radio drama

THE SEVENTH TESTTHE SEVENTH TEST

(BBC Radio 4, May 2014, 10 x 15 min)

A thriller set in India from the author of SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE. Sales assistant, Sapna Sinha, is offered a chance to change her life. All she has to do is pass seven tests.

Written by Ayeesha Menon & John Dryden from Vikas Swarup’s best-selling novel THE ACCIDENTAL APPRENTICE. Directed by John Dryden.

A KIDNAPPING A KIDNAPPING with captions

(BBC Radio 4, March 2014, 3 x 45 min)

Daniel Ryan and Jade Matthew play two British teachers at an international school in Manila who attempt to kidnap the 10-year-old son of a prominent Filipino politician. The plan that turns out not to be quite as straightforward as they had hoped.

Written by Andy Mulligan. Directed by John Dryden.

The Russian GamblerTHE RUSSIAN GAMBLER

(BBC Radio 4, Nov 2013, 2 x 60 min)

Ed Stoppard plays brilliant, penniless pianist Alexei, who is seduced by the high-stakes world of a Russian oligarch. A lmodern-day take on Dostoevsky’s “The Gambler”.

Written by Dolya Gavanski. Directed by John Dryden.

UNDERCOVER MUMBAIUndercover Mumbai

(BBC Radio 4, Sept 2013, 5 x 15 & 1 x 60 min)

Fast-paced, police thriller set in India.

“…It’s thread through with snatches of radio, public information films, quarrelling cabmen, honking traffic, the full Dickensian ferment of an emerging nation. There’s a hardness about it which Radio 4 drama can use…” David Hepworth, The Guardian

Written by Ayeesha Menon. Directed by John Dryden.

LOST IN MEXICO with title 16-9LOST IN MEXICO

(BBC Radio 4, March 2013, 2 x 45 min)

When two friends on a backpacking holiday in Mexico, claim they have been robbed, the police decide to search their hotel room to check… 

 

Written by Ingeborg Topsoe. Directed by John Dryden.

THE RELUCTANT SPYThe Reluctant Spy - with title

(BBC Radio 4, Jan 2013, 3 x 45)

A original three-part thriller from writer/director John Dryden set in present-day Egypt. Starring Nigel Lindsey.

Writer and director John Dryden…has crafted a superbly intricate thriller…It bears favourable comparison to the work of Graham Greene in a tale of an innocent abroad amid a society in flux…” David Crawford, Radio Times

PEOPLE DON’T DO SUCH THINGS

(BBC Radio 4, June 2012, 1 x 45 min)

Ruth Rendell murder mystery dramatised by Mike Walker. With Reece Shearsmith, Laura Pyper and Michael Maloney.

Directed by John Dryden

PANDEMIC

(BBC Radio 4, March 2012, 3 x 45 min)

“Radio drama at its galvanising best.”  Daily Mail

“An extraordinarily taut piece of writing by John Dryden and the pace is faster than the deadly Red Eye virus. It should be made into a movie.”  Jane Anderson, Radio Times

“An almost unbearably suspenseful affair…” Gillian Reynolds, The Telegraph

A political thriller, in three parts, from award-winning writer/director John Dryden, set around a devastating worldwide viral outbreak. With Ben Daniels, Emily Beecham, Alison Steadman, Paul Fox and Michael Maloney.

 

RIO STORY

(BBC Radio 4, March 2012, 1 x 60 min)

An ambitious ensemble drama set in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro.

Written by Chris Thorpe. Directed by John Dryden

 

THE MUMBAI CHUZZLWITS

(BBC Radio 4, Jan 2012, 3 x 60 min)

“…a dazzling transposition of Dickens across centuries and continents…” Gillian Reynolds, The Telegraph

Charles Dickens’ satire on the corrosive power of money set in the hot, hectic streets of modern-day Mumbai, India. Staring Roshan Seth and Rajit Kapur. Written by Ayeesha Menon. Directed by John Dryden.

VIDEO CLIPS: Behind the scenes

PHOTO GALLERY

Guardian Review

The Spectator review

Radio Drama Reviews On-line

 

THE BID

(BBC Radio 4 & BBC World Service,  Dec 2011, 1 x 60 min)

A dramatised account of England’s failed bid to host the FIFA World Cup.

