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BBC Radio
Posted on Sunday 23 June 2013 at 8:01 am

Rachael's Week in BBC Radio Vol. 22

Listened to this week was mostly random stand alone plays. The best of the lot was probably the historical Edward, Edward.
Next week I'm most looking forward to the News Quiz being back on the air, a few classic dramatizations (Dickens!), a couple of mystery dramatizations (Merrison's Sherlock Holmes, a Poirot, and an Inspector Morse), and a Marcus Brigstocke comedy vehicle.

I use a program called Radio Downloader to download hours of stuff every day (I can't recommend RD enough) and will possibly never listen to a great deal of it. I often listen to things for the first time months after they air. Because of that, I do two things in these BBC Radio posts.

(1) Listened - I'll discuss all the shows I listened to this past week. Some of these may be newly aired things but many may have aired months ago or, if they're things I sought out to buy, might not have aired for years. I will include links to the BBC website for everything and to AudioGo for anything available for purchase. AudioGo is the official site for BBC Radio and is almost always cheaper than iTunes, Amazon download, etc. If you don't already have an account there and want to enter my email (brattyjedi at gmail dot com) as the recommender the first time you buy something, I can get points good towards free downloads :) If something isn't available for purchase, you don't have it downloaded, and based on my comments on it you'd really like to listen to it, let me know and I might be able to help.

(2) Downloading - This will be kind of a look ahead to what I've set up to be downloaded in the upcoming week with thoughts on why I selected it.

Listened to 16 to 22 June (mostly in order of preference, best to worst):
A Sting in the Tale
I listened to the first three of these five episodes last week and the last two this week. Episode four has two stories in it, The Connection and the Craftsman. The Connection was an ok story but I don't understand why it was in this collection. It was straightforward with no twist or "sting" at the end. I enjoyed The Craftsman more. It only had a slight twist but the entire story was just very well told. The last story, The F Word, had a good beginning and a good ending and a very long middle. It is a philosophical lecture on failure for a great deal of it and my mind wandered constantly because there just wasn't enough story or enough of the lecturer as a character to make it interesting. I'd say I enjoyed the story overall but might have loved it if it were shorter.

Edward, Edward (Afternoon Drama)
This was really interesting. It focuses on the lives of Edward VI and Lady Jane Grey from shortly before his father's death and his own coronation at age 10 through his death at age 15 and the sort of handing over of the crown to her, then aged 15 or 16. The play does a fantastic job of showing two children who just want to be children in some ways but are caught in the grips of power that neither wants. It is somewhat misleading in that it feels like it is his story told mostly from her point of view then in the end it becomes clearer that maybe it has been her story all along. The ending is probably more chilling and emotional if you know the historical background of her disputed nine-day reign and execution not too long after but is well done either way. My one quarrel with this is that it frequently has moments where adult characters say something only to have the two children repeat the same lines. At times it is an effective technique but just as often I found it annoying.

Alan Bennett - An Englishman Abroad
This is one of the plays BBC ran as part of their recent batch of the Cambridge Spies of the Cold War. I'd read the play before and enjoyed sort of reading along as I listened to this version of it. I say sort of reading along as there were some changes made, some logical some rather inexplicable, in the beginning from the stage script. Once this short play got going, it stuck mroe closely to the stage version. The story here is that of an actress traveling to Moscow and meeting one of the exposed spies now living there in exile. It is really about his personality and sort of his melancholy and inability to really cope with his new world. It is an interesting play and Michael Gambon did a good job with the part here.

The Letter of Last Resort (Saturday Drama)
This is a shorter (half hour or so) two person play about a prime minister writing the required letter to be opened by the commander of a British sub armed with nuclear weapons as to what to do in case of the UK being destroyed by nukes. Should he retaliate, not retaliate, ahnd himself over to a surviving Commonwealth government for orders, etc.? It is really just a chance to debate philosophical issues surrounding the existence and use of nuclear weapons and a bit of UK patriotism. I enjoyed it, but probably didn't spend as much time thinking about it after as the writer would have liked. Maybe that's just because it isn't like I've never thought about nukes before.

We Happened to Be Passing (Afternoon Drama)
The premise of this, a random couple had previously told three other couples met while on vacations abroad to feel free to "drop in anytime" if in Britain and all three couples arrive unannounced for the same weekend, sounded like some light fun. It was that, with a bit of heft thrown in by various relationship problems of each of the four couples. The problem is that a great deal of it is trading on stereotypes. The American couple is fat, bombastic, Puritanical, and over bearing. The two Belgian couples hate each other as Flems vs. Walloons and spend all their time bickering. You get the idea. It just grated on me. This is available at AudioGo if you're interested in it.

