A Play Of The Air
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What I said last week about Fr. Martindale and iris long absence from the microphone has provoked a number of letters from listeners who, like myself, are a little mystified.
A non-Catholic correspondent writes: "I too should like to know why Fr. Martindale is not invited to give some talks. There arc so many listeners who want to hear him again. My friends and I have written many times to the B.13.C. on this subject. I fear that no notice will be taken of just a handful of people. It requires a big united effort from hundreds of listeners, Catholic or otherwise, a sort of bombardment." Apparently it does. The letter!concludes: " What is the policy of the not to grant to its listeners their reasonable request?" That's what we are all asking.
I wonder hew many letters have in fact been sent to the B.B.C. asking for more talks by Fr. Martindale and how many of the writers were, like my correspondent, not Catholics. A " bombardment " of letters, very likely.
The B.B.C. has, then, to explain whether it is muzzling Fr. Martindale in spite of his popularity or because of it. It 'maybe one or the other.
To change. the subject : there has been some good listening of late. The holidays are over and familiar voices are coming
back to the microphone. More tuneable than lark to shepherd's ear, more welcome than any first cuckoo in spring, was the voice of Mr. C. H. Middleton last week drawing ue, all round the fire once again to listen to his inimitable talks on gardening; welcome indeed was the voice of Mr. Robert Speaight in "The Last Fight of the Revenge," giving us just a taste of that good verse-speaking which we may look forward to through the winter whenever he broadcasts.
Douglas Woodruff Entertains
We were done out of half of a Brahms concert to make room for one of Mr. Douglas Woodruff's entertainments; but I resented it with less than my usual rancour, because I always enjoy Mr. Woodruff's
little entertainments. This one was called " Talking and Reading," and was a conversation by people in a railway-train, though why they should have chosen such an uncomfortable place for their talk was not clear. It meant that all the toy-theatre resources of the effects-department had to be turned on to simulate a railwaycarriage, and a very tiresome noise it made.
Actually Mr. Woodruff's dialogue was like an intellectual charade played by disembodied dons in a celestial common-room rather than the talk of ordinary people in a third-class carriage on the Brighton line. And how his actors mouthed their lines! There was acting for you—acting as John Philip Kemble and his troupe might have done it a century ago in a country barn! In spite off the railway-train nonsense and the mouthing I enjoyed it thoroughly. It was all so jolly and high-brow.
A Play in Prospect I want to draw your attention to a play on Tuesday next (September 28), " The Peaslake Crash," because it is by a new dramatist for whom I foresee a future as a writer of radio plays.
This dramatist is Captain J. E. Gurdon, D.F.C., who gets up at five o'clock every morning of his life to do higher mathe matics for the Air Ministry and spends the rest of the day writing the best short stories
about aeroplanes ever written. Captain Gurdon has the technique of the short story to his finger tips, and if he acquires the technique of the radio play to an equal degree he will be a valuable addition to the small band of dramatists who really entertain us.
" The Peaslake Crash " is a version of one of his most successful short stories and is about a millionaire who while inspecting an aeroplane landed in his park by his ward's fiancee is carried up into the air involuntarily by the machine starting up on its own. The aeroplane, a new type, is on test flight and carries a lot of petrol. The millionaire, knowing nothing of aeronautics, is borne away into the blue. Rumour spreads that he has deserted his country owing to his financial condition; the stocks of his companies fall and a minor financial panic prevails. I won't tell you the denouement, but it is delicious. Lance Sieveking produces the play. and it will he given again on Thursday, September 30. It ought to be good entertainment.
On Tuesday evening next, too, there will he a revival of " The Vagabond Lover," to which many listeners will look forward. I mention it, not only because it means the return to the microphone of a very gifted and popular Irish tenor, Mr. Cavan O'Connor, but because his songs will be accompanied by an orchestra of which little has been heard, Mr. Rae Jenkins' Bijou Orchestra.
Mr. Jenkins is a violinist of great merit; he has been Mr. Watford Davies' leader for some time; if this means that he is now coming before the public with a band of his own I wish him every success.
The Autumn Talks Programme is now out. 1 commend principally Mr. Anthony Bertram's series on Monday evenings, " Design in Everyday Things," and Mr. R. W. Jepson's series on Tuesday evenings,
" Clear Thinking." Book talks will he given on Thursday evenings, some dealing with recently published hooks, and in others speakers will talk about books they read thrice.
In alternate weeks Lord Elton will talk about various subjects under the heading " It occurs to me." On Saturdays at 9.20 p.m. Mr. Raymond Swing will continue his talks from the United States, Let all garden-lovers note that Mr. Middleton's talks (on and after October 3) will be on Sundays from 2 to 2.20 p.m.
To music lovers the exciting news is, of course, the re-appearance of Toscanini, who wilt conduct four of the Symphony Concerts during the autumn. The Drama Department has put out a list of no fewer than twenty-seven plays to be broadcast between October and Christmas. It is a pity so few of them are original work, but among the adaptations Bridie's "The Anatomist," Humbert Wolfe's translation of "Cyrano de Bergerac," Euripides' " Alcestis," and O'Casey's "Juno and the Paycock ". are noteworthy.
Feature programmes are nearly always first-rate. Twenty-five of them are down for broadcasting. I am intrigued by such titles as "The Trollope Family," " Wine," " Old Unhappy Far-off Things," and " Piccadilly." On the whole the autumn promises well, Sincerely yours,