The Graduate. By Charles Webb. It’s summer in the Californian suburbs and Benjamin Braddock is worried about his future. It’s the summer of 1963 in suburban California and Benjamin Braddock has the world at his feet. He’s just graduated from university with a teaching scholarship, his dad has bought him a fancy new Italian sports car, and all the Braddocks’ friends and neighbours have been invited to a house party to celebrate. There’s just one problem. Benjamin refuses to leave his room. He’s worried about his future. His parents are perplexed. The stalemate is broken when Ben agrees to give the wife of his father’s business partner, Mrs Robinson, a lift home. She’s the same age as his mother, fabulously sexy, and bent on seduction.
Andy Warhol’s Wig. By David Lemon. Thomas, a young artist obsessed with the 60s, goes on an eventful roadtrip with his maverick artist hero.
Anita and Me. Meera Syal’s novel about 12-year-old Meena, growing up in the Black Country in the 1970s.
Atching Tan – A Gypsy Wife. By Dan Allum. Colourful and authentic drama set around the goings-on of Long Summer Traveller Site. When young couple Charity and Sol arrive on the site, their new neighbours Lovvie and Nelius are forced to make some difficult decisions when they discover Sol’s dark secret.
Ballad of Reading Gaol. by Oscar Wilde, written in exile either in Berneval-le-Grand or in Dieppe, France, after his release from Reading Gaol on 19 May 1897. Wilde had been incarcerated in Reading after being convicted of homosexual offences in 1895 and sentenced to two years’ hard labour in prison. During his imprisonment, on Tuesday, 7 July 1896, a hanging took place. Charles Thomas Wooldridge had been a trooper in the Royal Horse Guards. He was convicted of cutting the throat of his wife, Laura Ellen, earlier that year at Clewer, near Windsor. He was aged 30 when executed.
There are two versions available:
v1. A 1994 live benefit performance read by Ian McKellen, Neil Tennant and Stephen Fry.
v2. A 2010 reading introduced by Roger McGough and read by Sam West.
Doing Time: The Last Ballad of Reading Gaol. By Mike Walker. A spine-chilling serial murderer, a controversial biscuit, a grand piano and a lesson in the art of a good hanging – Mike Walker’s unsettling drama, made to mark the closure of Reading Gaol after 170 years, shows there’s more to its story than Oscar Wilde’s famous Ballad.The play is a shocking reminder of the lengths society will go to in the name of justice – a fearful mixture of soul crushing isolation and the physical punishment of hard labour. Oscar is on hand to give us some typically Wildean analysis. There are more Irish elements, too – republicans offering some rousing and organised resistance to the gaol’s stark regime. There’s a visitation from the Ogress of Reading, a miscarriage of justice and, perhaps most shocking of all, we hear from one of the many children locked up for the kind of petty crime which is born mostly of poverty. And, as Reading gaol’s very last prisoner prepares for life on the outside – have things moved on?
Beyond Endurance. By Meredith Hooper. Dominic West stars as Ernest Shackleton in Meredith Hooper’s play, charting the great explorer’s 1914 Endurance expedition planning to cross Antarctica, told in the words of the explorers themselves. Just over a hundred years ago, with war breaking out in Europe, Sir Ernest Shackleton set out on what is considered the last major expedition of the heroic age of polar exploration – to cross the Antarctic from coast to coast. This is the story of that expedition, told in the words of the men themselves, through their diaries, accounts and journals. It was an expedition that became known for being one of the great feats of endurance, and one from which Shackleton was determined not to lose a single man.
Dominic West. West is best known for portraying Detective Jimmy McNulty in the HBO drama series The Wire.
Lucinda Brayford. By Martin Boyd. Story of a beautiful and wealthy Australian girl who marries into the English aristocracy at a time of great change to the traditional order.
Bridge. By Donna Franceschild. A witty and moving real-time drama. A woman’s sitting on a bench when a stranger approaches her and nothing she says will make him leave.
Cat Out of Hell. By Lynne Truss, author of the bestselling Eats, Shoots and Leaves, the mysterious tale of a cat with nine lives. And a relationship as ancient as time itself and just as powerful. The scene – an isolated cottage on the coast, on a stormy evening. Inside, Alec a recently bereaved widower and his dog. To pass the time Alec explores the contents of a folder of documents emailed to him by an acquaintance at the library where he used to work. What he discovers is an extraordinary story that will change his life forever.
Chowringhee. Mani Shankar Mukerji’s ‘Chowringhee’ is a gentle comedy of life in a grand Calcutta hotel in the late 1950s adapted for radio by Roger James Elsgood from a translation from the Bengali by Arunava Sinha. The story tells of the events that befall a bright but naive young Bengali when he is unexpectedly given a job behind the reception counter in ‘The Shahjahan’, Calcutta’s finest hotel. He becomes entangled in the rocky romantic life of the manager, Marco Polo, he is caught in the crossfire of a diva of the silver screen and her possessive husband and witnesses the tragedy that befalls the beautiful but vulnerable resident hostess. These stories are played out against the backdrop of a newly independent India in a time of austerity and social unrest.
