Many thanks to Peter P and Walter C for contributions to this page.
Captain Nolan’s Chance. By Kingsley Amis. Captain Louis Edward Nolan, 15th Hussars, was a gifted cavalry officer whose influence on his profession long outlasted his own tragically short life. He is now most famous for the controversial circumstances of his death, aged 36, at Balaklava. However, his life deserves to be better remembered. In background and training he was not typical of the officer-class of his time, and his achievements in so short a life were remarkable.
More information on Louis Edward Nolan http://www.silverwhistle.co.uk/crimea/louisnolan.html
Buffalo Bill and Little Matty Dyer. By Peter Spafford. 1903 Cardigan Fields, Leeds. Buffalo Bill, slayer of the Lacota, the most famous American in the world, disembarks at Armley station with his Wild West show. They will stay in Leeds just five days, but that is long enough to change the life of 15-year-old Matty Dyer.
An Urnful of Ashes. By Rukshana Ahmed. India, 1992. Against the backdrop of the Barbri Mosque riots, the search for a lost friend leads Rozina to a storyteller in a street festival and an encounter with the stately world of 16th century mogul India.
The Six Loves of Billy Binns. By Richard Lumsden. Tom Courtenay stars as a 110-year-old who wants to remember what love feels like one last time before he dies. His past loves are ready to remind him.
The Heart of Midlothian. Gerda Stevenson’s dramatisation of Walter Scott’s classic tale of political revolt set in Edinburgh in 1737. When a smuggler is executed, a mob storms the Tolbooth Prison where young Effie Deans awaits trial for murder.
The Mouse that Roared. Mark McDonnell and Steven Mcnicoll’s dramatisation of Leonard Wibberley’s famous comic novel. It is 1956, and the Cold War is at its chilliest. But one European country is blissfully detached from the struggles of the Super Powers. The Duchy of Grand Fenwick and is just five miles long and three miles wide. Under the benign rule of Grand Duchess Gloriana it is a rural idyll almost untouched by the twentieth century, and happy to remain so. But its economy is entirely dependent on the export of a famously exquisite wine. So when this vital trade is threatened by an unscrupulous foreign rival, it’s time for action. Gloriana – a wise head on young shoulders – proposes a solution long recognised as acceptable to all nations – that is, to declare war on their much richer enemy, lose, then sit back and wait for the inevitable billions in post-war aid to roll in. So, led by the valiant Tully Bascomb, the twenty men-at-arms that make up the army of Grand Fenwick strap on their chain mail, dust off their longbows, and set sail to wage a deliberately hopeless war on… the United States of America. The only problem is that no one has told Tully that he’s meant to lose – and as a result of his remarkable escapades, Gloriana bizarrely finds herself the most powerful political leader in Europe… Leonard Wibberley (1915-1983) was a prolific author and journalist. He wrote over fifty books for children, and several historical novels. But he is best remembered for The Mouse That Roared, first serialised in the Saturday Evening Post in 1954. By Leonard Wibberley.
The Jubilee Singers. Writer Adrian Mitchell’s drama about the extraordinary Jubilee Singers of Fisk University, Tennessee, who in the years immediately after slavery brought their great Sorrow Songs from the plantations to Europe. The late Adrian Mitchell, who died suddenly last year, was a much loved and revered poet, playwright and human rights campaigner. He was inspired to write this musical play by the true story of the Welsh journalist who toured with the black American Jubilee singers in their first European tour in the late nineteenth century. The singers enchanted Queen Victoria and Gladstone, and Swing Low Sweet Chariot was heard in England for the first time when they sang it to packed concert halls throughout the country. Mitchell’s play was conceived for the theatre but it has not yet had a stage production; this is its première; adapted for radio under the guidance of Adrian’s widow Celia Mitchell. The play stars a London Black gospel choir, with Musical directors Felix Cross and Allyson Devenish and a stellar black cast; Adjoa Andoh, Felix Dexter, Bonnie Greer, Nadine Marshall, Alibe Parsons, Clive Rowe and Ray Shell are joined by Jonathan Pryce who plays the Welsh journalist captivated by a completely new kind of song. He hears each singer’s own story and begins to be entranced by one of them in particular, though their love appears to have no future, developing as it does under the shadow of war in Europe, and the inevitable barriers which nineteenth century culture placed between men and women of different race.
