Richard Imison

Richard Imison was born in Birkenhead, Merseyside, 31 October 1936 and died of cancer 9 February 1993.

Reading archaeology and anthropology at Pembroke College, Cambridge in the late 1950’s he formed and ran the Pembroke Players. Each vacation the players would tour Germany performing Shakespeare.

On graduating he joined the BBC and apart from brief stints as the BBC’s representative in India and on the television archaeology series Chronicle his entire career was devoted to radio drama. As Script Editor, he headed a large script reading unit where he and his dedicated staff conscientiously sifted thousands of scripts each year to find the best 400 suitable for production. No talent was overlooked. He was always staunchly loyal to writers he especially admired, whatever anyone else may have thought. He had perhaps the greatest spread of influence of anyone working in the field, giving writers the most unstinting support. He not only discovered dramatists such as Tom Stoppard, but also encouraged established writers such as Pinter and Beckett to write for the genre.

Through the BBC he founded an International Commissioning Scheme which commissioned acclaimed stage playwrights (Edward Albee was one) to write for radio. When the United States set out to revive Radio Drama in the 1970’s he advised the Corporation of Public Broadcasting and with the arrival of glasnost visited the Soviet Union to put together a Russian season with such writers as Ludmilla Petrushevskaya and Alexander Gelman. He also worked on steering committees for both the Prix Italia and the European Broadcasting Union.

At home he was always a good friend to, and accessible point of contact for both the Writers’ Guild and the Society of Authors. He became Deputy Head of the BBC Radio Drama department and in his final year with the Corporation was appointed the Managing Director’s spokesman for Radio.

In 1992, he decided to take early retirement to develop his talent for painting, writing and to finally produce a long-promised book sharing his knowledge and understanding of radio drama. Sadly, he never had time to complete it.

The annual IMISON AWARD was instigated shortly after his death to provide a memorial to him and to help the careers of younger radio writers. Please see the Imison Award page for more details (you'll find the link on the main Radio Plays page). He also instigated the well-known series "Just Before Midnight" (q.v.).

Information supplied by Jo Hodder, Society of Authors. Many thanks, Jo. - ND.

Back to top


POOR BITOS....1989
Recorded 15.5.89, studio B11, BH. By Jean Anouilh, trans. Lucienne Hill. Producer Richard Imison; prod. assistant Julie McDonald(?).

Outstanding radio drama with Sir Laurens van der Post, from his book, subtitled "The Prisoner and the Bomb". Sir Laurens was held in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp in Java during WW2. The play juxtaposes the hellish conditions in the camp, the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the subsequent surrender of the Japanese. Adapted by Peter Bevan, dram. Brian Sibley. Produced by Richard Imison; production assistant Blossom Martis, SM Tim Sturgeon. Recorded 20-21.7.88, in Maida Vale Studio 7.

Operation Cerberus....1972
By Michael Kittermaster.

'I can assure you that there are some very intensive operations taking place within this complex. If that were not so, it would hardly be necessary to maintain a security post on the premises...'

Cast in order of speaking:
Pincombe-David March
Glover -Colin Gordon
Spicer -Nigel Anthony
Endicott-Gerald Cross
The Doctor-John Rye
Producer -Richard Imison

By D.A.Rayner. SNT 23 Nov 63. The time is September 1943. His Majesty's destroyer, Hecate, is crossing that very empty sea that lies south of the equator between the coast of Africa and the eastern bulge of Brazil. Unusual in wartime, the Hecate is alone. For once, she has no convoy to look after and no sister escort to help her should she meet the enemy. It is a few hours after dark and the ship is ploughing steadily, at somewhat reduced speed, into one of those short, tropic storms which can infest that area. Conditions on the Bridge was by no means pleasant, but the two officers, wedged into positions of purposeful repose in the Captain's sea-cabin under the Bridge, are comfortable enough. On the cushions between them is a chess board, a game which has become almost a nightly ritual. The Captain has taken his opponent's Bishop with his Queen. The doctor, after due thought, lifts a Knight and waves it vaguely over a square from which it could threaten the intruding Queen....

Suddenly, at 10 pm, the Hecate receives a radar alert. Instantly the captain's sixth sense tells him it's a U-boat. It's too small to be anything but that or a fishing boat and there aren't any fishing boats in that deserted piece of ocean and none that can steam at 14 knots into this sea. He does believe it will give him just what he always wanted: a single ship duel between a U-boat and a destroyer without a chance of anyone interfering. He would lay odds at so near evens that he would have to know the other captain. As far as the ships are concerned, he would put his money on the U-boat. He reckons he'll win, but both of them will feel that, the German and him. If he's the man he hopes he is, they'll have a wonderful game chess.

To cut down the risk of detection, he lines up his ship astern of the U-boat and plans to track him for the next nine hours at a fixed distance of 4 1/2 miles behind, in hopes they appear as a ghost signal to the U-boat's radar. Then, at dawn, he will attack. It seemed strange to the captain, but the U-boat held doggedly to the same course. 210 degrees at fourteen knots. The dawn will bring a deadly duel between the Captain of destroyer H.M.S. Hecate and the Kapitän of U-boat U-121 - winner take all.

Adapted for radio from D. A. Rayner's 1956 novel, "The Enemy Below". The novel was adapted into an American film the following year under the same title, premiering on Christmas Day 1957 in New York City. Being an American film, the ship was changed from a British destroyer to an American one. The film received an Academy Award in 1958 for best special effects.

With Leo Genn [Commander Morrell, Captain of the Hecate], Gerard Heinz [Korvetten Kapitän Peter von Stolberg, Kapitän of U-121], Norman Claridge [The Narrator], Fraser Kerr [Surgeon Lieutenant MacMillan], John Baddeley [Lieutenant Mackeson / Stoker Bradley], Glyn Dearman [Andrews, Sick-Berth Attendant], Peter Bartlett [Radar Officer / Engineer Officer], Kevin Flood [Lieutenant Commander Thomson, the ASDIC Officer], John Broster [Sublieutenant Willis], Bruce Condell [Lieutenant Johnson, the Petty Officer Telegraphist / Robins, the Commander's Servant], Michael Goldie [Engineer Kritz], Gabriel Woolf [Lieutenant Erich Kunz], Kenneth Hyde [Willi Bauer, the Signalman Looking After the Radar Set], Lewis Stringer [Braun, Member of U-boat Crew], Frank Partington [Oberleutnant Otto von Holem], John G. Hiller [Oberleutnant Schwachofer], Stephen Thorne [U-boat Planesman], and Rudolph Offenbach [Müller, the Torpedo Petty Officer]. Other parts were played by members of the cast. Produced by Richard Imison. 90m. (notes on this play by Jim.....many thanks

page compiled by Nigel Deacon / Diversity website

Back to top

Radio Plays
Wine Making
Cosby Methodist Church
Gokart Racing
Links to other sites
Contact Us