With John Sessions, James Hurn, Nadim Sawalha, Larrington Walker, Adrian Rawlins, Richard Ridings, Christopher Villiers, Jermain Liburd, Glen Wrage, Dolya Gavanski & Tracy Ifeachor. Written by Matthew Solon. Directed by John Dryden

 

FIVE DAYS IN MAY

(BBC Radio 4, November 2010, 1 x 60)

A dramatic retelling of the tense negotiation that followed the 2010 general election leading to the country’s first post war coalition.

With Samuel West, Nicholas Boulton, Gerard Kelly, Henry Goodman, Nancy Carroll and John Sessions. Written by Matthew Solon. Directed by John Dryden

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Guardian review

BBC Blog – Matthew Solon on writing FIVE DAYS IN MAY

SEVERED THREADS

(BBC Radio 4, Oct 2010, 3 x 45 min)

A church in Minneapolis, USA, a textile factory in Delhi, India and a private boarding school in the English countryside are all linked in this unique and compelling thriller in which the three stories spin around each other. Written and directed by John Dryden

Hear a clip:

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HOW TO MAKE YOUR FIRST BILLION

(BBC Radio 4, April 2010, 2 x 45 min /
BBC World Service, March 2010, 10 x 10 min & 1 x 60 min)

Drama documentary following the fortunes of a start-up Internet company in Silicon Valley. Recorded in Silicon Valley, California. Note the Radio 4 version contains additional material not used in the World Service broadcasts. There are also a series of films available for use on website.

Written by Matthew Solon. Directed by John Dryden.

Listen on the BBC page

 

SIX SUSPECTS

(BBC Radio 4, Jan 2010, 10 x 15 min)

Vicky Rai, notorious son of a prominent Indian politician, shoots dead a waitress at a trendy Delhi restaurant.
At a lavish society party to celebrate his acquittal, he is himself murdered. Who did it? The Bollywood actress with a guilty secret; the American who came to India to marry his mail-order bride; the mobile-phone thief with big dreams; the tribesman on a quest to recover a stolen relic; or Vicky Rai’s mother, a corrupt politician who will do anything to cling to power…? Recorded on location on the streets of Mumbai with an Indian cast.

Recording SIX SUSPECTS for the BBC in Mumbai

From the best-selling novel by Vikas Swarup.

Dramatised by Ayeesha Menon. Directed by John Dryden.

BBC Blog – Director John Dryden on the making of SIX SUSPECTS.

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THE DAY THAT LEHMAN DIED

(BBC World Service, Sept 2009, 1 x 60 min)

On September 15, 2008 Lehman Brothers, one of the oldest and largest investment banks in the world, with its headquarters in New York, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. It was the largest bankruptcy filed in US history and sent the already unstable global financial markets into an uncontrollable tailspin.

Based on insider interviews, this 60-minute radio drama is a fictionalised reconstruction of what happened the previous weekend.

Written by Matthew Solon. Directed by John Dryden

Peabody Award – Winner

Wincott Award – Radio Programme of the Year

The Sony Awards  – Drama Award – Silver

Listen on the BBC page

A TOKYO MURDER

(BBC Radio 4, Oct 2009, 3 x 45 mins)

Recording A TOKYO MURDER in Japan

Three dramas surrounding the murder of a young teacher in Japan.

Part 1 – THE PARENTS

Jennifer and Peter Whitelock arrive in Japan to help find their daughter’s murderer. Frustrated with the progress of the police investigation, Peter puts his trust in TV producer Norio Ito, who promises to champion their cause on his popular “news and entertainment” show, while Jennifer tries to discover what her daughter’s life in Tokyo was like…Then she starts getting calls from a man claiming to be the killer.

Part 2 – THE DETECTIVE

Detective Inspector Julie Hill is sent to Tokyo to investigate the disappearance of British teacher Daisy Whitelock. Working with the Tokyo police, who are reluctant to have a foreign police officer interfering with the case, she has to overcome cultural and bureaucratic obstacles as she attempts to untangle what really happened at the foreign language school Daisy taught at.

Part 3 – THE DAUGHTER

Recording a scene from A TOKYO MURDER in a street in Tokyo

Daisy Whitelock arrives in Japan to teach English at a foreign language school in Tokyo. Her desire to scratch beneath the surface of Japanese society leads her to shun the companionship of the other ex-pat teachers in her shared apartment, and exposes her to the terrifying reality of a disturbed mind.

The production was recorded in Tokyo, Japan.