The Indian in the Cupboard. By Lynne Reid Banks. Eleven year old Omri isn’t very impressed with the rubbish birthday present from his friend Patrick, a plastic Native American Indian figure. But he’s delighted with the old bathroom cupboard given him by his elder brothers Adiel and Gillon. That night Omri puts the Indian in the cupboard for safe keeping, and locks the door. In the morning he’s woken by noises from inside the cupboard – and opening the door, finds the Indian has come to life, and his name is Little Bull. Which is all very exciting, but now he has to find a way of looking after a real human being who, although he is only 3 inches tall, needs to be fed, and wants a horse, and a wife. And when Patrick finds out, it becomes very difficult indeed. Written by Lynne Reid Banks (who also wrote The L Shaped Room), she brings to it all the seriousness and humanity – and humour – of her adult fiction. And like that other story of little people, The Borrowers, this story explores human nature and real moral and ethical issues as Omri realises the power he has over Little Bull.
The L-Shaped Room. By Lynne Reid Banks. First published in 1960, Lynne Reid Banks’ tale of a young woman, Jane Graham, who is pregnant and unmarried and has been thrown out of her father’s home, seems like a relic from an unrecognisable age, when landlords could hang up signs saying “No blacks, no Irish”, and women could be sacked from their jobs for having a baby. Jane finds herself in a bug-infested flat in Fulham but soon makes friends with the black jazz player next door, and falls in love with the Jewish writer in the room below. All outsiders for reasons of race, gender or class, and thrown together by a narrow-minded society, they bond and care for one another, until, of course, respectability comes calling, to forgive them and give them another chance. This is an angry tale in many ways, with an inextinguishable fire of authenticity. Reid Banks’ journalistic style, as well as her eye for detail, is perfectly suited to the theme, and a documentary feel rather than a poetic register strengthens the impact of her message.
Black Narcissus. By Rumer Goddens. In the days when it was the General’s harem’ palace, ladies with their retinues and rich clothes could be seen walking on the high windy terraces. At night, music floated out over villages and gorges far into the early hours. Now the General’s son has bestowed it upon the disciplined Sisters of Mary. Beginning work in the orchards and opening a school and a dispensary for the mountain people, the small band of Sisters are depended for help on the English agent, Mr Dean. But his charm and insolent candour are disconcerting. When he says bluntly This is no place for a nunnery’, it is as if he already knows their destiny …Black Narcissus …bears comparison with A Passage to India ‘ Arthur Koestler. A very remarkable novel indeed. One in a thousand’ Observer. ‘The writing is lovely, subtle, gentle, humorous and apprehensive’ Hugh Walpole.’ A genius for storytelling’ Evening Standard.
Eye of the Cricket. (R) By James Sallis. Lew Griffin is a survivor, a black man in New Orleans, a detective, a teacher, a writer. And he is a man subject to all of the frailties to which we are heir. Having spent years finding others, he has lost his son…and himself in the process. Now a derelict has appeared in a New Orleans hospital claiming to be Lewis Griffin and displaying a copy of one of Lew’s novels. It is the beginning of a quest that will take Griffin into his own past while he tries to deal in the present with a search for three missing young men. Somewhere in the underbelly of the Crescent City, there are answers and more questions; there are threats and the promise of salvation; and there is a dangerous descent into the alcoholic haze that marked Griffin’s younger days as well as the possibility of rising from it, redeemed. Lew Griffin’s investigation is the hero’s journey, mythic and strengthening and thoroughly satisfying.
Forty-Three Fifty-Nine is an occasional series of dramas inspired by real events. Each story follows just one person’s perspective in a seemingly continuous take, contained within 43 minutes and 59 seconds – the length of the transmission slot.
Forty-Three Fifty-Nine. Petrovich. By Mike Walker and John Dryden. Former FSB agent Dmitri Petrovich, now a dissident living in London, thinks someone is trying to assassinate him. As he races across London with his young daughter in an attempt to evade his pursuers, he is unaware that his fate is sealed and that he is living the final forty-three minutes and fifty-nine seconds of his life.
