For Whom the Bell Tolls. By Ernest Hemingway. High in the pine forests of the Spanish Sierra, a young American volunteer prepares to blow up a vital bridge as part of a Republican offensive during the Spanish Civil War. There, in the mountains and surrounded by the enemy, he camps with a band of guerrillas tasked with helping him. But he soon makes a dangerous enemy within the camp and, despite his better judgement, is drawn to Maria, a young woman who has escaped Franco’s rebels.
13A, 13B. Romcom by award-winning playwright Peter Souter. When Jess turns up in the seat next to Phil on a flight to Rome, it soon becomes clear that it’s not a coincidence. But even the best-laid plans can be derailed by mysterious strangers and a fear of flying.
1977. By Sarah Wooley. In 1977 the bestselling children’s novel Watership Down was made into an animated film. Malcolm Williamson, Master of the Queens music, had been hired as the film’s composer. But all was not well. Williamson, a notoriously difficult and complicated man, was under extreme pressure; it was the Queens jubilee year and he was over commissioned. When the film’s conductor, Marcus Dods, arrived looking for the film’s score he found to his horror that all that existed were two small sketches of music which amounted to no more than seven minutes of screen time. With an expensive orchestra and recording studio booked for the following week, the film’s future looked to be in jeopardy. In desperation he turned to the one person he knew could help; composer and arranger Angela Morley. But she, for her own reasons, was going to need some persuading…
79 Birthdays. One of the first pieces of radio drama was broadcast in 1928 under the title ‘Kaleidoscope’. It told the story of one ‘ordinary’ British man’s life – then 70 years – in sound. No recording or script of that original broadcast now exists, but the idea has always intrigued poet Michael Symmons Roberts. Now, as the average male lifespan in Britain reaches 79, this drama takes up the challenge, telling the story of Jimmy through significant birthdays on the road to his 79th. Jimmy loses his life before it begins when he’s being born. A guardian angel, Leila is waiting for him. Jimmy is desperate to know what would have happened to him had he been born . After a lot of persuasion, Leila grants Jimmy his wish, showing him his life as he spools through his birthdays, playing out the key moments in full.
A Book by Lester Tricklebank. By Richard Lumsden. Lester has never left home, maybe because he’s got a secret that’s too big to carry around the world, maybe because he loves Derbyshire too much. But now its time to tell all so Lester decides to face up to the past and write a book. But where to start?
A History of Paper. By Oliver Emanuel. A man goes through a cardboard box. Each piece of paper he picks out holds a memory. Pieced together the memories tell the story of an everyday and extraordinary love affair. Folded into that is a brief, and sometimes fictional, history of paper.
A Northern Soul. By Hattie Naylor. Two men settle old scores, 35 years after their involvement in the Northern Soul scene. It’s 1978 and the Northern Soul scene is at its peak. UK Manufacturing is thriving, Unions are strong, and blue-collar labourers have money in their pockets. Working class black Americans have moved from the Deep South to work in the car factories of Detroit and what has emerged from them is a new kind of soul music – upbeat, rhythmic and aspirational. British car factory workers have also found that the music’s mood and rhythm speaks for them and Northern Soul has become an exclusive music and dance scene with its own code and culture, focussing on Friday all-nighters. Mark, a 17-year-old, middle class lad, gets his first job – in a car factory in Wolverhampton. Super cool factory worker Jerry introduces him to Northern Soul and Mark is hooked. He wants to be a part of it – the music, clothes, and all-nighters. Winning Jerry’s friendship, he asks to go to Wigan Casino, voted the best club in the world – but Jerry questions Mark’s authenticity and is undecided whether to take him. Thirty-five years later and Mark, now a married father and a journalist living in London, interviews Jerry about the end of the Northern Soul scene. For Jerry, the memories recall a tainted time of union power and working class freedoms confronted by the rise of the political right. For Mark, the memories hold emotional confusions. Buried hurts resurface between the two men and old scores are settled about class, music and identity.
