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24 September 2014
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Radio 4 Christmas 2004 highlights

Monday 20 December

Woman's Hour Drama - Lorna Doone

1/10 10.45-11.00am

A new adaptation, by award-winning writer Jane Rogers, of R D Blackmore's high romance of love and vengeance on Exmoor with Timothy West as the older John Ridd and Alex Avery as the young John.

Lorna Doone is a story of star-crossed lovers, feuding families, royal plots and noble destinies set against a backdrop of uncertainty in 17th Century England.

King Charles II lies on his deathbed and the future of the country is left in the hands of divided politicians and warring rebels.

Peaceful Exmoor farmers, John Ridd and family endure the wrath of the nearby colony of notorious outlanders and lawbreakers, the Doones.

Lead by Sir Ensor, the clan has been ejected from their Scottish homelands and forced to plunder the villages on the moor to survive.

When his father is murdered one day by Carver Doone, 12-year-old John Ridd swears vengeance on his father's killers.

Without a father John must leave school and provide for his family.

Out fishing one day he accidentally finds himself in Doone valley, where he makes the acquaintance of a mysterious maiden, Lorna (Jemma Powell).

Bidding him to never again appear on their land if he wants to live, she leaves him and it is seven years before his return.

Despite the fact that Lorna is a Doone, and therefore a sworn enemy, love blossoms as the pair meet again and John finds he simply cannot stay away.

As their friendship grows, so does the hatred between their families.

Turbulent times lay ahead for the young lovers, as they chance fate and defy all that they know.

What emerges from the nest of passions and desires, unbridled corruption and pure fate is a story of faith, courage and determination.

Jane Rogers is an award-winning original writer and dramatist. Her credits include Mr Wroe's Virgins, Dawn and The Candidate (TV), Diary Of A Provincial Lady (E M Delafield), Letters To An Icon and Hardy's A Tragedy Of Two Ambitions (radio).

Producer/Katherine Beacon

BBC Radio 4 Publicity

Wall Of Death

1/1 11.00-11.30am

Take a huge wooden drum, 20 feet high and 32 feet in diameter, put a viewing platform around the top and ride a vintage motorbike around its vertical walls at speeds of over 50 mph.

A spectacle that has enthralled funfair audiences in Britain for 75 years, it still draws the crowds today and is called the Wall of Death.

Life-long bike enthusiast Andy Kershaw sets out to explore the history of this most spectacular of all fairground shows and meets the men and women who are brave - or mad - enough to carry on the tradition.

Andy meets the Wall of Death's very own historian, Neil Calladine.

The first Wall arrived in Britain in 1929 at the Kursaal in Southend where it remained for nearly 50 years.

Its most celebrated owner was George 'Tornado' Smith who, during an eventful career, had several assistants who rode pillion as part of the performance.

These included his wife and Briton, a lioness who as a cub rode on the handlebars but, when she grew bigger, graduated to a sidecar.

The Thirties were a golden age for the Wall of Death and no self-respecting funfair was without one.

The best riders were even treated like modern-day rock or film stars.

The tradition has been continued to the present day by Roy's grandson Graham who takes his Wall to shows and fairs up and down the country.

Surprisingly, in an age where the extraordinary is regularly seen on TV and in films, the Cripsey Wall of Fear is still a hugely popular attraction.

As Graham approaches the age of 50, however, he's decided to retire and Andy joins him on the day the Wall comes up for auction.

It's an emotional moment as Graham gives his last performance (or so he thinks) and Andy reflects on a remarkable spectacle that has entertained British audiences for nearly 80 years and still draws 'em in today.

Presenter/Andy Kershaw, Producer/Jeremy Grange (Wales) BBC Radio 4 Publicity

Afternoon Play - A Long Time Dead


Careful Kath and bossy Beatrice (both in their late fifties) are all set for their girlie weekend in Paris, but an hour before leaving to catch the Eurostar, Kath quietly dies in her armchair.

But neither of them see why this should get in the way of their European jaunt.

Beatrice and dead Kath take on Paris with enthusiasm. They watch the sunset over the Seine and Beatrice even treats Kath to a designer frock and a pair of gold shoes for her funeral.

