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.
Examining the extraordinary role of HG Wells in the creation of the nuclear bomb 70 years ago – how a simple, devastating idea led to the world we know today.
In his 1914 novel The World Set Free, Wells imagined bombs that destroy civilisation and lead to a new world order. But his “atomic bombs” – a name he conceived – are grenades that keep on exploding.
How did this idea become a reality?
The very talented (and sunniest, most charming fellow) Simon Guerrier asked me to provide a few voices for this documentary presented by Samira Ahmed and co-produced by another talented and charming Guerrier (there must be something in the family porridge), Simon’s brother Tom.
It’s quite an eclectic array from Yours Truly but hopefully they don’t all sound like me – and if they do I hope it doesn’t detract from what is a fascinating documentary which can be heard here until early August.
As I type this you have just over three weeks to catch The Dad Who Fell To Earth on iPlayer.It is a play I wrote for Radio 4 about a man who discovers that his recently deceased father wasn’t a door-to-door salesman as he thought but in fact an alien from a distant world charged with preventing the destruction of mankind. It’s about grief and loss and a purple planet with clever cats.
The play stars Ronald Pickup as Russ, Cherylee Houston as Jan, Alexandra Mathie as Wendy, Lee Fenwick and Pete/Steve, and Zoe Iqbal and Chelsea. Oh, and me. The producer os the fabulous Charlotte Riches. Most of us are pictures below.
I can honestly say that is has been the most rewarding engagement of my professional life so far – the writing process was smooth, the cast are fabulous and Charlotte has done an amazing job with the edit (Sound by Sue Stonestreet, one of the unsung heroes of the radio department at the BBC in Salford). I’m delighted to say the the play received Pick Of The Week in The Independent, The Observer, The Telegraph and The Mail.
You can listen on it here (depending on what date you read this):