Many thanks to Walter C for contributions to this page.
Amadeus. An adaptation of Peter Shaffer’s play starring F Murray Abraham as Salieri. Peter Shaffer’s award-winning play combines fiction and history to detail the final years of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Antonio Salieri, an older composer, propelled by jealousy, plots the tragic downfall of his brilliant rival.
The Cazalets. By Elizabeth Jane Howard. Penelope Wilton narrates BBC Radio 4’s epic dramatisation of the treasured family saga. Elizabeth Jane Howard’s five book chronicle of the upper-middle class Cazalet family begins in 1938, as siblings Hugh, Edward, Rupert and Rachel join together for another family holiday at Home Place, their house in the Sussex countryside. During the course of The Light Years, Marking Time, Confusion, Casting Off and All Change, the progress of their lives, and those of their children, will be charted. As their stories unfolds we gain a vivid insight into the lives, hopes and loves of three generations during the Second Word War and beyond. Dramatised by Sarah Daniels and Lin Coghlan, and with a large cast of actors across all five books, this remarkable radio event adds a new dimension to Elizabeth Jane Howard’s extraordinary chronicles. The first four Cazalet novels sold over a million copies, with the fifth being published in 2013, shortly before the author’s death.
The Collected Works of AJ Fikry. By Gabrielle Zevin. Beguiling, funny and poignant, The Collected Works of A.J. Fikry is largely set in Island Books, a failing independent bookshop in the middle of an island community off the American coast. A. J.Fikry, the shop’s owner, is struggling to come to terms with a devastating loss, Amelia, a sales rep for a small publisher can’t find the right man, and Maya, the baby found abandoned beside the piles of books, with a note, all gravitate to its teetering stackes. Island Books brings them together and offers life lessons gleaned from reading which are passed on and shared.
The Divine Comedy. By Dante Alighieri. Blake Ritson, David Warner and John Hurt star in Stephen Wyatt’s dramatisation of Dante’s epic poem – the story of one man’s incredible journey through Hell, Purgatory and Paradise.
Inferno. The thirty-five year old Dante finds himself in the middle of a dark wood, in extreme personal and spiritual crisis. But hope of rescue appears in the form of the venerable poet Virgil, now a shade himself, who offers to lead Dante on an odyssey through the afterlife, that begins in the terrifying depths of Hell. Many years later, the older Dante, still in enforced exile from his beloved Florence, attempts to finish his great poem and reflects on the events that have led him to its writing.
Purgatorio. Dante is led up Mount Purgatory by his guide, the shade of Virgil. On their journey, they encounter numerous souls who have embarked on the difficult journey up the mountain – a journey that will eventually lead to their spiritual salvation. Many years later, the older Dante, still in enforced exile from his beloved Florence, reflects on the episodes from his life that have inspired his great poem.
Paradiso. Dante’s spiritual journey comes to a glorious conclusion as he is led by Beatrice through the spheres of Paradise and into the presence of God himself. As they ascend, they encounter a number of souls who have also achieved blessedness.
Eugenie Grandet. By Honoré de Balzac. Rose Tremain’s gripping dramatisation, starring Ian McKellen, of Balzac’s tragic novel revolving around Grandet, an ageing vine farmer, and his innocent young daughter Eugenie. Monsieur Grandet, who has amassed a considerable fortune, is a miser who feigns poverty and runs his household along miserably frugal lines. All changes with the arrival of Eugenie’s handsome 22-year-old cousin, Charles Grandet, from Paris. Charles has brought with him a shocking letter from his father, Guillaume, who has committed suicide. He has placed his debts and the care of his son into his brother’s hands. It is a fatal decision, with ruinous consequences for the whole family. Eugenie Grandet is considered by many to be the strongest novel in Balzac’s magnificent series, The Human Comedy. It pits a young naive girl against the father she has worshipped and this defiance sets us on course for the playing out of a heart-rending tragedy. Like King Lear, Grandet is a man who deeply loves the daughter who has defied him. He has no other child, no hope, no future but her. But in Balzac’s ‘human comedy’ the tragic and the comic exist side by side and this fruitful conjunction blossoms in Rose Tremain’s enthralling adaptation.
