Friday, November 28, 2014

TV, Film & Radio Section Updated & Re-launched

The Film, TV & Radio (and other media!) section of Alan Ayckbourn's Official Website has been completely relaunched today.
The extensive section has been seen every page updated with new details and facts about the many multi-media adaptations of Alan Ayckbourn's plays; each page has also been updated with a new look.
The Film, TV & Radio section of includes broadcast details of all the adaptations of Alan Ayckbourn's plays for television, radio, film and audiobooks as well as details of incidental music and original cast recording albums.
The section has been extensively updated with new information found in the Ayckbourn Archive and via the BBC's Project Genome about the various adaptations.
The Documentaries pages has also expanded to include details of a third more TV and radio programmes previously unlisted on the website.
To find out more about Alan Ayckbourn's plays in other media, visit the Film, TV & Radio section at Alan Ayckbourn's Official Website.

Note: Sadly this does not mean the unavailability of the majority of these adaptations has altered nor is likely to be altered in the foreseeable future. As far as the website is aware, there are still currently no plans to make the television and radio adaptations of Alan Ayckbourn's plays available in the forseeable future.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Alan Ayckbourn At The BBC

One of the least well known - and documented - aspects of Alan Ayckbourn's life was his work as a Radio Drama Producer for the BBC between 1965 and 1970.
Having experienced terrible reviews for his first West End production of Mr Whatnot, Alan left the theatre - apparently with no intention of writing again - and joined the BBC in Leeds working with the highly respected producer Alfred Bradley, who was key in championing northern writers.
During his time at the BBC, Alan was responsible for directing dozens of radio dramas as well as evaluating new scripts and sending script reports; all skills which proved to be essential when he took over as Artistic Director of the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round in 1972.
Although basic details about Alan's work at the BBC have been known (and can be found in the BBC pages of the Careers section of, there has been a notable gap in information.
For many years, next to nothing has been known about the many radio dramas Alan produced nor who he worked with during these years. Thanks to the BBC's Project Genome, light has been shed on this area of Alan's career for the first time.
Thanks to the Genome resource, Alan Ayckbourn's Official Website has basic details of more than 70 radio productions directed by Alan whilst at the BBC. At some point, the website will also carry more comprehensive details of all these productions for future research.
To find out more about Alan's productions at the BBC, click here or to find out more in general about Alan's work at the BBC, visit the BBC section of the website.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Roundelay - Statistics

We've had a number of requests in recent weeks concerning Alan Ayckbourn's latest play Roundelay and how probability affected the performances.
Roundelay features five different plays (The Agent, The Judge, The Novelist, The Politician, The Star), the order in which they were performed determined by a random public draw prior to each performance. Theoretically, there are 120 possible permutations of the play affecting not only the order of the inter-linked plays, but also the narrative and how the audience perceives the characters and events.
The Roundelay stage-management team kept a record of all the permutations during the play's initial run at the Stephen Joseph Theatre and its subsequent tour to Newcastle-under-Lyme and Bowness-on-Windemere.
For those interested, the results for the 35 performances at the Stephen Joseph Theatre are produced below. During the initial month-long run, there were just three repeats of previously seen permutations. So 32 of the 120 possible permutations were performed.
Performances with a star indicate a repeated permutation with the number of the original performance in brackets.

Roundelay: Stephen Joseph Theatre permutations
1 Politician; Novelist; Star; Judge; Agent
2 Novelist; Politician; Agent; Judge; Star
3 Politician; Star; Judge; Agent; Novelist
4 Star; Novelist; Politician; Judge; Agent
5 Politician; Star; Novelist; Agent; Judge
6 Judge; Novelist; Politician; Star; Agent
7 Judge; Star; Novelist; Agent; Politician
8 Politician; Novelist; Star; Agent; Judge
9 Star; Agent; Politician; Judge; Novelist
10 Agent; Judge; Star; Novelist; Politician
11 Agent; Novelist; Judge; Star; Politician
12 Star; Agent; Politician; Judge; Novelist * (9)
13 Politician; Judge; Star; Novelist; Agent
14 Politician; Agent; Star; Novelist; Judge
15 Judge; Agent; Politician; Star; Novelist
16 Star; Judge; Agent; Politician; Novelist
17 Star; Novelist; Politician; Judge; Agent * (4)
18 Judge; Novelist; Agent; Politician; Star
19 Agent; Novelist; Star; Politician; Judge
20 Novelist; Star; Judge; Politician; Agent
21 Novelist; Judge; Politician; Agent; Star
22 Agent; Politician; Novelist; Star; Judge
23 Judge; Star; Politician; Novelist; Agent
24 Star; Judge; Politician; Agent; Novelist
25 Star; Judge; Agent; Novelist; Politician
26 Novelist; Agent; Judge; Politician; Star
27 Star; Novelist; Agent; Judge; Politician
28 Novelist; Judge; Politician; Agent; Star * (21)
29 Agent; Star; Politician; Novelist; Judge
30 Star; Politician; Agent; Novelist; Judge
31 Judge; Politician; Agent; Novelist; Star
32 Agent; Star; Politician; Judge; Novelist
33 Star; Politician; Novelist; Agent; Judge
34 Star; Politician; Agent; Judge; Novelist
35 Novelist; Agent; Star; Politician; Judge

A complete list of all the permutations performed of Roundelay during 2014 can now be found in the  Roundelay section of

Many thanks to the Stephen Joseph Theatre Roundelay stage management team who kept track of all the permutations and kindly provided the website with the spreadsheet.