A Slow Air. By David Harrower. Siblings Morna and Athol haven’t spoken to each other for fourteen years. As they recount their troubled history, they tell the story of modern Scotland. Athol lives in Houston, round the corner from where the Glasgow Airport bombers planned their raid in 2007. He believes that only Scotland could produce such ‘crap terrorists’. Dyed-in-the-wool SNP supporter Morna remembers the good old days of well-intended protest. As they talk, their differences – political, social, even musical – begin to seem less important.
A Special Kind of Dark. A psychological thriller by Adrian Penketh. A year ago Caspar was locked up and declared criminally insane. Finally he breaks his silence to reveal a deadly tale of love and politics. But is he telling the truth?
A World Elsewhere. By Clara Glynn. Rida is a Glasgow teenager. Like a lot of teenagers she argues with her mum, stresses about exams and spends too long on her computer. But as a young Muslim the pressures that she faces in her life, and the escape that she dreams of online, may contain dangers she has yet to imagine. This innovative radio drama all takes place in Rida’s online world – the place where she feels she can most be herself. We listen to the YouTube clips she finds, her instant messaging with friends and the bloggers she reads.
A Year at the Races. By Neil Brand. Nearing the end of his career Groucho Marx meets a young star-struck fan, who also happens to be a wisecracking horse doctor. Determined to keep her idol’s star shining, she attempts to teach the old funny man some new comedy tricks. A fast-talking comedy drama about fame and the lasting power of a witty-one-liner.
An Everyday Story of Afghan Folk. By Liz Rigbey. Based on a PACT Radio production led by John Butt. A daily soap that gives a slice of village life sounds familiar, doesn’t it? But this isn’t The Archers — Brian is not troubled by revenge killings on his land, nor Lynda worried that her bed is on a south-facing wall in summer. As well as these examples of high and low drama this adaptation of PACT Radio’s daily soap, made by and for the Pashtun people of the Afghan-Pakistani border region, also explores the conflict between religion and tribal law. At times the heavy-handed exposition detracts from the drama, but there are enough interesting storylines — from murder and dogfights to arguments over lost bracelets and the troubles of young love — to make this an eye-opening take on the reality of life in this part of the world.
In the first series we meet the wealthy, landowning family of Akbar Khan. A criminal and warlord, Akbar Khan welcomes his son’s friend to his household. His good wife, Shah Bibi, fears that the lad is on the run and has asked for refuge. She hopes the visitor will keep his hands clean while he is staying but Akbar Khan is pleased to find someone who will help his criminal activities. Akbar Khan’s elder son, Wisal, shares his mother’s opinion of the guest. But he has other things on his mind – like the pretty young girl from the poorest family in the village who works in their household.
Wealthy landowner Akbar Khan (Sagar Arya) is asserting his power in violent opposition to the village’s new school.
Wisal, the son of a wealthy and powerful village warlord, wants to marry Zarlakhta – but she is already betrothed to her heroin-addicted cousin.
Refugee Mewa Gul faces an impossible dilemma when the son of Akbar Khan, the local warlord, shoots and kills one of his cows during a midnight raid. Determined to seek recompense, Mewa takes his complaints to the Khan, but they fall on deaf ears. Now out of favour, the impoverished farmer is forced to consider moving back to the home he was forced to flee two years earlier to avoid the fighting.
Another Life. By Nicholas Gleaves. Two strangers bump into each other in the bread aisle of the local supermarket. It’s a meeting that will mark both their lives in unexpected places and unexpected ways. Both are currently following the map of their lives, Glenn makes marble kitchen tops and is married to Claire, surrounded by the monotonous demands of family life, and Suzanne is married to psychotherapist Guy who is definitely ‘on the verge’. The encounter with an attractive stranger releases butterflies in your belly. That attractive stranger is now talking to you and you just can’t stop yourself from imagining what their life’s like – how their life could revitalize yours and how your new life together would be the answer to all your questions. It just so happens that this stranger’s inventing a version of your life too. Fast forward ten years and they are reminded of what could have been in ‘Another Life’.
Asha’s World. By Bettina Gracias. Confusion reigns in a tale of mistaken identities, when Asha’s friend impersonates her on a blind date.
Betrayal. By Harold Pinter. Harold Pinter’s acclaimed drama about a love affair and the intricate nature of deceit which is told in reverse time from its poignant ending to its thrilling first kiss.
