A Nice Little Holiday. By Sarah Wooley 1961. The South of France. On holiday with his mistress, Jocelyn Rickards, John Osborne has embarked on a passionate affair with his future third wife while, in London, Osborne’s current wife gives birth to a son. From the idyllic French farmhouse, Osborne penned his infamous ‘Damn you, England’ letter which caused such a furore back home that they found themselves under siege and their nice little holiday turned into a nightmare -with Osborne only just escaping alive.
An Unchoreographed World. Frances Byrnes’s play explores a dramatic formative event in the life of the young dancer Margot Fonteyn in May 1940. Fonteyn is trapped in Holland during the German invasion with her lover Constant Lambert and the fledgling Sadler’s Wells Ballet. Her life threatened, the dancer discovers who she really is and what her destiny might cost her.
Atching Tan. By Dan Allum. Lovvie Arkley is torn. Does she marry childhood sweetheart Nelius and live a traditional, yet isolated Traveller life? Or does she renounce her culture to pursue a career in the outside ‘Gorgia’ world? Drama teacher John threatens to tip the balance. Recorded on location on a Traveller site, with all Traveller parts cast from the Traveller community.
Big Pies. A romantic comedy by Gill Adams. Two lonely people, one night school and a lot of lying. Ron runs a successful chippy, but when his wife dies, he loses his heart and half his custom. Elaine is trapped at home caring for her irascible Dad, stuck in Yorkshire when she’d much rather be back in Wales. She feels her failure at school holds her back, and her dad doesn’t exactly help her self esteem. Ron is fed up at being nagged by best mate Keith about his soggy batter and lack of interest in romance. Goaded into action, they both reluctantly sign on at local night school. Meanwhile, Keith and Elaine’s Dad are caught up with the excitement of local UFO spotters with mysterious crop circles. Keith is adamant that if Ron will only absorb a few cosmic rays, his love life will be transformed. One night, during a break, Ron is sneaking a fag near the bins round the back when he bumps into Elaine – and sparks immediately fly. Neither is prepared to admit why they are at night school, so they make up elaborate lies about what they are studying. Over the weeks, attracted to each other but in denial, their deception involves them in more and more complicated situations. When the end of term concert is announced, Ron realises he will have to come clean – he is a widower but not really a stand up comedian – and Elaine isn’t really a belly dancer…
Big Pies is written by popular radio, stage and screen dramatist, Gill Adams, who has won Silver Sony, Prix ex Aqueo and a Mental Health Award for her previous BBC radio dramas.
Blue Eyed Boy. A powerful and moving documentary-drama by Helen Cross, which tells the true story of her father, Lawrence, the evacuee who never went home. Told through improvised interviews and re-created actuality, the play is constructed as a documentary, as if it were happening now. In 1944, when he was five years old, Lawrence Duncomb (Albie D’Urso) was evacuated from Blitz-torn London to Willerby, a village on the outskirts of Hull, and taken in by a childless couple. Lawrence had never eaten at a table before, never said prayers, never slept alone in a bed or had to mind his manners. Lilian (Jane Godber) is determined to raise him as a well-mannered Christian. She wants this substitute-child to accept and be grateful for all that she’s offering. Her husband (John Godber) also knows she’s desperate at the thought of the boy leaving her after the war. Soon Lilian starts to dream of ways of keeping him, even against his will. Finely judged and authentic performances from a quality cast bring a poignant realism to this true story. The play concludes with an interview with the real Lawrence. He says he never stopped missing his mother and when he finally tracked her down as an adult, her first words were: ‘I’ve been waiting for you to call.’
Chatterton: The Allington Solution. By Peter Ackroyd. Who or what killed the boy genius Thomas Chatterton? For over two hundred years, everyone thought he committed suicide, a neglected poet driven to despair. Everyone, that is, except Jeremy Allington, a literary historian, who thinks the prevailing wisdom is nonsense. Only he isn’t quite as polite as that … Dangerously close to losing his job and his partner, Allington is determined to prove that history is not as simple as some historians would have us believe. Set in both the present day and the 18th century, Chatterton: The Allington Solution is the first play for Radio 4 by the acclaimed writer, biographer and historian, Peter Ackroyd
01 1960s: Under The Influence Of Literature.
02 1970s: Let Us Now Phone Famous Men.
03 1980s: Tax Britannica; Eight Legs Worse.
04 1990s: 10 Pound 66 And All That; Time For A Quick One; Tuning Up.
05 2000s: Radio Fun; I Blame The Dealers; The Long Goodbye.
The five episodes have been put into one 1 hour file.
Siege. By Francesca Joseph. Peter and Veronica Pleasance are residents of Skylarks Residential Home for the Elderly. They haven’t spoken to their high-flying son – Managing Director of Trixel Technologies – for over twenty years. When one of his employees, Oludayo Akano is kidnapped in Nigeria, son Jerome Akano decides it is time for some action. Along with his friends Damien (trying to make a name for himself as an activist) and Chalky (along for the ride), they attack the residential home in order to hold Peter and Veronica Pleasance ransom in the name of Akano.
Guilty Until Proved Innocent. By Deborah Davis. When Dina and Jake rush their baby daughter to hospital, little do they realise that it is the beginning of a Kafkaesque nightmare from which it seems there is no escape.
