Go Set a Watchman. (R) By Harper Lee. Harper Lee’s explosive second novel, believed lost for decades after the publication of To Kill a Mockingbird. Maycomb, Alabama. Twenty-six-year-old Jean Louise Finch – ‘Scout’ – returns home from New York City to visit her ageing father, Atticus. Set against the backdrop of the civil rights tensions and political turmoil that were transforming the South, Jean Louise’s homecoming turns bittersweet when she learns disturbing truths about her close-knit family, the town and the people dearest to her. Memories from her childhood flood back, and her values and assumptions are thrown into doubt. Featuring many of the iconic characters from To Kill a Mockingbird, Go Set a Watchman perfectly captures a young woman, and a world, in painful yet necessary transition out of the illusions of the past – a journey that can be guided only by one’s own conscience.
Going to Ground. By Simon Passmore. 1940, Kent. England is on full alert in anticipation of a German invasion. As church bells sound the alarm, a secret resistance unit springs into action. Whatever happens, none of them expects to see their families again. This wartime drama features the exploits of an English guerrilla unit trained to make things as difficult as possible for the German invasion force. The existence of the covert Auxiliary Units during World War II only became widely known in the 1990s. They were patrols of 4 to 8 men with orders to disappear as soon as the bells sounded. Southern England was dotted with dozens of secret underground bunkers which served as their bases. Trained and equipped with the best guerrilla weapons available, their orders were to sabotage and snipe at the invading army; to gather information on troop movements. Completely cut off by design, they operated in total secrecy and isolation. Their life expectancy was calculated officially at 14 days.
Haunting Women. Series of ghostly stories by Irish novelist Dermot Bolger.
The Linen Mill. When 82-year-old Ellie revisits her old workplace, she is in turn visited by the past. Can she be forgiven?
The Wedding Bouquet. Could the tale of a tragic marriage from 1677 have implications for a couple tying the knot today?
The Waiting Wall. Grandmother Sarah returns to the village she grew up in, and relives the scandal and tragedy of her sister.
The Shimmering Dress. In 19th-century Ireland, the beautiful Cecilia rejects the squire’s advances. But can she ever escape him?
The Riding Crop. A bitter dispute between sisters 200 years ago means a precious wedding gift must be cared for in the present.
Headlong. By Michael Frayn. Toby Jones, Gina McKee, Tim McInnerny and Denise Gough in Robin Brooks’ adaptation of Michael Frayn’s novel. Martin is asked to value some paintings and, though he’s no expert, he is immediately sure one of them is a priceless missing masterpiece. With over-reaching ambition, he sets about acquiring it without telling the owner what he thinks he has found, and rapidly gets in so deep that he puts everything at risk – even his marriage, even the painting itself.
Hedda Gabler. By Henrik Ibsen. Ibsen’s classic drama of passion and desperation. Directed by Psyche Stott from the Old Vic production, starring Sheridan Smith and Adrian Scarborough. Brian Friel’s version of Hedda Gabler throws new light on its two female archetypes – Hedda, the beautiful trapped and doomed heroine; and Thea, the less socially admired, yet much freer, new woman. Both women ultimately take their fate into their own hands, in very different ways. The play is set in the drawing room of the richly appointed new home to which George Tesman has brought his bride Hedda, after a lengthy honeymoon, spent mainly visiting research libraries for his current study on ‘domestic craft and husbandry as practised in Holland and parts of Belgium in the tenth century’. The very different aspirations of husband and wife are soon apparent as a stream of visitors – family, friends, past lovers, and current admirers – visit them.
Henrik Ibsen was a major 19th century Norwegian playwright, often referred to as “the father of realism”. His works include Brand, Peer Gynt, An Enemy of the People, Emperor and Galilean, A Doll’s House, Ghosts, The Wild Duck, Rosmersholm and The Master Builder.
I Capture the Castle. Dodie Smith’s classic story about an eccentric family and five star-crossed lovers, set in a crumbling castle in 1930s Suffolk
Jake Liebowitz A Life in Film. A new play by Oscar-winning writer Frederic Raphael about successful American film director Jake Liebowitz, charting the auteur’s long career, and drawing on Raphael’s own experience of writing for the cinema. Jake Liebowitz disappears unexpectedly from his home in France, presumed dead by drowning. His friend Alexandra Crawley, a film critic who has followed the ups and downs of his career, presents a look back at his movies. But will she find the truth about his death in the films? From his days as a kid with a movie camera in Brooklyn, on to Chicago, and finally to Hollywood, where he catches the end of the Golden Age, the play explores five decades of American film-making, through Jake’s fast-talking, often shocking lens.
Journey into Space – The Host. Toby Stephens plays Jet Morgan in a 21st-century remake of Chilton’s mould-breaking series from 1953, which originally won an audience of 6 million and earned him international recognition.