Big Sky. Thriller by Anna Maloney. Ambitious Australian lawyer, Lindsey Regan, wants to get her client out of Guantanamo prison and back to his family in Australia. He claims he was beaten and tortured somewhere abroad until he confessed to a terrorism plot. He also claims he briefly escaped his captors during a refuelling stopover at a Scottish airport.
Blasphemy and the Governor of Punjab. By Owen Bennett-Jones. On 4th January 2011, self-made millionaire businessman and governor of Punjab, Salmaan Taseer, was gunned down in the car park of a popular Islamabad market. He had been leading a campaign to amend Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, after an illiterate 45-year-old Christian woman, Asia Bibi, from a village in his province had been sentenced to death for blasphemy. Within hours of his death, a Facebook fan page for the assassin Mumtaz Qadri had over 2000 members, before site administrators shut it down. When Qadri was transferred to jail, he was garlanded with roses by a crowd of lawyers offering to take on his case for free. President Asif Ali Zardari, an old friend of Taseer’s, didn’t go to the funeral for fear of inflaming public opinion. Leaders of state-funded mosques refused to say funeral prayers for the slain governor. The Interior Minister even gave an impromptu press conference announcing that he too would kill any blasphemer “with his own hands”. Using his extensive contacts in Pakistan, presenter Owen Bennett-Jones has interviewed Taseer’s family and friends and the family of the assassin. He has also secured access to court documents including the killer’s confession.
The programme includes both interviews and dramatic reconstructions.
Bright Spark. By Eve Davies. Janine is a witness in a court case. She has persuaded her friend Mel to testify as well. The events happened over twenty five years ago. Can they persuade the jury their teacher abused them? Powerful drama about historical child abuse.
Calendar Girls. A play by Tim Firth based on the motion picture Calendar Girls written by Tim Firth and Juliette Towhidi. Ambridge Queen of Am Dram, Lynda Snell, presents Tim Firth’s comedy drama about a group of WI members who make a naked calendar in order to raise money for charity.
Can’t Live Without You. By Kellie Smith. A psychological thriller about a man’s craving for control in his marriage. When Greg’s partner Anna becomes ill and needs constant care Greg flourishes as her carer and becomes intoxicated by her dependency. Greg’s apparent overwhelming love for his partner, his deepening desire to feel needed takes him to the limit in their relationship.
Charlotte Bronte in Babylon. By Charlotte Cory. Drama charting five momentous visits Charlotte Bronte made to London.
Clean Trade. By Winsome Pinnock. Former ‘Casualty’ regular Ivana Basic is Rosa in Winsome Pinnock’s new drama set in an investment bank. We follow the changing fortunes of a tight knit group of cleaners and members of a Jamaican style ‘pardner ring’ – a type of savings club. There’s one problem – they have hardly any savings and all have terrible financial problems. Led by wannabe trader Nessa, they try their hand at trading on the stock market. Much to their surprise they start to make money, but as they do so they find that their new found riches lead to conflict as their friendships are put to the test.
Close the Coalhouse Door. By Alan Plater with songs by Alex Glasgow. Based on the stories of Sid Chaplin, with additional material by Lee Hall. Northern Stage and Live Theatre’s production of the celebrated sixties political docudrama. An exhilaratingly furious, funny and ultimately moving ride through the strikes, victories and frustrations of British mining history, the play captures the political anger and fight for justice of ordinary people from the formation of the first Unions in 1831. At its heart beats the joyous, soulful music of Alex Glasgow, inspired by the anthems of working people.
Sid Chaplin’s stories outline all the major strikes, victories and disappointments in British mining history from the formation of the first unions in 1830s all the way through to the 1960s. Alan Plater uses the dramatic device of a Geordie family celebration as a framework to tell this history whilst their own story unfolds in 1968. One son, Frank, has left behind the mines to study at university, while his brother John is a dissatisfied pitman. Frank brings home his liberated girlfriend free-spirited student Ruth who threatens to tear them apart in the central love story.
“The terrible thing about history, said Orwell, is how few names of its slaves have been preserved. Tenderly and furiously ‘Close the Coalhouse Door’ does a little to redress that injustice” – The Observer.