Many thanks to Dick L for contributions to this page.
Ob’owa. Created by Director, Christiana Ebohon and Writer, Moya O’Shea. Ob’owa is the story of when eight-year-old Francesca and her brother six-year-old Joseph are kidnapped by their father to their parents’ homeland of Nigeria, life is very different to they one they had in Peckham. Thirty years later, it’s time to return to Nigeria. As Francesca reveals the story of their kidnap and life at their Grandfather’s house in Benin City with his three wives and his many children, it’s clear many adjustments had to be made to survive in a world where everyone looks like you but are so very foreign. Peckham could not have prepared the children for the mosquitoes, lizards and sweltering heat of sub-Saharan Africa; the slaughter of animals in the backyard; a diet consisting of yam, yam and more yam and the painful ritual of tribal markings carved with a razor blade into young flesh. Ob’owa is inspired by real events.
The Stalingrad Kiss. By Sebastian Baczkiewicz. Eyewitness to the Battle of Stalingrad, Vassily Grossman was loved by the front line soldiers for his vivid portrayal of their struggle. But twenty years later his great war novel Life and Fate, was banned by the KGB. It would never see print in his lifetime.
A Higher Education. A comedy by Lloyd Peters set in a university drama department. A drama lecturer locked in a studio, a shy student, a real gun and a copy of `Hamlet’ are just some of the ingredients that guarantee one head of department a particularly awful day.
Moby Dick. By Herman Melville. Moby Dick is considered to be one of the Great American Novels and a treasure of world literature. The story tells the adventures of wandering sailor Ishmael, and his voyage on the whaleship Pequod, commanded by Captain Ahab. Ishmael soon learns that Ahab has one purpose on this voyage: to seek out Moby Dick, a ferocious, enigmatic white sperm whale. In a previous encounter, the whale destroyed Ahab’s boat and bit off his leg, which now drives Ahab to take revenge.
Two versions of this classic are available.
V1. Stef Penney, author of the critically acclaimed The Tenderness of Wolves, has adapted this well known American novel by Herman Melville. Moby Dick is a story, she says, that gets its hooks into you, even though it’s one of the strangest books you’ll ever read. It has very little narrative, no character development to speak of, and there’s no dramatic conflict for over five hundred pages. And yet it’s completely compelling, like a fevered dream or a horror film, and, of course, as soon as Moby Dick is mentioned, you know where you’re going to end up. For anyone who has ever longed to escape, it is the ultimate trip – and the ultimate morality tale of why you shouldn’t go! Captain Ahab is all our darknesses personified; not an evil figure, but a decent, intelligent, could-have-been-ordinary man who gives in to the tyranny of an obsessive dream, or in this case, nightmare. In two episodes.
V2. Oscar-winning actor F Murray Abraham stars in David Zane Mairowitz’s adaptation of Herman Melville’s novel. In 3 parts or a single 2hr 45min episode.
Payback. By Jonathan Myerson. 6th October 1973. Golda Meir has become Prime Minister of Israel in her seventies. Syrian and Egyptian troops are massing on Israel’s borders, but despite eleven warnings of impending war in the past month, the Israeli cabinet have not called up the reserve. In Florida, Richard Nixon awaits the final verdict of the Washington Appeal court on his objections to surrendering the Watergate Tapes. In New York, Henry Kissinger is about to be woken at his room in the Waldorf Astoria, with news of a new Middle East War. Jonathan Myerson’s play investigates how domestic and international politics were about to combine, to change the Middle East forever.
The Golden Age. By Kenneth Grahame Dramatised by Martyn Wade The lives of five orphans growing up in the idyllic English countryside, looked after by assorted aunts and uncles, are filled with fun and games as they transform their toys and surroundings into many magical fantasies and adventures. But the time will come when the toys will be sent away, and the dreaded threat of boarding-school looms to put an end forever to the innocent pleasures of childhood.
Vent. By Nigel Smith. Ben has survived a crippling brain lesion, but he won’t engage with the world around him, preferring to stay safely in his own fantasy world. A funny and moving drama about not being dead.
The comedy series of Vent is available on the Comedy Pages.