Forty-Three Fifty-Nine: Yara. By Mike Walker and John Dryden. Yara, a young woman apparently on the run from a sex trafficking ring, is hit by a car. The driver, Grant, a talkative, middle-aged city worker, late for a meeting, offers to help her escape. As they drive – and then run – through London and her pursuers close in, her true (and deadly) intentions become shockingly clear.
Forty-Three Fifty-Nine. Assassins. By John Dryden and Mike Walker.Henry, a professional killer, is sent to Hastings to assassinate a hedge fund manager. He has brought his daughter Cathy along, who he hopes will one day take over the family business. But all is not right in Henry’s mind, and what should be a routine job begins to spiral out of control.
Forty-Nine Fifty-Nine. Wake. By Katie Hims. The story of Jess’ day trip to kiss her dead first love, Danny, goodbye. One lie leads to another and, before they know it, Jess and her mother Avril are in a real pickle.
Find more Katie Hims on the Katie Hims Page.
Forty-Three Fifty-Nine. Sky High. By Guy Meredith. The clock is ticking away in this cat and mouse game of twists, turns and subterfuge by Guy Meredith. It is the early hours of a new day and in a tall office block in London there is a woman working. She thinks she is alone but then she hears the lift doors open ….
The Believers. Comedy drama by acclaimed screenwriter Frank Cottrell Boyce. Liverpool, 1963. The Merseybeat boom is about to take off. And with it, The Believers, a Christian pop band determined to spread the Word. If only they were all singing from the same hymn sheet.
Scream. By Boz Temple-Morris and Kris Hollington. Scream is a crime caper based on the extraordinary story behind the theft of Edvard Munch’s expressionist masterpiece from an Oslo museum in 2004. Oslo police are closing in on David Toska, the criminal mastermind behind an audacious cash robbery when two incompetent thieves burst into the Munch Museum in broad daylight and ask for directions to Norway’s most famous painting. Amazingly, they emerge with two priceless paintings, The Scream and The Madonna. Norway’s no.1 detective is pulled off the hunt for Toska and sent after the paintings. So begins a high profile and often bizarre game of cat and mouse as police attempt to track down these national treasures and arrest those behind the robbery. But things don’t run smoothly for robbers or the police as both begin to adopt increasingly unconventional tactics. The play was written and directed by Boz Temple-Morris, in collaboration with investigative journalist Kris Hollington, and recorded entirely on location in Olso with many of Norway’s leading actors. The exact circumstances of the recovery of the paintings have been shrouded in mystery since 2004 though new evidence has now emerged about the dealings between the police and their most wanted man.
The Seagull. By Anton Chekhov. Siobhan Redmond and Paul Higgins head a cast of leading Scottish actors in this new production of Chekhov’s classic drama. In part a tragic play about eternally unhappy people, Chekhov has always surprised his audiences by viewing it as a comedy, poking fun at human folly. All the characters are dissatisfied with their lives. Some desire love. Some yearn for success. Some crave artistic genius. But no one ever seems to attain happiness. When famous actress Irina Arkadina arrives to spend the summer on her brother Sorin’s country estate, tempers inevitably get frayed. Adapted for radio by Stuart Paterson from the first ever English translation by George Calderon.
There are 2 versions of this story on this page:
v.1 1993 adaptation by Martyn Wade.
v.2 2010 adaptation by Stuart Patterson.
Find more Anton Chekhov on the Anton Chekhov Page.
Amazonia. By Garry Lyons. Years before he found fame with ‘Swallows and Amazons’, Arthur Ransome was swept up in the dramatic events of the Russian Revolution, living a dangerous double life as a journalist and agent for both the Bolsheviks and the Foreign Office. War, revolution, espionage and romance feature in this biographical portrait of one of our best-loved children’s authors.
Find Swallows and Amazons on Drama Page 08.