Directed by John Dryden

“The murders in Tokyo of Lindsay Ann Hawker and Lucie Blackman provide the background to John Dryden’s three-part thriller ….There’s no denying the quality of the writing, and it all reeks of authenticity, having been recorded in Tokyo itself.” - The Times

“Atmospheric, taut, stylish three-part thriller… ” - The Telegraph

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FORTY THREE, FIFTY NINE

(BBC Radio 4 2008-2010, 4 x 45 mins)

43.59 is a series of dramas inspired by real events, in which the story is contained within a continuous 43 minutes 59 seconds (the length of the original transmission slot). These are the current titles:

ASSASSINS

Rob Jarvis plays Henry, a professional killer sent to a seaside town to assassinate a hedge fund manager. He’s brought his daughter along, who he hopes, will one day take over the family business. But all is not right in Henry’s mind and what should be a routine job… spirals out of control.

Written by Mike Walker. Directed by John Dryden

Listener’s review

WAKE

Jess and her Mum are on a mission.  Armed with a disguise, a cover story and a change of name, they risk all in the hope of kissing the past goodbye.  A ‘real-time’ comedy by Katie Hims.

Written by Katie Hims. Directed by Toby Swift

YARA

City worker Grant knocks over a young woman, apparently on the run from a sex trafficking ring. He offers her a lift, but as their progress through London is halted by traffic gridlock, he discovers she is not what she seems…and that he centre-stage in an unfolding catastrophe in which many will die if he doesn’t act decisively.

Written by Mike Walker. Directed by John Dryden

DISSIDENT

Former FSB agent, Dmitri Petrovich, now a dissident living in London, thinks someone is trying to assassinate him…Who exactly, he doesn’t know. As he races across London with his young daughter in an attempt to evade his pursuers, he is unaware that his fate is sealed and that he is living the final forty three minutes and fifty nine seconds of his life.

Written by Mike Walker. Directed by John Dryden

MY NAME IS RED

(BBC Radio 4, Aug 2008, 2 x 60 mins)

1590. Istanbul. The Sultan brings together the most acclaimed artists in his kingdom to create a secret book of miniatures celebrating the glories of his realm. But when one of the miniaturists – and then another – is murdered, panic erupts.

Black (Baris Pirhasan), an artist-turned-diplomat, is called back to Istanbul after a twelve-year absence, to solve the mystery. He finds the city now in the grasp of religious fundamentalists and the Sultan’s court a warren of rumour and paranoia. As the arrival of the Renaissance in Europe threatens to destroy the very foundations of Islamic art, Istanbul that lies perilously between the East and the West, suffers the most. In a time that marks the end of an era of illumination, Black must find the murderer – And the only clue lies in the half finished illuminations themselves.

Part mystery-thriller, and part beguiling love-story, it is a story set amidst the splendour of the world’s most feared superpower of the day – from Turkey’s most prominent contemporary novelist, Nobel Prize winner, Orhan Pamuk,

The production was recorded in Istanbul with an all-Turkish cast.

Dramatised by Ayeesha Menon. Directed by John Dryden

“…The best Classic Serial in ages…Somehow, a complex story about art, murder, love and danger at the Sultan’s court in 16th-century Turkey materialised out of the air….” - Gillian Reynolds, The Telegraph

 

Q & A

(BBC Radio 4, Aug 2007, 10 x 15 min)

A street kid wins the India version of “Who Wants to be a Billionaire” – scooping a billion rupee prize live on Indian TV…but the producers think he must have cheated and have him arrested. During his interrogation he reveals how he knew the crucial answers – taking us on an extraordinary adventure through every level of modern-day India, from orphanages and brothels, gangsters and beggar-masters, into the homes of Bollywood’s rich and famous, seedy British missionaries, an Australian spy, corrupt politicians, and even to the front line of the India/Pakistan war. From the best-selling novel by Indian diplomat, Vikas Swarup.

Dramatised by Ayeesha Menon. Directed by John Dryden

The Sony Awards  – Best Drama

Prix Europa – Commendation

IVCA Awards – Winner

Radio 4 Controller Mark Damazer writes about “Q&A” (the story which became SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE) on the BBC website. Click here to read it.

Purchase Q & A

DELAYED DEPARTURES

(BBC Radio 4, May 2007, 1 x 45 min)

Lost love and broken promises, the Balkan War – and a fourteen hour flight delay…

Written by Matthew Solon. Directed by John Dryden

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THE APPEAL

(BBC Radio 4, July 2006, 1 x 60 min)

There are 18 asylum appeal courts in the UK and 222 cases are heard every day. When an asylum seekers claim for asylum is rejected, the appeal court is their last chance to stay…. This drama documentary, reconstructing the asylum appeal courts using a mixture of actors, lawyers and refugees, follows the fictional case of a young Somali woman, Fadumo Sharif Mohamed (played by Muna Handule) – and puts the audience into the position of those who decide if she can stay or must go.

