Patrick Rayner Radio Plays

Patrick Rayner has been producing radio plays for many years.

He was asked to respond to a number of questions about radio drama, for the BBC website. Here is a summary of some of his comments:

Radio has traditionally been a breeding ground for emerging talent. Why is this?

Because there is so much of it. If you go through the Radio times and highlight all the writers involved in any one day's broadcasting, on radio, youíll be surprised about how many of them there are. Thereís a play a day, at least, maybe two, maybe three. As a market place for writers, itís a very good one.

How should a new writer approach writing for radio?

You need to listen to what goes out. You need to know the market. You need to listen to the slots, listen to the afternoon plays, the Friday play, the classic serial, and get to know what people are after.

Is it easier to get started as a radio writer than as a television writer?

Yes, because there are so many more opportunities on radio.

Are there any classic mistakes that writers make when writing for radio?

Classic mistakes include:

-not listening to the current BBC output.

-technical faults, like the first 10 minutes 'mark time' so everyone is bored.

-things like 'the gun in my right hand is loaded' -the dialogue contains clumsy visual information.

-sending a stained second hand script which has obviously been around the houses already.

A very small fraction of Patrick's output is listed below.

29.01.94 The courts of the morning, by John Buchan
23.05.95 Hossack's Child, by Colin MacDonald
16.08.97 The casebook of Sherlock Holmes (4 x 45m)
13.10.97 The electric angel
15.11.97 The Hydro, by Ronald Frame (4 x 30m)
29.11.97 The monarch of the glen
06.06.99 Daniel Deronda (3 x 55m)
30.09.99 The Maids of Orleans
10.03.00 Mercury, sulphur and salt: Paracelsus*
04.02.01 The Cornish Trilogy (3 x 55m)
25.01.02 The Tuner, by Kevin Fagan
30.01.03 Nought happens twice thus - Thomas Hardy
18.05.04 Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (5 x 45m)
03.01.05 The Lady Detectives (4 x 45m); various authors
27.03.05 Flash for Freedom (2 x 55m)
nk (1990s?) The Cricket Match, 90m


R4, 29.1.94. Dramatised by Guy Slater. The republic of Olifa is rich in minerals, and ripe for revolution. With Ian McDiarmid and Fiona Francis. Director - Patrick Rayner.

Thirty minute theatre. Light comedy drama.

Excellent dramatisations by Bert Coules, with Michael Williams and Clive Merrison. Director Patrick Rayner.

By Beatrice Colin. Set in about 1968, when the Apollo space missions were in the news. A young man from Oban comes to the big city to find work, and falls for a girl he meets...with Liam Brennan, Anne Kristen, Deirdra Davis; dir. Patrick Rayner.

THE HYDRO....1997
15 Nov 97. The conclusion of Ronald Frame's four-part serial set in a luxury hotel in the Scottish Highlands. Fee's husband Colin has returned from the dead, expecting to pick up his old life again. A guest's exotic lady friend is causing comment in the Palm Court. And skeletons begin to tumble out of the Drummond closet. Can Fee hold her nerve? With Eliza Langland and David Rintoul. Director Patrick Rayner.

Compton Mackenzie's 1930s comedy, dramatised by Ron Butlin. An impoverished Scottish laird seeks to marry his eldest son off to an American heiress, only to find himself at war with an army of militant hikers. With Crawford Logan, Mairi Gillespie and John Shedden. Director Patrick Rayner.

By Beatrice Colin: Set in France during the second World War. As the Germans advance, three women escape to a chateau in the Loire valley. With Eliza Langland, Kathryn Howden; dir. Patrick Rayner.

THE TUNER....2002
By Kevin Fagan, 25 Jan 02, Friday play, 55m. Chocker is an ex-miner who is also a radio ham. He hears "the radio girl" on his receiver. Directed by Patrick Rayner.

Many men of high intellect and bold spirit who made their names famous in the Middle Ages came from poor families. One such individual was the physician and alchemist Philipp Theophrastus von Hohenheim, known as Paracelsus, who was given a radio biography on R4, 10 Mar, 2102, in Mercury, Sulphur and Salt, by Beatrice Colin. Paracelsus was the king of experimenters; he believed nothing unless he had seen it or done it, and even went into the metal smelting laboratories to learn what the fashionable academics of his day despised- Chemistry. He is known for using mercury compounds to fight syphilis, which was otherwise incurable. Paracelsus says, in "Paragranum" (1565) of self-satisfied medics: "Heaven will create other physicians who will recognize the four elements...they will know the mysteries and possess the tinctures. ...where will you clowns dwell then, after the revolution?"

A subject as interesting as this cannot fail to make good radio. The cast included Mark McDonnell as Theo and Crawford Logan as Erasmus, and the director was Patrick Rayner. An earlier treatment by Mark Barratt (The Peacock's Tail) went out in April 1991. (VRPCC newsletter, Apr 00)

Biographical programme about Hardy, by Adam Thorpe. Dir. Patrick Rayner.

Bert Coules originals based on references in the Sherlock Holmes stories. More about these plays on Bert Coules' page and on his site (see LINKS).

Dramatised by Roger Danes. Afternoon plays; directed by P.R.

27 Mar 05-. From the Flashman stories by George MacDonald Fraser. I loved it!

George MacDonald Fraserís Flashman novels are based on the character who began life as the bully of Tom Brownís Schooldays and who grew up to be a blaggard, liar and bogus hero . The author himself provided the radio adaptation for Flash for Freedom in a glossy production staring Rhys Meredith as the younger Flashman and Joss Ackland - his gravelly tones crackling and splintering - as the older man narrating his adventures among the slave trade.

It was full of cheating at cards, wrenching, vomiting and other laddish delights, along with the occasional quote in Latin from Horace and Pliny. Flashman continues to scale heights of political incorrectness that others only dream of. Iím not greatly bothered by that. I simply do not go for swashbuckling heros or anti-heros. But while it left me cold, I believe that those who like the genre will have lapped it up. (summarised from a review by Moira Petty, writing in "The Stage").

THE CRICKET MATCH; broadcast date not known. ...1990s?
From the classic story by Hugh de Selincourt, of village cricket a couple of generations ago, Peter Carey was played by Jill Lidstone, and the other parts by Stephen MacDonald, Michael N. Haber, Geoffrey Matthews, Peter Woodthorpe, Nigel Anthony, David Rintoul, Sean Arnold, Stephen Thorne, David March, Peter Alexander, Alan Dudley, Maddi Head, Teresa Streatfield, Jane Wenham, Eric Allen, David Peart, Michael Jenner, Christopher Scott. SMs: Peter Harwood, Tim Sturgeon, David Blount; (London), Ian Kaye and Gregor Graham (Edinburgh). Music composed and played by Robert Pettigrew. Dramatised by John Rotannack and directed by Patrick Rayner.

Nigel Deacon / Diversity website

Above plays known to exist in VRPCC collections

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