Main content
Sorry, this episode is not currently available

Jonathan Myerson - Reykjavik

4 Extra Debut. Rollercoaster drama mapping the Reagan-Gorbachev summit in 1986, a meeting that did not go to plan. Stars Kerry Shale and Zubin Varla. From October 2014.

4 Extra Debut. 11th October 1986: the height of the Cold War, enough missiles to detonate the planet two thousand times over.

Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev meet at Gorbachev's request for a one-day, informal chat, at the (some say haunted) Hofdi House near Reykjavik. But in the small brown room where they meet, Gorbachev suddenly blindsides the Americans: out of the blue, he offers 50% cuts in all missiles - and he'll sign today. The White House team is catastrophically unprepared for this - no one predicted it.

But Reagan sees how he can really achieve something.... and within hours they are talking the most colossal cuts in nuclear warheads, aiming to reach zero missiles within ten years. How did this happen? How did it fail?

Drawing on both American and Russian transcripts of every word said between the two leaders, Jonathan Myerson's gripping drama explores the pressures on both sides, moment by moment, as the deal grows bigger and bigger, and the drama shifts from measured words at the negotiating table, to the panic, graft and invention of the two diplomatic teams outside the room.

Produced and directed by Jonquil Panting

Images courtesy of the Ronald Ronald Reagan Library.

1 hour

Credits

Role Contributor
Ronald Reagan Kerry Shale
Mikhail Gorbachev Zubin Varla
George Shultz Colin Stinton
Eduard Shevardnadze Michael Bertenshaw
John Poindexter Matthew Marsh
Georgy Arbatov Matthew Marsh
Paul Nitze Nathan Osgood
Ed Rowny Ian Conningham
Roz Ridgway Elaine Claxton
Sergei Akhromeyev David Acton
Director Jonquil Panting
Producer Jonquil Panting
Writer Jonathan Myerson

Broadcasts

Reykjavik: Our selection from the Top 20 in October 1986

The chart-toppers from that fateful weekend

Drama of the Week Podcast

Download a new drama from Radio 4 or Radio 3 every week.