A Memory Longer Than Death. By John Naismith (aka Ronnie Smith). Billy Cassidy and Leroy Stone, former Army mates, made an enemy of Doc Quinn, a double-agent working for the IRA, when they served in Belfast. Cassidy and Stone went their separate ways but are reunited after their lives take very different turns. When Stone winds up dead, Cassidy needs to find out if it was Doc Quinn or the outcome of one of Stone’s shady deals. His search is complicated by Inspector Jago, another man who bears him a grudge ….
Miss Pearman Takes The Train. (R) By Christobel Kent, read by Anna Massey. Artemis Pearman is a spinster of a certain age, with a fondness for detective stories. Setting off on a weekend to Paris, reading Murder on the Orient Express and observing her fellow passengers, she lets her mind wander.
The Plymouth Express. (R) By Agatha Christie, read by Tim Pigott-smith. When a murdered woman’s body is found hidden in the first-class compartment of the Plymouth Express, Hercule Poirot is once more called to investigate a perplexing murder on a train.
Death By Elocution. (R) By Malcolm Pryce, read by Sandra Duncan. A strangely familiar collection of characters – Laura Jesson and Dr Harvey from Brief Encounter, Noel Coward, a soldier and a parson – find themselves on a train journey. Their conversation is interrupted by a hideous voice – then there’s a scream.
The Book Thief. (R) By Markus Zusak. Narrated by Death, The Book Thief is set in Nazi Germany (a period when the narrator notes he was extremely busy.) It describes a young girl’s relationship with her foster parents, Hans and Rosa, and the other residents of their neighborhood, and a Jewish fist-fighter who hides in her home during the escalation of World War II. Published in 2005, it has won numerous awards and has been listed on the New York Times Children’s Bestseller List for over 230 weeks
The Riverside Villas Murder. By Kingsley Amis. A classic armchair mystery, The Riverside Villas Murder has for its hero a 14-year-old boy, Peter Furneaux. Like all 14 year olds he is hovering hopefully on the brink between sexual inexperience and initiation, and in this book, under our very eyes, Peter suddenly becomes an adult. A crime, truly murderous, is committed by an unknown and almost unidentifiable assailant. Only Peter begins to guess at the truth–a dangerous truth–which leads him to the river bank by moonlight.
Kidnapped. By Robert Louis Stevenson. David Balfour, a lad of seventeen and newly orphaned, is directed to go and live with his rich uncle, the master of the estate of Shaws in the lowlands of Scotland near Edinburgh. His uncle, Ebenezer (as close a miser as Dickens’ Ebenezer Scrooge), is shocked to suddenly have his young relative descend on him and tries to rid himself of David with an arranged accident. Failing that, he pays the captain of a brig to kidnap David and sell him into slavery in Carolina.
There are 2 versions of this story in the collection:
v.1 2004 four part adaptation dramatised by Catherine Czerkawska.
v.2 2016 two part addaptation dramatised by Chris Dolan.
Terror in the South Seas: The Beach of Falesa. By Robert Louis Stevenson. The first of two dramatisations of Robert Louis Stevenson’s gripping novellas set in Samoa and written while he lived there. David Tennant stars as Wiltshire, a trader freshly arrived on a Samoan Island. He marries a native girl, only to find himself tabooed by the rest of the inhabitants. At the height of his powers, Stevenson tackled the most pressing theme on the islands – the vicious effects of colonialism including slavery, racism, sexual exploitation and the conflict between traditional and modern values. The subjects are as vivid today as in 1894 and these compelling and violent stories feature some of the most driven, dangerous and obsessive characters in fiction. Joseph Conrad drew on these novellas for Heart of Darkness.
Terror in the South Seas: The Ebb Tide. By Robert Louis Stevenson. The second of two dramatisations of Robert Louis Stevenson’s gripping novellas set in Samoa and written while he lived there. Starring David Tennant. Three destitute men steal a schooner. They drink the cargo of champagne and try to steal a treasure trove of pearls from a local slave-owning trader. At the height of his powers, Stevenson tackled the most pressing theme on the islands – the vicious effects of colonialism including slavery, racism, sexual exploitation and the conflict between traditional and modern values. The subjects are as vivid today as in 1894 and these compelling and violent stories feature some of the most driven, dangerous and obsessive characters in fiction. Joseph Conrad drew on these novellas for Heart of Darkness.
Bad by Default. Comedy by Leah Chillery. Tanya disappears with her mother’s credit card to Jamaica to find her father, the man her mother said abandoned them. But when she finds her dad, he is about to marry his sweetheart, and although he is pleased to see Tanya, he is reluctant to give answers for his parental absence.
Carbon Cleansing. By Sophie Woolley. When ex-banker Tabitha knocks ‘green’ activist Will off his bicycle with her ‘Chelsea Tractor’, two worlds literally collide. A tale of ecological responsibility, guilt and grimy hot tubs.
