The Murder of Walter Ralegh
by Ian Cullen

Ian Cullen - The Murder of Walter Ralegh

BBC Radio 4: Saturday Night Theatre

Broadcast: Saturday 30th November 1974 @ 8:30 p.m.

In 1615, King James I summoned Sir Walter Ralegh after 12 years in the Tower. The King has liberated, but not pardoned, him for a special mission. Sir Robert Cecil asks him if it is true about the gold mine of fabulous wealth Ralegh had claimed to find in then English colony of Guiana. When Walter claims he did find it, Sir Cecil tells him that England needs that gold because the country's purse is empty and ask Ralegh to undertake the journey even though Guiana is no longer an English colony. He will command 14 ships and 1,100 men that are already awaiting him in Plymouth. His orders are that he may trade on route but must find the gold and return to England within two years. This is not an expedition against Spain since Spain is an ally now and before he leaves, the King commands him, on pain of death, that there be no clashes with Spain on land or at sea.

Treachery causes the mission to be doomed from the start for the Spanish knew every step of Ralegh's expedition. It was a disaster in which he lost the rest of his money plus the life of his eldest son, Wat (killed during fighting at St. Thomas). Ralegh returned and landed in Plymouth, 16 June, 1618, broken in fortune and reputation. He was arrested and committed to the Tower, on the charge of having, without authority, attacked the Spanish settlement of St. Thomas. The Spanish Ambassador demanded Ralegh's punishment and King James I agreed.

With Bernard Archard [Sir Walter Ralegh], Kathleen Michael [Bess, Sir Walter's Wife], Robert Trotter [King James I], John Rowe [Sir Robert Cecil], Vernon Joyner [Sir Edward Cooke], Basil Moss [Captain Lawrence Keymis], David Horovitch [George Harvey], Michael Cochrane [Henry, Prince of Wales], Christopher Good [Will Cecil], Nigel Bradshaw [Wat Ralegh, Walter's Son], Jean Rogers [Watt, as a Young Boy], and Carlton Hobbs [Lord Chief Justice Popham].

Other parts were played by Drew Wood, Kevin Brennan, Christopher Masters, Esmond Ridout, and members of the cast.

Produced and directed by Christopher Venning

Re-broadcast on BBC Radio 4: Saturday Night Theatre on 9th April 1977 @ 8:30 p.m.

90 minutes.


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