Saturday Night Theatre


Author : J.B. Priestly

Play :

First Broadcast on :

John Boynton Priestley was one of the great figures in British theatre in the mid-twentieth century. Even in the twenty-first century he had two plays running in London: DANGEROUS CORNER, his first stage play, and AN INSPECTOR CALLS, probably his most famous play. Both have been produced repeatedly on radio, the former most notably in 1968, when Flora Robson again played the part she created in 1932, the latter most recently on the World Service, with Bob Peck as the eerie Inspector.

Priestley' plays have featured on radio since the 1930s and his major stage plays have been revived repeatedly: EDEN END; WHEN WE ARE MARRIED; I HAVE BEEN HERE BEFORE. His novels have been adapted and some of his least-known plays have found a wider audience. BRIGHT DAY and ANGEL PAVEMENT have figured both as plays and serials, and there have been four versions of THE GOOD COMPANIONS, his first bestseller. LOST EMPIRES, the late novel about the music halls, was one of the successes of a centenary season in 1994, with Tom Baker as Ganga Dun, the Maharaj of Mystery.

The less famous titles include the neglected comedy, BEES ON THE BOATDECK; an emotional drama, PEOPLE AT SEA; a play about the theatre, and JOHNSON OVER JORDAN, the experimental play that begins with the death of its protagonist. A delightful short comedy, THE DEMON KING, was a Christmas treat in 1962, with Ian Wallace and Marjorie Westbury on top form, singing and acting as if their lives depended on it.

Besides the centenary season, there was a Priestley Festival in 1955, culminating in a new play called THE GOLDEN ENTRY, about a beleaguered patron of the arts, played by Paul Rogers. Two other of Priestley's plays have been produced only on radio: END GAME AT THE DOLPHIN (1956), an intricate comedy- thriller that deserves revival; and SALT IS LEAVING, a clever detective play performed in 1975.