Shy Baby. By Gary Ogin. Lionel Stillman has a new job, a girlfriend he thinks he loves, and a secret ambition – to be a stand-up comic. But he also has a problem. People make him nervous. Gary Ogin’s new comedy explores the crippling effects of acute social anxiety on work, hopes and relationships. As Lionel stumbles from bad date with Emma to bad first day at a call centre, he struggles with an inner voice telling him he’s boring and useless – “or just plain weird”. At first, Emma thinks he’s attractively shy. Then she decides he’s a drinker. But Lionel does have friends. At a weekly support group his fellow sufferers Simon, Max and Rosie uncover his ambition to be a comic and encourage him to take it further by setting a challenge: to perform in a comedy club. As the night approaches, the idea seems ludicrous. How can a man who can’t bring himself to meet his girlfriend’s parents stand up and perform in front of a raucous pub crowd? Rosie holds the key.
So You Want to Disappear. By Mark Wheatley. Fraser once tracked clients who jumped bail. Then he added a little twist to the business by helping people disappear instead, which is why Kathryn gives him a call.
Sunday. A dramatisation by Ronald Frame of Georges Simenon’s novel. Émile is married to a domineering older wife, Berthe, whose family owns the little hotel ‘La Bastide’. Although Émile is the chef, he feels like a servant and in an attempt to assert himself he starts an affair with one of the maids. But he continues to be humiliated by Berthe, just as he feels mocked by the pleasure-laden air of the Riviera. His hatred of his wife festers. Finally he hatches a plot to poison her – and now the day of reckoning has arrived…
Georges Simenon is of course best known for his Inspector Maigret stories. But this is one of his much admired ‘romans durs’ – spare, hard, gimlet-eyed tales, often set in provincial France, that deal with the extraordinary dramas that take place in the most ordinary of lives. The novel was first published in 1959 under the title Dimanche’.
The Blue Room. By Georges Simenon. Vain, womanising Tony and passionate, manipulative Andree met eight times in eleven months in the blue room at the Hotel des Voyageurs for afternoons of abandoned love. For Tony the conversation that last time was just the casual, almost banal, talk of lovers. But for Andree it was something else. And it led inevitably to an appalling double murder and a nightmare which Tony couldn’t escape.
Monsieur Monde Vanishes. By Georges Simenon. Ronald Frame’s dramatisation of Georges Simenon’s 1945 novel about a respectable Parisian who suddenly leaves his wife and business for a raffish new life in the dance halls and casinos of the Cote d’Azur.
Monsieur La Souris. By Georges Simenon. M. La Souris (aka “The Mouse” en anglais) is a tramp in Paris who comes across a dead body and a wallet full of money, then eventually becomes embroiled in the ensuing criminal investigation. About 30 seconds is missing from the begining due to damaged tape.
In Case of Emergency. By Georges Simenon. Ronald Frame dramatises three of these stories beginning with the obsessive affair between a lawyer and a jewel thief. When her plan to rob a jeweller’s shop goes wrong, Yvette – young, beautiful and dangerously impulsive – asks middle-aged lawyer, Lucien, to defend her in court. When he wins the case they begin an affair but he discovers that Yvette has a boyfriend who has no intention of giving her up.
The Little Man from Archangel. By Georges Simenon. When Gina fails to come home one night, Jonas Milk tells his inquisitive neighbours that she’s visiting a friend. But the gossips in this small country town know Gina has been having flagrant affairs and when it becomes clear that she’s disappeared the bookseller is drawn into a nightmare of police enquiries and painful discoveries. Dramatised by Ronald Frame.
The Cat. By Georges Simenon. A black comedy about a couple whose marriage has foundered. Conversation between Emile and Marguerite has given way to a mute exchange of vicious notes, a shared life to separate beds and separate larders. Meanwhile the sudden deaths of two cherished family pets – a poisoned cat and a murdered parrot – block all attempts at reconciliation. Emile, at the end of his tether, packs his bags and chooses freedom – but he quickly makes a discovery that, even when affection has gone, a powerful bond still unites a man and his wife. Dramatised by Ronald Frame.
Teddy Bear. By Georges Simenon. A society gynaecologist’s infatuation with a young girl throws his life into freefall. Dramatised by Ronald Frame.
The Neighbours. By Georges Simenon. Emile’s peace of mind is shattered, when he overhears his neighbours’ conversations. Dramatised by Ronald Frame.
