Martin Jenkins Radio Plays

As Senior Producer for Radio Drama at the BBC, Martin Jenkins produced over a thousand programs, mainly plays. Some of them are extremely well-known, including a large number of chillers in "Fear on Four". I found the following quote on a website some time ago where radio drama was being discussed: "Actors accustomed to communicating with the help of gestures and facial expressions must follow BBC Radio director Martin Jenkins' famous dictum about using their voices: "half the volume, twice the intensity."

His work includes Julius Caesar with Richard Dreyfuss and Stacey Keach, a co-production of Streetcar Named Desire for BBC/CBC, and a radio documentary In The Name of Security, based on three major espionage trials - Alger Hiss, the Rosenbergs and J. Robert Oppenheimer. Since 1997 Martin has been working as a freelance drama producer. Recently he has produced "The Devil's Disciple" for Radio 3, "The Red Badge of Courage" by Stephen Crane (recorded in Toronto for CBC/BBC) and a reading of Raymond Chandler's The Big Sleep with John Turturro. He was nominated for a SONY Best Production Award in the UK in 1998 and was awarded the USA-UNDA Gold Award for "The Trojan Women" in 1999.


THREE RING CIRCUS (Gerry Jones), c 1970
A beautiful girl working in a circus, and a champion boxer falls for her...but not everything ends happily. With Jim Norton, Mick Ford, John Junkin, Tessa Worsley, Natasha Pyne, Brett Usher, John Church, Carole Boyd; dir. Martin Jenkins.

TAYBRIDGE (Gerry Jones), c1970
A story of Harold, a very odd country vicar, his weak wife, and a dirty minded cat...plus his son Taybridge, living in the attic for 18 years, and never venturing from the house. Why is he called Taybridge? You think of a bigger disaster. Harold was Glyn Houston, Pearl was Elizabeth Morgan, Taybridge was Sean Probert; with John Bull, Peter Pacey, Peter Williams, Paul Gayman, Maddi Head and Kate Coleridge as the carol singers. Produced by Martin Jenkins.

SNAKE (Gerry Jones), c1970
The plot defies description; it is another play which can only work on radio, and won Spain's International Ondas Award in 1976. With Colette O'Neill as Sandra, Peter Jeffery as Peter, Anthony Smee as Trevor, Elizabeth Lindsey as the boy, with John Rye, Frank Carson; narrated by John Rowe. The music was written by David Caine; played by George Calne and John Royston-Mitchell; produced by Martin Jenkins.

THE FIEND (Gerry Jones), c1970
A woman is being stalked in her home ... when she is out at work , someone is getting in. But a fiend may not be what he appears to be... With Maureen O'Brien as Mary, Mick Ford as Philip, Carole Boyd as Ann, John Rowe as the narrator; also starring Brian Hewlett, Victoria Carling. Directed by Martin Jenkins.

SEVENTEEN YEARS BACK, written by Martin Jenkins....1973
R4, 20.1.1973, 2030, with Robert Keegan, Barbara Mitchell, Alan Downer.

THE MONTROSE GHOST, written by Martin Jenkins....1976
12 Jun 76; with John Pullen, Christopher Neame, Rosalind Shanks

A trilogy of science fiction serials made for Independent Local Radio, written by Stephen Gallagher. Produced by Tony Hawkins with technical supervision by Peter Baker. Low-budget, but excellent plot and a sci-fi classic.

by Wally K. Daly. Science fiction.

by Wally K. Daly. Science fiction.

Hi-Fi Theatre, BBC Radio 4. Ninety minutes. Science fiction drama.

TIME AFTER TIME (Gerry Jones)....1979
One of the best plays ever written for radio -a traveller, suffering from amnesia, checks into a hotel. But it is like no other.... the staff are evasive; and no-one will tell him where he is. The conversations he has are odd, too; is it his imagination, or has he heard them already? After a while he decides to leave the building, to get his bearings, but each attempt leads him back to his room, and the same conversation he had ten minutes ago....

This play has been broadcast in two versions; one by the BBC and one by ABC (Australia). The BBC R4 broadcast was directed by Martin Jenkins.

by Wally K. Daly. Time paradox play.

Third part of trilogy by Wally K. Daly.

CHIMERA (S.Gallagher) - 1985
Saturday Night Theatre, BBC Radio 4. Ninety minutes. Adaptation of the novel.

THE KINGSTON FILE (S.Gallagher) - 1987
Saturday Night Theatre, BBC Radio 4. Ninety minutes. Later adapted for TV under its original title, Here Comes the Mirror Man. This is a very nasty play.

Fear on Four, BBC Radio 4. Thirty minutes. From the short story.

THE WONDERFUL VISIT (S.Gallagher) - 1988
Afternoon Theatre, BBC Radio 4. Forty-five minutes. Adapted from the novel by H G Wells.

THE HORN (S.Gallagher) - 1989
Fear on Four, BBC Radio 4. Thirty minutes. From the short story.

By Jean Binnie. BBC Prog. no. 88DA5075; recorded 23-27 Jul 1989, studio 6a, Broadcasting House.

The actor Ken Cumberlidge was involved with the production:

"............I remember the play only too well, as it was one of Martin's 'specials'. 24 of us there were, packed into Studio 6a, and no-one allowed out: no wandering off to the canteen, no nipping out to the loo. In the middle of the studio floor was a large raised platform made of rostra, on which the action took place. It was surrounded by chairs, which we were required to use when not "on stage". The idea was that we should perform the whole thing as if we were a touring theatre company, and it was rehearsed like a theatre piece.

