Many thanks to Linda, Golux, Michael F, Dick L and Roger P for contributions to this page.
The Tale of A Tale of Two Cities. Crime novelist Frances Fyfield takes us into the heart of Dickens’ creative process: his handwritten manuscripts. When Dickens wrote ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ in 1859 it was, for him at least, both the best of times and the worst of times. He’d separated from his wife, started a new weekly journal and was becoming more and more familiar as a performer of his own works. But the process of creation for his new novel was the same as ever. A tightly written manuscript on individual leaves was whisked off to the printers, proof-read and edited by the author and then made available, instalment by instalment, to a loyal public. Frances Fyfield has been given access to that manuscript, held by the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and along with the scholar Robert Patten and actor David Timson, she explores the frantic handwriting, the ferocious self-editing and the sheer energy of Dickens’ original pages. And she also visits a print museum to get an idea of just what a challenge it was, turning these pages into print against the deadlines Dickens had set himself.
A Tale of Two Cities can be found on the Charles Dickens Page.
Edward, Edward. By Abigail Docherty. A two-hander about Edward VI and Lady Jane Grey starring brilliant young actors Oscar Kennedy and Izzy Meikel Small, first seen together in the BBC’s recent Great Expectations. Aged just nine years old, Edward VI becomes King upon the death of his father, Henry the VIII. Together with his cousin Jane, Edward tries to negotiate the vagaries of life at court and to find a freedom when every move he makes is watched over by the tenacious Privy Council.
Angel Pavement. By J. B. Priestley. Dramatised by Martin JamesonTwigg and Dersingham, Purveyors of Fine Veneers, has been a successful family firm in the City for three generations. But now, in the depression of 1930, it can no longer cover its costs and the owner, young Mr Dersingham, is looking for cuts. Then James Golspie arrives with a proposition. He has the sole agency for some excellent Baltic veneers at extraordinary prices and, despite the caution of the company accountant Mr Smeeth, an agreement is reached. But is Smeeth right? Is Golspie everything he seems?
The Colour of Milk adapted from her novel by Nell Leyshon. It’s 1830. Mary, fifteen, lives a quiet life on a farm with her mother and father and has never spent a night away from her home, until the local vicar asks for help with his sick wife. Sexual desires have brutal consequences.
The Diary Of A Nobody. George Grossmith and Weedon Grossmith. Johnny Vegas and Katherine Parkinson play Mr and Mrs Pooter in Andrew Lynch’s adaptation of the Grossmith brothers’ comic novel of 1892. The story is a social vignette of Charles, the self-important but highly likeable clerk, his loving wife Carrie and their son William. Much of the action takes place in the house that the Pooters share with their maid Sarah…and the noisy sound of passing trains. The Laurels in Brickfield Terrace is frequently visited by colourful and amusing characters, not least Gowing and Cummings, Pooter’s ‘trusty’ fairweather friends. This full dramatisation has a Victorian sit-com feel and stays true to the book – with a couple of twists of Lynch’s own – capturing a kind of lower-middle-class aspiration that still has a tangible familiarity in 2012.
My Own Private Gondolier. By Bethan Roberts. In Bethan Roberts’ first play for radio, Peggy Guggenheim’s troubled daughter, Pegeen, leaves her three children behind when she travels to Venice to spend the summer with her mother. She is determined to be an artist, and she shuts herself up in the dank basement, trying to paint. Meanwhile, her mother, Peggy, is much more concerned with the English sculptor who has come to visit; she wants a piece of his work to add to her collection and will use everything at her disposal to achieve her aim. She’ll even try to inveigle her daughter into the plan if she thinks it will get her what she wants. Peggy is well known as a collector of men, as well as art. As the summer progresses, and the strains between mother and daughter grow, it’s only Gianni, Peggy’s personal Gondolier, who can provide a welcome diversion.
The music is Vedro con mio diletto from Vivaldi’s Giustino, sung by Philippe Jaroussky.
