A SELECTION OF RADIO GEMS
unsuitable men with familiar smiles
Christine, 82 and ailing, tells extravagant tales of a dissolute and well-connected youth while her daughter Sally tries to identify the hazy line between truth and brain damage. Starring the magnificent Eleanor Bron. A video extract (video extracts of radio programmes - this is the modern world) is available here.
In 1968, Willie Rushton was trusted with the onerous task of conveying the cremated remains of Tony Hancock safely and respectfully back to England from Australia. The play gives a mostly fictional account of Rushton's altercations with airport officialdom as he tries to leave Sydney.
the year they invented sex
The first British trials of the contraceptive pill took place in Birmingham in 1960, initiated by the formidable Lella Florence, contraception’s champion, and financed by Captain Bird the custard king. The five part comedy/drama traces the fortunes of three women who took part in the trial and represented in microcosm the social and political upheavals the pill was to bring about.
the true and inspirational life of saint nicholas
an account, with music, theological disputation and flying reindeer, of how St. Nicholas, a fourth century Turkish ascetic, became Santa Claus, patron saint of perfume ads, starring Adrian Scarborough and directed (like everything else on this page except one) by the magnificent Marc Beeby. It won The Grand Prix Marulic - a Croation literary award. A plum in Radio 4’s Christmas Pudding, in translation it was also a sensation on ARS (the Slovenian arts station)
the day the planes came
The clearing of American air space on 9/11 forced some 500 planes to land where they could. The sleepy town of Gander in Newfoundland found itself playing host to 6,500 stranded passengers. Sarah and her teenage daughter Polly, the protagonists of our comedy-drama are among the many who find Gander’s hospitality a healing contrast to the terror in New York. The play was nominated for a Sony award.
Three series that were as pleasurable to make as cake is to eat. Dysfunctional brothers Nigel (Adam Godley) and Michael (Ray Coulthard) both gave up successful careers to form a website design company in Nigel’s front room. They are pestered by Oonagh (Pauline McLynn), Zorro (Pearce Quigley, then Alex Lowe) and their feckless father (James Fleet). In the final episode Michael, a Looney Tunes fan, is overjoyed to be hospitalised by a falling piano.
Ronnie Hazelbeach (Jamie Foreman), nice but dodgy, shares a house with lovelorn, gullible Nick (Paul Bazely) and, unless they can help it, the seriously unpleasant James (Neil Stuke), ex-husband of Nick’s inamorata. Three series of intricate plotting had them adopting two bands (one military, one mariachi), raffling huge amounts of meat, gathering racing tips by impersonating priests, inventing a whole new Xtreme sport and frequently moving to Swanage.
a series of five comedy/dramas set in the early Seventies when Hormone Replacement Therapy was being lauded as the great miracle that would banish the menopause and make women 'feminine forever'. Trouble is, nobody’s quite sure what ‘feminine’ means, least of all Eileen, our heroine who’s being encouraged to dose herself with the magic pills. The plays brought not just pre-watershed but pre lunch-time car-sex to BBC Radio 4.
man of soup
Set in a run-down bar in Slomzovakia, a former satellite state of the Soviet Union, Man of Soup was in the fine tradition of slapstick radio. It was blessed with a magnificent cast - Andrew Sachs, Josie Lawrence, Morwenna Banks, Michael Roberts and Adam Long - and was directed by legendary radio-ace Dirk Maggs. Scholarly radio historians claim it was the last radio production ever to use coconut shells as horse’s hooves in earnest.