Many thanks to Alan K, David H, Eddie C, Roger P, Peter P, Stephen B,Rosanna, Galadore and Jim D for contributions to this page.
The Far Pavilions. By M.M. Kaye. Set in the India of British Raj at the end of the 19th Century. After the death of his parents, young Ashton Pelham-Martyn is brought up as a Hindu in a remote corner of British India. As an adult soldier he returns to India, where his love for a princess and his dual heritage make for an epic story of adventure and romance.
Lady Chatterley’s Lover. By D H Lawrence. The story concerns a young married woman, Constance (Lady Chatterley), whose upper-class husband, Clifford Chatterley, has been paralyzed and rendered impotent. Her sexual frustration leads her into an affair with the gamekeeper, Oliver Mellors. This novel is about Constance’s realisation that she cannot live with the mind alone; she must also be alive physically. First published in 1928. The first edition was printed in Florence, Italy; it could not be published openly in the United Kingdom until 1960. (A private edition was issued by Inky Stephensen’s Mandrake Press in 1929.) The book soon became notorious for its story of the physical relationship between a working-class man and an aristocratic woman, its explicit descriptions of sex, and its use of (at the time) unprintable words.
M.Butterfly. By David Henry Hwang. Loosely based on true events the play concerns René Gallimard, a French diplomat assigned to Beijing, China in the 1960s. He becomes infatuated with a Chinese opera performer, Song Liling and the affair lasts for 20 years. Eventually, Gallimard betrays his country and is tried for treason, which forces him to face the truth about his relationship.
No Background Music. By Normi Noel. With Sigourney Weaver. A timely and compelling portrait of a former Vietnam triage nurse as she struggles with the flashback phantoms which disrupt her life and haunt her dreams.
The Murder of Sir Walter Raleigh. In 1615, King James I summoned Sir Walter Raleigh 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 Raleigh 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 Raleigh 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.
There Are Such Things. By Steven McNicoll and Mark McDonnell. This radio drama examines the life and career of cinema’s great horror actor, Bela Lugosi, set in the Classic Universal Pictures’ Horror era of the 1930s and 1940s. Performed as well as written by Steven McNicoll and Mark McDonnell, the play’s focus is on Lugosi’s well documented struggle to escape from the role that had typecast him. Once hailed as the ‘new king of horror’, but later eclipsed by Boris Karloff, tragic Lugosi suffers insecurity, ill-health, addiction and the indignity of a failing career, relentlessly haunted by the perverse entity of Dracula at his shoulder. The play went on to receive The Hamilton Dean award for best dramatic presentation from the Dracula Society in 2002. It is clear that for McNicoll and McDonnell, this is a work made with real love for the subject. For fans of Lugosi and the genre, the play is an unmissable gem.
England, Their England. By A. G. Macdonell. Set in 1920s England, the book is written as if a travel memoir by a young Scotsman who had been invalided away from the Western Front, “Donald Cameron”, whose father’s will forces him to reside in England. There he writes for a series of London newspapers, before being commissioned by a Welshman to write a book about the English from the view of a foreigner. Taking to the country and provincial cities, Donald spends his time doing research for a book on the English by consorting with journalists and minor poets, attending a country house weekend, serving as private secretary to a Member of Parliament, attending the League of Nations, and playing village cricket. The village cricket match is the most celebrated episode in the novel, and a reason cited for its enduring appeal. An important character is Mr Hodge; a caricature of Sir John Squire (poet and editor of the London Mercury) while the cricket team described in the book’s most famous chapter is a representation of Sir John’s Cricket Club – the Invalids – which survives today. The book ends in the ancient city of Winchester, where MacDonnell had gone to school.
Murder on the Home Front. By Molly Lefebure. Molly Lefebure was secretary to Keith Simpson, the pathologist, from 1940 to 1945, and in this book recounts some of the cases in which they were involved. These ranged from a woman found dead after a backstreet abortion, to a decomposed corpse found under flagstones.
Before the Screaming Begins. (A Trilogy) By Wally K Daly. Tom Harris’ wedding anniversary takes a dramatic turn when he’s abducted by aliens. This is the first part of a science fiction trilogy. Part two was entitled The Silent Scream. The Alien Controller orders the next phase of the global takeover to start. The third part was entitled With a Whimper to the Grave. Aliens are threatening Earth, but the British Government has a cunning plan.
The trilogy was originally erased by the BBC, as was custom in order to re-use tape and save money. The sound quality on these recordings is not perfect as they come from an off-air cassette recording thankfully made by Wally K. Daly.
Miss Mapp. By E. F Benson. Miss Mapp rules the small English village of Tilling. She sits at her window noting the comings and goings of her neighbours in order to manipulate village life to her own advantage.
Who Goes There? By John W Campbell. The story concerns an Antarctic expedition undertaken by 37 men who now reside in a camp that affords little privacy. It opens with the men of the team gathered to discuss an unusual find: a 3-eyed alien creature encased in a block of ice that was retrieved nearby where a space ship was also discovered beneath the ice. Despite some initial misgivings, the camp’s doctor, Blair, proceeds to thaw out the creature so that he may examine it.
