My first commission as a writer was for BBC
schools’ radio. Since then my radio work has spanned
original plays, dramatisations, commercial soap opera, children’s
drama, BBC World Service education programmes, and features.
A couple of years ago the Irish national
broadcasting station, RTÉ, commissioned a radio version
of my teleplay, The Switch. The production featured the wonderfully
versatile Irish actor, Joe Taylor, in a series of roles ranging
from a corrupt politician to an astute Irish wolfhound. It
was a perfect example of the pleasure of writing for radio
Radio’s a wonderfully flexible medium.
It provides rare opportunities to explore the links between
drama, poetry, prose and music theatre. Its timescales and
production costs demand direct collaboration between writer,
producer and actors. I love its juxtapositions of sound and
Communication with an audience through sound
gives unique opportunities for dramatic and comic surprise,
for surrealism, and for scenes that in any other medium would
be cut after the first draft on grounds of budget.
Audio’s also the best medium I know
for conveying sexual intimacy.
Some of my most satisfying radio work has
been dramatisation, which requires a mixture of deference
and arrogance. You have to work on the original text until
it sinks into your subconscious and then risk your own, new
act of creation.
All this, along with current audience growth
and the creative possibilities of online listening, keeps
bringing me back – not least because the comparative
briefness of the actors’ time commitment in radio can
lead to incredibly exciting casting.