Cock. By Mike Bartlett. The Royal Court Theatre production of Mike Bartlett’s acclaimed and uncompromising play. On a break from his boyfriend, John accidentally falls for a woman, causing pain all round and exploding John’s conceptions of his relationship, his sexuality and his identity.
Warning: This play contains language that may offend.
Cordite for Breakfast. By Ben Ockrent. In the world of Napoleonic-era battle re-enactments, the King’s Brigade are what are known as ‘hard-liners’. Every stitch is crossed just so and every button a perfect match for the original. Martin is Major General of the King’s Brigade and his daughter Amy has become increasingly worried that his hobby is harming her parents’ marriage. So on the most important weekend of his calendar – the Battle of Waterloo – Amy adopts the disguise of a male soldier, crosses enemy lines and stages an almighty intervention.
A Monstrous Vitality. By Andy Merriman. June Whitfield stars as the indomitable actress Margaret Rutherford in a tale of chimpanzees, Jordanian Princes, an adoring husband and falling in love with a musician 30 years her junior.
Day Release. By Peter Jukes. Lenny Henry stars as Frank, a lifer on day release. Double murderer Frank Watt is allowed out of prison for a series of days prior to being released on licence. On day one, he’s looking forward to coming out, but he’s institutionalised and things have changed a lot since the 80s. Plus, Frank’s got some old business to sort.
DH Lawrence – Daughters of the Vicar. Dramatised by Jane Beeson. Louisa and Mary, daughters of the impoverished vicar of Aldecross, see marriage as the only means of escape from their routine lives. The arrival of a new young curate fills them with anticipation, but will his intellectual qualities match up to the more physical attractions of Alfred Durant, the son of a local miner?
DH Lawrence – The Shades of Spring. (R) DH Lawrence’s short story is read by Peter Meakin. Addy Syson returns to the home of his youth; the land waits for him unaltered, but not the girl he used to love.
DH Lawrence – Women in Love. Gerald and Rupert, two very different gentlemen, with two very different responses to love.
Dividing the Union. By James Graham. David Cameron travels to Edinburgh for face to face negotiations with Alex Salmond after Scotland votes “Yes” vote to Independence. The pound, nuclear weapons, even the BBC is up for discussion. What the two men decide will shape the future of these islands.
Euston to Whitechapel. By Nicola Baldwin. When London taxi driver Marshall detours suddenly off the rank at Euston Station to pick up a passenger he mistakes for his estranged daughter, he does not expect what happens next. Over a 45-minute trip to the Royal London Hospital, Marshall revisits the story of his life. Meanwhile, paramedic Corinne is called to attend a road accident outside Euston and also travels to the Royal London, transporting an unconscious patient. As her patient’s condition deteriorates it requires all her skill and compassion to keep her passenger alive. For both cabbie Marshall and medic Corinne, a routine afternoon’s work turns into a life and death journey. In this real-time drama, Marshall’s and Corinne’s stories shadow one another and interweave like vehicles caught in London traffic.
A Flat Patch of Grass. By Muriel Gray. What has caused a ten-year-old boy to firebomb the home of his elderly, house-bound neighbour? Child psychologist Vivienne McKay has never seen a case like it: the boy, Neville, is from an ordinary loving family and has never been in trouble before. The police have one clue to go on, a name, Razbunare, the only thing the boy will tell them. As they question Eastern Europeans working on local farms, Vivienne slowly gains Neville’s trust. But nothing in her training or experience prepares her for what he eventually reveals about what led him to commit such a terrible crime.
Gerontius. By Stephen Wyatt. Destined to be the first English saint for centuries, the great theologian, poet and Catholic convert Cardinal John Henry Newman (1801-90) insisted in his will that he was to be buried in the same grave as fellow convert Fr Ambrose St John whom he had known for over thirty years. Written by award-winning playwright Stephen Wyatt and starring Derek Jacobi as Newman, this highly-imaginative play explores the relationship between Newman and Ambrose, the concerns aroused at the time and the controversy surrounding the decision to exhume their bodies.
Gift. By Philip Palmer. Richard has been on haemodialysis for almost three years as a result of end stage kidney disease, and his son Martin has offered to donate his own kidney to help his father. But there’s more to this gift than either father or son wish to let on.
Goodnight to Flamboro’. By Martyn Wade. Douglas Hodge stars in this play about composer William Baines who died in 1922, with many of his compositions still unperformed.
Hashtag Humfrey Coningsby. By Jonathan Davidson. A Shropshire gentleman from the 1500s find himself time-travelling to the Syrian border of Turkey in 2015. There he falls in love with a sultan’s daughter but is also pursued by a present day war reporter. To cap it call he finds himself addicted to social media and involuntarily tweeting and posting status updates about himself.
