Friday 25 December
BBC RADIO 4 EXTRA
Whistle And I'll Come To You
Professor Parkins, an archaeologist, finds an ancient whistle in a ruined altar, going back to the time of the Templars. It’s easy enough to whistle - but there's no telling what will answer…
M.R. James’ (1862-1936) stories of the supernatural remain as potent as ever. Modern horror fan, actor (Sherlock, The League Of Gentleman) and writer Mark Gatiss is a devotee.
James’ was a medievalist scholar, having attended Eton College and King’s College, Cambridge University. In later life he became provost of both institutions, returning to work at Eton in 1918. But he is best known for his ghost and horror stories, which he wrote and read to his friends and students. They were published in four collections: Ghost Stories Of An Antiquary (1904), More Ghost Stories Of An Antiquary (1911), A Thin Host And Others (1919), and A Warning To The Curious (1925).
Often his central characters were like himself: bachelors, dons, bookish. In one of his most effective stories, Whistle And I'll Come To You, celebrated British actor Michael Horden (1911 - 1995) takes on the role Professor Parkins, in this version first heard on the BBC Home Service in 1963.
First heard on the BBC Home Service in 1963.
Radio 4 Extra Publicity
The Hunting Of The Snark
Tony Robinson narrates this new adaptation of Lewis Carroll's classic masterpiece following a strange assortment of characters on their quest for an elusive beast. Led by a bell-ringing Captain, this motley crew must brave terrifying danger in their chaotic pursuit of a creature known as Snark. Accompanied by specially composed music and songs, this surreal tale questions whether anything is really what it seems.
Narrator: Tony Robinson, Bellman: Eric Potts, Baker: Paul Barnhill, Butcher: Everal A Walsh, Barrister/Snark: Jonathan Keeble, Beaver: Stephen Hoyle. Music performed by Katie Chatburn, Dorry Macaulay, Kathryn Williams, Stephen Cordiner and Jasper Wilkinson.
Christmas Day, 2.15pm
Director: Charlotte Riches for the BBC
Saturday 26 December
BBC RADIO 4
The Bed-sitting Room
Three years since the nuclear misunderstanding which led to the third world war ("and it's no idle boast when I remind you that this was the shortest world war on record... two minutes twenty eight seconds... including the signing of the Peace Treaty which is now on sale at Her Majesties Stationary Office with a free T- shirt") survivors gather together on the former-streets of London.
In amongst the rubble, Captain Kak and his fiancée Penelope find Lord Fortnum, who is convinced he's turning into a Bed-sitting room. With property prices what they are, Kak should be on to a good thing.
This atmospheric, surrealist play was originally written by John Antrobus & Spike Milligan, and has been adapted for radio by John Antrobus & Paul Merton.
Captain Kak .................... Paul Merton
Lord Fortnum .................. Derek Jacobi
Mate ............................. Bernard Cribbins
Penelope ........................ Catherine Tate
The BBC ......................... Corrie Corfield
Mrs Ethel Skroake ............ Suki Webster
The Vicar ....................... John Antrobus
Captain .......................... Sean Baker
Seaman .......................... Richard Pepple
Director/Sam Michell, Producer/Victoria Lloyd for the BBC
Thursday 31 December
BBC RADIO 4
Miles Jupp and the Plot Device
How many stories are there in the world?
According to William Wallace Cook, dime novelist and prolific producer of American pulp, there were precisely 1,462. In Plotto, his "Master Book of All Plots", he anatomised them all in the service of struggling writers everywhere. Plotto, published in 1928, was nothing less than a manual of fictional devices, intended to sit on a writer's shelf between the dictionary and the thesaurus. Any writer stuck for inspiration could leaf through Plotto to discover plots like "a ventriloquist, captured by savages and threatened with death, makes an animal talk—and is given his freedom" or "a reporter, writing up an imaginary interview as fact, quotes a man as being in town on a certain day. The man, subsequently accused of a crime, establishes an alibi through an interview innocently faked by the reporter."
Cook hailed his own book as "an invention which reduces literature to an exact science." But it was weird science. Nevertheless it worked for Cook, who churned out up to 50 novels a year. It also worked for Perry Mason creator Earl Stanley Gardner who borrowed liberally from Plotto. Even the young Alfred Hitchcock had a copy. And if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery then Cook must have been delighted by the appearance of "The Plot Robot," whose name promised much but which, rather disappointingly was a cardboard circle with a pointer attached to it.
Miles Jupp investigates the Plot Device that promises to make writing easy, with the help of crime writers Val McDermid and John Harvey.
Presenter/Miles Jupp, Producer/David Stenhouse for the BBC
Saturday 2 January
BBC RADIO 4 EXTRA
7th Dimension: Vampirella
Anna Massey stars as the last-in-line of the undead on the eve of World War One.
Vampirella was originally written as a radio play in 1976 and later rewritten as the short story The Lady In The House Of Love. Playwright Angela Carter (1940-92) was a British writer who traversed genres. Her works included short stories, novels, stage and radio plays, librettos, screenplays and essays.
In Vampirella, Carter reimagines the familiar vampire narrative of the voracious count and the virginal object of desire. In this piece, the vampire is female and the virgin is a gormless young Englishman on a solo cycling holiday in the Balkans.
The work is suffused with Carter's dark humour, appreciation of gender politics and skill at melding ancient legend with historical fact. It plays with time, place and cultural stereotypes.
In addition to Anna Massey (Mansfield Park, Tess Of The D’Urbervilles), the drama also stars Richard O’Callaghan (New Tricks, Red Dwarf: Back To Earth).
First broadcast on Radio 3 in 1976.
Monday 4 January
10.45-11.00am rpt 7.45pm
BBC RADIO 4
This 10-part drama is based on Toni Morrison's seminal novel about a baby ghost, a runaway slave and a terrible secret. In the troubled years following the American Civil War, the spirit of a murdered child haunts the home of a former slave.
Paul D….Danny Sapani
Adapted by Patricia Cumper and directed by Sasha Yevtushenko.
Producer/Sasha Yevtushenko for the BBC
Tags: bbc radio 4, bbc radio 4 extra, horror, m. r. james, radio
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