Monday, 3 November 2008

THAT'S PROGRESS

There was a time when the BBC was such a thoroughly well-brought up and gentlemanly establishment that if a programme you had contributed to was being given a second airing, Somebody would have written to you on Corporation notepaper and given you the glad tidings...

Not nowadays! I suppose having to pay Jonathan Ross £6 million a year has meant that they simply can't afford to employ the Somebody any more or, maybe, just can't run to the expense of the notepaper (and postage) involved...

If a BBC contributor wants to keep up with examples of their oeuvre being once again shared with the listening public, they need to rely on the good offices of friends and acquaintances, such as the one who excitedly gripped my arm on Saturday and said, "Congratulations!"

"On what?" I asked.

"On next week's broadcasts!" he continued, his excitement still evident.

"What broadcasts?" I demanded, supposing this particular acquaintance to have confused me (as sometimes happens, albeit fleetingly) with Brian Sewell.

"The Pilgrim's Progress!" he explained, identifying a three-part dramatisation that I made a few years ago of John Bunyan's famous book which has since been gathering dust somewhere in the bowels of Broadcasting House.

This was welcome news, indeed - not from a pecuniary point of view since the sum for two repeats of three sixty-minute episodes (to wit, six hours of broadcasting) will only yield a revenue in the region of £30 - but because I was quite fond of this mini-epic which set Bunyan's well-known allegorical tale of Christian's journey from the City of Destruction to the Celestial City within the context of Bunyan's trial for preaching without a licence and his subsequent imprisonment in Bedford Gaol during which time he wrote The Pilgrim's Progress.

Anton Rogers as Bunyan and Neil Dudgeon as Christian headed a great cast which included Alec McCowen, Anna Massey, Don Warrington, Peter Bowles and Derek Waring.

The Pilgrim's Progress is being broadcast on Radio 7 at various times from today until 6th November.

You'll find the transmission times on this schedule and you can check out this short review from The Independent on Sunday when the dramatization was first broadcast back in 2004. As another reviewer wrote: "Christian or no, it's worth listening to for the light it casts on that period in English history."

And for those of you who share my love of maps, here's one of Christian's pilgrimage from This World to That Which is to Come...

Click to enlarge

Had I possessed the relevant information I would, of course, have marked your present location with an arrow and the legend: YOU ARE HERE!

6 comments:

Boll Weavil said...

Perhaps if the Beeb had aired Ppilgrims Progress on Radio 2 instead of 7, they might be a few pounds better off now as well as saving a few blushes and beable to afford to hire such a gentleman.It's a shame that 7 is not able to pay its dues more readily because it does, mostly, broadcast all that is best from the Beeb whilst other services continue to disappear into a haze of their own repetiton and self-congratulation. I wonder if anyone out there knows that Andrew Sachs is not just Manuel but a great radio actor and reader as well.

Brian Sibley said...

Re: Andrew Sachs... Yes, as BOLL says, he is a fine actor whose work has included much, much more than just playing the hapless Manuel. In fact in the days when I used to lecture on writing for radio (that, of course, was when I was still writing for radio!) I always concluded my talk by playing the students a recording of the groundbreaking drama, The Revenge: a 15-minute play without words written and performed by Andrew Sachs. A wonderful radio masterpiece!

Sheila said...

Those who aren't at home to listen at 11:00 or who aren't awake at 05:00 may like to know that they don't have to miss out. The series is available for a week after each broadcast on the Radio 7 web page at

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00ffhxc

It's a very useful service as it will save us having to cancel appointments this week!

Brian Sibley said...

Oh, it's definitely not worth cancelling appointments for!!

Boll Weavil said...

I have it on mp3 ! I can tell you how it ends if you like....

Brian Sibley said...

Thanks, BOLL, but it's OK -- I guessed...