Napoleon Rising. By Anthony Burgess. An epic drama charting Napoleon Bonaparte’s meteoric rise in the early years of the French revolution, set against his tumultuous relationship with Josephine. Written by Anthony Burgess but never performed in his lifetime and now adapted to mark 200 years since Napoleon’s famous retreat from Moscow. Burgess was fascinated by Napoleon and wrote a novel, Napoleon Symphony, using the structure of Beethoven’s Eroica symphony, originally written in honour of the French leader. Burgess approached director Stanley Kubrick about using the novel as the basis for a film Kubrick planned about Napoleon – the two had worked together on Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange. Kubrick politely declined. Burgess then wrote the play: Napoleon Rising – but it never reached the stage.
The Servant. By Robin Maugham, dramatised by Ronald Frame. Richard Merton is a young man trying to make his way in publishing; Tony, his charismatic army friend is resuming his law studies after five years wartime service. Merton encourages his friend to employ a manservant to help him with his household chores. Tony hires the enigmatic Barrett – who exploits his weakness and laziness, and slowly but surely takes over control of his life.
The Eagle Has Landed. By Jack Higgins. It was to become known as the most daring enemy mission of the entire war: “Operation Eagle”, Heinrich Himmler’s audacious plan to kidnap Winston Churchill on British soil in November 1943. But, despite spectacular secrecy, there was to be no surrender without a fight.
The Eagle Has Flown. By Jack Higgins.
Spoiler Alert: do not read any further as it will give away the ending of ‘The Eagle Has Landed’. The information for ‘The Eagle Has Flown’ can be found at the bottom of this page.
Le Donne. By Chris Fallon. Based on an original idea by Rosalynd Ward and Chris Fallon. Set in modern day Naples – vibrant, picaresque, and for some, terrifying — where the Camorra has its hands in virtually every enterprise, from prostitution and drug running, to rubbish collection, and street vendors – “Le Donne” (“The Women”) focuses on Caterina Riccardi, a beautiful, privileged wife and mother who has – until now – lived in wilful ignorance of her husband’s criminal business dealings, and the source of her material wealth. Caterina, who has managed to reach the age of forty three in relative innocence, adhering to the philosophy of “see no evil, hear no evil”, must come to grips with the dark and violent world of the Camorra, and bring her understanding and will to bear on it – or see herself and her family destroyed. She must quickly awaken from her wilful slumber, learn to exert her power in a predatory and dangerous milieu, and is then forced to make a terrible moral choice.
3 episodes available
Dracula. By Bram Stoker. Bram Stoker’s disturbing vampire tale of horror, in a new version by Rebecca Lenkiewicz. Told through letters, journal entries, and other found testimony, this is the story of the brief reign of terror of an uncivilised monster in Victorian Britain.
A seven part version of Dracula is available on Page 01.
Frankenstein. By Mary Shelley. A new production of Mary Shelley’s heart-breaking modern myth of obsession, pride and the need for love. While sailing through the Arctic wastes, Captain Walton picks up an unexpected passenger. Close to death the man begins to tell Walton his strange and terrible story.
Looted. By Lucy Catherine. A city is in chaos. Three friends become transfixed by lights of an apparently deserted department store.
The House on the Hill. By Nancy Harris. A mother’s mistrust of her daughter’s new piano teacher threatens to spiral out of control.
The Winter House. By Rebecca Lenkiewicz. An elderly woman has dark dreams when she hears the voice of a dead child outside her room.
Bloody Poetry. By Howard Brenton. In Switzerland 1816, by the shore of Lake Geneva, the poet Shelley and his future wife Mary, together with her step-sister Claire, meet the infamous Lord Byron. All are in exile, self-imposed on Shelley’s part, more serious for Byron, and find they are natural allies in a world which is threatened by their radical politics and unconventional attitudes to sexual freedom. Close friendships and treacherous affairs are begun, and a journal that bears witness to it all is kept by Byron’s companion and doctor, William Polidori. And on one particular evening, in a thunderstorm, stories are told that are to inspire Mary Shelley to create the myth of Frankenstein. Howard Brenton’s play was first performed in 1984 and celebrates the artistic radicalism and the fiery, intellectual anger of these young people, whose ideas threatened to kick over the traces of the society from which they were escaping. But their dreams of a utopian future were to be swallowed up in lives of excess, illness and tragic accidents.