Jonathan Davidson wrote this play after coming across the beautiful stone memorial to a real Humfrey Coningsby in the parish church of Neen Sollars in rural Shropshire. The inscription there recorded Coningsby’s first travels to Europe at the end of the sixteenth century but also described his disappearance without trace on a subsequent walk to Constantinople. Why did he vanish? Where did he go? What became of him?
Hive Mind. By Simon Bovey. Spring in 2019 is not the riot of colour it used to be. The honeybee is now officially extinct and farmer Sam Clark struggles to raise a crop worth a damn. But man has adapted and every spring an army of migrant workers, led by foreman Amra Walczak, descends on Sam’s farm to laboriously pollinate by hand. This spring, however, science offers a new solution, Honeybots, tiny robots that are effectively crawling bees, and Sam’s put his farm forward for a trial. Once released, thousands of Honeybots course through the fields, pollinating the flowers in a fraction of the time it takes Amra and her team, and once their job done they return automatically to their hive chest. That evening, however, dead birds and mice are found in the fields.
Hearts and Minds – The Siege of Musa Qala. By Adrian Bean. In 2006 Musa Qala, a small town in Southern Afghanistan, became the setting for a dramatic siege. British soldiers, starved of supplies, fought to hold the city against relentless Taliban attack. This drama-documentary tells the story from the perspective of the Afghan locals, focusing on a fictional young Taliban recruit. Rasoul is a 17 year-old Afghan boy who leaves behind his life as a goatherd to join the ranks of the Taliban, in an attempt to emulate the glory of his Soviet-fighting Grandfather. But as the siege of Musa Qala draws on, Rasoul must confront the realities of a bitter and deadly war.
Humanly Possible. By Sarah Daniels. Two babies spend the same day on the same Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Their cases are very different and entirely unrelated. Until the feelings and decisions of one set of parents begin to irrevocably affect the other.
A Man’s World. By Adrian Mead. A compelling drama following the lives of four violent male offenders thrown together on a six-month rehabilitation course. If they pass, they get a community service order. If they fail, they have to serve their jail sentence. Written by Waking The Dead writer, Adrian Mead. Attendance is compulsory at The Men’s Group as all the participants have recently been convicted of a serious violent crime. This pioneering course works to challenge and radically alter the participants’ behaviour by forcing them to confront and recognise why aggression and violence shapes their lives. At stake is their freedom. Upon completion of the twenty-five-week course the courts ask the tutor, the central character Angela (played by Siobhan Redmond), to recommend either a community sentence or a jail term. In the group there is nowhere to hide. Many participants in the real life course have stated that if they had known what they were expected to face, they would have opted for a jail sentence instead – “In your head you’re sayin’, what are they going to think of me if I really tell them everything? But the other guys see it, and they push you further, to the really dark stuff you never tell no one.” The drama captures the terror of facing up to your past and finding new ways to behave, or going to jail. Getting in touch with your feelings doesn’t come easily to guys like this, but it is their only way out of jail, and is a hugely important issue for Britain today.
Mrs Pickwick’s Papers. By Mike Walker. Mrs Joyce Pickwick, roving commissioner for local government, has been a thorn in the side of the civil service for years, and try as he might, Mr Scrope can’t seem to get rid of her. But now, as Mrs P gets in too deep in an investigation into the waste disposal business, he thinks he is in with a chance.
November Dead List. By Nick Perry. Nicola Walker stars as a detective in this gritty crime drama. Each Roman Catholic parish compiles a Book of the Dead from the lists of departed loved ones submitted by parishioners. Printed on the front of the envelopes are three words: November Dead List. A young priest opens one such envelope and discovers – not a list of the dead but a list of people he knows to be alive, and members of his congregation. At first he thinks it’s someone’s idea of a joke. Then the people named start turning up dead.
The Radetzky March. By Joseph Roth. Literary critic Harold Blom described Joseph Roth’s The Radetzky March as “One of the most readable, poignant and superb novels in twentieth century German”. This is the story of the Trottas, a family of Slovenian peasants ennobled when Lieutenant Joseph Trotta saves Emperor Franz Joseph’s life at the Battle of Solferino in 1859. Most of the action, however, is set in the early years of the twentieth century and con-cerns the next two generations of Trottas, a bureaucrat and a soldier: the Baron – stiff, guarded, but secretly loving – and his son, the feckless, disaster-prone Carl Joseph. The Radetzky March is a novel about the ending of things: love affairs, friendships, individual lives, dynasties, an empire, a world.
There are two versions available:
v1. Saturday Night Theatre version from 1976 directed by Eva Tucker. (Sound quality is of the time.)
v2. Classic Serial version from 2013 directed by Marc Beeby.