Jet Morgan and his crew get a distress call from an abandoned freighter. Jet and his comrades must find a way to defeat the vastly superior ‘Host’. If they fail, they will not only all perish, but mankind will become a dispensable stepping stone to a new chapter in evolution. From the original cast, David Jacobs, plays The Host.
Journey into Space – Frozen in Time. The sequel to Charles Chilton’s iconic radio sci-fi series. A tribute to Charles Chilton’s iconic 1960s series Journey into Space.
The crew of the spacecraft Ares awake from suspended animation in 2013. In this thrilling new episode, the spaceship Ares has been heading back to Earth for 30 years, with the crew in suspended animation – except Captain Jet Morgan, whose sleeper pod failed. With the ship six months from home, Jet picks up an SOS from Mars, and wakes the others to go on a rescue mission. But when our heroes meet up with the stranded crew it becomes apparent that all is not what it first appeared. Unwittingly caught up in seismic deception, it is not only the lives of the Ares crew which are at stake – the entire future of planet Earth could be in peril…David Jacobs – from the original radio series – stars as Jet Morgan, with Michael Beckley as Mitch, Alan Marriott as Doc and Chris Moran as Lemmy.
Kind Hearts and Coronets – Like Father, Like Daughter. By David Spicer. Natalie Walter is pursuing a title and Alistair McGowan plays the seven members of a family standing in her way in a sequel to the famous Edwardian comedy by Roy Horniman. The action of this new radio sequel to a classic comedy takes place some years after the death of the 10th Earl of Chalfont, a man who has systematically murdered his family in order to inherit his title. The twentieth century rolls on and even against a backdrop of international conflict and revolution,an Earldom is still not to be sniffed at apparently. It is rather to be fought for by fair means and foul. There are at least eight claimants to the Chalfont title, all of them ruthless. The Gascoyne family is a big one, its sense of entitlement enormous, its appetite for violence impressive and the family resemblance at times uncanny. A fresh modern take on a great comic plot, this Saturday Play draws both on the Edwardian novel ‘Israel Rank’ by Roy Horniman for inspiration. David Spicer’s entirely new version of this brilliantly simple story has something to offer both those who know the original and those who come to it for the first time.
King Charles III (with intro). By Mike Bartlett. After a lifetime of waiting, Charles ascends the throne. A future of power. But how to rule? Mike Bartlett’s ‘future history’ play won the 2015 Olivier Award for Best New Play. The production, directed by Rupert Goold, premiered at the Almeida Theatre before moving to the West End in a co-production with Sonia Friedman Productions and Stuart Thompson Productions.
This “bracingly provocative and outrageously entertaining new play” (The Independent) explores the people underneath the crowns, the unwritten rules of our democracy, and the conscience of Britain’s most famous family.
Love Me Do. By Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran. The Cuban missile crisis took place fifty years ago. For thirteen days in October the world teetered on the brink of nuclear destruction. Love Me Do, by the writers Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran, is a love story from the time when everyone thought the world was about to end. When Dorothy flys over to England from Kansas to attend the friend of a wedding she finds herself the only American there apart from ‘Shack’ who works at the American Embassy. But she soon finds herself arguing with him over his flippant attitude to life and specifically Dorothy’s marriage. But when she finds herself caught up in the crisis it is Shack who comes to her rescue and struggling to come to terms with the enormity of what’s happening to the world they find themselves falling in love.
Marnie. By Winston Graham. Shaun McKenna dramatises Winston Graham’s 1960s novel about a beautiful, ruthless thief. It’s 1961 and blonde and stunning Marnie Elmer poses as a secretary in order to steal from her employers and fund her mother’s existence in Torquay. But she’s yet to meet handsome company director, Mark Rutland, whose pursuit of her will ultimately lead to her downfall.
Winston Graham is probably best known for his “Poldark” series, but also wrote a number of taut thrillers, of which “Marnie” (written in 1961) may be the best remembered – having been filmed by Alfred Hitchcock in the early 1960s. This new adaptation for radio returns to the heart of the book itself.
No Defence Against Demons. By Brian Lee. Two young students are staying in a remote East Anglian village with their former tutor, who is convinced that witch-craft is being practised in the area. Their holiday turns into a nightmare experience with two men murdered, and a killer on the loose. The police are baffled … ‘ I’m puzzled by our man, Curtois. Having murdered this man, he takes time off to set fire to his caravan. And in escaping, leaves no discernible trace. He might have flown away. On a broom-stick, do you think? ‘
More detective stories in the Detective Pages.
Noughts and Crosses. By Malorie Blackman. Callum and Sephy have known each other since they were babies, when his Mum worked for hers. But Callum is a Nought – a second class citizen – and Sephy a Cross, one of the elite. Her father is also one of the country’s leading policiticians. No matter how much they may want to be together, the world is telling them they can’t. And soon bigger things will prevail. Like the bombing……….
Duchamp’s Urinal. A documentary fiction about how a men’s urinal changed the face of the art world at the turn of the 20th century. Presented by art-historian Ben Street, and a cast of other subversive characters.