The Venice Train. By Georges Simenon. A man agrees to deliver a briefcase for a stranger he meets on a train. Dramatised by Ronald Frame.
The Diva in Me. By Charlotte Jones. Phillipa spends Saturday night eating toast and fantasizing about a boy-man from Southern Electric. She can sing anything from Bjork to Bassey with a touch of Judy Garland thrown in but the world has turned its back her. Why? This comedy with music has been specially written by award-winning playwright Charlotte Jones for actress and extraordinary mimic Philippa Stanton. Philippa sings Garland, Kitt, Boyle, Winehouse, Bjork, Gaga and Bassey. The music is woven into the narrative and is an essential part of the story because this is a woman with an extraordinary facility to recreate the voices of the famous. And although the world has turned its back on her talent she finally discovers the ingredient that makes a diva truly great.
The Gun. Mike Walker adapts C S Forester’s gripping guerrilla warfare story set in Napoleonic Spain. Made famous by Hollywood as The Pride and the Passion. Partisan groups under charismatic leaders wage a desperate war in which no quarter is given by either side. The hero of The Gun is the gun itself, a massive 18 pounder that is dragged across the mountains and plains of Spain – an epic task. Throughout the story, the gun changes the lives of those who fight each other to the death in order to gain control of it. The Gun is a companion piece to The Gun Goes to Hollywood, which tells the story behind the Hollywood version, which was directed by Stanley Kramer and starred Cary Grant, Frank Sinatra and Sophia Loren.
The Gun Goes to Hollywood. By Mike Walker. “The Pride and the Passion” is Hollywood’s 1957 adaptation of “The Gun”, by C S Forester. Set in Spain during the Napoleonic wars The Gun tells the story of Captain Anthony Trumbull, played by Cary Grant, a British military officer, who is ordered to retrieve an enormous cannon and transport it across Spain to the British lines, where it will be used to attack the French garrison at Avila. Guerrilla leader Miguel, played by Frank Sinatra, agrees to help, even though he despises the Englishman, and Miguel’s feisty girlfriend Juana, played by Sophia Loren, comes with them. Along the way Juana falls in love with Trundall. But the film had a notoriously troubled set. Sinatra left the production early because of marriage difficulties with Ava Gardner, and Grant, then 53, fell in love with his co-star Loren, 23. Mike Walker’s play imagines the behind-the-scenes ructions from the viewpoint of the script doctor, Earl Felton, who was drafted in to save the day.
The Million Pound Bank Note. By Mark Twain. Stranded in London, a penniless young American becomes the subject of a £20,000 bet between two wealthy English gentlemen. Can he can survive and prosper for a month as the bearer of a 1,000,000 pound bank note? A colourful, bright and vivid dramatisation of this charming and surprisingly relevant classic short story, first published in 1893. Brimming with Mark Twain’s gentle humour, Henry Adam’s plight is sure to entertain family audiences.
The Researches of Herodotus. Celebrated writer Tom Holland’s new adaptation of his own translation of Herodotus’ Histories – one of the most important books in literature and history writing. It is an extraordinary account by an Ancient Greek of how his country and people came into being through their encounters with other people. Described as the first history book, the work is also the first book of anthropology. It is an action novel, full of battles and blood and a political parable that warns its audience, and so the whole of Greece, of the dangers of getting embroiled on foreign soil.
The State of the Art. Dramatisation of the science-fiction novel by Iain M Banks. A spaceship from The Culture arrives on Earth in 1977 and finds a planet obsessed with alien concepts like ‘property’ and ‘money’ and on the edge of self destruction. When Agent Dervley Linter decides to go native can Diziet Sma change his mind?
Vanunu: A Time To Be Heard. By Jon Sen. Set in 2004 on the release of Israeli nuclear whistleblower, Mordechai Vanunu, who was immediately barred from speaking to the foreign media. Peter Hounam, investigative journalist, attempts to find a way to conduct an interview without breaking the terms of Vanunu’s freedom. After exposing the assembly of nuclear weapon making capabilities at the Dimona nuclear plant where he worked as a technician, Mordechai Vanunu spent nearly 18 years in prison, 15 of those in solitary confinement. He emerged as keen as ever to make public what he knew and his treatment by the state. However, on the day of his release, Vanunu was banned from speaking to foreign media, and forbidden from leaving the country. Peter Hounam, who broke Vanunu’s story in the Sunday Times originally, travelled to Israel to meet Vanunu on release and interview him for UK press and television. Once the restrictions were announced, he set out to find way to give Vanunu a voice without compromising his freedom. This new drama looks at the relationship between the two men, as well as exploring the difficult issues of investigative journalism and freedom of speech.
