The Radio Play's The Thing
December 31, 2023 11:19 AM   Subscribe

Getting tired of podcasts but still want to fill your headphones with words in 2024? For nearly a century, the BBC has been producing radio dramas and thanks to the Internet Archive, many older works are available for download...

Here are several collections of plays mainly from the 19th and 20th century in roughly chronological order by playwright:

The Henrik Ibsen Collection includes:
The Wild Duck
John Gabriel Borkman
A Doll's House
Hedda Gabler
The Lady from the Sea
An Enemy of the People
August Strindberg
The Ghost Sonara
Miss Julie (starring Helen Mirren)
The Oscar Wilde Collection includes:
A Woman of No Importance
An Ideal Husband
The Importance of Being Earnest
Lady Windermere's Fan
Lord Arthur Savile's Crime
The Picture of Dorian Gray
The Canterville Ghost
The George Bernard Shaw Collection includes:
The Apple Cart
Saint Joan
Heartbreak House
Androcles and the Lion
The Dark Lady of the Sonnets
Press Cuttings
The Shewing-Up of Blanco Posnet
Major Barbara
Man and Superman
Caesar and Cleopatra
The Devil’s Disciple
The Man of Destiny
Mrs Warren’s Profession
The Anton Chekhov Collection includes:
Wild Honey
The Seagull
The Cherry Orchard
Three Sisters
The Wood Demon
Uncle Vanya
Eugene O'Neill
The Hairy Ape
The Tennessee Williams Collection includes:
The Glass Menagerie
A Streetcar Named Desire
Spring Storm
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
The Rose Tattoo
Bertolt Brecht
Mr. Puntila & His Man Matti
The Life of Galileo
The Noël Coward Collection includes:
Private Lives
Hay Fever
Blithe Spirit
Design for Living
The Vortex
Still Life
Present Laughter
Relative Values
This Happy Breed
Waiting In The Wings
Lillian Hellman
The Children's Hour
The Arthur Miller Collection includes:
A View From The Bridge
All My Sons
Death Of A Salesman (David Suchet/Zoë Wanamaker)
Death Of A Salesman (Stacy Keach)
The Price
The Samuel Beckett Collection includes:
All That Fall
Happy Days
Waiting For Godot
The Harold Pinter Collection includes:
A Night Out: A New Play for Radio
The Caretaker
The Birthday Party
A Slight Ache (starring Pinter) & Last to Go
Landscape & Family Voices
The Homecoming (Michael Gambon)
Landscape & The Examination (Michael Gambon)
The Caretaker (David Warner)
Betrayal (Olivia Colman, Andrew Scott)
Old Times (Olivia Williams)
The Dreaming Child (BBC Unmade Movies)
A Kind of Alaska & Ashes to Ashes (Harriet Walter)
The Tom Stoppard Collection includes:
The Real Inspector Hound
M Is for Moon Among Other Things
The Dissolution of Dominic Boot
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead
If You’re Glad, I’ll Be Frank
Albert’s Bridge
Where Are They Now
Professional Foul
The Dog It Was That Died
In the Native State
Rock ‘n’ Roll
posted by gwint (14 comments total) 61 users marked this as a favorite
The Internet Archive is truly doing The Lord's Work(TM). This is a goldmine. What a way to kick off the new year! Thanks!
posted by jzb at 11:58 AM on December 31, 2023 [2 favorites]

Thanks for the heads-up. No mention of The Dark Tower (1946) by Louis MacNeice, music by Benj Britten. But it's available on The Beeb itself [73 mins].
posted by BobTheScientist at 12:32 PM on December 31, 2023 [2 favorites]

It's my fault for misparsing the title, but now I'm super-sad that none of those is an audio drama of John W. Campbell's "Who Goes There?"
posted by The Tensor at 1:38 PM on December 31, 2023 [3 favorites]

Getting tired of podcasts but still want to fill your headphones with words in 2024?

*squints suspiciously*

Although I never get tired of podcasts, I do like a good radio drama. I’m kind of fond of the BBC’s Drama of the Week, where you can get both stand-alone and “taster episodes” of a wide variety of dramas and readings.
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:34 PM on December 31, 2023

Ooh, this is fabulous - the Stoppard is amazing. (I had heard many of these, but not all.)

The Alan Bennett Drama Omnibus page has a link to BBC radio shows, which turns up, among many, many other things, a David Hare collection.

I am thoroughly chuffed to know about these excellent collections. Thank you so much for posting this, gwint!
posted by kristi at 5:54 PM on December 31, 2023

Awesome! Thanks so much gwint.
posted by storybored at 6:42 PM on December 31, 2023

I don't know how it works as audio only but I can vouch for The Real Inspector Hound as a good time as a play. It probably helps to have seen (heard?) The Mousetrap though.
posted by juv3nal at 6:43 PM on December 31, 2023

Or, if you like a bit of the ol' cosmic horror, there's four great series of The Lovecraft Investigations.

They aren't plays of the original Lovecraft stories (thankfully), but are loosely inspired by them and set in the modern-day.
posted by faceplantingcheetah at 3:13 AM on January 1 [3 favorites]

The Tensor - don't worry, the BBC and the Internet Archive have got you covered.
posted by MarchHare at 4:49 PM on January 1 [2 favorites]

Such a terrific post, gwint! Thank you!
posted by mochapickle at 7:17 PM on January 1

BBC Radio 4 also does "radio play" versions of books, which i know because I just listened to Bill Nighy starring as Charles Paris in these wonderful adaptations of Simon Brett's mystery novels.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 8:54 AM on January 2


Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is set in the plantation home in the Mississippi Delta of Big Daddy Pollitt, a wealthy cotton tycoon; the play examines the relationships among members of Big Daddy's family, primarily between his son Brick and Maggie “the Cat", Brick's wife. Joss Ackland stars as Big Daddy, with Gemma Jones as Big Mama, Elizabeth McGovern as Maggie, Marcus D'Amico as Brick, Alison Steadman as Mae and Roy Dotrice as Rev Tooker.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 9:11 AM on January 2

They've also got a 2-part BBC World Service adaptation of Neuromancer, with as I recall fairly preposterous British approximations of Sprawl-American accents for the main characters.
posted by Strange Interlude at 12:47 PM on January 2 [3 favorites]

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