MIRIAM MARGOLYES Miriam's autobiogaphy "This Much Is True" is now out. Highly recommended; Miriam has been in about 600 radio dramas and is one of our most experienced radio performers. Order your copy today whilst stocks last!
22 Dec 2021
RADIO 3 DRAMA 2019 This listing is now complete.
22 Nov 2021
RADIO 4 DRAMA SCHEDULING What is happening to BBC radio drama schedules? The afternoon plays (including Sat-Sun) since Thursday 21 Oct have been as follows:
Oct 21 30-min short
Oct 22 30-min short
Oct 23 repeat, Zola (Sat Play)
Oct 24 repeat, Zola (Classic Serial slot)
Oct 25 repeat
Oct 26 repeat
Oct 27 repeat
Oct 28 30-min short
Oct 29 30-min short
28 Oct 2021
UK INTERNATIONAL RADIO DRAMA FESTIVAL, CANTERBURY, 2022 Entries are invited for this festival, which we hope will take place face-to-face in Canterbury, M-F, 22-26 Mar 2021. There will also be a 'Zoom' component for people who can't attend in person, after the success of last year's festival which had to be entirely online. A separate page about the festival will be going up soon on this website. Details in a few days.
31 Oct 2021
RADIO 4 DRAMA, 1986-2021 Stephen Shaw has compiled another page of radio listings for us; this time for r4, 1986. The page has been assembled by hand from BBC Genome; edited to remove spoilers and indifferent writing, then repeat dates on r4X and elsewhere have been added. Stephen's hard work is much appreciated, and we now have a complete run of radio 4 listings from 1986 to the present time. That's about 12,000 entries.
The radio 3 listings are also progressing; we have 1946-1961 complete (compiled by Alistair Wyper, who is continuing to work forwards) and 1975-2018 (assembled by various people over the last 15 years; currently Ian Johns and Stephen Shaw). Pages which still need doing are 1962-1974 plus 2019 and 2021.
28 Oct 2021
PERRY PONTAC I am sorry to report that Perry Pontac, radio drama writer, has died. This is an appropriate time to quote Richard Wortley, in the 'radio memoir' he wrote for us in 2004:
".....Perry Pontac whose own inspirations include Oscar Wilde and Alan Bennett is an expat American, resident in London for the last thirty-five years. His voice of light satire and much word-play is backed by a mind steeped in poetry and a passionate love of Shakespeare.
Here are three random pick-outs from my bag of twelve. The parody ‘Hamlet Part II’ (with Peter Jeffrey, Harriet Walter, Simon Russell Beale), the second Shakespeare parody ‘Prince Lear’ (with John Shrapnel, Clare Skinner and Rosalind Shanks) and the comedy satire ‘Strange Delights’ (with Sian Phillips, Brenda Blethyn and Christopher Scott). His impeccable interpreter Mr John Moffatt also appears in most of the rest."
My own favourite is probably "The Point of the Story": a story within a story within a story and back again. I wrote to Perry in 1992 after recording some of his plays, telling him how much I enjoyed them, and spoke to him a few times on the 'phone. He kindly sent me copies of "Nothing Personal" (Norman Bird, Stephen Thorne, Caroline Gruber( and "The Morning of the Wedding" (Trevor Peacock and Brenda Blethyn), which I'd missed.
In the words of Barry Pike, all Perry Pontac's plays are fun. He dispels gloom and invites listeners to relish absurdity and delight in his wit.
We send our condolences to the family.
27 Oct 2021
REDUCTION OF RADIO DRAMA - UPDATE It is worth drawing attention to what is happening in radio drama. The BBC is still commissioning a lot of it, though there are signs that funding is becoming a problem. A number of the 45-minute slots in the afternoons have been replaced by 30min (about 25 slots this year so far; there were none last year). The 15 minute drama has disappeared, and the frequency of repeats has increased, more than doubling over the last decade. There is also more blurring of the Classic Serial and Saturday Drama slots, which are becoming interchangeable. It is interesting to look at the 'repeat count' for the 365 afternoon drama slots, including Sat-Sun; over the last few years the numbers of repeats have been:
2021 90 repeats plus 25 'reduced' slots (30m instead of 45) up to 20 Oct 2021
The 30m episodes are: Nuremburg (8), The System (6), Angst (5), The Attendant (5) and Napoleon Moon (1). At least temporarily the Thur-Fri slots are 30m instead of 45.
RADIO 3, 1961 Alistair Wyper has compiled the radio plays page for The Third programme, 1961; very few recordings have survived from sixty years ago, but it makes for an interesting read: Douglas Cleverdon, H.B.Fortuin, William Glen-Doepel, Henry Reed... and William Golding, Shelagh Delaney, Giles Cooper, Patric Dickinson. Again, many thanks..
15 Oct 2021
GB NEWS Lead presenter is now Colin Brazier; some good contributions too by Neil Oliver.
14 Oct 2021
NESTA PAIN Alistair Wyper has written a page for us about the multi-talented radio producer Nesta Pain. Thank you, Alistair.
