Many thanks to Walter C for contributions to this page.
Orley Farm. By Anthony Trollope. Martyn Wade’s dramatisation of the novel by Anthony Trollope. Dockwrath, attorney by profession and a tenant of Orley Farm, is convinced that there are suspicious circumstances regarding the inheritance of the estate, and he is determined to prove it.
Incredibly Guilty. A Comic Moral Fable by Marcy Kahan. It’s an important day for Ed Hanson; he has to do two things, present a ‘vision statement’ to keep hold of his job and propose marriage to his girlfriend, Lucinda. What isn’t on Ed’s list of things to do is put Penhaligon Rhinehart, author, barrister, circus clown and National Treasure into a coma. Ed’s life will never be quite the same again.
Giovanni’s Room. James Baldwin’s classic novel in its world premiere radio production, set in Paris, 1954. When handsome blond American David meets the stunning Giovanni in a “bohemian” Parisian bar, he is swept into a passionate love affair. But David’s fiance, Hella, returns to Paris and, unable to admit the truth, David pretends the liaison never happened, with calamitous results for all three, especially for Giovanni, whose life descends into murderous tragedy.
The Great Gatsby. (R) By F Scott Fitzgerald. Jay Gatsby is the man who has everything. But one thing will always be out of his reach … Everybody who is anybody is seen at his glittering parties. Day and night his Long Island mansion buzzes with bright young things drinking, dancing and debating his mysterious character. For Gatsby – young, handsome, fabulously rich – always seems alone in the crowd, watching and waiting, though no one knows what for. Beneath the shimmering surface of his life he is hiding a secret: a silent longing that can never be fulfilled. And soon this destructive obsession will force his world to unravel.
The dramatised version of The Great Gatsby dramatised by Robert Forrest is also available.
The Prelude. By William Wordsworth. William Wordsworth’s autobiographical poem The Prelude is arguably the most important piece of poetic writing in our language. Recorded in Wordsworth’s home in Grasmere, Cumbria, Wordsworth looks back over events in his early life. Wordsworth believed that poetry should be written in the natural language of common speech, and in that way it was revolutionary in its time. Parts of the poem are famous, with lines quoted often such as the description of the young Wordsworth stealing a boat. Other parts are more introspective. The young poet leaves Grasmere to go to University in Cambridge, and is homesick. Wordsworth grapples with his political feelings – travelling to France at the time of the French revolution. He enjoys the hustle and bustle of London, and is euphoric when crossing the Alps. All the time this poem is accessible, bursting with colour and description, full of gripping storytelling. The Prelude is read by Sir Ian McKellen with specially composed music by John Harle, performed by John Harle on Saxophone and Neill MacColl on guitar.
La Princesse De Cleves. Madame de Lafayette’s classic tale of intrigue and love dramatised by Jo Clifford. Set in the 16th Century during the reign of Henri II, the play follows the life of a beautiful young Princes newly presented to Court. It’s a time of dangerous liaisons when one step out of line could ruin a woman and her family. Quickly married off, the naïve Princess finds herself admired and taunted by those around her. And, whilst they gossip cruelly, she becomes helplessly and dangerously caught up in matters of love. Playfully adapted, this radio dramatisation offsets the Princess’s painful conflict between duty and love with characters who delight in the wickedness of their world.
The Secret Garden. By Frances Hodgson Burnett. A beloved classic of children’s literature, The Secret Garden, tells an inspirational tale of transformation and empowerment. Mary Lennox, a sickly and contrary little girl, is orphaned to dim prospects in a gloomy English manor – her only friend is a bed-ridden boy named Colin whose prospects may be dimmer than hers. But when Mary finds the key to a Secret Garden, the magical powers of transformation fall within her reach.
Red Enters the Eye. By Jane Rogers. When idealistic young volunteer Julie sets off for Nigeria, she’s a bundle of nerves. Her project is to teach sewing skills to women in a refuge in Jos; but what if they don’t like her – or feel patronised by her attempts to teach them? Once Julie’s in Jos, her anxieties evaporate. Sewing class is a roaring success, and Julie’s only problems are the stupid caution and lack of enthusiasm of refuge director Fran, and the incomprehensible tensions surrounding the silent Muslim woman, Mathenneh. Inspired by a plan to help the women make money from their sewing, ready to really make a difference to their lives, Julie is on a roll…blithely unaware that there may be consequences, unimaginable and terrible, to her failure to play by Fran’s rules.