Friday, November 14, 2014

A Relative Mystery Solved

Insight into the earliest television broadcasts of Alan Ayckbourn's plays have been revealed as a result of a major archival project.
The BBC Genome Project is an ambitious project to create a digital archive of every edition of the Radio Times between 1923 and 2009 creating, for the first time, a comprehensive historical record of both the planned output and the BBC services of any given time.
With the help of the Genome website, will be filling in gaps and omissions with regards to television broadcasts about Alan Ayckbourn and his plays. But already one major mystery has been solved.
The TV Times listing and photo
for the 1969 adaptation of
Relatively Speaking; the only
item relating to the production
in the Ayckbourn Archive.
In the Ayckbourn Archive, held at the University of York, there is a single reference to a broadcast - apparently watched in 2.5m homes - of extracts from the original West End production of Relatively Speaking in 1967. There is also a single press cutting relating to a filmed adaptation of Relatively Speaking in 1969 - previously believed to be the first Ayckbourn play transmission.
Sadly, few other details have been found about these broadcasts with neither of the programmes having survived in either the BBC or the BFI archive. However, the Genome Project has shed light on both of these and altered a key understanding of the broadcast history of Alan's plays.
The original 1967 broadcast of the West End production is not - as previously believed - several extracts, possibly shown as part of another programme. It was a 50 minute broadcast, recorded in the Duke of York's Theatre, advertised as Relatively Speaking and containing 'scenes from the successful comedy.'
Given its length and the fact the programme was advertised as Relatively Speaking, this now becomes the earliest TV recording / broadcast of an Ayckbourn play. The only sadness is 50 minutes of Richard Briers, Celia Johnson, Michael Hordern and Jennifer Hilary in action in Alan's first major West End success did once exist but is now lost.
This means the 1969 adaptation of Relatively Speaking is now the second major broadcast of an Ayckbourn play but remains the first television adaptation (i.e. filmed in a studio as opposed to recording an existing production).
History will also shed a kinder light on this adaptation too as it was previously believed from archive research this ran for only 50 minutes (a poor adaptation to lose half a play!). However, Project Genome has revealed it was a 90 minute programme and obviously much of the entire play was shown with no radical edits.
Directed by Herbert Wise - who would go on to direct the television adaptation of The Norman Conquests - this production starred Celia Johnson and Donald Sinden; not as strange a choice as might first appear as Sinden had been responsible for directing the post West End tour of the play.
Sadly. like the original 1967 broadcast, the 1969 version of Relatively Speaking has not survived at either the BBC or the BFI and the only visual material relating to it in the Ayckbourn Archive is the photo which accompanied the TV Times listing of the play.
Further discoveries about the BBC's television and radio programmes will be added to the Recordings section of Alan Ayckbourn's Official Website in the coming weeks.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

New additions to Alan Ayckbourn's Official Website

Eagle-eyed visitors to Alan Ayckbourn's Official Website might have noticed some new additions recently.
New features are being added to the Plays section of the website and will roll out across all 78 (soon to be 79) of Alan Ayckbourn's plays over the coming months.
The additions have begun with Alan's first five plays The Square Cat, Love After All, Dad's Tale, Standing Room Only and Christmas V Mastermind with several new themed pages.
The Archive (which will be an addition to every play eventually) is a page featuring archival documents pertaining to the history of the play; these have been drawn from the playwright's personal collection, the Ayckbourn Archive at the University of York, the Stephen Joseph Theatre's archive and private collections.
Many of the documents reproduced have never been reproduced before and it is hoped as more plays are covered, some of he key documents relating to the plays and Alan Ayckbourn's career will be put onto the website.
The Scene pages will be featured on plays which have been withdrawn or where plays have gone through substantive changes. A scene from the play is reproduced (frequently having never been published before) alongside commentary offering an insight into the most rarely seen and less well-known Ayckbourn works.
Finally Other Quotes pages are being added to all the plays offering insight and views of the plays by noted Ayckbourn commentators. This will add broader insight into the plays by offering a taste of other writers' views on the playwright and the plays.
The work will be ongoing but will be a major new addition to and I hope will offer even more insight and information about Alan Ayckbourn's plays.