Disconnected. By Richard Monks. This is the heartbreaking story of Ray’s fight for the right to see his granddaughter, Ellie, after his son and the girl’s mother, Rachel, separate. When Rachel takes custody of Ellie, Ray is denied access. He has done nothing wrong but he soon learns that he has no legal right to see his granddaughter. What’s more, there is precious little in the way of support for people in his situation. When Ray’s son is killed in an accident and his ex-wife goes off the rails, Ray’s struggle becomes even more urgent. His granddaughter needs him. And then Ray discovers that he is not alone. Britain is a country with one of the highest rates of divorce, and the highest rate of teenage pregnancy, in Europe. Yet it’s institutions, it’s laws, are founded on an ever less common model of how the contemporary family is constituted. Children’s primary carers may still be mothers and fathers, but with the rise in broken marriages and single-parenthood, there is an increasing reliance on atomised extended families – grandparents, aunts, uncles, older siblings – as carers. Yet these people, who can form deep bonds with the children they look after, have no legal status should things go wrong. Over the course of five episodes, it becomes clear that this issue is not black and white – there are no simple solutions. ‘Disconnected’ explores this complex dilemma in its most immediate and most moving form as it follows a sympathetic protagonist battling against a system seemingly devoid of feeling.
Village SOS. By Val McDermid. DCI Marion Bettany and DS John Hodgson investigate a murder in the sleepy Northumbrian village of Shilwick. They love their work, they enjoy each other’s company and like nothing better than investigating a new crime. The only thing that makes life difficult is dealing with the public. Take the residents of the former mining community of Shilwick, for example.
The Waves. By Virginia Woolf. The Waves is an astonishingly beautiful and poetic novel. It begins with six children playing in a garden by the sea and follows their lives as they grow up and experience friendship, love and grief at the death of their beloved friend Percival. Regarded by many as her greatest work, The Waves is also seen as Virginia Woolf’s response to the loss of her brother Thoby, who died when he was twenty-six.
Flush. (R) By Virginia Woolf. Virginia Woolf’s delightfully whimsical biography of the Victorian poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s beloved spaniel, Flush, is read by Jenny Coverack. Flush was given to Miss Barrett by a family friend, and the young spaniel very quickly became the poet’s devoted companion and constant atttendant at her bedside in her father’s house in Wimpole Street. In this first episode, Flush must learn to forget his early life in the country, and become used to days spent in an invalid’s bedroom.
To The Lighthouse. By Virginia Woolf. Virginia Woolf’s landmark modernist novel based on her own early experiences and published 1927 is dramatised by Linda Marshall Griffiths. Intensely personal and profoundly universal; a moving portrait of family life that captures the transience of human experience. Just before the First World War, Mr and Mrs Ramsay, their eight children and an array of guests are on the Isle of Skye for the summer. Despite Mr Ramsay’s prediction of bad weather, Young James is determined to get to the Lighthouse.
Night and Day. By Virginia Woolf. In Night and Day, Virginia Woolf portrays her elder sister Vanessa in the person of Katharine Hilbery – the gifted daughter of a distinguished literary family, trapped in an environment which will not allow her to express herself. Looking at questions raised by love and marriage, Night and Day paints an unforgettable picture of the London intelligensia before the First World War, with psychological insight, compassion and humour.
Orlando. By Virginia Woolf. As his tale begins, Orlando is a passionate young nobleman whose days are spent in rowdy revelry, filled with the colourful delights of Queen Elizabeth’s court. By the close, he will have transformed into a modern, thirty-six-year-old woman and three centuries will have passed. Orlando will not only witness the making of history from its edge, but will find that his unique position as a woman who knows what it is to be a man will give him insight into matters of the heart.
Mrs Dalloway. By Virginia Woolf. Dramatised by Michelene Wandor. Virginia Woolf’s classic novel set on a single day in June. Lives interweave on the streets of London as Clarissa Dalloway makes her final preparations for an important party.
Mrs Dalloway’s Party. By Virginia Woolf. Virginia Woolf’s forgotten short story sequence, written around the same time as her famous novel Mrs Dalloway. These short stories show the author’s fascination with parties and with all the excitement, the fluctuations of mood and temper and the heightened emotions which surround these social occasions. Mrs Dalloway’s Party is enchanting piece of work by one of our most acclaimed twentieth-century writers.