Written by Matthew Solon. Directed by John Dryden

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THE CAPTURED ENEMY

(BBC Radio 4, June 2006, 1 x 45)

Thomas Will (Philip Jackson) and his son Caleb (Steven Geller) leave their family and farm in Salem, Massachusetts in 1777 to fight the British. Captured at sea, they are sentenced on charges of piracy and high treason and sent to a brutal prison in the south of England. From here they plan a daring escape. Based on the actual diaries of American “freedom fighters” in British jails during the US War of Independence.

Written by Edward Marriott. Directed by John Dryden

 

THE CAIRO TRILOGY

(BBC Radio 4. October 2006, 3 x 60 min)

“John Dryden has, without a doubt, created one of the greatest Egyptian radio dramas. So far, reviews have been dazzling with some critics calling it one of the best dramas ever made.” Joseph Fahim, The Daily News, Egypt.

OMAR SHARIF stars in this magnificent, epic, generational, family saga in an Egypt adjusting to the modern world….dramatised from the novels of NAGUIB MAHFOUZ, the Nobel Prize winning Egyptian writer who died in August. Recorded on location in Egypt.

Adapted by Ayeesha Menon. Directed by John Dryden.

THE CAIRO TRILOGY – Omar Sharif stars in this epic, generational saga dramatised from the novels of Naguib Mahfouz.

The Sony Awards  – Drama Award – Bronze

Purchase THE CAIRO TRILOGY

The wonderful score by Sacha Puttnam that accompanies the series is available to sell separately.

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MURDER ON THE LEVIATHAN

(BBC Radio 4. December 2005, 1 x 60 min)

Stephen Moore plays a bad tempered Paris detective investigating in 1875 “the crime of the century” – in this murder, mystery romp dramatised from the best selling novel by BORIS AKUNIN.

Dramatised and Directed by John Dryden

 

THE SHADOW LINES

(BBC Radio 4, October 2005, 1 x 60 min)

A love story with a violent murder at its core set in London and Calcutta during a time of intense religious and political division -  from the novel by AMITAV GHOSH.

Dramatised and Directed by John Dryden

 

A SUITABLE BOY

(BBC Radio 4. Feb 2002, 5 x 60 min)

1950 – India is newly independent. A young girl must make the most important decision of her life, whilst political and religious tensions threaten to tear friendships and families apart -from the best-selling novel VIKRAM SETH. Recorded on location in India.

Dramatised and Directed by John Dryden

The Spoken Word Awards – Production & Drama Award

Book of the Year Awards – short-listed in Audio Category

“The drama highlight of the year…this sumptuous production, wonderfully atmospheric, written with pace and performed, by an all-Indian cast, quite superbly. The novel may be vast but I was convinced by this version right from the start. Magnificent drama.” - Radio Times

“…A Suitable Boy sounds as much like India as it’s possible to get without actually going there…” - Time Out

“…It has just as much colour, atmosphere and excitement as the highly acclaimed Indian film Monsoon Wedding. Lata is the equivalent of Elizabeth Bennet – cool, ironic, independent without, all passion within. I’m almost in love with her myself.” - Sue Arnold, The Observer

“…This was absolutely involving radio from then opening minutes…” - The Guardian

Purchase A SUITABLE BOY

 

THE HANDMAID’S TALE

(BBC Radio 4, Jan 2000, 3 x 60 min)

Set in the future, in an age of plummeting birth rates – the result of pollution, nuclear accidents and toxic spillages – a young woman is recruited for reproductive purposes by a totalitarian regime that uses Religion as a tool of state repression – from the novel by Margaret Atwood.

Dramatised and Directed by John Dryden

The Spoken Word Awards – Best Production

“Faultless acting and imaginative, varied and multi-layered sound….make this quite simply one of the best listening experiences I have ever had.” The Independent

Purchase THE HANDMAID’S TALE

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FATHERLAND

(BBC Radio 4, June 1997, 1 x 120 min, 5 x 30 min)

Nazi Germany has won the war. It is 1964, a week before Hitler’s seventy-fifth birthday. Anton Lesser stars as the Berlin detective called to investigate the suspicious death of a retired German senior civil servant. His enquiries lead him down a road to uncovering a terrifying secret that has so far been hidden from the world. A roller-coaster ride of intrigue, suspense and passion set in an epic totalitarian state – from the best selling novel by Robert Harris.

