BBC radio drama to mark Reading prison closure

Oscar Wilde Oscar Wilde was housed in Reading Gaol between 1895 and 1897

Related Stories

A BBC Radio 4 drama will mark the closure of Reading prison, where writer and poet Oscar Wilde was incarcerated in the 19th Century.

Doing Time: The Last Ballad of Reading Gaol explores the quirkier facts of the prison, which closed on 22 November.

The prison was immortalised in Wilde's poem, The Ballad Of Reading Gaol, published in 1898.

Dramatist Mike Walker said the jail was "so much more than Oscar Wilde - it's the story of thousands of lives".

Recording will start later in the church next door to the Victorian prison, which closed after 169 years under government plans to replace four prisons with a super-prison.

Wilde was sentenced to two years in the jail for gross indecency after his homosexual affair was exposed in 1895.

The play will also reveal why Reading Gaol executioner William Calcott was known as "short drop" and why an employee was sacked for giving a child a biscuit.

Mr Walker, who researched the play using historical documents, said the prison's history was "a treasure trove of weird facts and strange people".

It will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on 13 March after its debut on BBC Radio Berkshire and actors include new EastEnders actress Annette Badland.

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

BBC Berkshire



13 °C 7 °C


  • The OfficeIn pictures

    Fifty landmark shows from 50 years of BBC Two

  • French luxury Tea House, Mariage Freres display of tea pots Tea for tu

    France falls back in love with tea - but don't expect a British cuppa

  • Worcestershire flagFlying the flag

    Preserving the identities of England's counties

  • Female model's bottom in leopard skin trousers as she walks up the catwalkBum deal

    Why budget buttock ops can be bad for your health

  • Two women in  JohanesburgYour pictures

    Readers' photos on the theme of South Africa

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.