Autobiography of Mark Twain. After dozens of false starts Mark Twain embarked on his “Final (and Right) Plan” for telling the story of his life. His innovative notion to “Talk only about the thing which interests you for the moment” meant that his thoughts could range freely. The strict instruction that these texts remain unpublished for 100 years meant that when they came out, he would be “dead, and unaware, and indifferent” and therefore free to speak his “whole frank mind”. In celebration of the centenary of his death, the University of California Press have released his uncensored autobiography for the first time, exactly as he left it. The author’s authentic and unsuppressed voice speaks clearly from the grave as he intended, brimming with humour, ideas and opinions.
To accompany Autobiography of Mark Twain, here are three of the author’s classic short stories, with their familiar trademarks of high farce and droll insight. His tales bring us eccentric burglars, cossetted children, and a visitor to a theme park obsessed with the making of mocassins. And also torrents of water…
The McWilliamses and The Burglar Alarm. (R) Surely their home would be better off with a state of the art security device – if it works, that is…
The Experience of the McWilliamses with Membranous Croup. (R) In The Experience of the McWilliamses with Membranous Croup, a strange fever is afflicting the neighbourhood just as little Penelope begins to cough. Though the reason is hardly clear cut…
Niagara. (R) Hooray, it’s a day trip to those intrepid Falls, to tramp exciting trails and meet some friendly Red Indians. But the best laid plans…
Three Men in a Boat. (R) By Jerome K. Jerome. Based on a holiday boat trip made by the author and his two real-life friends George and Harris. This humorous travelogue includes local history of towns along the Thames, as well as a few serious and sentimental passages, but remains at its core a comic novel. Read by Hugh Laurie.
The Snowman Killing. By J. C. W. Brook. Snowmen that aren’t really there, a morbid obsession with the cold: the mother of two children senses something evil.
William And Mary. By Roald Dahl.
The Monkey’s Paw. The story of an unusual gift – the small mummified paw of a monkey upon which an old holy man has cast a spell.
Music Lovers. The striving for ultimate music perfection strikes a note of terror.
The Beast with Five Fingers. Horror arrives in a small box left to a distinguished scientist in a will.
Every Detail But One. A strange voice bursts into Jenny’s life, a voice making demands that set her on a journey to terror and beyond.
By the River, Fontainebleau. A young painter’s obsession with a potential model leads to a world of degradation and self-disgust.
The Face. In a lonely hotel, a woman is terrified, and praying for release from a mounting fear.
Mind Well the Tree. Aunt Hestor’s bequest of an old border mansion worries David Hollis, as his wife is captivated by the spirit of their new home.
Fat Andy. Many years ago, Fat Andy was involved in a certain crime, a crime that now comes back to haunt him.
A Day at the Dentist. A man gradually relaxes in a dentist’s chair, unaware that the dentist is bent on a dreadful revenge.
The Speciality of the House. When Costain becomes addicted to the very special food on offer at Shirro’s restaurant, his cravings incur a terrible fate.
Snipe 3909. The telephone can be a vital lifeline. A lifeline, however, that can become horribly tangled and pulled tighter.
The Dead Drummer. Two survivors from the Napoleonic wars find themselves lost on Salisbury Plain. One harbours a dark secret.
The Dispossessed Daughter. It’s the week of Candlemas, but what pagan rites lie behind our Christian celebrations and how close to the surface do they lie?
St Austin Friars. Disturbed by extraordinary events at his church, a Reverend discovers he has bitten off more than he can chew.
Dreaming of Thee. Lorna is obsessed with a certain dream, a dream which becomes a nightmare and threatens to become reality.