Last Family Standing. Paul Watson’s play Last Family Standing” is set in 1946 though many listeners might think it today. Britain, newly emerged from the shadow of war is in a time of austerity. Five million victorious men and women have returned from the war effort to a peacetime of few jobs. Money, food and decent housing are also scarce. The Government has failed to stem accumulating social problems. The jubilation of VE day has evaporated. Life is difficult. The party is over. Today, 2010, we are told our economic output is falling. The nation is suffering the worst contraction of GDP since 1946. Politicians wave their hands and offer excuses. Bankers sit in isolated splendour seemingly impervious to social need. And the people wait! Like our grandparents who waited for the tank and munitions factories to re-adjust to the needs of peace, to the building of cars, kettles and cookers, we all again wait, as unemployment and its consequence affect the finance of home life. Paul Watson’s play is the account of one waiting family in 1946, the Truscott family. Charles, Marjorie and their grown-up children’s struggle to survive “at any cost” brings tragic consequence as remembered by the only surviving family member, Dorothy.
Funeral Games. By Joe Orton. Orton’s black comedy on the subject of religious hypocrisy helped create the climate of change that would end the power of the official censor over British theatre productions.
Albert Speer’s Walk Around the World. By Michael Butt. Patrick Malahide stars as Albert Speer or Prisoner Number Five, as he was known throughout his twenty years in Spandau Prison. Michael Butt’s play takes us on the imaginary journeys Speer devised to engage his mind and keep him from despair. A sympathetic American guard orders him travel books from the library and he plots his routes methodically. But he can’t escape from the demons of guilt about Nazi war crimes. Sometimes the scenes he witnesses on his trips are exhilarating; sometimes the people are seductive but sometimes he is glad to be disturbed by the prison guard yelling for him to get back into his tiny cell where he is forbidden to look out of the window. Of the other six inmates, he is closest to Rudolf Hess (Jack Klaff) who he sees as vulnerable and wants to protect, whereas Admiral Karl Donitz (Nicholas Woodeson) constantly baits him and tries to pull rank with him. Donitz can’t forgive Speer for his admission of guilt at the Nuremberg Trials. Speer was Hitler’s chief architect and his very efficient Minister for Armaments and War Production. In prison, he is rigorously self-disciplined and sets himself a tough regimen. Prison rules are strict but even as they relax and prisoners start to talk to each other, Speer keeps aloof. To distract himself nine years into his sentence, he designs and creates a garden in the spacious yard of Spandau and is particularly fond of his rockery and flowers. As an architect, he enjoys working out how the great buildings he visits were created and planning his routes so that he when he sets off, he will see and hear and meet the people he has carefully researched. However thoughts come unbidden and there is one judgemental voice in his head that travels everywhere with him.
Find more Michael Butt on the Michael Butt Page.
A Man in Pieces. By Michael Symmons. Roberts Conor volunteers to test a new medical sonic scanner which records the sounds inside the body. From this recording an analysis of the patients health is drawn. The Goldberg Scanner could revolutionise medical science but no-one knows what effect the scanner has on human health. Conor finds himself a prisoner in a secure research facility, brought back day after day to spend another hour in this massive dark metal tunnel. He gradually realises that he’s being mapped, being searched so deeply that he feels he’s losing his identity and being taken over by a Doppleganger released when he enters the scanner. This is essentially a play about what it means to know your own body, and how medical technology is changing the way we know ourselves. Full of wonder, but terror too, because the play also raises the question how much knowledge of ourselves can we bear? Scientists who are developing this new technology here are motivated not by commercial greed but by the founding principle of science – the desire to know, to understand. The idea is based on a true story – that a death row prisoner was used to test the latest generation of cross-section medical scanners, and his multi-sliced body was digitised and made available to medics across the world.
Picnic at Hanging Rock. By Joan Lindsay. Picnic at Hanging Rock is a classic mystery, made famous by Peter Weir’s 1970s film. This new interpretation goes back to the original story, recreating the strong underlying sense of horror and supernatural that resonate in Joan Lindsay’s novel. Starring Penny Downie, Fenella Woolgar and Simon Burke, this radio version features music from award winning composer and producer Jon Rose. On St Valentines day, 1900, a party of schoolgirls and two governesses set off for a treat; a picnic at the geological marvel, the Hanging Rock. During the course of the afternoon, three girls and one governess disappear with out a trace.