BBC Radio to broadcast rediscovered historic dramas

BBC Radio 4, 4 Extra and Radio 3 are to broadcast a season of plays that have been returned to the BBC Archives.

Over 1,000 radio plays have been given to the Archives by the Radio Circle, a group of radio enthusiasts and collectors, made up of reels and home recordings sent in by members of the public.

Most of these recordings, gathered, identified and restored by the Radio Circle, are of programmes which were not already held by the BBC Archives, making this a particularly special discovery.

The season of special broadcasts will include Macbeth, which when it was first broadcast in 1971 was the first ever stereo production of the play.

Also included are adaptations of works by Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins, Edgar Wallace, Kingsley Amis and JM Barrie.

Radio 4 will also celebrate the BBC Archives by broadcasting two plays by Harold Pinter and Dennis Potter, which have not been heard on BBC Radio since their original broadcasts in the early 1980s.

Alison Hindell, Commissioning Editor for Drama and Fiction, BBC Radio 4, says: “I’m delighted to be bringing these rediscovered gems to listeners – there are some very special dramas which I’m sure listeners will love, with great actors such as Denholm Elliott, Bob Hoskins and Roy Kinnear.

“The BBC has always been at the forefront of audio drama and we’re in a unique position to preserve and celebrate the rich history of this very special art form. Many thanks to the Radio Circle and the BBC Archives team for their work on this.”

Carl Davies, Senior Curator, BBC Archives adds: “The Radio Archive is a vast and diverse series of collections with millions of recordings from the 1930s to the current day from all the BBC radio services.

“When new discoveries are found it’s a wonderful opportunity to add to the archive. The Hidden Treasure season is a great moment to highlight the hard work we undertake to curate, catalogue and preserve the BBC’s archive holdings, ensuring they are accessible for our audiences via radio output and BBC Sounds in the months and years to come.”

Steve Arnold from the Radio Circle Said: “We at the Radio Circle are so glad to have been able to return these cultural treasures to the BBC Archives and hope that listeners enjoy hearing these slices of audio history. Many thanks to all the members of the public who contributed to this project.”