Earworm. By Simon Passmore. Tasked with producing an item for a television show about Britain’s worst film director, researcher Mia goes in search for the fabled horror film Earworm and its creator. Urban myths surround this little known video nasty, with rumours that cast and crew suffered unexplained accidents during production, its director went into hiding after destroying all known copies of the film, and that its soundtrack is capable of affecting the viewer in sinister ways. Spurred on rather deterred by the myths, Mia seeks out the film’s secret, and in doing so, puts herself in danger.
Faceless Killers. (R) By Henning Mankell. Swedish inspector Kurt Wallander investigates an attack on an elderly couple.
More detective stories in the Detective Pages.
Feluda: The Mystery of the Elephant God. Satyajit Ray’s famous Bengali detective Feluda investigates the theft of a valuable statuette of Ganesh from a famous household.
More detective stories in the Detective Pages.
De Profundis. By Oscar Wilde. Simon Russell Beale reads the remarkable letter from Wilde to his lover Lord Alfred Douglas, while in Reading Gaol in 1897.
Phoebe Junior. By Margaret Oliphant. Miss Phœbe Tozer, the only daughter of the chief deacon and leading member of the Dissenting connection in Carlingford, married, shortly after his appointment to the charge of Salem Chapel, in that town, the Reverend Mr. Beecham, one of the most rising young men in the denomination. The marriage was in many ways satisfactory to the young lady’s family, for Mr. Beecham was himself the son of respectable people in a good way of business, and not destitute of means; and the position was one which they had always felt most suitable for their daughter, and to which she had been almost, it may be said, brought up.
The Shadow of Dorian Gray. By Stephen Wyatt. It’s 1895, and Oscar Wilde has just been convicted of gross indecency. London is in a moral panic. It’s a dangerous time to be John Gray, the man rumoured to have inspired Wilde’s scandalous novel ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’. Summoned to the Cafe Royal by a mysterious telegram, the whole course of John’s life will have changed by the time the evening is over.
The Song of Hiawatha. By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. This epic narrative poem, with its picturesque and highly imaginative tales, threads the many aspects of native American mythology concerning life, nature and ritual. Weaving together “beautiful traditions into a whole” as Longfellow intended.
Welcome to Zaatari. Two ambitious young women in Jordan are living very different lives. Reem’s Syrian family have fled to the sprawling Zaatari Refugee Camp. Jordanian Yara lives in the capital Amman, but is just starting as an aid worker at the camp. As Reem’s brothers struggle to survive – in the camp itself, working illegally in Amman, under fire in Syria, or en route to Germany – both families’ destinies will collide. And both will face impossible choices about their future. adapted from a Jordanian audio drama. Made in conjunction with Radio SouriaLi and UNHCR.
White Nights. By Ann Cleeves. Atmospheric crime drama set in Shetland at midsummer – the time of white nights, when the sun never quite leaves the sky and birds sing at midnight. The launch of Bella Sinclair’s art exhibition, at the Herring House Gallery in the remote hamlet of Biddista, is ruined by the appearance of a distressed stranger, claiming amnesia. The man is later found hanged but local detective Jimmy Perez has a hunch that it’s murder not suicide. When the dead stranger is finally identified, strands of clues point towards a dark secret held deep within the collective memory of the community, one which has brought death to the present.
More detective stories in the Detective Pages.
Translations. By Brian Friel. It’s the summer of 1833. In a hedge-school in Donegal, the schoolmaster’s prodigal son is about to return from Dublin. With him are two army officers. Their aim is to create a map of the area, and, in the process, replace the Irish place names with English equivalents. It’s an act with unexpected and violent consequences.
‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.
It Never Happened. Working on Christmas Eve is no fun if your eccentric boss acts even more oddly than usual. Robert Webb reads Arthur Mathews’ tale.
Gifts. A student gets more than a lift from some unusual travellers on Christmas Eve. Joe Armstrong reads Garry Kilworth’s tale.
Silver Hoof the Goat. Old Gregory adopts orphan Maggie and her cat Edmund for company. David Kelly and Hannah R Gordon read Carlo Gebler’s tale.
The Emergency Visit. As A&E Doctor Robert Johnson starts his shift, an unforgettable patient arrives. Philip Jackson reads Dominic Holland’s tale.
Not a Word of a Lie. Young Philip’s Christmas Eve encounter proves that the season is truly miraculous. James Fleet reads Philip Ardagh’s tale.
Votes for Women. By Elizabeth Robins. Zoe Tapper and Samuel West star in Elizabeth Robins’s play, first performed in 1907 and written to support the cause of women’s suffrage. Admired Conservative MP Geoffrey Stonor is relishing his engagement to the ebullient young heiress Jean Dunbarton until a chance encounter with the charismatic Vida Levering, an advocate of women’s suffrage, appears to threaten them both – not just politically, but personally too.