A Bit of Explaining To Do. By Graham White. Mark realises that he has made a potentially embarrassing mistake – there is a difficult-to-explain entry on his wife’s credit card statement. He turns on the charm with a young woman, Jo, who works in a call centre, to see if she can make it disappear. But this is not just a domestic embarrassment for Mark – his wife Eve is a senior policewoman, very much in the public eye.
Bang Went the Sun. By Mark Shand. A play about synaesthesia – the mixing of senses. Eva’s mother has gone missing. But with her father sneezing in turquoise and acting high-pitched orange, can Eva and her father find each other, let alone their missing relative?
Apostle of Light. By John Pilkington. The life of Louis Braille, who was determined that he and the other blind children at their Parisian institution should cease to be social outcasts. The task of finding a form of writing easily comprehensible to the blind falls to young Louis, from Braille.
Buried. Steve Jacobi’s play tells the story of his friend Mark Higson, a civil servant who blew the whistle on the Iraqi arms scandal in 1989. A backdrop of news extracts from the period accompanies this study of a brilliant, but troubled man who lost everything when he acted on his conscience.
Chameleon. Comedy thriller by Vicky Meer. Mo is being relocated under a witness protection scheme, his previous identity totally eradicated. How will a Porsche-driving London drug dealer adapt to life as a vegetarian postman living in a former council semi in Gretna? Mo….Navin Chowdhry
Chameleon in Town. By Vicky Meer. The continuing adventures of witness protection couple Mo and Donna Marie.Mo is back from the dead, trying to stay out of trouble and build a life with Donna Marie, the woman he fell in love with in his previous witness protection incarnation. But the police require his testimony in another high profile case and the couple are embedded in the bustle of life in East London and the local mosque. Mo has never found it easy to keep a low profile, and when he takes on the gangster Simeon Gideon he puts himself and Donna Marie in grave danger.
Devil in a Blue Dress. By Walter Mosley. It was the summer of 1948, and Easy Rawlins was out of work and needed money urgently to pay his mortgage. Recently laid off from his job he is seeking work as an emergency raft designer, his trade, for Douglas Aircraft. Easy recounts how he moved to Los Angeles after serving in WWII when his friend Joppy, who runs a bar, introduces him to a white man named DeWitt Albright. Albright is looking for someone to help him find a missing white woman, Daphne Monet, assumed to be hiding somewhere in the black community.
Darger and the Detective. Written by Mike Walker and starring Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tracy Letts. A play drawing on the writings of reclusive artist Henry Darger, imagining his inner life. It focuses on two obsessions – of the hunter Detective and his prey, and two characters locked in a conflict that flickers between fantasy and the streets and which unfolds from 1910 to 1970. Recorded in Chicago by actors from the Steppenwolf Theatre Company.
Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. By Robert Louis Stevenson. When a London lawyer studies the last will of his old friend Dr Jekyll, his suspicions are aroused. Why has respectable Dr Jekyll left everything to sinister Edward Hyde?
Gandhi’s Goat. By Matthew Coombes. Gandhi and Charlie Chaplin meet in London’s East End in 1931. But the real cultural exchange is taking place between Anil and Emily, members of their respective entourages.
His Dark Materials is a trilogy of fantasy novels by Philip Pullman following two children, Lyra Belacqua and Will Parry, as they wander through a series of parallel universes against a backdrop of epic fantasy elements such as witches and armoured polar bears. The book alludes to a broad range of ideas from fields such as physics, philosophy, theology and spirituality.
Book One – Northern Lights. Lyra Belacqua, a young girl brought up in the cloistered world of Jordan College, Oxford, and her dæmon, Pantalaimon, learn of the existence of Dust, a strange elementary particle believed by the Magisterium to provide evidence for Original Sin. Dust appears less attracted to the innocence of children, and this gives rise to grisly experiments carried out on kidnapped children and their dæmons in the distant North by scientists of the Magisterium.
Book Two – The Subtle Knife. Lyra journeys through the Aurora to Cittàgazze, an otherworldly city whose denizens have discovered a clean path between worlds at a far earlier point in time than others in the storyline. Cittàgazze’s reckless use of the technology has released soul-eating Spectres, rendering much of the world incapable of transit by post-adolescents. Here Lyra meets Will Parry, a twelve-year-old boy from our world. Will, who recently killed a man to protect his ailing mother, has stumbled into Cittàgazze in an effort to locate his long-lost father. Will becomes the bearer of the eponymous Subtle Knife, a tool forged 300 years ago by Cittàgazze’s scientists from the same materials used to make Bolvangar’s silver guillotine. One edge of the knife can create portals between worlds and the other edge easily cuts through any form of matter. After meeting with witches from Lyra’s world, they journey on. Will finds his father, who had gone missing in Lyra’s world under the assumed name of Stanislaus Grumman.
