"Radio Radio" - Radio Plays

Clive Lever suggested the title - plays concerned with the business of radio - how radio plays are made, foul deeds in Broadcasting House, and so on. I must also mention the television play "Radio Pictures" - about the recording of a radio play. Ken Cumberlidge has written about this on our Radio Articles page (q.v.).

So - here we go ...

c1959 Galton & Simpson - The Bowmans (Tony Hancock episode)
c1972 Timothy West - The gun in my right hand is loaded
c1975 Keith Waterhouse - The Last Phone-In
1978 Barry Campbell / Frank Marcus - The killing of Sister George
1979 John Wells - Macbeth, or Unlucky For Some
1980 Jon Rollaston - Plots I Have Laid
c1980 Val Gielgud - Death at Broadcasting House
1982 Peter Whalley - Who shot Ada Tansey?
1984 Michael Bartlett - Two minutes to the top of the hour
1986 D.McGillivray - The Farndale Avenue housing estate townswomen's guild Dramatic Society Murder Mystery Radio Show
1987 Bob Couttie - The House At Spook Corner
1989 Tom Webster - A Very Meticulous Death
1988 A Long Wave Goodbye, by Lalage Hitchcock
1996 David Renwick - Angry Old Men
1999 David Pownall - Blitzma
2001 Tom Holland - Our Man in Athens
2004 Radio Daze, by Martin Jameson
2004 Charlotte Goodwin & Pamela Wells - The Distance Between
2012 Jack Klaff - Flying Backwards
2018 Oliver Emanuel - When The Pips Stop


The gun in my right hand is loaded....c1972
By Timothy West. This play is famous by reputation. It has every radio cliche in the book. Update..... the play was never broadcast, but a few people have copies. It lasts about 20 minutes.

Local radio, and the phone-in programme from hell ......

11 Dec 78. For six years, Sister George, a district nurse, has been the star of a television 'soap'. Then one day the actress playing her gets a knock on the door. With Sheila Hancock, Anna Calder Marshall and Eleanor Bron. 55m. Adapted by Barry Campbell from the story by Frank Marcus. Produced for the BBC by Gordon House. Rpt. in Australia (ABC) c1998.

Macbeth or Unlucky for Some (R4 Just Before Midnight 31 August 1979) This drama is a delighful spoof by John Wells, of a recording of the Scottish Play duriing the Edinburgh Festival which descends into farce because of interruptions and the running out of studio time necessitating more and more cuts. The play is reduced to 13 minutes, perhaps a nod to Stoppard's 15 minute Hamlet? (....Alistair Wyper)

By John Rollaston. SNT 6 Dec 80. A gang of bank robbers is listening to a radio play in their getaway car and one of them hatches the idea of commissioning the writer to invent a fool-proof robbery for them.

Who shot Ada Tansey?....1982
Someone is murdered during the recording of a "Soap" at Broadcasting House. 90m.

Two minutes to the top of the hour....1984
Play set in a local radio station where two of the programme presenters can't stand each other. A good "closed environment" play.

The Farndale Avenue housing estate townswomen's guild Dramatic Society Murder Mystery Radio Show....1986
by David McGillivray. 21 Dec 86. This contains every radio cliche you can think of, muffed sound effects, and atrocious acting ... it's really the same joke as Timothy West's "The gun in my right hand is loaded". But a good listen, nevertheless. Jack Adrian told me about this - many thanks.

The House At Spook Corner....1987
SNT 27.06.87, by Bob Couttie. About the making of a radio documentary investigating psychic phenomena which is told partly in flashback. It depicts the rivalries and duplicity within and between the production team and the presenters.

A Long Wave Goodbye....1988
By Lalage Hitchcock. R4 Afternoon Play. Broadcast: Thursday 31 Mar 88, 3:00 p.m.

"A Long Wave Goodbye" looks at the life of radio fan, Laura, who cooks to 'PM', gardens to 'Woman's Hour', and sometimes shares a bath with Richard Baker. Her husband Tom, on the other hand, is sick of her obsession with radio and tries to bring her attention back to him and their home.

Can radio be a substitute for life? According to Tom, it "feasts off itself like a black hole". And of the personalities that, to his wife, have become surrogate friends, he says bitterly: "You fall in love with their voices and create beautiful faces to go with them, but you'd be appalled if you knew what they really looked like. They wouldn't 'be' on radio if they were worth looking at."