The Horn. Three strangers trapped in a snowstorm on a remote stretch of motorway listen for the sound of a horn which they believe will lead them to safety.
The Journey Home. Felicity and George are driving home, when suddenly they are unaccountably led down a nightmare road to inescapable horror.
Hand in Glove. The Man in Black reveals the fallout for a niece determined to plunder her aunt’s trunk. Stars Kate Binchy.
His Last Card. Laura feels distinctly uneasy when she receives an unsigned card which carries the cryptic message ‘One day to death’.
Survival. A group of people in outer space find things become a matter of life and death, each dependant on the other in a horrifying way.
Soul Searching. Hospitals can be frightening enough, but even more so when a patient is asked to take part in a bizarre experiment.
A Child Crying. To hear the sound of a crying child is not unusual. What does it mean though when you are the only one who can hear it?
The Judge’s House. Malcolm moves to a lonely place to study, not knowing that in this rat-infested house of horror, a malignant spirit awaits.
The Yellow Wallpaper. Can terror reside in something so innocuous as ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’? An ill woman believes so but her husband, a doctor, does not believe her.
Green And Pleasant. A rock star is missing. She’s a self-styled green queen who’s active in environmental issues, but somebody knows her better.
The Monkey’s Revenge. A doctor with a serious disease tackles medicine’s frontiers to take control of his own destiny.
An Invitation to the Vaults. An Italian literary agent gets his come-uppance in this rat-infested tale of horror.
The Edge. Success turned sour has led Thomas towards ‘The Edge’. But how real is his dream of pushing his wife off a cliff?
Dead Man’s Boots. Mr and Mrs Duncan buy a new home – and inherit evil footwear.
A Routine Operation. Mary has a special fear of hospitals – thanks to a recurring dream about operations. Then, she has to have her appendix out.
Dance in the Underworld. The life support machine is switched off, but is 16-year-old Tony really dead? His mother doesn’t think so.
Gobble, Gobble. By Christmas Eve, most people will have their turkeys safely secured, but for Martin Reynolds, his search ends in a nightmare.
The Next In Line.
Dark Feathers. Fay’s summer in the West Country is blighted by strange and dark forces.
Playing God. Homeless people face falling prey to unscrupulous operators.
Vicious Fish. George intends to go back to sea to catch a conga. No-one believes him so he persuades Tony to go out with him.
Hellhounds On My Trail.
Hearing is Believing. When the theatre is dark and the cast have left, one takes for granted that backstage is empty. But it isn’t.
Life Line. It could be Belinda on the phone – Bryan thinks so. But as Colin points out Belinda died some time ago.
Net Suicide. By Stephen Wyatt. Michael Scantgrace is a City dealer facing ruin when he stumbles across the Suicide Club on the internet. Should he sign up?
Tapping. By Colin Haydn Evans. Tom is plagued by a dark childhood memory. Can Janie help rid him of ghosts from the past?
The Chimes of Midnight. An Oxford professor’s obsession with horology and the anthropological view of time leads to a horrific fate.
Making Sacrifices. Three young girls learn about the darker side of life in a blackly humorous view of fear and loathing in a girls’ boarding school.
Tissue Memory. By Judy Upton. Anna has a healthy new heart. But who was the donor? And how did she die?
The Hairy Hand Of Dartmoor. By Michael McStay. Alcohol, anger, infidelity and stories of Dartmoor witches and the “hairy hand” are the ingredients in a cocktail party that goes dangerously awry for Geoffrey.
The Blood Of Eva Bergen. By Paul Sirett. Claire is a talented young pianist who falls under the spell of Iliev, a musician haunted by a woman called Eva Bergen and the power that she once had over him.
The Eagle Has Flown. By Jack Higgins. The sequel to “The Eagle has Landed”. By the end of 1943, all the evidence of the abortive German attempt to assassinate Winston Chuchill has been buried in a grave in Norfolk. But two of the most wanted ringleaders are still alive, and the Reichsfuhrer is demanding the eagle’s return.