decided that radio writing was no longer for them. Tim Crook put it like this in 1999: "Economic ideology imported by the Director-General.....outside management consultants.... have marginalised talented producers such as John Tydeman, Martin Jenkins, Jane Morgan, Nigel Bryant..."

It has taken several years, a new Radio 4 Controller and a new generation of writers to effect a recovery.

Mr. Tydeman has always been sympathetic to the needs of the playwright, and has continued to call for fair play at the commissioning stage, particularly for directors working outside the BBC.

He is an entertaining interviewee, and recently appeared on an archive hour programme about Martin Esslin, the Hungarian-born academic and radio producer (q.v.). He remains a busy director of drama for sound and stage.

2006 It's too late now by Brian Sibley
2001 Five stories by E. Bowen, read by Harriet Walter
2000 The Inn at Lydda, by John Wolfson
2000 Adrian Mole, the Cappucino Years, Sue Townsend, reading.
1999 Lack of moral fibre, by John Antrobus
1999 Adrian Mole - the Cappucino Years, by Sue Townsend, reading.
1998 The heat of the day, by Eliz. Bowen, dram. C. Fitz-Simon
1998 Victoria Station, by Harold Pinter
1998 Cyrano de Bergerac, ad. J.Tydeman, trans. Anthony Burgess, rpt. 2008
1993 Death of a Salesman, by Arthur Miller
1991 In the native state, by Tom Stoppard
1991 The Ashes, by Sue Townsend (commissioned by JT)
1991 Taking us up to lunch, by Peter Gibbs (commissioned by JT)
1991 I always take long walks, by P.Tinniswood, comm & dir. by JT
1988 Farewell, me Lovely, by Raymond Chandler, ad. Bill Morrison
1988 The Long Goodbye, by Raymond Chandler, ad. Bill Morrison
1984 Who Is Sylvia? by Stephen Dunstone
1982 The dog it was that died, by Tom Stoppard
1979 The bazooka on my left shoulder is loaded,by J.Follett
1979 The Bionic Blob and the case of the stolen wavelengths, by J.Follett
1979 The Humane Solution, by Stephen Gallagher
1978 The trains don't stop here any more, by Victor Pemberton
1978 Willoughby's Phoney War, by William Fox
1978 The Little Sister, by Raymond Chandler, ad. Bill Morrison
1978 Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead, by Tom Stoppard
1977 The Big Sleep, by Raymond Chandler, ad. Bill Morrison
1977 The High Window, by Raymond Chandler, ad. Bill Morrison
1977 The lady in the lake, by Raymond Chandler, ad. Bill Morrison
1975 Balance of Power, by Alan Melville
1972 Artist descending a staircase, by Tom Stoppard
1970 A Provincial Life, by Peter Gill
1970 Where are they now? by Tom Stoppard
1968 Identical Twins, by Caryl Churchill
1966 If you're glad I'll be frank, by Tom Stoppard
1960-1990 Rhys Adrian's plays


Welcome repeat of the 1998 broadcast. Kenneth Branagh plays Edmond Rostand's romantic, poet, soldier, here and gentleman. For those who don't know the story, he has one great physical flaw - the size of his nose. Refer to it and a fight will start. In the words of Gillian Reynold, look at it and it becomes all you see, not the noble nature behind it. It means his love for the beautiful Roxane is doomed, but he puts his devotion into helping the handsome Christian de Neuvillette to pursue her. The problem is that Christian is terribly dim. This is Anthony Burgess's translation. Cast: Jodhi May as Roxane and Tom Hiddlestone as Christian. Producer David Timson; the story adapted by John Tydeman.

It's too late now....2006
R4, 6 Jan 2006. This play marks the 50th anniversary of the death of A.A.Milne on 31 Jan 1956. Best known as creator of Winnie-the Pooh, (am I the only one who doesn't like this odious little bear?) Milne would prefer not to be remembered as a children's writer. Some of you will be aware that he wrote a series if witty books of anecdotes entitled The Holiday Round, The Day's Play, etc. Alex McCowen played Milne, Jasper Britton young Milne, Emma Gregory was Daphne; the cast also included Maggie McCarthy and Thomas Helm. Producer - John Tydeman.

Five Stories by Elizabeth Bowen....2001
2 jul Mrs Windemere
3 jul The new house
4 jul Tears, idle years
5 jul Telling
6 jul Pink May
Five stories of English middle-class life, from the 20s to the Blitz. The psychic Mrs Windemere reenters Esmee's life in a London restaurant, where her attempts to help have a distinctly unsettling effect. Read by Harriet Walter, directed by John Tydeman.

The Inn at Lydda ....2000
By John Wolfson. Three days after the Crucifixion, the dying Roman emperor Tiberius sets sail for Judea to be healed by a man who, it is said, can perform miracles. With David De Keyser and Michael Maloney. Director: John Tydeman. 28 apr 00. Friday play.

Lack of Moral Fibre ....1999
A comedy by John Antrobus. Starring Richard Briers as Wing Commander Teddy Wilmott and Brian Murphy as Dennis, two men who look after a pub on the moor in Cornwall in 1970. They are visited by a stranger and have memories of Flare Path Molly. With James Ellis and Frances Jeater. Director John Tydeman.

Adrian Mole - the Cappuccino Years....1999
By Sue Townsend, adapted in five parts by Elizabeth Proud, with Nigel Planer as Mole. In 1997, Adrian Mole, failed writer and single parent, is working as a chef in Soho when he is invited to take part in a new cookery programme. Director John Tydeman.