Kath's death not only provides a whole new lease of live for Beatrice, but also an opportunity for a belated and moving reconciliation for the two women.

Marion Bailey plays Kath with Linda Marlowe as Beatrice and Tony Selby as Geoff.

Other parts are played by Emily Wachter and Stephen Hogan.

Writer Sheila Goff's previous plays include Thirty Years Is Pearl, Stay Stum, Sad, and Will You Love Me Tomorrow.

She is currently working on a dramatisation of Monica Dickens' novel My Turn To Make The Tea.

Producer/David Hunter

BBC Radio 4 Publicity

Angelic Hosts

1/4 3.30-3.45pm (Mon-Thurs)

The inspiration for this series of short stories about angels comes from famous paintings and poems - from the traditional portrayals of Raphael through to Anthony Gormley's thoroughly modern Angel Of The North.

The Green Angel by John Burnside. An abstract painting of an angel by Jasper Johns triggers a forgotten memory for the story's narrator.

The colours and images in the painting cause a moment many years ago to gain heightened significance.

The reader is David Rintoul.

Kali Is Dancing For Me by Tanika Gupta. Joya is on holiday with her mother in India. On her first night, she dreams of a beautiful dancing goddess.

The Goddess is Kali and she seems to be sending Joya a message.

Eager relatives persuade a reluctant Joya to visit the Kali temple outside Calcutta. Standing before the temple statue, she realises that it is the exact same image of Kali that appeared to her in the dream and she seeks the meaning.

The reader is Yasmin Wilde.

And We Flew Into Bethlehem by Michael Morpurgo. The popular Christmas carol, While Shepherds Watch Their Flocks is the inspiration for this story by Children's Laureate, Michael Morpurgo.

He speculates on what happened to the shepherd left behind to look after the sheep while the rest of his friends travelled to Bethlehem.

The readers are Paul Copley and Robert Hastie.

Untitled story by Clare Boylan. A story of unrequited love centres on a painting of a beautiful woman - to the mind of the art collector who owns the painting she becomes his guardian angel as he attempts to woo a much younger, married woman.

Producer/Gemma Jenkins

BBC Radio 4 Publicity


1/1 8.00-8.30pm

A child falls over and a bone is broken. On the hospital ward, the parents start to notice whispers and dark looks and then the child is taken into care on suspicion of abuse.

In this revealing documentary, Hugh Levinson hears from parents who have lost their children in these circumstances - but who believe the root cause is medical ignorance.

They believe their children are suffering from undiagnosed cases of brittle bone disease.

It's a rare condition and one which is difficult to test. Some doctors don't even believe it exists. Yet the parents say that they are victims of a system which knows little about the disease and which is unwilling to test medical explanations for unusual childhood fractures.

In one case, a young woman was convicted of neglect on the basis of evidence from a radiographer. She spent 14 months in prison before her criminal conviction was overturned.

But by then, her daughter had been adopted - a decision which is irreversible.

None of the parents interviewed for the programme have spoken directly to the media before. Now they say they are prepared to tell their stories, using their real names.

Reporter Hugh Levinson examines their cases and asks Social Services departments to explain their decisions.

He also puts challenging questions to the parents - even if their children do suffer from brittle bone disease it does not automatically mean that they have not been abused.

Through these stories he explores a social worker's most sensitive and finely balanced decision: whether to take children into care for their own protection.

Presenter/Hugh Levinson, Producer/Smita Patel

BBC News Publicity

Book At Bedtime - Augustus Carp, Esq By Himself


Subtitled 'Being The Autobiography Of A Really Good Man', this is the book that Anthony Burgess described as "one of the great comic novels of the 20th century".

Augustus Carp is so convinced of his own moral superiority he feels it is his duty to "place some higher example before the world."

A hypocritical, pompous, cowardly and sanctimonious bully, Carp makes his heavy-footed way through life completely blind to his own faults and acutely aware of the faults in others.

He sees it as both a duty and a pleasure for him to point them out…

The novel was published anonymously in 1924 and for many years the identity of the author remained a mystery.

He was finally revealed to be Sir Henry Howarth Bashford, Hon Physician to King George VI.

Producer/David Jackson Young

BBC Radio 4 Publicity


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