I, Claudius: Augustus. Young Claudius grows up in the turbulent household of Augustus, the first Roman Emperor, and Livia, the wife who matched his achievements with her ambition. The Imperial Couple disregard their young grandson as they inch towards absolute power. But that won’t save Claudius from heartbreak.
I, Claudius: Sejanus. As he struggles to keep his throne, the Emperor Tiberius finds his Commander of the Guard, Sejanus, an invaluable aide against treason. And Sejanus finds Claudius an unwilling collaborator in his rise to power.
Casanova in London. (R) From `History of My Life’ by Giacomo Casanova. Adapted by Penny Leicester and read by Jack Klaff. In the 1760s, an infamous Italian came visiting. In the 1760s, an infamous Italian came visiting,sought business, attended soirees, met women – but all would end in disaster.
Stranger In The Mirror. (R) Jane Shilling’s memoir, The Stranger in the Mirror, views life from the perspective of mid life. In exploring her past, Jane discovers similarities between middle age and adolescence. To her frustration she finds that there are no role models for her middle years that interest her, particularly as she sets out to create a new wardrobe on arriving at fifty. A failed love affair leads her to contemplate a different kind of future, and the precariousness of life as a freelance journalist is brought into stark relief by events beyond her control. Finally, she also reflects on the women who have influenced her from the previous generation, and discovers that while middle age seems to be a series of small losses, it is also about looking forward to the next part of the adventure.
Bad Memories. By Julian Simpson. In 2004, a successful architect and his family mysteriously disappear from their home. Six years later five bodies are found in the cellar of their house. They are identified as Jonathan and Imogen Blake and their son, Matthew; Philip Gibson, who was on the missing person’s register and a woman, identity unknown. Forensics determine that not only were they murdered, but the time of death was 1926. Can audio files found with the bodies solve the mystery?
The Sun Hasn’t Fallen from the Sky. (R) By Alison Gangel. Seven year old Ailsa Dunn’s Ma is prettier than all the other mothers and her Da is the most handsome man in the world but when alcohol intrudes unpredictability reigns and when the man with the briefcase comes to call she senses the family is in trouble. Maureen Beattie reads Alison Gangel’s vibrant memoir set in the Glasgow of the late 1960s.
The Invention of Murder. (R) “We are a trading community – a commercial people. Murder is, doubtless, a very shocking offence; nevertheless, as what is done is not to be undone, let us make our money out of it.” Punch, 1842. Over the course of the nineteenth century, murder – in reality a rarity – became ubiquitous: transformed into novels, into broadsides and ballads, into theatre and melodrama. Seeing therein the foundation of modern notions of crime, “The Invention of Murder” explores this fascination with deadly violence by relating some of the century’s most gripping and gruesome cases and the ways in which they were commercially exploited.
01. The Ratcliffe Highway murders of 1811 were particularly dreadful: two separate sets of killings in which seven people lost their lives. It was a case that shocked the nation – this was half as many people as had been murdered in the entire previous year throughout England and Wales – and forced the establishment to rethink the policing of major cities.
02. Despite rising crime figures – and increasingly crowded cities – the public were reluctant to accept the establishment of an organised police force. This episode examines the reasons for that unwillingness and offers a fascinating insight into the origins of modern policing. Why the public initially resisted an organised police force.
03. The decreasing age of the British population – in the 1820s half the country was under 25 – meant there was a lucrative market for lively entertainment. Children flocked to penny gaffs: unlicensed theatres which offered cheap entertainment, often dramatisations of notorious murders. One of the most infamous, the Red Barn Murder of 1828, was being performed as a melodrama even before the prime suspect was put on trial.
04. As the century progressed, so did advances in medical knowledge and expert witnesses were soon playing a major part in criminal trials. This episode looks at the sensational case of Adelaide Bartlett, who was accused of murdering her husband with chloroform in 1886. Newspapers and magazines pored over lurid details of the Bartletts’ marriage and the case was responsible for inspiring a rash of fiction.
05. The public imagination was particularly stirred when new technology was used to bring criminals to justice. This episode looks at one such case in which an enterprising railway clerk used the electric telegraph to send a description of a suspected murderer ahead of the train he was travelling on, so that the suspect could be met by police at his journey’s end. And, bringing us right up to the final years of the century, how the funeral of an acclaimed actor – and murder victim – was captured on film for posterity.