Tom eventually tries to communicate with his wife by writing a radio play: 'Goodbye and Take Care'. He appears on "Woman's Hour"; his play is discussed on "Kaleidoscope"; chosen for "Pick of the Week", and he eventually makes the news on "PM". But has he been able to reach his wife?

With Michael Graham Cox [Tom], Zelah Clarke [Laura], Caroline Gruber [Linda / Liz Montague], Richard Tate [Dan], Diana Olsson [C. S. Darling], and Margot Boyd [Mrs. Antrobus].

Other parts were played by John Baddeley, David Goodland and members of the cast. Also taking part were Derek Cooper, Gordon Clough, Margaret Howard, Jenni Murray. Valerie Singleton, Paul Vaughan, and Peter Donaldson who plays himself (The BBC Announcer). Directed by Jeremy Mortimer. 60 minutes. (.....Notes by Jim, aka s-j; many thanks - ND.....)

9 Dec 89, 70m. Thriller by Tom Webster. A play about the making of a radio play. Suddenly one of the actors croaks....

Superb radio play growing out of "The Burkiss Way" (which David Renwick co-wrote with Andrew Marshall). 90 min.

By David Pownall. Tommy Handley was the man who made the nation laugh during the darkest days of the Second World War, in his surreal wartime radio extravaganza `ITMA' (It's That Man Again). Handley's main target was Adolf Hitler, who could not understand why the British continued to defy him - until Goebbels explained that it is all down to `ITMA'. With Sam Kelly, Gerard Murphy and Stella Gonet. Director Martin Jenkins.

Thucydides' history of the Peloponnesian War is not an obvious candidate for radio dramatisation, but Tom Holland's Our Man in Athens (R4 1415 30 Jul 01) made it accessible to the ordinary listener. A veteran war reporter finds himself under siege in the studios of Radio Free Athens, under attack by Sparta. John Simpson, the BBC correspondent, played Thucydides, and the cast included Tim Piggott-Smith, Sean Barratt and Bill Wallis.

An interesting first radio play by "double act" Charlotte Goodwin and Pamela Wells. On the day of recording, a writer finds his radio play in the hands of a producer who hasn't had time to read it. As the studio actors go through the drama, the writer obsesses over his female protagonist, blurring the line between fact and fiction. With Andy Hockley as the writer, Julia Hills as the producer, Polly Lister as the actress and Jez Thomas as the actor. Produced by Kate Chapman and Jenny Stephens. More about this play on RADIO PLAYS page (Articles 8).

By Martin Jameson. At an event in support of the British Hungarian Society, actor Bob Rodwell is handed a radio script by a mysterious stranger. Thriller set in 1956 at BBC Broadcasting House, London. Bob Rodwell .... Malcolm Sinclair, Angyalka ..... Larissa Kouznetsova, Louis MacNeice ..... Gerard Murphy, Reggie Smith .... Jonathan Hyde, Laurence Gilliam ... Andrew Woodall, Aubrey Dutton..... John Rowe, Verity Gill .... Avril Clark, Ted/ Newsreader ... Jon Glover, Roy/ Blake ..... Philip Fox, Mim..... Alice Hart, Continuity announcer ... Bertie Carvel. Producer: Jeremy Mortimer. First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 2004. Rpt. Radio 4 Extra, 13 May 2019. (....This one highlighted by Alistair Wyper - thank you.)

19 Jun 12. Radio play about making a radio play. By Jack Klaff.

Johnnie is back in Cape Town to record his new radio play - his first in his home town after many years abroad. In the cast, to Johnnie's surprise, is Vicki, with whom he had a passionate affair decades ago.

Vicki/Maureen........................ALICE KRIGE
Johnnie.................................JACK KLAFF
Ma.......................................DOREEN MANTLE
Deon/Andrew/Bruce.................VINCENT EBRAHIM
Tyrone...................................DON MCCORKINDALE
Michelle/Lizzie........................HELEN SZYMCZAK
Producer/Director: David Ian Neville.

By Oliver Emanuel; 11 Oct 2018. Last-minute substitution for another play. Described as a "poetic and playful love song to Radio 4". No cast list at the time of writing; this wasn't advertised in RT.

Later addition - please refer to the International Radio Drama Festival (Canterbury) page for 2019 for more information. The link is on the main Radio Drama page.

Nigel Deacon / Diversity website

All of the above plays known to exist in VRPCC collections

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