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Felicity Hayes-McCoy


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.