Dramatised and Directed by John Dryden

The Spoken Word Awards – Best Drama

The Spoken Word Awards – Best Production

Purchase FATHERLAND

BLEAK HOUSE

(BBC Radio 4, November 1998, 5 x 60 min)

“Jarndyce and Jarndyce”, a contested inheritance, has been dragging through the Courts of Chancery for years, gradually grinding down its suitors. Into this mincing machine are thrown two young innocents, Ada and Richard destined for a life of empty hopes and despair. A court-room saga, a romance, a whodunit, a dark, psychological thriller – this masterpiece by CHARLES DICKENS has it all. Michael Kitchen stars in this full-cast location drama.

Dramatised and Directed by John Dryden

The Sony Awards  – Best Drama

Spoken Word Awards – Best Production

Spoken Work Awards – Best Adaptation

“Bleak House is one of the jewels in the crown of radio drama…” – Christopher Robson, Plays and Players

“Only when you hear a production like this, in which different scenes have been recorded in different rooms, do you realise how monotonous is the acoustic used by most radio drama. It makes the story live in another dimension…” - David Sexton, Sunday Telegraph

“…quite extraordinary richness and complexity of sound, and a deep, dark, sinister, fog-soaked ambience. It is like looking at a Tintoretto after a succession of Constables…unprecedented depth…” - Paul Donovan, The Times

“John Dryden has pioneered in radio a kind of movie for the wireless, in which fast cutting, music and location recording are used to create pace and atmosphere…Outstanding production…Brilliant rethinking of the whole business of the classic serial…” - Mark Lawson, Radio Times

Purchase BLEAK HOUSE

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HOTEL EUROPA

(BBC Radio 4.  September  2000, 1 x 60 minute)

Psychological thriller set in a London hotel starring Kerry Fox and Roshan Seth.

Written and Directed by John Dryden

Prix Europa finalist

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BUCKET . . . AND THE WHITED SEPULCHRE

(BBC Radio 4, Aug 2000  1 x 45 minute)

Neil Pearson stars as a murderous, pleasure-seeking vicar, with Tony Haygarth as Inspector Bucket, a sort of Victorian “Columbo”, in this comedy crime thriller based on a detective who first appears in Dickens’ “Bleak House”.

Written by  James Hendrie. Directed by John Dryden

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THE HAPPINESS FOUNDATION

(BBC Radio 4, May 1998, 45 min drama)

Comedy drama about the destruction of a perfect family staring Dermot Crowley

Written by Matthew Solon. Directed by John Dryden

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THE HONG KONG HOLDING COMPANY

(BBC Radio 4 & World Service, June 1997, 2 x 60 min)

News-based drama set against the Hong Kong hand-over. Recorded on location in London and Hong Kong.

Written by Matthew Solon. Directed by John Dryden

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AMERICAN HEAVY

(BBC Radio 4, July 2001, 1 x 60 min)

Radio shock-jock Jack French (Jonathan Epstein) wakes up to find himself sinking into a murky bog, unable to move his body.  The last thing he can remember: “It was late night. I’d been, uh, helping a friend, get through a hard time in her life. So I remember the tattoo on her back bouncing up and down…”. Developed with an ensemble of actors from the Massachusetts-based theatre company Shakespeare and Company this is a darkly comic tale about the murky convolutions of fate.

Written and Directed by Gregory Whithead

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EACH WAY YANKEE

(BBC Radio 4, July 2001, 1 x 60 min)

Brian has a passion for sport and enjoys the odd flutter.  His wife, Beth, prefers to tune into her favourite radio programme – a daily soap called “Village Green”.   But when Beth discovers she has a talent for betting, their lives are transformed and their two passions collide in the most unexpected way.

Written by Valerie Weyland. Directed by Jane Quill.

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THE MARILYN ROOM

(BBC Radio 4, April 2000, 1 x 60 min)

A shocking portrait of an American family revealed following the suicide of their son,  a young man with a consuming passion for Marilyn Monroe.

Written and Directed by Gregory Whithead

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TALK TO SLEEP

(BBC Radio 4, Jan 1999, 4 x 15 min)

Late night “imaginary” interviews.

Written and Directed by Gregory Whitehead

The Sony Awards  – Finalist for Best Comedy

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