The Help. By Kathryn Stockett. Dramatisation of Kathryn Stockett’s novel set in Jackson, Mississippi, in 1962, about three brave women who dare to cross the racial lines. The women come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk: black maid Aibileen, her closest friend Minny, the best cook in Mississippi, and Skeeter, who is 22 and just home from college.
Highgate Letters. By Jeff Young. Originally from Liverpool, Joe lives in Highgate and is married with a six-year-old daughter, Megan. Megan is Joe’s best friend – his only friend really. When Joe’s daughter chalks on the pavement it creates near war between the chairman of the resident’s committee, and Joe.
The Ice Wife. By Beatrice Colin. Filmmaker Jen travels to the Antarctic to be one of the skeleton team that keeps the British base running over winter. It would be easier to get off Mars than out of there once the ship’s sailed and tensions are already running high among the over-winterers. Jen has to work out why.
The Waxwork. By A.M Burrage. In a reprise of the director’s celebrated series from beyond the grave, convincing effigies become all too real.
Sredni Vashtar. By Saki. Living with his cruel aunt, young Conradin worships a fierce polecat ferret which answers his prayers.
The Perfectionist. By Margaret St Clair. Sponger Charles goes to live with his Aunt Muriel, who takes her still life art work deadly seriously.
Being a Murderer Myself. By Arthur Williams. When a jilted poultry farmer meets his ex-girlfriend, could it be a case of murder most fowl?
The Dancing Partner. By Jerome K Jerome. Toymaker Herr Geibel invents an ingenious mechanical man, but what if it should ever malfunction?
Men of Hope. By Paul Watson. Only days after our Coalition Government gave their ‘mother of all budgets’ the English nation is again holding it’s collective breath. A Chancellor’s fear filled austerity speech fades into party politics, a warm up act to a more serious matter. Football! A sport that enables the understanding of a nation. Set in the Man of Hope, a pub draped in the ephemera of patriotism, Paul Watson’s play ‘Men of Hope’ explores sensitive male issues, difficult lives and the sexual relationships of its regulars. Gathered together in high expectation of an English World Cup win the mood of the men blackens as our football team are out played by the old enemy, Germany. Interweaving the games intense moments with the emotional drinkers ‘Men of Hope’ exposes a variety of revealing outbursts from those watching: a culture of hopelessness, an inability to cope with relationships and the every day needs of being a man. Colin and Dean, lovers for years, are facing up to Colin’s irascible temper and terminal cancer. John is advising Dave to leave his unfaithful wife and live with Lola, the pub’s barmaid. The landlord Gerry also desires to woo Dave ‘a man with a miserable wife and sleeps alone is fair game I’d say’. For Lola it’s a declaration of war! Max; a sexually aware virgin from the local public school seeks enlightenment from Andrea. Greying Jonathan is in the clutches of a Russian 55 million dollar con. The football match is eventually hijacked with tragic consequence by Gareth and his gang of tin pot car drivers.
Notes to Self. By Deborah Wain. Doreen has been in a care home for two years. Her son Robert visits but finds it hard to have a meaningful relationship with his mother, unlike his partner Karen. A performance at the home reveals music to have a powerful effect on Doreen. Can it offer an opportunity for Robert to make a new connection with her? A drama about Alzheimer’s disease based on real experiences and interwoven with recordings of music sessions carried out in care homes and day centres.
Owls. By Paul Evans. A fictional story written and narrated by Paul Evans and based on an island legend about a brother and sister who were bound by a wish sworn on a barn owl feather, which in turn became a curse that proved fatal.