Perpetual Light. By Melissa Murray. When William Hellier dies, his wife creates an avatar of him and has it uploaded onto a cyberspace memorial site. But is he software? Or is his soul trapped in the machine?
Possession. By A S Byatt. Research assistant Roland Michell finds some letters that could change literary history. Roland Michell, an academic research assistant, is completing some work in the London Library, when he comes across two unfinished letters written by the Victorian Poet, Randolph Henry Ash. These letters have obviously not been found by anyone else and they are not to his wife but to an unknown woman. Roland, whose entire academic life has been devoted to studying Ash, decides, recklessly to pocket the letters and try to determine exactly who they were written to. This is the beginning of a quest that will change literary history and with the help of a feminist literary scholar Maud Bailey, they are determined to find out the truth behind these letters. Certain other characters hear about the letters and are eager to get their hands on them for their own financial gain and will do so, by any means necessary, and so the chase begins.
Publish and Be Damn’d the Memoirs of Harriette Wilson. Adapted by Ellen Dryden. Most people know two things about Harriette Wilson, one of which is untrue. She is rightly famous for that most tantalising of opening sentences: ‘I shall not say why and how I became, at the age of 15, the mistress of the Earl of Craven.’ With it she ushered in her Memoirs, published in 1825 as a frankly commercial venture. As well as making money in the usual way from the sales of what she wrote, she was willing and indeed anxious to take it from former friends and lovers in exchange for what she left out. That the Duke of Wellington told her to ‘publish and be damned’ is the untrue thing. Nancy Carroll stars as Harriette Wilson, one of the most infamous and talked-about women of the early 19th century. Her lovers included aristocrats, adventurers and even the Duke of Wellington himself. And when they all ceased to support her after her retirement, she had a simple bargain for them – ‘pay up, and I’ll keep you out of my memoirs’. A scandalous bestseller of their time, her memoirs reveal a sharp-witted, good-hearted, infinitely adaptable, madcap woman who took on the patriarchy of the time and did something close to beating them at their own game. Harriette’s exciting, secretive, unpredictable world is brought vividly to life in Ellen Dryden’s radio dramatization of the book which set the whole country gossiping about the behaviour of the men who ran it, and the women they loved. In the first episode, Harriette escapes from the stultifyingly boring household of her first aristocratic protector in favour of a more exciting, younger lover. But will he be able to keep her in the style to which she has become accustomed? We also meet Harriette’s friends and rivals such as the mysterious Julia, her saintly sister Fanny, and her satanic sister Amy.
Sea Change. By John Fletcher. This is the story of the battle between appeasers and anti-appeasers in the period before – and just after – the start of the Second World War, and the formation of a coalition which, like the election of 2010, abruptly ruptured all previous political alignments. New political alliances and social
organizations – which had first arisen in the Bridgwater by-election of 1938, but which had been ignored by the London-based political and media establishments – united in their fight against appeasement. Suddenly and dramatically, in May of that year, this new united front rose against the government and, in the space of only three days, overthrew it. Somewhat surprisingly, the magnificent story behind this overthrow is little known. It is a story of ferocious loyalty and betrayal, outrageous media manipulation, blackmail, prejudice – and not a little courage. The appeasers are principally represented by Neville Chamberlain and his ruthless, over-protective spin doctor Joseph Ball – a man who would have eaten Alistair Campbell for breakfast. The anti-appeasers, battling through various foreign policy crises, are a disparate group: an Australian, Rex Leeper, the Foreign Office’s press officer, constantly – and largely unsuccessfully – countering Ball’s pro-appeasement spin from Number 10; Harold Nicolson MP, bravely opposing appeasement amid the innuendos of fellow backbenchers and Ball’s press smears; Vernon Bartlett, a radical foreign correspondent for the News Chronicle, who is asked to stand as the anti-appeasement candidate in the Bridgwater by-election; and Guy Burgess, anti-appeasement patriot, communist and BBC political producer, who is blackmailed over his homosexuality by Ball into couriering secret messages between Chamberlain and the dictators. The fascinating and little known story of the struggle to establish the coalition government of 1940 – a story of idealism, blackmail, and political skulduggery. Based on real events.