The Heat of the Day....1998
A dramatisation by Christopher Fitz-Simon from the novel by Elizabeth Bowen. London, 1942. Suspicions of espionage threaten a wartime love affair. Starring Harriet Walter as Stella, Michael Maloney as Robert and Bill Nighy as Harrison. Director John Tydeman. Saturday play, 55m.

Victoria Station....1998
By Harold Pinter. A driver in a Ford Cortina has a passenger waiting at Victoria Station. The controller's job is to see that the driver gets there. With Paul Rogers and Martin Jarvis. Director John Tydeman.

Rpt. R4, 11 Feb 06, as the Saturday Play - on the first anniversary of Arthur Millers's death. This is the John Tydeman production, made for the writer's 80th birthday in 1993. It stars Timothy West and Rosemary Leach; casting which pleased Miller (G. Reynolds, Daily Telegraph). He heard the version, and approved of it greatly.

WHO IS SYLVIA?....1984
I heard part of this play twenty years ago whilst in the car, and looked for a copy of it (not knowing the title) for twenty years; finally I heard the whole thing in 2004. Two scientists are engrossed in their work in the laboratory, experimenting on cockroaches. It works on two levels - we hear the scientists and their mindless chatter; then there's a subtle change in the sound quality, and we are with the insects. They are aware of the horrible things which are being done to them, but can't understand why they are happening. It is truly horrific. At the same time it is superbly written and directed, and it won a Giles Cooper Award. It stars Michael Aldridge as Sir Archibald, Nigel Hawthorne as Henry, Martin Jarvis as Michael, Anna Massey as Angela, and Frances Jeater as Sylvia. Director: John Tydeman.

Thriller involving a hijacked plane at a fogbound airport. Saturday Night Theatre. Produced by John Tydeman. 90m.

By Victor Pemberton. "A love story based on real people and actual events" ... begins at the time of the first War, and goes up to the mid-30s; interesting story of marriage between two different classes. With Nerys Hughes as Lettie, Nigel Anthony as Ollie; also stars Wendy Richard, Sheila Grant, Malcolm Hayes, Eric Seaton, Bill Monks, Adam Godley, Kenneth Shanleigh, Eve Calfe, Eric Allan, Robert Trotter; pianist Mary Nash. Directed by John Tydeman.

By William Fox; directed by John Tydeman; 90 minutes. R4, 24 Apr 78 (Monday Play) and 29 July 1984 (Afternoon Theatre).

Comedy-drama set at the beginning of World War II. Charles Willoughby, an unemployed actor, sees that his patriotic duty is to join up with a war looming. The play follows the trivial tribulations of Charles during the "Phoney War" before things got serious.

Charles.........................Jeremy Irons
Charity..........................Anna Massey
Clarissa......................Madeline Smith
Peregrine....................Charles Hodgson
Christopher...................Jeffry Wickham
Commanding Officer...............William Fox
Mona............................Mary Wimbush
Sergeant......................Manning Wilson
Adjutant............................John Rye
Harris/Armand....................Rod Beacham
Batman/Rifleman..............Kenneth Shanley
Male Guest/C.S.M...............Peter Wickham
Company Commander/Butler......Jonathan Scott
O.C. Ship/Waiter..............Malcolm Gerard
NCO/Belgian Cabby.............Robert Trotter
Newsreader......................Alvar Lidell

Notes by Jim ..... thanks ....ND

By Raymond Chandler. Actually, I loved all of John Tydeman's Chandler adaptations, but this is my favourite of the Philip Marlowe books, and Ed Bishop captures his character splendidly. .........Nigel Cropper.

By Alan Melville. The Tories and the Socialists each have 307 seats in the Commons...this means that the Scottish Independent MP holds the balance of power...90m, with Jean Anderson as Morag McGregor, Robert Lang as Arnold Sellars, Edward Hardwick as Vincent Mellors, Simon Lack as Duncan, Sandra Clarke as Jessie, Hector Ross as Andrew Lumley,Kate Coleridge as Miss F, with Nigel Anthony, Christopher Bidmead, Michael Cochran, Anthony Daniels, Maddi Head, Ann Jameson, Fraser Kerr, Clifford Norgate, Deborah Page, Roger Snowden, Goodran Euir, Peter Whitman and Peter Williams. Produced by John Tydeman.

Written by Peter Gill, based on the story "My Life" by Anton Checkhov. With Eleanor Bron, John Bryning, Hugh Dickson, Shirley Dixon, Sheila Grant, Denys Hawthorne, Kathleen Helme, Leslie Heritage, John Hollis, Geoffrey Matthews, Ian McKellen, Joseph O'Conor, Peter Pacey, Gladys Spencer. Peter Tuddenham; produced by John Tydeman. R3, 24 Aug 1970. The play is in the BBC archive.

By Caryl Churchill. The lives of twin brothers become inextricably entangled, in a tale of faded love, new love, uncanny coincidences and death. I didn't like the bits where the twins spoke in unison - difficult to concentrate on what they were saying - but eventually I got used to it. Producer John Tydeman.

By Tom Stoppard. 'TIM' the talking telephone clock can think as well as speak and pip the seconds. She becomes disillusioned by the tyranny of time. Frank recognises in her voice the wife he loves. 8-Feb-1966. With Patsy Rowlands, Timothy West, Elizabeth Proud, Brian Hewlett, Henry Stamper, Barbara Mitchell, Isabel Rennie, Noel Howlett, Alan Haines, Austin Trevor, Eva Haddon. Produced by John Tydeman. Early play by a writer now known to everyone with an interest in radio and stage drama.

Nigel Deacon / Diversity website

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