Wednesday 24 Sep 2014
To celebrate Sir Terence Rattigan's centenary year, BBC Radio has commissioned new productions for radio of four of his best-known plays: The Browning Version, Flare Path, In Praise Of Love and a stage transfer of the recent Old Vic production of his final play, Cause Celebre, to be broadcast in June on BBC Radio 3 and BBC Radio 4.
British playwright Rattigan (1911-1977) penned some of the most impressive and notable plays of the last century. During his career, he completed 25 full-length stage plays as well as scripts for radio, television and film. Rattigan died shortly after the London opening of his last completed stage play, Cause Celebre – originally written for radio and broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 1975. Today, Rattigan's plays are enjoying renewed British interest and continue to be performed across the globe.
Starting on Sunday 5 June (8pm), BBC Radio 3 has commissioned a new production for Drama On 3 of Rattigan's wartime play Flare Path, which stars Rory Kinnear as the Bomber pilot Teddy, Ruth Wilson as his wife Patricia, and Rupert Penry-Jones as her former lover, Peter. Written and first produced in 1942 when Rattigan was serving as a tail gunner, it tells the story of the understated tensions and strained loyalties of life-and-death reality for RAF bombers and those close to them. This new production from Catherine Bailey is directed by Jeremy Herrin of the Royal Court Theatre in London.
On BBC Radio 4 on Saturday 11 June (2.30pm), Jarvis & Ayres have completed an outstanding new production of The Browning Version with an all-star cast including Michael York, Joanne Whalley, Ioan Gruffudd and Ian Ogilvy, directed by award-winning actor/director Martin Jarvis. Set in an English public school on the last day of the summer term, buried emotions re-surface when unpopular classics master Andrew Crocker Harris is given a present on his final day. Following the broadcast of the play, Martin Jarvis reveals some "behind the scenes" background to the play and describes Rattigan's hopes, fears and ambitions for its ongoing success.
On Saturday 18 June (2.30pm), BBC Radio 4 presents Rattigan's love story, In Praise Of Love about a successful novelist who knows his wife's secret that she has an incurable disease – but she doesn't know that he knows. The cast stars Sarah Badel, Kerry Shale and Martin Jarvis and it is directed by Celia de Wolff and produced by John Tydeman for Pier Productions.
On Saturday 25 June (2.30pm), BBC Radio 4 broadcasts a radio transfer of the Old Vic Theatre production of Rattigan's Cause Celebre. The play is based on the real-life murder trial of Alma Rattenbury, a case that shocked the public. This new stage version is brought to BBC radio by Sparklab, produced by Polly Thomas and Melanie Harris.
As a curtain raiser for the season, Mark Lawson presents a special edition of BBC Radio 4's Front Row on Monday 30 May (7.15pm) charting Rattigan's historical rise, fall and return – from West End golden boy to a forgotten figure until his current status as a rediscovered genius: an English Chekhov. Mark talks to directors and actors involved in this year's many Rattigan revivals, along with playwright David Hare and Rattigan's biographer Michael Darlow. Listeners will also hear the voice of Rattigan himself, drawn from interviews he gave to BBC radio from the early Fifties until shortly before his death in 1977.
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