A few 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 actors.
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.
Speech 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 silence.
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.