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BBC Radio
Posted on Sunday 2 February 2014 at 4:41 pm

Rachael's Week in BBC Radio 2014:5

Listened To: A radio play of an alternate history where the Beatles didn't get a record deal in 1962, the first half of the second Pillow Book adaptation, and the last couple of episodes of Warhorses of Letters series 3.

Coming Up: Adaptations of Alan Ayckbourn's Norman Conquests trilogy of plays, radio plays with Olivia Colman and Martin Freeman, and the start of a new run of Dilemma.

Listened to 26 January to 1 February:

Sorry, Boys, You Failed the Audition
This is a silly little radio play playing with the idea that the Beatles didn't get a recording contract. It follows their normal lives with the band breaking up through their primary remaining loyal fan. I enjoyed it, though it does the one thing I get tired of in alternative histories, which is a tendency toward cutely getting the alternate timeline to hit moments from the original one with slight twists rather than truly embracing a new path, but the cutesy kind of worked here, I think.

Warhorses of Letters Series 3
I listened to episodes 1 and 2 two weeks ago and the last two of the series this week (actually I listened to episode 4 today while typing up bits of this, which means I should post it next week since I run Sunday to Saturday on these, but whatever). Anyway, I really enjoyed this end. They had tons of fun and I busted my gut laughing at a reference to something that frequently appears in I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue then they got all serious at the end and it was beautiful. It's probably a good thing that I split up as there were almost two plots in this series, divided between the two batches of episodes in just the way I divided up my listening.

The Pillow Book Series 2
This is a series of plays loosely based on a Japanese noble woman's writings from the late 900s / early 1000s. The setting and main characters are all based on the woman's writings, but I think the plots, detective mysteries, aren't. I could be wrong, I suppose. Anyway, I'm a little over half way through series 2 (3 of 5 of the 15-minute episodes). Anyway, so far I like the first series better than this one. The mystery here is a bigger one, but it has taken a while to get going. I have a vague memory that the first one might have started slowly, too, so hopefully the end will pick up and I'll ba able to say good things next week.

Comedy Panel Shows

The Unbelievable Truth
I listened to the latest new episode (12:5) this week. The first half of the episode was amazing with lots of stupid rule fighting that I always love. The second half just felt like it was going through the motions after the first half, though. Marcus Brigstocke and John Finnemore were guests, both of whom I love on these panel shows that was a definite plus.

I went back and listened to the first series of Heresy this week. I'm used to the later stuff with Victoria Coren as the host and this was my first time listening to any of the original host, David Biddel. I still liked it OK. Heresy isn't one of my top favorite panel shows but I enjoy it and this was fine. There was one odd moment in one episode when they asked the audience and some random woman started talking about the Jews taking all the money. Considering how shocked they all had to have been, the panel handled it pretty well, I though.

Downloading 2 to 8 February:


Sarah Naomi Lee - Dewey Eyed (Afternoon Drama)
This is an old radio play I've been hoping they'd rebroadcast. It was on my list to buy at audioGo, but they shut down before I could get it. Anyway, this is about a woman who uses the library Dewey Decimal classification system to communicate with her mother in the wake of the elder woman's breakdown following her husband's death. It stars Olivia Colman.

Ed Harris - Aromatherapy (Afternoon Drama)
Another older play I've been keeping an eye out for. This is one of the few things Martin Freeman has done for BBC Radio and it is about a man with a bad back and his experience with aromatherapy as an alternative medicine. In reality I have no patience for homeopathy and supposed alt medicines that have no curative abilities beyond the placebo effect, so we'll see how I feel about the play.

The Witness (Drama on 3)
A girl is photographed in a war region and then adopted by the photographer. Once grown, she discovers the story she's always been told might be a lie.

Test Case
This is one the BBC is making a big deal of at the moment. Apparently there was some legal case in the early 1990s that has had profound effects on doctor-patient relationships in Britain and this is a dramatization of the case. There is also a program interviewing the major participants with more of a factual look at the impact of the case, but I think I'll just grab the drama.

Jill Paton Walsh - A Piece of Justice
This is a dramatization of the second in a series of books about Imogen Quy, a detective and college nurse at Cambridge. I've got the first dramatization but haven't listened to it yet.

Molly Keane - Good Behaviour
Dramatization of a Booker nominated novel about an early twentieth-century Irish family.

Daily Multi-Episode Programs Starting This Week

The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency: The Modern Husband Course (Aft Drama)
Dramatization of a novel in the series about a women's detective agency in Botswana. I've got a few other dramatizations in the series but haven't listened to any of them yet.

Miss Marple - A Murder Is Announced
Third week in a row with an Agatha Christie dramatization.

Simon Bovey - The Voice of God
A science fiction thriller by Simon Bovey always works for me. They can be a bit formulaic, so don't listen to too many in a row, but they're generally entertaining.

Weekly Multi-Episode Programs Starting This Week

Alan Ayckbourn - The Norman Conquests
I've heard good things about these stage plays and always meant to see them / read them so I'm glad to get the radio version. The three plays all deal with the same characters over the same weekend with each play being set in a different room of a house. Each play can stand on its own but when you blend all three you get fuller takes on everything as characters move from room-to-room.

Playing With Trains (Saturday Drama)
Another adaptation of a stage play. This one is one man's business rise and fall and personal life, beginning in the 1960s.

Smelling of Roses Series 2
An old sitcom starring Prunella Scales. I've got series 1 but haven't listened to it yet.

Comedy Panel Shows
The Unbelievable Truth is on the last episode of its current run.
Dilemma is starting a new run.

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


shezan at 10:30 pm on 02 February 2014 (UTC) (Link)
There are several series of Warhorses of Letters, not just one???? WANT!!!
... and radio Norman Conquests would be jolly good too...puppy_eyes

I am a Pillow Book fan, the series with Benedict Cumberbatch and the one without him *sob*. Elegant and so tense for something so short.

Edited at 2014-02-02 10:32 pm (UTC)
bratty_jedi at 10:59 pm on 02 February 2014 (UTC) (Link)
All three runs of Warhorses of Letters are fantastic! I'll see what I can do about sharing the joy. :)

I've got 6 runs of Pillow Book and your description sounds like you only know about 2. Cumberbatch was in the first one and I guess maybe the second is what you've got, but I'm not sure.
shezan at 12:12 am on 03 February 2014 (UTC) (Link)
I only have 2; didn't know there were 6!!! THANK YOU!!

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