Various Episodes of Panel Shows
Heresy: Only panel shows for me this week were two episodes of Heresy, 3 and 4 of series 9. They were both OK, nothing too spectacular but funny and entertaining background noise.

Downloading 23 to 29 June:
Charles Dickens - Great Expectations
Dramatization of the classic novel. David Copperfield is my favorite Dickens, but I'm a huge fan generally speaking and Great Expectations may be my second favorite.

Louisa May Alcott - Good Wives
Dramatization of the Little Women sequel. I'm not familiar with the sequels beyond knowing they exist and have never felt the need to read them but maybe I'll give this a listen at some point.

Michelle Magorian - Back Home
This is a dramatization of a young adult novel. The main character is a young gilr who had been sent to America as a WWII evacuee and must now return to a world she doesn't really remember.

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
These are some of the Clive Merrison dramatizations. I am of course aware of them, including knowing that these are the only versions to adapt all 56 shorts and 4 novels with the same actor as Holmes, and I have multiple other versions of Holmes audio dramatizations, readings, etc. but I've never actually heard any of the Merrison ones. Shocking, I know, and something I can't wait to remedy.

Poirot - Three Act Tragedy
Another of Agatha Christie's Poirot dramatizations.

Dramatization of one of the Colin Dexter novels with the eponymous inspector.

The Stuarts
Following on the recently re-aired plays about the Plantagenets, here's a series about The Stuarts by the same radio writer.

MR James: Ghost Stories
Fiction readings. I like M. R. James's works, generally speaking, so I'll take the readings even though I prefer dramatizations.

The Brig Society
I generally like Marcus Brigstoke so I'll give this a try even though as a sketch and stand up based show it is a little outside my usual preferences. The setup here is that Brigstocke will be "taking over" the running of a different institution in each episode with fashion up first and hospitals, the UK space programme, and similar things to follow.

Father Figure
Repeat of a sitcom about a house husband and stay at home dad with Jason Byrne in thee lead.

Spending My Inheritance
Repeat of a sitcom about a man watching as his parents start enjoying their retirement on the money he was hoping to inherit. Based on that summary of the premise, I say good for the old folks so I'll be interested to see with whom the show sets up the audience to sympathize.

Returning Sitcoms
There are a ton of shows, mostly sitcoms, where I have downloaded series 1 and series 2 is running this week or I have 1 and 2 already and 3 is airing now. In most cases, I've yet to listen to the ones I have (too much stuff!), but want to go ahead and download the later runs in case I really like the first ones. Rather than list them all one-by-one, here's the full list: Jim the Great Series 2, Flying the Flag Series 2, The Attractive Young Rabbi Series 2, and Ballylenon Series 3.

Running Dramas
BBC Radio has several weekly or daily programs that do various original radio plays or dramatizations. The main ones are Afternoon Drama, Friday Drama, Saturday Drama, Drama on 3, BBC Cymru Wales Drama, BBC World Drama, 15-Minute Drama, Classic Serial, and The Wire. This week there's not a whole lot jumping out at me. The best looks like the 15 minute drama run of a play adapted from the diaries of Vera 'Jack' Holme, a suffragette, Serbian aid worker in the aftermath of WWI, lesbian, and perhaps transgender man based on modern understandings but at her time an occasional cross dresser. The two-part Terma on the Afternoon Drama about a psychic detective might also be interesting.

Standing Panel Show Subscriptions
Whatever episodes of the following panel shows happen to air in any given week are always on my download list: Act Your Age, Heresy, I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue, I've Never Seen Star Wars, Just a Minute, The Museum of Curiosity, The News Quiz, The Unbelievable Truth, Dilemma,Wordaholics, and The Guessing Game .

Anything good y'all listened to recently or looking forward to next week?


failte_aoife at 2:23 pm on 25 June 2013 (UTC) (Link)
I'm curious about the Morse-adaption but also slightly worried because a) I know the TV-series and John Thaw and Kevin Whatley have simply become Morse and Lewis for me so I'm not sure if I can get into something where others play them and b) I read the book and...well it was written in the 70s and has some time-apropriate sexism (the victim was a young, sexually active girl and while they don't actually go the 'She had it comming'-route some comments were unfortunate). Not sure how they'll deal with that in the adaption.

Somehow there was not much new this week for me. Some podcasts and some panel-shows/topical comedy, nothing was really outstanding.
bratty_jedi at 6:53 pm on 27 June 2013 (UTC) (Link)
I am aware of Morse, but I haven't actually ever read any of it, seen any of it, etc. It is just one of those weird omissions in pop culture for me that should totally be in my sweet spot but I just somehow haven't managed to get there. I'm not surprised the book has problematic elements from a current PoV. Hopefully the adaptation won't.

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