Whoresheugh, by David Bean

David Bean - Whoresheugh

BBC Radio 4: Saturday Playhouse

Broadcast: Saturday 17th August 1991 @ 2:30 p.m.

Brian Chater was a former teacher at a large London Comprehensive School. He liked it at first but after 10 years or so he realised he never liked it - so he quit. He decides to move up north to a sleepy, border-country village near the Scottish border - not to hide but to have time, space, and quiet to do what he hopes he is better at than teaching which, he hopes, is writing. But it's early days yet. Now he works at Whoresheugh Castle - built in 1160 - in Northumberland where he sells tickets and guide books which supplements his income as a writer and historian.

Brian begins a relationship with Cloud McGivern, a girl who he is smitten with who works part-time at the "Fat Ox", the local pub. Cloud is a local lass who has just returned from Cambridge University where she studied law. But Brian is concerned about Alec Stoddart - a large, burly man with a violent temper who had dated Cloud in her second year at university. Alex graduated from Manchester U. with a degree in Physics but has decided to come back to farming outside this village where he also grew up.

Brian's anxiety grows as one day, down at the pub, he sits down with old man Probert who wants Brian to write his life story. Probert tells him of how, when he first arrived as a constable in 1917, he met a beautiful local lass by the name of Gwen. Most of the young men were away at war but she had started courting Fenick Nixon - not a pretty boy but wild and strong as an ox. But Gwen had also fallen for a soldier, Frederick Walter Curtis of Bristol, who had been posted to an army hospital just outside the village. When Fenick got wind of this nothing was said as Frederick was posted back to the Front. After the war, Frederick returned for Gwen to take her down south. Frederick called her from the pub telling her to get ready as he just had a few things to take care of and would come around with the car to pick her up. But he never showed up. He was found a few days later with his head bashed in and wallet gone. All eyes pointed to Fenick but he had an unshakeable alibi and the murder was never solved.

It seems that history is repeating itself but as events increase Brian's fear, he decides to make a stand - he is not running this time - he's going to stay and face the music.

With David Brierley [Brian Chater], Kathryn Hunt [Cloud McGivern], Malcolm Raeburn [Cuthbert 'Jock' McGivern], Geoffery Banks [Mr. Probert], John Graham Davies [Alec Stoddart], Ronald Herdman [Fenick Nixon], Joyce Gibbs [Meg, the Landlady of the Fat Ox], The 'Fat Ox' Regulars: Robin Polley [Harry], John Branwell [Tom], John Jardine [Old Stoddart], and Laurence Kenny [Dick].

Other parts were played by members of the cast

Directed by Tony Cliff in Manchester

Re-broadcast on Monday 13th April 1992 @ 2:02 p.m. on BBC Radio 4.

Note: HEUGH/HEUCH (pronounced hoof) is an old scottish word for a glen with steep sides, a crag, hence a pit; e.g., coal-heuch or coal-heugh.

90 minutes


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