The Machine
by Tony Bagley

Tony Bagley - The Machine

BBC Radio 3

Broadcast: Tuesday 16th October 1990 @ 9:30 p.m.

"The Machine" imagines the effects of sound recording in Jacobean England. Set in 1602, Ned Prynne is a bailiff in charge of dealing with masterless men who end up on his doorstep, often on the scrounge. But he is obsessed by building a machine which can record the human voice.

Constructed with freshly cut sheep's gut, stretched tightly; paper treated with wax; spindles and needles; the machine retains the banter of delivery and unifies what is said and how it should be spoken; able to reach out and touch the past. For Ned, the machine is for him. Imagine the shock one would have if they heard words without the presence of the minds and bodies that engineered them. Words that cannot be sources to their masters; words alone - escaped, renegade words.

People will say it's someone long dead trying to seep back into the world of the flesh. Ned fears his process cannot be explained to those whose mind only sees magic. A machine that contrives to outlast flesh, that takes their earthly thoughts and holds them in an unearthly state, they will see only its heretic maker. He'll be punished for its powers, punished unjustly...

"The Machine" was winner of the 1990 Giles Cooper Award.

With James Bolam [Ned Prynne, the Bailiff of the Forest], Simon Treves [Richard Cornford, a Friend of Ned's], Paul Nicholson [Tyler], Stephen Sylvester [Thomas Blackton], Anthony Donovan [Master Heppenstall], David Bannerman [The Petty Constable], Kim Wall [The Boy, a Beggar], and Josephine Sinclair [A 14-year-old Girl].

Other parts played by members of the cast.

Producer Alec Reid in Bristol

Re-broadcast on Tuesday 23rd July 1991 @ 8:50 p.m.

60 minutes


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