Martin told us to bring as many different types of footwear as possible, because the sound of our feet on the rostra was all part of the atmosphere. There were no sound effects played in from tape or grams, either: everything was done live, so that large chunks of it could be recorded in a continuous flow, with no scene-by-scene breaks.

-by Eric Bentley. So....have you been a member of the Communist Party? Recorded in front of a studio audience.
Ken Cumberlidge again: "- a powerful piece of writing, from the time when Martin Jenkins was getting Hollywood stars enthusiastic about the curious British art of Radio Drama. As I recall, he did "The Crucible" and "Juliues Caesar" with them as well. They were recorded in Los Angeles, of course, but around the same time Martin lured some of those big names over to BH, to record "The Price" by Arthur Miller. It's a day I'll never forget....

Please don suitable safety gear and beware of dropped names

They did it in Studio B11. Martin was worried that his pet film stars would be hassled by fans, so the whole thing was done under a cloak of frightful secrecy, with B11 effectively a 'closed set'. Some secret! He must have forgotten that there was another play being recorded in B10 next door, and that both studios shared common rest facilities. Consquently, we RDC types arrived for work to find ourselves sharing a green room with Richard Dreyfuss and Amy Irving! Martin needn't have worried. All of us being there to do the same job, everyone got on fine.

..........Many thanks, Ken ...... ND.

NEVER MIND, I STOPPED MY TRAIN! (Martin Sorrell)....1992
With Martin Jarvis.A dramatisation of heroic action by two enginemen on a Great Western Railway train in 1898. A true story, involving Martin Sorrell's great-grandfather. Part of "Who Sings the Hero?" series.

LIFE LINE(S.Gallagher) - 1993
Fear on Four, BBC Radio 4. Thirty minutes. From the short story.

TRAPPED (Martin Sorrell)....1998
Dramatisation of the Theatre Royal Exeter fire of 1887, in which 180 or so died, and which led to compulsory Safety Curtains in all theatres. Part of "Who Sings the Hero?" series.

R4, 30 Jan 99 - This was a 90 minute dramatization of the events leading up to Charles' execution. The future of the monarchy and the abolition of the House of Lords feature in the Putney Debates, which preceded the execution of the King on 30 January 1649. John Rowe was an excellent Charles, and Derek Jacobi and Timothy West were Herbert and Cromwell. Margaret Drabble interrupted periodically to explain the historical background. (I wish they wouldn't interrupt the action like this- why can't they put the discussion at the start or at the end? - ND). The play, directed by Piers Plowright and Martin Jenkins, who retired a couple of years ago, was first broadcast in 1979.

30 May 2001, ABC Classic FM (rpt of BBC broadcast), SOUNDSTAGE.
Leading British playwright David Pownall looks back 88 years to the beginnings of radio drama. On May 28, 1923 Shakespeare's Twelfth Night was broadcast live from the BBC's studios in London.

In recreating the circumstances of this event, Pownall cuts between the behind-the-scenes drama of that night, and the first performance - 300 years earlier - of Shakespeare's play, in the presence of Elizabeth I. Stars Anna Massey as Elizabeth I, Michael Maloney as Shakespeare, and Crawford Logan as Lord Reith; directed for the BBC by Martin Jenkins Recording courtesy of BBC Radio International (summarised from ABC Classic FM website)

CURRICULUM VITAE (David Pownall)....2002
This play (R4, 1415, 5 Nov 02) was Pownall's sixty-second original radio play. Set in the early 1960s, it concerns an idealistic young graduate who gets a well-paid job recruiting workers for a new Liverpool car plant. But Dad is a union man and sees his son's job as a betrayal of the shop-floor workers. Why should the young man have the right to hire or fire those more than twice his age? Carl Prekopp was Rex, Tim Flavin was Ross, and the play was directed by Martin Jenkins, no longer a member of the BBC but still involved in making radio drama of the highest quality. (ND, VRPCC newsletter)

This play by Ray Connolly (R4, 1415, 8 Dec 05) concerned the events surrounding the death of John Lennon. Connolly, a journalist, was due to fly out to New York to interview Lennon for the Sunday Times. Then Lennon was shot, and Connolly, who had known the singer from their Liverpool days, became the focus for other journalists' attention. Connolly was played by Robert Glenister, and the director was Martin Jenkins, who, in his days at Liverpool University, once booked the Beatles, before they were famous, to play at the Union. (......ND, VRPCC newsletter, Dec 05).

This has been produced again by Martin Jenkins a year after Gerry Jones's death. It received good write-ups before the broadcast in the Radio Times and Daily Telegraph magazines:

"..........Gerry Jones was a superb radio drama directorbut he also wrote marvellous radio plays. This play, originally done in 1979, comes in a brand new production by the original producer, Martin Jenkins, who now works for an independent drama company, Piers Productions.It stars Michael Maloney and Anton Lesser in Jones's taut drama of fear, based on his own terror of losing the gift of speech". .....Gillian Reynolds, Daily Telegraph......

"...........Paranoia and confusion reign in this new production of an unnerving drama from 1979 from Gerry Jones. Two men are trapped in a place where all doors lead to the same hotel room and all roads lead to the hotel. The same conversation happens over and over again, Frank Sinatra repeatedly sings "Time after Time"......there's an underlying sense of terror as the two men try to work out what has happened and if they can ever break free. Michael Maloney's measured performance conveys barely suppressed panic magnificnetly, while Anton Lesser is superb as his confused companion. As a meditation on the workings of our minds this throws up a lot of questions. The play's one downside is that it ends with an unnecessary explanation". .....David Crawford, Radio Times.......

Nigel Deacon, Diversity website.

Note..... Martin Jenkins talks to Mike Lloyd of VRPCC.

27 Jun 2012

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