The drama department at BBC Wales are turning their attention to radio. Nearly a dozen BBC Wales radio drama productions were aired on BBC network radio last year and no fewer than five are due to be broadcast in the space of the next two months.
An adaptation of The Clothes in the Wardrobe by the late London Welsh novelist Alice Thomas Ellis — to be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 at 3.30pm each day this week (12th – 16th Feb) — will be followed by a series of ‘Afternoon Plays’ on Radio 4 in February and March.
The department’s TV output has taken in everything from the Cardiff-based sci-fi series Torchwood to the Mancunian retro police drama Life on Mars and the period romp Casanova — and BBC Wales’s network radio drama productions are equally diverse.
The plays range from the first drama by the National Poet of Wales, Gwyneth Lewis, to the latest work by the Guardian columnist, broadcaster and critic Mark Lawson.
Lewis’s play is an adaptation of Sunbathing in the Rain, her acclaimed prose work about how she battled through depression. Lawson’s offering is the tragi-comedy Expand This, telling the tale of an online journalist who finds his family secrets appearing on websites all around the world.
The prolific Snowdonia-born dramatist Meic Povey provides an amusing look at the soap opera-like goings-on at Owain GlyndÅµr’s mediaeval court in Fire of the Dragon and the London- based writer Elizabeth Lewis kicks-off the series of BBC Wales productions on Radio 4 with Heifers and Bulls on Friday, 23 February. Set in a remote Welsh village, the play centres on a matchmaking service for lonely hill farmers.
Last year, BBC Wales’s drama department was responsible for a string of productions on network radio ranging from the debut radio drama by Cardiff film maker Ed Talfan to works by established Welsh writers such as Brynteg’s Gary Owen, poets Gillian Clarke from Cardiff and Owen Sheers from Abergavenny, and Swansea’s Stevie Davies.
The department also produced Radio 4’s first ‘Book at Bedtime’ by a Welsh author for a decade — Country Dance by Margiad Evans — and six contemporary ‘Plays for Wales’ broadcast on BBC Radio Wales.
“It is not just the volume of BBC Wales’s radio drama output over the past twelve months that has been so impressive, but also the variety,” said Clare Hudson, Head of English Language Programmes, BBC Wales. “The writers featured have come from Wrexham to Rhayader and from west Swansea to Western Australia.
“The themes have encompassed love and hatred, comedy and tragedy, community and loneliness. Some of the writers have been writing for decades; some are comparatively new writers whose talents have been developed through the BBC’s partnership with TÅ· Newydd, the National Writers’ Centre for Wales.
“The self-confidence in broadcast drama in Wales on both radio and television has grown and grown over the past two years and BBC Wales’s drama department has been at the forefront of that renaissance.”
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