The Steve Gallagher Trilogy.
The Steve Gallagher Trilogy is a group of three serials about the relationship between man and machine in a future where the lines dividing the two become increasingly, and more dangerously, blurred. Each segment of the trilogy contains its own storyline, though naturally it makes more sense as a whole. The series is not actually from the BBC, but a product of Piccadilly Radio out of Manchester, UK. Each story was recorded and then divided to fit the radio schedule. If you are like me, then you would rather hear each story in its entirety. I have, therefore, edited them together to avoid intro and outro interruptions without editing content other than catch up reminders. However, if again you are like me, and you would like to be sure that there is no content missing just contact me at the address in the right sidebar and I will upload the original unedited versions to you. The sound quality of this trilogy is acceptable (18kbps) but if you have files of a higher quality, please contact me.
The Last Rose of Summer (1978) is in the future where the world’s population resides entirely in the City, a megalopolis controlled down to the minutiae of everyday life by Central Command, a supercomputer. A lowly nobody by the name of Mitchell decides that this just won’t do. He embarks on a crusade to overthrow the system, hunted down by Randall, one of the hardcore ‘Elite’, enforcers trained since birth to serve the State.
Hunter’s Moon (1979) takes up with The Central Computer destroyed and society on the verge of collapse, only to be ‘saved’ by the advent of the Council, tyrants who have seized power in the vacuum. Randall, contaminated by his exposure to Mitchell, is packed off to a polar prison complex. Then a new threat emerges: an alien race arrives – the Wekk – who rape planets to build their Worldships. Having patterned Mitchell’s persona into a mechanical simulacrum, they begin building an army of simulacra to overwhelm the Earth. The Council has even sold out to the Wekk to save their own hides. Only Randall, Lobo – a fellow convict – and the Mitchell simulacra stand in their way.
The Babylon Run (1980) is set hundreds of years later, in a time when Man has spread out to the stars, a commercial charter makes a forced landing on the Babylon asteroid, a luxury resort for the super rich. Their ship damaged, they are dismayed to find the complex abandoned due to an incoming ‘something’ on a collision course. If that weren’t bad enough, there is mutiny brewing, and Babylon itself is not what it seems to be.
Orbit One Zero. By Peter Elliott Hayes. Orbit One Zero was a British science fiction radio drama, in six 30-minute parts. The plot involves the search for a source of gamma radiation in space and the discovery of a mysterious cylinder on a remote island. The cylinder quickly takes centre stage but a connection to the radiation source becomes important to the final resolution of the story.
The Stones of Muncaster Cathedral. By Robert Westall. Soon after steeplejack Joe Clarke begins work on one of the spires of Muncaster’s medieval cathedral, terrible things start to happen and Joe realizes that there is a malevolent force connected to the spire’s gargoyle.
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. By Tennessee Williams. An adaptation of Tennessee Williams’s classic 1950s drama set in the plantations of the American Deep South. Hypocrisy, greed and secret passions threaten to tear apart a dysfunctional family as they fight over a dying patriarch’s millions.
84 Charing Cross Road. By Helene Hanff. 84 Charing Cross Road is a series of letters charting the twenty-year correspondence between a would-be playwright in NY and Frank Doel, a London antiquarian bookseller. From such a modest premise, Helene Hanff has created something with an almost unique charm which continues to endure.
The Beast Must Die. By Nicholas Blake. “June 20 1937. I’m going to kill a man. I don’t know his name, I don’t know where he lives, I have no idea what he looks like – but I am going to find him, and kill him.” Frank Cairnes, a popular detective writer who now embarks on a real-life crime of his own, determined to hunt down the runaway motorist who killed his small son Martin.
The First Men in the Moon. By H.G Wells. Mr. Bedford is an English businessman with many financial problems. He is working on a play to bring in some money. He rents a small countryside house to get some peace while writing the play. However, every day a scientist passes by his house, making odd noises. After two weeks Bedford questions the scientist, Dr. Cavor, about his odd behaviour. It turns out that Cavor is developing a new material, cavorite, which is supposed to shield off gravity. As they discover when some is prematurely produced, cavorite shields the air above from Earth’s gravity, making that air weightless, and then shoots off into outer space by the pressure of the air below. Bedford tells Cavor of the financial possibilities of this. Cavorite is later used to build a small spherical spaceship, which they use to travel to and land on the Moon.
A Canticle for Leibowitz. By Walter Miller Jr. The atomic Flame Deluge was over. The earth was dead. All knowledge was gone. In a hellish, barren desert, a humble monk unearth a fragile link to a twentieth century civilization. A hand-written document from the Blessed Saint Leibowitz reads: Pound pastrami, can kraut, six bagels – bring home for Emma.
The Last of the Mohicans. By James Fenimore Cooper. The Last of the Mohicans takes place in 1757 during the French and Indian War and recounts the story of a an unarmed massacre, the kidnapping of two sisters, and their rescue by Hawk-eye and his two Mohican friends Uncas and Chingachook. The novel was quite popular when published (1826) and is still a staple in most American Literature courses.