Confessions of an English Opium-eater. Dramatisation of Thomas De Quincey’s 1821 autobiographical account of his consumption of the liquid opiate laudanum, a legal painkiller of the time, and his painful and surreal descent into addiction.
Deep Cut. Adaptation by Philip Ralph of his own stage play about the four deaths at Deepcut army barracks and the subsequent judicial review in 2006. The play draws on public documents and verbatim records. The words and memories of the parents of one of the recruits, Private Cheryl Jones, and those associated with her, are interwoven with those of Nicholas Blake QC, who led the review, and some of the people who independently investigated Cheryl’s death.
Family Soup. Comedy by Elizabeth Lewis. Charlie’s ability to write his weekly family newspaper column is sorely tested when his family decamp to Italy, leaving him with a hyperactive father-in-law and a tame rat.
Faust. Version by Johann Wolfgang Goethe, translated by John R. Williams. Goethe’s Faust, one of the pillars of Western literature, is presented in a dramatisation by David Timson. In Part 1, following an agreement between Mephistopheles and The Lord, the scholar Faust is tempted into a contract with the Devil. His life is changed and he plunges into the enjoyment of sensuality until his emotions are stirred by a meeting with Gretchen, leading to a tragic outcome.
Part 2, written much later in Goethe’s life, presents a series of episodic scenes in which the poet places his eponymous hero in a variety of surprising circumstances reflecting the predicament of humanity. Funny, reflective and moving, this dramatisation shows why Goethe’s Faust had such a massive influence on Western culture. With introduction by director David Timson.
Harry in the Underworld. By Michael Butt. Richard E Grant plays Harry, a novelist who writes large letters on the tree of life. Sadly, no-one’s buying his tree any more. Harry knows nothing about life itself, and needs to get in touch with the real world if his books are to sell. Then his luck changes, into his flat walk two actual hardened criminals. More Michael Butt in the Authors Page.
More Michael Butt on the Michael Butt Page.
Hitched. By Doug Lucie. As Emma and Richard’s wedding day approaches it’s time for their families to finally meet. This is their wedding day from the viewpoints of their respective families. The dress – the food – the speeches – the music. Who wore what, who said what, what cost what; the secrets, the lies, the smiles and the tears. From the pen of acclaimed dramatist Doug Lucie, this is one wedding you won’t want to miss! Emma and Richard have done their best to keep their respective families apart, but as their wedding day approaches it is time for the in-laws-to-be to finally meet. But how will Emma’s atheist father Max and ‘slightly too fond of the grape’ mother Ellie (divorced, not exactly amicably!) get along with Richard’s bullish and opinionated father Barry and rather put upon mother Jenny? With Emma’s grandfather Chas and Richard’s grandmother Ruby both along for the ride, the stage is set for a fiery clash of personalities – and that’s before we even get to the reception!
Jane and Prudence. (R) Jennie Howarth’s dramatisation of Barbara Pym’s delightful comedy of rural relationships, set in 1950, about two women in pursuit of happiness. When Jane’s husband is moved to a new parish, she hopes to make a better fist of being a vicar’s wife. But her efforts are undermined by her habit of speaking her mind and her academic bent, although these don’t prevent her from seeking a match for her ex-pupil Prudence.
Listen to the Words. By Ed Hime. Tim has a problem with empathy, and justifies tapping fellow student Sophie’s phone as the only way to understand her. When it all goes wrong, he books the media room of the secure unit where he is being held and creates a broadcast for his college radio station.
The School for Scandal. By Richard Brinsley Sheridan. A School for Scandal was produced at Drury Lane Theater, London, May 8, 1777. Sheridan’s phrase “school for scandal” is a grand metaphor for the gossipy London society of the late 1770’s, and the longevity of the play that bears it as its title attests to its relevance in any place and time. Sheridan captures the inherent drama and humour in the truism that people are always talking about other people behind their backs and uses it as a foundation on which to devise a plot of intrigue. Often referred to as a “comedy of manners”, “The School for Scandal” is one Sheridan’s most performed plays and a classic of English comedic drama.
Solar. (R) Hugh Bonneville reads from Ian McEwan’s novel. Michael Beard is a Nobel Prize-winning physicist whose best work is behind him, and now finds that his fifth marriage floundering. But this time it is different: she is having the affair, and he is still in love with her.
The Changeling. Thomas Middleton and William Rowley’s Jacobean classic, set in Alicante, Spain, in the 1920s. Beatrice-Joanna is due to marry Alonzo e Piracquo, until she falls in love with Alsemero and seeks the help of her father’s man, De Flores.
The Glass Man. By Martin Sorrell. A powerful drama documentary about a young man who believes his body is turning to glass. When student Tim learns suddenly that he is adopted, his life seems to fall apart – and he develops what was once known as the Glass Delusion, a state of profound anxiety now associated with severe depression. His journey into despair, and his family’s attempts to help him, are woven through with interviews and music.