Prenup. Playwright Peter Jukes drama looks at the impact on a divorcing couple of recent changes to British prenuptial law. Two academics – British Paul and Amercian Amy – have married in the US with a prenuptial agreement. They did so because Paul’s previous marriage ended in a messy divorce, making him wary of future commitment. But Paul loves Amy and was relieved to hear that like him she doesn’t want children (access issues round his daughter Iona have greatly complicated his life in recent years.) And because the loss of his house has been traumatic, Amy also generously suggested a ‘prenup’ to allay his fears of losing more of his property and pension. But now things have gone wrong and Amy has filed for divorce. She has done so in Britain, believing that the agreement they signed before marriage will not take effect. However, the law is about to change… (How will the change in legislation impact on the couple and their futures?)
The Prince. By Jonathan Myerson. Five hundred years after writing his most provocative political tract, Niccolo Machiavelli appears before an infernal court to appeal against the harsh treatment his works have received over time. Rather than being seen as a description of political cynicism and opportunism, he argues that “Machiavellian” should be a compliment and ‘The Prince’ has in fact been an infallible guidebook followed closely by all successful leaders.
Two edits are available; with or without episode introductions from BBC Political Editor Nick Robinson
The Ramayana. By Amber Lone. A distinctive modern version of an ancient Indian epic and one of the world’s most popular love stories. Teenage Sita sees the most beautiful stranger in the street. She’ll marry him or die. He is Prince Rama, heir to the throne but his stepmother wants Rama sent into exile. The ancient Indian epic The Ramayana is one of the world’s most popular love stories. The separation and reunion of two lovers gives it perennial appeal but Rama’s jealousy and Sita ‘s metamorphosis into a strong independent woman gives the story a contemporary feel. “Be as Rama,” young Indians have been taught for 2,000 years, “be as Sita.” but Rama is an interestingly flawed character, driven by powerful emotions in a world where monkeys can be gods, and gods can be as fallible as humans. Amber Lone’s modern version of this Indian epic is scheduled to coincide with Divali, the festival of Lights, which celebrates Rama and Sita’s return to their kingdom.
Say What You Want to Hear – The Startup. By Tim Wright. Do you have things you say to yourself? Things you wished you’d said, or wish other people had said? Dotcom entrepreneurs Erik and Mike set up Say What You Want to Hear, a website for people to voice these secret thoughts
Say What You Want to Hear – The Endgame. By Tim Wright. Dotcom entrepreneurs Erik and Mike set up Say What You Want to Hear, a website for people to voice these secret thoughts. This play follows their adventures as they pursue love, fortune, football and film stars across Europe.
Moving In. A hapless vicar discovers that life behind suburbia’s net curtains is not what he expected.
Entertaining Edwin. An old school chum visits hapless vicar Timothy, while two teenage tearaways terrorise residents.
Raising The Dead. Miss Tilling’s getting in touch with her spiritual side, but vicar Timothy is not so keen.
Miss Willow And The One-eyed Gentleman. Vicar Timothy Carswell visits some of the more sinister members of his flock.
Mrs Garland’s Good Deeds. Vicar Timothy Carswell steps in when the over-70s keep fit club gets out of hand. Stars James Grout.
The Resurrection Of Reverend Carswell. Shocks galore for the hapless vicar, with his congregation stolen and his shock new title.
The Living Daylights. By Ian Fleming. James Bond battles to rescue a trapped British agent. Cold War thriller set in Berlin. Read by Dan Stevens.
Max Is Calling. By Gayle Lynds. An idealistic CIA recruit is pitched against a cynical veteran. Simon Lee Phillips reads Gayle Lynds’ thriller set in Vienna.
The Red Carnation. By Baroness Orczy. A former Russian spy’s loyalties are tested over an assassination plot. Adjoa Andoh reads the 19th-century thriller.
A Demon in My Head. By Jean-Hugues Oppel. The struggles of a troubled spy suffering from crippling migraines. Trevor White reads the existential tale.
More James Bond can be found on Drama Page 23.
