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Beckett centenary

Saturday 1 April 2006 22:15-23:00 (Radio 3)

To celebrate the centenary of Samuel Beckett's birth, Hollywood director Anthony Minghella joins Ian MacMillan to present a specially commissioned play he has written for The Verb. And leading lady and long time Beckett muse, Billie Whitelaw, shares her unique and intimate insight into the mind of the playwright and his work, reminiscing on her 25 years as his close artistic collaborator.


45 minutes

Programme Details

Nobel prize winning writer Samuel Beckett is a towering figure of the 20th Century. His 1969 Nobel citation stated that he had won for his "body of work that in new forms of fiction and the theatre has transmuted the destitution of modern man into his exaltation." Yet this was the man who was emphatically rejected by the publishing industry for most of his career - so much so, that the postman delivering his rejected works became a character in a play.

As part of BBC Radio 3's celebrations of the centenary of the birth of Samuel Beckett, The Verb will be showcasing new dramas specially commissioned by the programme and inspired by Samuel Beckett.

We start the birthday celebrations on BBC Radio 3, with an unprecedented return to radio by the Oscar winning film director Anthony Minghella, who has written a play especially for The Verb, starring Juliet Stevenson as The Mother, Jude Law as The Son, and David Threlfall as The Father. It's ostensibly the story of a father and son grieving for their wife and mother, who is now a ghost sitting on a memorial bench on Hampstead Heath. But is this really the case? Listen and make up your own mind.

Anthony Minghella's play is called Eyes Down Looking and marks Anthony Minghella's return to radio. He has been called one of the great radio writers - few people who heard Coffee and Cigarettes in 1987 have forgotten it - and he'll be explaining why he was tempted back to radio to write this new play especially for The Verb to mark Samuel Beckett's 100th birthday celebrations.

Also in the programme on April 1st, the woman who more than anyone else has been called Beckett's muse, the great Billie Whitelaw. She'll be talking to the young actress, Lisa Dwan, who has followed in her footsteps and played Mouth in the monologue Not I, which Billie Whitelaw said stripped her of her skin. Although only 15 minutes long, it is one of the most intense performances any actor can undergo. They discuss playing Not I and living with the legacy of Samuel Beckett.

That's all on The Verb at 10.15pm, which kicks off the Samuel Beckett birthday celebrations here on BBC Radio 3.

Producer: Ariane Koek

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