Waves Breaking on a Shore. Period drama by Michael Eaton and Neil Brand. At the turn of the twentieth century two vaudevillians – one Irish, the other Jewish – are trying to achieve success as Music Hall double act Cohen and Cohan, when they find themselves bitten by the bug of cinematography at the birth of film. Performing in the small halls of London’s poverty stricken East End, both would consider themselves to be loyal sons of the British Empire. Above all, they believe that laughter and song can bring different folk together. Though their act is popular in the East End, they have their sights set on the big time. A chance meeting leads them down a path of new technology, performing their act for the new Edison phonograph, recording comic turns and melodramatic scenes. But the flickers are a whole new territory, and Danny and Manny learn the hard way that this new form means big business to the people calling the shots.
Like Minded People. By David Eldridge. Gillian and Ray meet at University. She’s from a privileged background whilst his father works in a hardware shop and his mother’s a dinner lady. Despite this disparity they embark on a relationship. A relationship that may well have burnt itself out except for a car accident which binds them together through a mixture of guilt and need. As their lives progress we are given an intimate portrait of the ups and downs of marriage and the political and social changes that help shape our lives.
Peter Lorre vs Peter Lorre. By Michael Butt. Towards the end of his unique career, movie star Peter Lorre found himself at the centre of a strange legal case. Incorporating verbatim extracts from the court transcripts, Michael Butt’s play wonders what was going through Lorre’s troubled mind as he fought to protect his name.
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A City Killing. By Mike Walker. After a foolhardy trade in the City almost wipes out Harry Towers’ hedge fund, he turns for help to family friend Bob Glass, probably the most successful trader that Wall Street has ever seen. Confidence is immediately restored and Harry’s investors seem inclined to give him a second chance – until he some alarming news on TV.
Black Roses: The Killing of Sophie Lancaster. By Simon Armitage. The Killing of Sophie Lancaster is an elegy to the young gap-year student who was attacked in Stubbeylee Park, Bacup, Lancashire. She later died on August 24th 2007. This is an elegy to mark the anniversary of her death, four years later. Aged twenty, Sophie suffered fatal injuries while cradling her boyfriend Rob’s head in an attempt to protect him from a ferocious attack by a group of youths. Rob survived but Sophie went into a coma and never recovered. Sophie was an intelligent bookish child who showed signs of wanting to be different from an early age. Political, vegetarian, a pacifist, Sophie had left school with A levels and was thinking about what to do with her future when it was taken so brutally from her. Sophie and Rob dressed in a unique way, expressing their individuality as creative artistic people through goth-style clothes, piercings and make-up, which provoked the fatal attack in the early hours of that Saturday morning. Sophie had been dating Rob Maltby, a 21-year-old art student for three years.
A Gambling Man – Charles II and The Restoration. (R) By Jenny Uglow. In May 1660 Charles II returns from exile in Holland. Michael Maloney reads from the book by Jenny Uglow. Charles II was thirty when he crossed the Channel in fine May weather in 1660. His Restoration was greeted with maypoles and bonfires, like spring after long years of Cromwell’s rule. But there was no going back, no way he could ‘restore’ the old. Certainty had vanished. The divinity of kingship fled with his father’s beheading. ‘Honour’ was now a word tossed around in duels. ‘Providence’ could no longer be trusted. As the country was rocked by plague, fire and war, people searched for new ideas by which to live. Exactly ten years later Charles would stand again on the shore at Dover, laying the greatest bet of his life in a secret deal with his cousin, Louis XIV. The Restoration decade was one of experiment: from the science of the Royal Society to the startling role of credit and risk, from the shocking licence of the court to the failed attempts at toleration of different beliefs. Negotiating all these, Charles, the ‘slippery sovereign’, layed odds. Yet while his grandeur, his court and his colourful sex life were on display, his true intentions lay hidden. A Gambling Man is a portrait of Charles II, exploring his elusive nature through the lens of these ten vital years – and a portrait of a vibrant, violent, pulsing world, in which the risks the king took forged the fate of the nation, on the brink of the modern world.