As I am apparently the BBC’s Man Who Interviews Elderly Actors in residence I was fortunate enough, earlier in the year, to participate in a fascinating archive release that will be available very soon. Agatha Christie – The Lost Plays is a triple bill of audio productions from the mistress of murder. I had the pleasure of chatting to their last surviving cast member Ian Whittaker, whose career took him from 27-year-old-actor-who-plays-teenagers to Oscar winning set decorator and production designer whose artistry has been seen on Alien, Howard’s End, Remains Of The Day and many, many more. He was delighted and slightly taken aback to revisit the production but, like all of these often underheard voices, full of fascinating insights about those halcyon days of broadcasting. His episode, Murder In The Mews, stars Richard Williams as Hercule Poirot and also features Monica Grey, whom I had the pleasure of visiting at home many years ago when I was a teenager and she invited me round to tell me all about her lead role in Quatermass II.
The set also features Williams playing a different role in a 1948 piece written especially for radio, Butter In A Lorldy Dish and another bespoke commission, Personal Call, which stars Barbara Lott (as it happens, a very close friend of Monica Grey’s). There are also various archival snippets and treats on the CD, including a bit of an on air disaster involving Ms Christie herself. It has been put together with loving attention to detail by Charles Norton and it was a pleasure to meet him and producer Michael Stevens after years of them being names in the “Sender” column of my inbox.
Anyone who likes vintage broadcasting and hearing things that were until recently thought lost might want to invest in this enjoyable package, which is available here.