The Riddle of the Sands
by Erskine Childers

Erskine Childers - The Riddle of the Sands

BBC Radio 4: Saturday Night Theatre

Broadcast: Saturday 8th January 1994 @ 7:50 p.m.

Charles Carruthers was finding London, in September 1903, a dull place. All of his friends were out of town shooting in Scotland or on the Riviera and he was at a loose end - a very loose end, indeed. He had been led for a few evenings into the shady haunts of Soho and had even ventured as far east as the Ratcliffe-highway where he had sat next to a portly female who, at frequent intervals, refreshed herself and her infant from a bottle of tepid stout. Therefore, he now confines himself to dining at his club, or rather at a club in Pall Mall which, since his was being painted and refreshed during the summer, acted as his host. In truth, it was a sorry place and hardly worth dressing for. He could not know that his boredom and indolence was soon to be replaced by the greatest adventure of his life.

Set against the Anglo-German "Great Naval Race" at the turn of the Twentieth century, Foreign Office high-flyer Carruthers joins his friend Arthur Davies on the 'Dulcibella' for a sailing holiday among the mud flats and sand banks of the Fresian Islands off the German coast where the two young Englishmen stumble across suspicious activities that could result in disaster for England!

"The Riddle of The Sands", published in 1903 and hailed as being the first modern spy thriller, is fiction but all the sailing details were taken from the author's logbook of a real cruise in those waters at a time when the British authorities appeared indifferent to the intense development of the German seaboard and approaches to the North Sea. In fact, Childers' novel had a huge influence on official thinking about naval strategy at the time. Winston Churchill, as First Lord of the Admiralty from 1911, made it required reading for his staff as it highlighted his own fears that Germany's thirst for power was of huge danger to Britain.

Dramatised by Roderick Graham from Erskine Childers' classic 1903 novel, "The Riddle of the Sands".

With Lawrence Kennedy [Charles Carruthers], Charles Simpson [Arthur H. Davies], Frederick Yaeger [Herr Dollmann, owner of a large sailing-yacht , the 'Medusa'], Jo Unwin [Fräulein Clara Dollmann], Wolf Kahler [Commander von Brüning of the torpedo gunboat, 'Blitz'], Gertan Klauber [Herr Böhme], Michael Wolf [Herr Grimm, the Diving Overseer aboard the 'Kormoran', a Memmert boat, or 'wreck-works' boat], John Baddeley [Schiffer Bartels, of the galliot 'Johannes'], Colin Pinney [A Clerk at the Kiel Telegraph Office], and Simon Treves [Hawkins, a Member of the Admiralty].

Directed by Jane Morgan.

90 minutes.


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