Death Duties, by Frederick Bradnum

Frederick Bradnum - Death Duties

BBC Radio 3: Drama Now

Broadcast: Tuesday 20th October 1987

Jeremiah's motley family are after his will, but the harried 99-year-old isn't dead yet and has a bombshell from beyond the Iron Curtain to drop.

The living Judge relatives are as follows: Millicent, who is pushing 70, is the only living half-sister to Jeremiah. She's on her third husband: a rich, black man called Gambotutu, corupt with money that he stole when a Minister. He is very much younger than Millicent and married her so that he could live in England. Millicent's only child by her first marriage is the Reverend Herbert Hiawatha Judge-Bodger, now 40, a homosexual with a murky past. The only surviving half-brother is Ambrose, now almost 60, who bolted 15 years earlier to Russia. Jeremiah is still very fond of him but, alas, there is no contact. Ambrose's wife re-married and there is his daughter, Susan, a beautiful high flyer of 28 who writes fiction with a lot of sex in it and lives with a French aviator, Pierre.

When he was 40 and unmarried, Jeremiah seduced his half-sibling's Nanny, although by then she was no longer the children's creature but had become a family servant of a superior kind. This was the time Jeremiah became head of the family. The Nanny was called Mrs. Appleyard, although she was unmarried. Mrs. Appleyard had a girl by Jeremiah called Agatha. Agatha grew up up more or less one of the family Judge and when her mother died suddenly of cancer, Agatha took her place. By Agatha, Jeremiah fathered Joanna.

The Judges believe Jeremiah is wealthy and near death, and are worried about 'Death Duties'. The house is full of valuables, paintings in particular - works not known to the art historians, either. They believe the house is in trust so that one of the legitimate Judges must take it on but know they will have to contend with Agatha and Joanna who live there now with Jeremiah. The Judges do not know yet that Jeremiah has told his solicitor to add a codicil to his will leaving all he has to Agatha and Joanna Appleyard, the contents of the house included.

As the Judges converge on the home of Jeremiah to stake their claims before he dies, Agatha and Joanna receive a letter from Ambrose telling them about scandalous documents he purloined from various offices in government, where he worked for many years, and where he hid them in Jeremiah's home. Ambrose believes they may be of use to Agatha and Joanna as barter against the Death Duties when the time comes.

With Maurice Denham [Jeremiah Judge], Martin Jarvis [N. E. W. Broome, Department of Historical Intelligence], Jill Balcon [Agatha Appleyard], Margaret Courtenay [Millicent, Jeremiah's Half-Sister], Peter Marinker [CIA Agent Beecher, alias Mr. Ogg], Carole Boyd [Joanna Appleyard, Agatha's Daughter], Deborah Makepeace [Susan Judge, Ambrose's Daughter], Alan Dudley [Ambrose Judge, Jeremiah's Half-Brother], Cyril Nri [Mr. Gambotutu, Millicent's 3rd Husband], Michael Deacon [Reverend Herbert Hiawatha Judge-Bodger, Millicent's Son from 1st Marriage], Michael Tudor-Barnes [Pierre, Susan's Boyfriend], and Jonathan Tafler [Mr. Shaw, Jeremiah's Solicitor from Manners, Manners, and Tidey].

Directed by Glyn Dearman.

Re-broadcast on Tuesday 15th August 1989.

70 minutes.


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