The Old Man and the Sea. By Ernest Hemingway. Dramatised by Simon Armitage. This Pulitzer prize winning novel is Hemingway’s masterpiece; set in Cuba on the Gulf Stream, this is the thrilling and tantalising story of an epic battle between an old, experienced fisherman and a large marlin. Santiago, has gone 84 days without catching a fish, and is considered unlucky; his only friend is young Manolin, the boy whom he’s taught how to fish. When on the 85th day, Santiago sets sail again, his luck seems to change when he catches the biggest fish of his life. But the biggest battle of his life is about to commence. Cited by the Nobel Committee as contributing to Hemingway’s Nobel Prize in Literature, the novel is a seemingly simple tale, full of emotion and drama. It’s the story of the struggle of life – a meditation on life and death, and old age. It’s about the challenge of survival and the pitting of one man’s ageing body and ageing mind against nature. It’s about an ancient culture about to come to an end, and a practice as old as time itself. It’s a final act, and the boy is there to remind us that life moves on, and a new generation steps forward. The dramatist is Simon Armitage CBE, poet, playwright and novelist.
Rough Cider. By Peter Lovesey. In 1944, in a public house somewhere in Somerset, England, an ordinary act, something that happens a hundred times a day, takes place. A man orders a mug of the local cider. But when he drinks it, it tastes off. The owner samples the brew and agrees. From that simple humdrum sequence, terrible things devolve. For when the keg is emptied, what’s found is shocking to the core. In the bottom of the barrel is a skull, a human skull with a bullet hole in it.
The Events at Black Tor. By Roy Clarke. Recorded in 1968. A frightening, atmospheric serial, with supernatural overtones. Directed by Melville and written by Roy Clarke, better known for his television series “Last of the Summer Wine”. This rare file is the full length 2 hour 22 minutes that was originally broadcast on the BBC’s ‘Saturday Night Theatre’.
The Wolves of Willoughby Chase. By Joan Aiken. “It was dusk — winter dusk. Snow lay white and shining over the pleated hills, and icicles hung from the forest trees. Snow lay piled on the dark road across Willoughby Wold, but from dawn men had been clearing it with brooms and shovels. There were hundreds of them at work, wrapped in sacking because of the bitter cold, and keeping together in groups for fear of the wolves, grown savage and reckless from hunger.”
1995 adaptation of the childrens classic of a grand adventure set in an alternate Victorian world.
War Bride. By Nell Leyshon. WWII is over and Eleanor and Clarence are on a ship, emigrating to Canada. Young Eleanor is running away from the farm she grew up on – and her parents don’t know. When Eleanor discovers that her childhood sweetheart Frank is also on board, she starts to retreat from Clarence into the world of her imagination. Eleanor is vulnerable and a long way from home. Who can she trust?
When the Wind Blows. By Raymond Briggs. “Raymond Briggs here presents us with a disarmingly gentle, warm, humorous graphic novel, about a regular blue collar couple trying to understand, and to prepare for, the ultimate catastrophe.This touching little book came out in the early 80s, when there was a sharp spike in international public awareness of the dangers of nuclear warfare. Due largely to Ronald Reagan’s hawkish presidency, people were much more fearful of this looming prospect — and, of course, rightly so. Reading this reminds me of 1981, when I was in eighth grade, and tensions over Poland were so severe that I recall becoming a regular fixture at our local library, reading and reading, trying helplessly to understand all the forces which, it seemed, were conspiring to destroy us all. The really touching thing, about the couple portrayed in this book, is that they are normal people. Almost completely uninformed about the world, their mental picture of the world is shaped by a haze of half-remembered patriotic propaganda that is decades out of date, and was heavily distorted to begin with. Their efforts to prepare for a nuclear attack are so pathetic that you would laugh, if you weren’t already busy crying.” From Amazon Book Review.
The White People. By Arthur Machen. Actor, journalist , devotee of Celtic Christianity and the Holy Grail legend, Welshman Arthur Machen is considered one of the fathers of weird fiction, a master of mayhem whose work has drawn comparisons to H. P. Lovecraft and Edgar Allan Poe. Written in the late 1890s, it was first published in Horlick’s Magazine.
A discussion between two men on the nature of evil leads one of them to reveal a mysterious Green Book he possesses. It is a young girl’s diary, in which she describes in ingenuous yet evocative prose her strange impressions of the countryside in which she lives, as well as conversations with her nurse, who initiates her into a secret world of folklore and ritual magic.
God’s President: Mugabe Of Zimbabwe. Kwame Kwei-armah’s play tells the story of the tense negotiations around the Lancaster House Conference, and the road to Zimbabwe’s Independence. On 4th March 1980 the Shona majority in Rhodesia was decisive in electing Robert Mugabe to head the first post-independence government as Prime Minister. Six weeks later, on April 18th, Zimbabwe celebrated its first Independence Day.
Banished – Mugabe Of Zimbabwe. By Andrew Whaley. It is 2000, and Aurelia, studying in London, returns home to Zimbabwe following her father’s death. Years before he had worked with Robert Mugabe, and now Aurelia learns that the President is to attend the funeral. Their meeting is the start of a dark and frightening journey.
Man in Snow. By Israel Horovitz. Under the Northern Lights, halfway up the highest mountain in alaska, David Kipling is in charge of 20 honeymoon couples. In solitude, he rings his wife and seeks to conjure up the son who died two years previously.
Five Days in May. By Matthew Solon. Play telling the story of the tense negotiation that followed the 2010 general election leading to the country’s first post war coalition. Based on interviews with those who were at the meetings, political journalists and on published material – and using actors to play all the key characters – this is a compelling account of those five momentous days in May. Under extreme pressure and suffering from lack of sleep, the politicians argued and negotiated. There was nothing inevitable about a Conservative Liberal Democrat coalition. Revealing key moments of the negotiations, the drama unpicks what went on behind closed doors and shows how an alliance between the Conservative and Liberal Democrat gradually formed, and how it withstood the resignation of Gordon Brown. Based on pain-staking research, this is a must-listen 60-minute play – a compelling and entertaining account by award-winning writer Matthew Solon of the most extraordinary British election outcome in 70 years.