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The Flea

45 minutes
First broadcast:
Tuesday 16 April 2013

The Flea by Michael Symmons Roberts starring Toby Jones and Conrad Nelson.

Directed in Salford by Susan Roberts

The Flea focuses on the year 1601 when Donne, a 29-year-old scholar, poet and diplomat, makes the decision that will change his life. Donne is working (by day) as Chief Secretary to the Lord Keeper of the Great Seal, Sir Thomas Egerton, at his Palace in London's Strand. By night, he is living a life of excess in the fleshpots of the city. His famously erotic love poems are unpublished, but widely circulated in literary London.
However, the poet has begun to fall in love with his boss' niece Ann More. But Donne comes from a Catholic family, which puts him beyond the pale in decent society.

During these heady months in the 'raddled and ribald glamour' of Elizabethan London, Donne's poems are gaining wider currency, including the famous love poem 'The Flea' (memorably described by turn-of-the-century critic Arthur Quiller-Couch as 'the most disgusting in our language'), 'The Sonne Rising', 'To His Mistress Going to Bed', 'Love's Ecstasie'.


John Donne
Conrad Nelson
Natalie Grady
Malcolm Raeburn
Michael Symmons Roberts
Susan Roberts



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