GF Newman’s The Corrupted

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been catching up with series three of GF Newman’s The Corrupted, a superlative drama recently broadcast on BBC Radio 4. If you’re looking for an audio equivalent of gritty TV drama to listen to on your commute or when cooking (one of my favourite times to listen), then you should give this a try.

Continuing the story of the Oldman family, this series of The Corrupted is set in 1970s gangland London, all bent coppers, geezers and grasses, stitch-ups, slags and dodgy deals. Including news and celebrities of the day, The Corrupted skilfully merges fact and fiction in an absorbing 10-episode story arc, with superb writing, acting and production. (Episode 1 also includes the most spectacularly performed orgasm I’ve ever heard on radio. I went quite red in the face!)

GF Newman’s The Corrupted is another great example of why I love audio drama. At the time of writing episode 1 is available via BBC iPlayer for another five days, so download and enjoy the series now.

Click here for a blog by GF Newman on the BBC Writersroom website.
Click here to visit GF Newman’s website.
Read my previous audio drama posts.

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Mart’s Radio Drama Digest – PILGRIM SPECIAL


written by Sebastian Baczkiewicz, directed/produced by Marc Beeby and Jessica Dromgoole

Of all the tales told on these islands, few are as strange as that of William Palmer. Cursed, apparently, on the road to Canterbury in the spring of 1185 for denying the presence of the other world by the king of the grey folk – or Fairy – himself, and compelled to walk from that day to this between the worlds of magic and of men, and subsequently known in all the strange and wonderful lore attributed to the mysterious William Palmer, as Pilgrim.

This week saw the broadcast on BBC Radio 4 of the seventh and final series of Pilgrim – fantasy productions in a contemporary setting with magic and grey folk and all manner of surprises and horrors. I’ve listened to every episode, having been captured by the challenging and innovative nature of these dramas from the outset. While the seven series form a single story arc, in truth you can pick up and enjoy any one of these episodes as a standalone. Expect the unexpected, and be prepared to squirm now and then. I found “the drownings” of series 2 particularly disturbing.

Baczkiewicz has a distinctive dialogue style. Often dark, conversations can also be humorous, with characters’ dialogue interweaving and being misconstrued while the writer skilfully maintains the progression of the story. He also has a lot of fun with names, such as Mr Rabbetsenhats (He’s a rabbits-in-a-hat kind of a magician.), Mrs Wellbeloved and Mr Hibbens (It rhymes with ribbons./I know what it bloody rhymes with!).

While every member of the cast excels, the highlight is undoubtedly Paul Hilton who plays William Palmer himself. A tremendous acting talent, Hilton admirably conveys the lead character’s complexity and torment. There’s no finer example than Palmer’s cameo appearance in Home Front, for which Baczkiewicz is also a core writer. When Jessie asks Will you find your way in the dark? his single word reply of Always. is delivered in such a way that it perfectly encapsulates Palmer’s weariness with the arduous nature of his cursed existence. There’s also a quality to Hilton’s voice that’s perfect for this role, a familiarity, warmth and depth that makes Palmer disarming and convivial, but which can in a moment become menacing.

Each production is unsurprisingly flawless, and the fact that the perfect theme music starts a few minutes into each episode, followed by the eerie legend at the beginning of this post, read by Agnes Bateman, gives Pilgrim a particularly modern feel. Pilgrim has been inspiring to me as a wanna-be writer of radio drama, demonstrating potential demand for the weird and somewhat left-field writing that appeals to me most, and that BBC radio drama is prepared to push boundaries and broadcast uncompromising material. I cannot recommend Pilgrim highly enough for anyone with an interest in quality drama whatever its medium.


Additional content

You can read an interview with Baczkiewicz regarding Pilgrim on the Sci-Fi Bulletin website.
Behind-the-scenes photographs from a Pilgrim recording session can be found here.
Additional background to the series is available here.
An article covering Baczkiewicz’s involvement in Home Front can be found here.

See my other audio drama posts here.
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Follow @BBCRadioDrama on Twitter.
Download the indispensable BBCiPlayerRadio app here, or go to the website.

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Mart’s Radio Drama Digest – 22 February 2016

This is just a selection from the huge variety of superb drama or podcast output available on the BBC iPlayer at the time of writing. Follow the links below to explore further.

written by Claudine Toutoungi, directed by Liz Webb

Worked in a school? Know someone who’s worked in a school? This “black comedy” might strike some chords. Toutoungi also wrote Slipping, which was nominated for Best Original Drama in the 2014 Audio Drama Awards.

August 1914
dramatised by Robin Brooks, directed by Alison Hindell

If you’re missing Home Front, Tommies and BBC One’s War and Peace, this adaptation of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s story of the first battle of the Eastern Front in 1914 will give you a fix for a couple of hours. The cast includes Alex Waldmann and Michael Bertenshaw.

Halfway Here
written by Lucy Catherine, directed by Mary Peate

This week’s Drama of the Week download, Halfway Here covers many of the issues faced by teenagers and their parents in the fast-paced internet age in which we live. The above link will take you to part one of the omnibus edition of this 2-part drama.

See my other radio drama posts here.
Sign up to the BBC radio drama newsletter here.
Follow @BBCRadioDrama on Twitter.
Download the BBCiPlayerRadio app here, or go to the website.

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Mart’s Radio Drama Digest – 12 February

Some recent BBC drama or podcast output that’s really caught my attention, and which is available on iPlayer at the time of writing. Remember, this is just a small sample of the huge variety on offer.

As Innocent as You Can Get
written by Rex Obano, directed by David Hunter

A contemporary urban play written in a very cool, Shakespearean rhyming style. The meter bounces the story along in something of a contrast to its relatively dark tone. “A story about guilt and innocence focusing on two men. One is a prison psychologist and the other a prisoner convicted under ‘joint enterprise’.”

Spoonface Steinberg
written by Lee Hall, produced by Kate Roland

A wonderfully written and performed monologue from the viewpoint of Spoonface – a terminally ill, autistic 7-year old. It sounds grim, but Spoonface will draw you in with her powerful and unique view of the world. A remarkable performance from Becky Simpson in the title role who by my reckoning was just 10 or 11 years old when this play was first broadcast at the beginning of 1997.

Demon Brother
written by Matthew Broughton, directed by James Robinson

A dark two-parter about identical twin brothers, Jasper and Eddie, their relationships with each other, their father and all those around them. A play with twists and turns and a sting in the tail.

The Bat Man
written by Amelia Bullmore, directed by Mary Peate

If you’re enjoying the return of Happy Valley – and why wouldn’t you be? – check out this play written by Bullmore, who plays Happy Valley’s Vicky Fleming. Starring Bill Nighy, Katherine Parkinson, Jenny Agutter and Home Front’s Sean Baker, The Bat Man skips along with a wry humour that perfectly compliments the characters’ backgrounds and motivations.

and finally…

Season six of Home Front… has finished! The end of each season always catches me out and this was no exception. The writing and acting performances in Home Front are always wonderful but the last two weeks, written by Shaun McKenna, have been absolute belters, shifting from the comedic to dramatic depths and everything between. I have a feeling that somewhere down the line, however, Team Home Front is going to break my heart as far as one particular character is concerned.

See my previous radio drama posts here.
Sign up to the BBC radio drama newsletter here.
Follow @BBCRadioDrama on Twitter.
Download the wonderful BBCiPlayerRadio app here, or go to the website.