27 Sep 2021
IMISON & TINNISWOOD AWARDS Reminder -the closing date for entries is 3 October. Get your entries in straight away! Details on the Imison / Tinniswood pages, which give the necessary links.
PIERS PLOWRIGHT I am sorry to report that Piers Plowright, radio drama and feature maker from 1968 to 1997, has died. He retired from the BBC in 1997 but continued to listen, look and lecture.
He will be much missed.
Stephen Shaw has compiled a page about his radio career, which can be found on the Radio Producers index page, and there was a good obituary in the Daily Telegraph..
24 Ju1 2021
GILES COOPER Radio 4 Extra has broadcast "The Return of General Forefinger" recently, to commemmorate the centenary of the birth of Muriel Pavlow. Our friend at R4X tells me that the drama dates from 1961. Duration is 90 minutes; highly recommended. This is earlier than the version already in circulation (not repeated as far as I'm aware) which dates from June 1984. It will be available for about a month on listen-again.
10 Ju1 2021
BBC GENOME If you have tried using the BBC Genome pages recently you will have noticed a change in appearance and content. It is a work in progress, so will need time to bed in and for bugs to be eliminated.
18 Jun 2021
GB NEWS IN THE NEWS In defence of his TV channel, Andrew Neil has described the political activists behind an advertising boycott on GB News as far-Left agitators and cranks.
Mr Neil, who is chairman of GB News as well as its lead presenter, said that Stop Funding Hate had started rounding up the lynch mob four months before the channel started broadcasting. Mr Neil described SFH as opponents of a free society, which sounds to me like an accurate summary.
He also criticised the companies giving in to their demands, saying that it
is remarkable that serious executives and well-established companies can be so easily cowed.
"They have all taken the knee to Stop Funding Hate. It is important they - and you - realise to whom they are in thrall.
"Stop Funding Hate does not stand for a liberal, inclusive society. It is dominated by far-Left agitators and cranks that push for advertiser boycotts of any media organisation with which it disagrees."
I read that there will also be a radio feed from GB News as well as the normal TV output.
18 Jun 2021
GB NEWS GB News starts in two days' time. It should provide a refreshing change from the diet offered by the BBC.
11 Jun 2021
RADIO DRAMA CUTS More cuts in radio drama are occurring. Recently we have lost the 15-minute drama which was broadcast during Woman's Hour and repeated in the evning. Now I have been informed that the number of Saturday Plays is being reduced from 40 per year to 12. I also note that the current drama offering on Friday afternoons (The System) only lasts 30 minutes per episode instead of 45. I hope plenty of you feel moved to write to the BBC about this. I would also remind you that it is not many years since BBC World Service ceased broadcasting drama.
Martin Esslin, when Head of Radio Drama, said that he commissioned 800 dramas per year. We didn't know then how well-off we were.
11 Jun 2021
UK INTERNATIONAL RADIO DRAMA FESTIVAL Thanks to everyone who attended our award ceremony this afternoon, 21 May. Viewers tuned in from all over the world, including Spain, Australia, Brazil, Georgia and the UK. The winners were announced by Jack Klaff, Melanie Nock and Jonathan Banatvala.
Now onto the winners:
ALCS Audience Award 1st place: A Haunting beyond the Lake - Richard Brooks (UK)
2nd place: Human Things - Grazyna Lutoslawska (Poland)
3rd place: Hunting Season - Georgian public radio (Georgia)
Honourable mentions: Notes from JJ - Georgian Public Radio, Fenland Symphony - Chris Bradbury, and Alvorada - Matheus Moraes.
20-Second Drama Award 1st place: Lady Macbeth - Festival consortium
2nd place: Spider - Pippa Brenchley
3rd place: Maths Problem - Darrick Wood School
4th place: List of Things - Festival consortium
Join us in congratulating the winners!
21 May 2021
HARRY TURNBULL Harry's latest radio drama reviews (April) are now online; see Articles section on main radio drama page or click the link.
6 May 2021
COVID ISLAND DRAMAS,4 Episode 4 of this series has been recorded and will be out shortly.
6 May 2021
GORDON HOUSE Over the years, ex-Head of BBC Radio Drama Gordon House has supplied a number of articles for the website. His latest contribution is a set of answers to questions posed by students about his chosen medium. I am grateful for permission to publish it - many thanks, Gordon.
15 Apr 2021
FRONT ROW & RADIO DRAMA Front Row is now covering radio / audio drama more frequently. In the weeks following the David Mamet programme (mentioned earlier); they also reviewed the new Community Radio soap opera Greenbourne, spoke to Mark Ravenhill about his new play written as an audio drama and to Giles Terera about his new play for Radio 3. I also heard an extended interview last night with Tempest (the beatboxer, who was shortlisted for the Imison last year)
about his new project 'Orpheus in the Record Shop'. Excellent; I trust that this will continue.
15 Apr 2021
RADIO DRAMA FESTIVAL UPDATE The schedule is now published and on the website.
I've also put an easily printed one-side summary on our own festival page . For further news about the 2021 festival, plus a list of participants and winners, please go to the festival page. The Audience award will be made at the end of April.