Tiny. By Ben Lewis. This is the story of a legend in the making, a nervous young man lives at the dead end of a dead-end town. On his eighteenth birthday he comes into his inheritance. With a little help from an old teacher, he finds it equips him to broadcast over the internet. Living in a house where rolling news is a constant presence, he does what comes naturally – he fires up his computer and presents the news. But his news is different it puts a spring in its audience’s step. That is, until his grandma starts to grow suspicious about what this boy is getting up to, nightly in his bedroom, and tries to put a stop to the broadcasts completely.
Stopgap. By Julie Mayhew. New graduate Max takes a temp job while on her way to bigger things. She considers her colleague Emma to be a victim of dull office life, but Emma’s secret postcards tell a very different story.
Strangers and Brothers. By C P Snow. Adaptation of C P Snow’s epic series of novels about the English establishment. Set amid the politically turbulent times surrounding World War II, Strangers and Brothers chronicles the impassioned life of young Englishman Lewis Eliot. In a world where truth and justice test the personal philosophies of even the strongest men, Eliot is the ambitious lawyer fighting the temptations that could ruin his personal and professional life. Eliot’s decisions lead his career on a tempestuous journey of success, tragedy, and rekindled love. Throughout it all, Eliot realizes his true “brothers” masquerade as “strangers.”
Tall Stories. By Samina Baig. Samina’s life is a whirl of work and worry about her single status until a family crisis stops her in her tracks. Both her parents are admitted into separate hospitals forcing her to come to terms with their sudden entry into old age. Between hospital visits, emergency phone calls and cookery lessons, she attempts to finally grow up and preserve the fading family memories that connect her to her roots. But then things take a turn for the worse…
Tetherdown. By Scott Cherry and Gregory Evans. The place: London. The threat of terrorism, imported and home-grown, hangs in the air. A recession bites. Fresh crimes of violence are reported daily, with Londoners torn between fascination and fear, and the police struggling to retain the confidence of the public. The year: 1896. In the well-heeled suburb of Muswell Hill, Henry Smith, a retired engineer, is found tied-up and beaten to death in his own home. Scotland Yard detectives are on the scene within the hour, but their investigations are hampered by judges and politicians, who refuse to recognise the latest breakthrough in forensic science, fingerprints. “The British policeman,” says a high court judge,” must depend on his customary tenacity and ingenuity.” As the detectives identify suspects, and launch a nationwide manhunt, news of the crimes goes global, with reports in newspapers as far apart as the USA and New Zealand. Tetherdown (the name of the road where the murder took place) is a fast-moving play by Scott Cherry and Gregory Evans which views these tragic events of over a century ago through the prism of 2010. Every character is based on a real person connected to the case.
We Happened to be Passing. By David Nobbs. It is a quiet Saturday morning in the Hinchcliffe home. Tony and Sal, tired after a week of work, have time on their hands. But not for each other. Middle aged and middle class – they haven’t had kids and they still feel that emotional vacuum. The doorbell rings. It is an American couple – Monty and Janey – a rather loud duo they stayed with in Delaware years ago. They said “If ever you happened to be passing…”. Well, the Americans are passing and they have no hotel booked. To Tony’s horror Sal invites them to stay. Well, it’s only polite isn’t it? Once Monty and Janey are settled the doorbell goes again. It is Jan and Hilda, the Flemish Belgian couple from Bruges. They kindly helped when Janey had a migraine in Bruges. Even fed them some waterzooi (flemish stew). In gratitude Sal and Tony said – “If ever you happened to be passing.” Then the doorbell goes again – it is Pierre and Colette, French Belgians who helped them in Namur when Sal was sick over a Saab because she had eaten some cloying Flemish stew. In gratitude they said – “If ever you happened to be passing.” So – polite Tony and Sal have a house full. The Americans are loud and pompous and the Belgians loathe each other. But when Colette and Jan find themselves drawn to one another, the ensuing, messy crisis precipitates a reassessment of all the couples’ pattern of a behaviour.