Book Three – The Amber Spyglass. Will, Lyra, Tialys, and Salmakia journey to the Land of the Dead, temporarily parting with their dæmons to release the ghosts from their captivity imposed by the oppressive Authority. Mary Malone, a scientist originating from Will’s home world, interested in Dust (or Dark Matter/Shadows, as she knows them), travels to a land populated by strange sentient creatures called Mulefa. There she learns of the true nature of Dust, which is defined as panpsychic particles of self-awareness. Dust is both created by and nourishes life which has become self-aware.
The Hobbit (or There and Back Again). By J. R. R. Tolkien. Set in a time “Between the Dawn of Færie and the Dominion of Men”. The Hobbit follows the quest of home-loving Bilbo Baggins to win a share of the treasure guarded by the dragon, Smaug. Bilbo’s journey takes him from light-hearted, rural surroundings into darker, deeper territory. The story is told in the form of an episodic quest, and most chapters introduce a specific creature, or type of creature, of Tolkien’s Wilderland. By accepting the disreputable, romantic, fey and adventurous side of his nature (the “Tookish” side) and applying his wits and common sense, Bilbo develops a new level of maturity, competence and wisdom. The book was followed by the more famous ‘The Lord Of The Rings’. This recording is rather dated but well worth listening to.
The Lord of the Rings. The novel follows ‘The Hobbit’ and begins in the Shire, as Frodo Baggins inherits the Ring from Bilbo; both are unaware of its origins. Gandalf the Grey, a wizard, learns of the Ring’s history and advises Frodo to take the Ring away from the Shire. Frodo leaves, taking his gardener and friend, Samwise (“Sam”) Gamgee, and two cousins, Meriadoc (“Merry”) Brandybuck and Peregrin (“Pippin”) Took, to help him. The Lord of the Rings is the story of an epic struggle against the Dark Lord Sauron of Mordor, the primary villain of the work, who created a Ruling Ring to control the nineteen Rings of Power, and an alliance of heroes who join forces to save the world from falling under his shadow.
Available in 13 one-hour files or 3 four-hour files.
My House in Umbria. By William Trevor. Emily Delahunty is an eccentric British romance novelist who lives in Umbria in central Italy. One day while travelling, the train she is on is bombed by terrorists. After she wakes up in a hospital, she invites three of the other survivors of the disaster to stay at her Italian villa for recuperation. Of these are The General, a retired British Army veteran, Werner, a young German man, and Aimee, a young American girl who has now become mute after her parents were both killed in the explosion.
The Song Thief. Romantic drama by Michael Chaplin. A young composer arrives in Northumberland, looking for an old man reputed to have written a hauntingly beautiful love song. He embarks on a cold-hearted campaign to make the old man’s daughter fall in love with him.
Solo Behind the Iron Curtain. Tracy Spottiswoode’s thriller is based on real events in 1968. Actor Robert Vaughn, famous at the time as TV spy Napoleon Solo, is making a movie in Prague with several other Hollywood stars. Filming stops abruptly, however, when Russian tanks roll into Czechoslovakia. Cast and crew find themselves trapped. The Man from UNCLE must find a way to escape, and quickly.
Sunny Afternoon. By Doug Lucie. The normality of a sunny London afternoon is brutally shattered when a man is killed in the street. Testimonies from passers-by and residents who witnessed the event reveal the personal, unforeseen and lasting repercussions of such an incident. Their lives will never be the same again.
The Granny Killers. A black comedy by David Hodgson. Twins Chris and Liddy want to kill their granny, the shoulder-padded, high-heeled, money-crazed head of a property empire. But granny has other plans – she wants to kill her new husband on their wedding night.
The Importance of Being Earnest. Written just over 100 years ago, Oscar Wilde’s most famous play was described by its author as a trivial comedy for serious people’. It’s a mixture of the usual comic ploys of mistaken identity, thwarted romance, and a happy ending, but what makes this play a classic is Wilde’s epigrams, whizzing dialogue, and the monstrous character Lady Bracknell, played by Judi Dench.
The Windsor Jewels. Robin Glendinning’s black comedy tells the story of a real mystery. In 1946, the Duke of Windsor (formerly Edward VIII) and his wife (formerly Wallis Simpson) paid a visit to Britain, hoping to secure a government job for the Duke and a title for the Duchess. During the visit, the Duchess’ jewels, worth millions, were stolen. Conspiracy theories abounded. Was it an inside job by the Royal Family, or even an insurance fraud by the Duke and Duchess?
The Making of Ivan the Terrible. Black comedy by Hattie Naylor based on events in 1944. Sergei Eisenstein suffered a heart attack during a banquet to celebrate winning the prestigious Stalin Prize for his film Ivan the Terrible Part 1. Stalin had been delighted with the depiction of Ivan as a cruel and ruthless ruler. Earlier that day, however, Eisenstein had delivered Part 2 of his intended trilogy, in which Ivan was portrayed as neurotic, mad and vindictive.