Friday 12 December 2014, 14:01
The Once and Future King - an Arthurian epic written by T.H.White - has been dramatised for Radio 4 by Brian Sibley. Here, he reflects on the treacherous Mordred.
Friday 12 December 2014, 14:01
Sir Mordred in The Once and Future King is one of the great bad boys of literature. Dramatist Brian Sibley offers five reasons why the traitorous knight of King Arthur’s fabled Round Table, deserves that accolade…
1. Mordred comes from background of villainy
He is the son of Queen Morgause, a scheming enchantress, known as the Queen of Air and Darkness. Morgause pretends to the world that Mordred is a child of her marriage to King Lot of Orkney, but raises the boy, in secret, to hate his true father, King Arthur, and fills him with a passionate desire to exact vengeance on the English monarch.
2. Mordred is physically and mentally damaged
Born a hunchback, he carries the scars of incestuous birth not just in his misshapen body, but also in his twisted mind. His physical and psychological deformity drives him to hurt and destroy others.
3. Mordred manipulates and controls
Cunning and calculating, he gets others – among them his brothers Agravaine and Gawaine – to carry out his schemes and do his dirty and dangerous work for him.
4. Mordred is emotionally empty
Cold, cruel and ruthless, he has so been eaten away by his anger and hatred that he is incapable of having any understanding...
Friday 12 December 2014, 12:28
This week I talked to the veteran reporter Tom Mangold about his Radio 4 documentary, The Silent Conspiracy.
It dealt with the circumstances surrounding the 1979 trial of the former liberal leader Jeremy Thorpe for conspiracy to murder his former lover Norman Scott. Thorpe was found not guilty and it was not until the day after his death, 35 years later, that Tom’s programme went out.
Many listeners praised it although some thought its timing was “ill-mannered” and one listener said it was “dripping with Dark Ages homophobia”. I put those concerns to Tom Mangold and then went on to discuss with him what I thought was the most significant and interesting aspect of his absorbing documentary, the revelation of the almost instinctive Establishment cover up that had taken place.
It did not need to be organised, as everyone knew what was expected of them.
Was the hierarchy of the BBC part of that conspiracy?
Tom reminded me of the time when we had worked together on Panorama, in 1980 when I was his editor.
I had wanted to do a couple of programmes on the Secret Services, MI5 and MI6, which was not easy...
Sunday 7 December 2014, 08:33
Friday 5 December 2014, 12:35
Two hundred Bookclubs, and yet it feels like only yesterday that we began. The reason, I think, is that every programme feels different. Each author is an original voice, and each group of readers has a different character. You never know quite what to expect.
I’ve been privileged to chair all these programmes, and I’ve been conscious through the years that the idea of the programme – which came from the first producer, Olivia Seligman, in 1998 – was...
Friday 5 December 2014, 10:58
Editor's note: Actor, writer, wit and naughty national treasure Stephen Fry chooses his favourite comedies from the BBC radio archive as Comedy Controller on Radio 4 Extra. Here, programme producer Peter McHugh talks about making the programme.
When you make a programme it’s always good to get as much publicity as possible. To get the message out to as many listeners as you can, that something good is going to happen. It can be tricky, in big media organisations, to negotiate the ever choppy waters of ‘publicity priorities ’. So when I arrived at 4 Extra one morning I was surprised...
Friday 5 December 2014, 10:42Radio 4's forum for comments, queries, criticisms and congratulations
On Wednesday this week I met Elan Closs Stephens, the BBC trustee leading the Review into Radio 4, 4Extra and 5 Live. She is a former Chair of the Welsh Fourth Channel Authority and Emeritus Professor of Communications and Creative Industries at Aberystwyth University.
She is charming, well informed and sharp as a tack.
She also seems to like broadcasting and broadcasters.
What a contrast with some of the BBC Governors of the past, particularly those in...
Friday 28 November 2014, 17:37
Editor's Note: Adam Roberts, author and Professor of 19th Century Literature at Royal Holloway, has written a number of critical works on both SF and 19th Century poetry and is a contributor to the SF Encyclopedia. Here he reflects on the beauty of T.H. White's writing in The Once and Future King.
T.H. White wrote his undergraduate dissertation on Malory’s Morte D’Arthur, and he knew the Arthurian legends pretty well. Still, he was surprised when, a decade later, he re-read Malory’s fifteenth-century prose-epic. ‘I got desperate among my books,’ he wrote to a friend in 1937, ‘and picked...
Friday 28 November 2014, 16:49
Editors note: Professor Maggie Andrews is the consultant historian on Radio 4’s epic drama series set in Great War Britain, Home Front. In this blog, Maggie tells us what appeals to her about the scope of Home Front and expands on Season Two’s theme of recruitment.
Why Home Front
One of the exciting things about working with a long running drama is its ability to show war effecting ordinary people’s everyday lives on the home front; the different characters show that there are numerous histories of the war.
When does the next series start?
Season Two of Home Front starts on 1 December...
Thursday 27 November 2014, 17:57
On my first day in the BBC I was sent down there to work in the Overseas Talks department. I was 21 and clueless, having had no journalistic training, knowing no shorthand, and having come from a small city in Cumberland to an extremely small bed-sitter in Queen’s Park. I spoke only two languages, Cumbrian and rather halting French.
I was most impressed by the canteen in the basement where an extraordinary...
Monday 24 November 2014, 11:47
Back in October we asked for your suggestions about what you’d like to hear on Woman’s Hour, In Our Time and Saturday Live. Listener Week starts on Monday, 24 November and runs until 29 Saturday. There’s been a brilliant response and we’re grateful for all your ideas – we certainly couldn’t have predicted all of them.
In Our Time had an overwhelming response, with almost a thousand on topics ranging from the history of belly dancing to the Hanseatic League (me neither) but which subject will be picked? Melvyn will announce ‘the chosen one’ on the Today programme on Thursday...