25 Mar 2021
RADIO DRAMA REVIEWS
by Harry Turnbull: a talk with Mary Peate about her new production of "Tess", plus Roderick Smith's "Brummie Iliad" and Christine Entwhistle's "Murmuration".
12 Mar 2021
FRONT ROW - STILL NOT INTERESTED IN RADIO DRAMA One of the grumbles I have about the Radio 4 Arts programme is that it rarely mentions radio drama. I was hoping in these times of coronavirus that the attitude of the producers might change, but no such luck. Tonight they reviewed David Mamet's play "The Christopher Boy's Communion", but this is because it was David Mamet, not because it was good radio. There have been no other mentions of radio drama on the programme since 26 August 2020, when a lost play by Agatha Christie was aired on Radio 4..
UPDATE .... see note above, 15 Apr.
4 Mar 2021
7th UK INTERNATIONAL RADIO DRAMA FESTIVAL, 22-26 MARCH News about the Festival: The unprecedented situation with the coronavirus has affected our plans, but they are now formulated. Canterbury won't happen this year; we will be online, but as for the festival itself, it's all systems go. Details below. You'll also notice a change in the title. We're now the UK International Audio Drama Festival ; there have been great advances this year in the number and quality of podcasts and 'Radio' no longer covers everything we do.
A note from the festival director, Jonathan Banatvala: Covid 19 continues to create enormous restrictions on the festival world – on travel, on meeting, on creative expression .
We are determined that the 2021 festival will not just such survive through an online presence but be one of the most exciting Audio Drama Festivals yet – for the first time coming together to make audio drama as well as to listen to it.
This year’s virtual festival 22 – 26 March 2021 will combine collaborative creative sessions with real-time and on-demand listening and real-time collective jury discussions.
We will send people a zoom link shortly before the event, and the start time will be announced soon.
1 Mar 2021
SHORTLISTS FOR IMISON & TINNISWOOD The shortlists for the Imison Award and the Tinniswood Award are now out. These are accessible via the links on the main radio plays page.
10 Feb 2021
PHILIP MARTIN Alistair Wyper has contributed a piece about Philip Martin, who died at the end of 2020. Philip worked in film, television, theatre and radio as actor, writer, director and producer. During the 80s he was a familiar figure at Pebble Mill. ....Many thanks, Alistair - Ed.
9 Feb 2021
DON TAYLOR Don Taylor's play "The Jacobean Box", a tale of lost manuscripts, is being repeated on R4X on Saturday (more than once, though I know it's scheduled for 3 o'clock.) This is a very good drama; nice and light for a Saturday afternoon. Try not to miss it.
9 Feb 2021
GB NEWS: ANDREW NEIL A new TV news channel is about to be launched: GB News, headed by Andrew Neil, who recently left the BBC. We are told it will be pro-UK. Andrew Neil has said that he joined GB News because he believes the direction of news debate in Britain is increasingly 'woke' (denoting extreme political-correctness) and out of touch with the majority of its people.
Ian Botham pointed out on 13 Jan that people from the countryside are tired of the Corporation's virtue-signalling presenters. He said that the Corporation was doing particularly badly in the countryside; many country people write to him. They dislike how the Corporation increasingly uses its programmes to promote the narrow 'woke' views of its senior staff. In Botham's words: "They say it abuses its power to push these urban-progressive ideas as if they were mainstream".
The Guardian is attempting to dissuade advertisers from supporting this new project; the paper no longer shows the open-mindedness which its followers used to be famed for. What better evidence could there be for the need for this new channel?
8 Feb 2021
THIS COVID LIFE In April 2020, with the UK in the midst of the first wave of the Covid 19 pandemic, Script6, a Norfolk-based writers’ collective, teamed up with award-winning scriptwriter Nicholas McInerny to launch a short film scriptwriting competition – ‘THIS COVID LIFE’, looking for ten minute scripts based around online facetime conversations during lockdown.
At the time it felt like the vast majority of online competitions were prioritising stories of cheerful reassurance and resilience as we all dealt with our new reality.
We knew even then this wasn’t the whole truth. We wanted to find those stories that explored the darker side of life under Covid restrictions: tales that would possibly reveal a more complicated truth about ourselves, our hopes and fears, as the stress of lockdown inevitably exposed faultlines and gave us an insight into who we really are. ...more...
2 Feb 2021
RADIO REVIEWS A new version of Heart of Darkness reviewed along with some input from the writer Anita Sullivan. Also reviewed: Rogers & Hart & Hammerstein; Breaking Blake. See reviews on main radio page. Thanks again to Harry Turnbull.
IN CONVERSATION WITH RUSSELL T DAVIES WGGB member, screenwriter and producer Russell T Davies talks about writing, bringing gay drama into the mainstream, and his Channel 4 series It's A Sin, a dramatization of the 1980s HIV/AIDS crisis. He is interviewed by Nicholas McInerny on Youtube; click the link to hear it.
30 Jan 2021
HEDLEY'S LIMERICKS Another contribution from my friend in London:
While visiting one of his aunties,
The writer Miguel de Cervantes
Said "My new word 'quixotic'
Sounds strange and exotic -
Does that make my work better than Dante's?"