Burning Both Ends – When Oliver Reed met Keith Moon

I have a new play on Radio 4 this Thursday afternoon (8th December) at 2.15pm…

Set in the Summer of 1974 – “Burning Both Ends” explores the intense, hilarious and very special friendship between English actor Oliver Reed and ‘wild man’ drummer – Keith Moon. It is the story of a “bro-mance” that sprung up when Ken Russell (RIP), playing unwitting match-maker, cast the men opposite each other in his movie version of the rock opera, Tommy.

Keith Moon was the world famous drummer of THE WHO. He had a gargantuan appetite for partying, drugs, alcohol, and pranks – And was looking for a new playmate.

Oliver Reed was the biggest movie star in Britain. His credits included Women in Love, The Three Musketeers, and his iconic role as Bill Sykes in Oliver! He had a beautiful ballerina partner, a huge mansion in Surrey, and a French magazine had voted him ‘the sexiest man’ on earth… Reed had it all… But felt there was something missing from his life… Keith Moon, he decided – “was the path I was looking for”…

It’s a story that I found funny and touching. And the play is a fictionalised account of their time together – mainly set on the south coast while they were on the Tommy shoot.

Sean Pertwee plays Olly – in my opinion, a remarkable transformative performance. (Someone tweeted me that Sean has ‘the most masculine voice in British acting’ And that seems apt for this role!)

Arthur Darvill plays the Keith Moon with a mercurial energy – complex, fun, but with shades of darkness at heart.

Together the actors threw themselves at the roles – playful, funny, joyful, revelatory, naughty, and moving. But that’s just my opinion -and i’m biased.

For details of Burning Both Ends click HERE

[*UPDATE – A feature article I wrote about the play is in today’s Sunday Express. – 4th Dec 2011]

UPDATE – Burning Both Ends is available Here


17 thoughts on “Burning Both Ends – When Oliver Reed met Keith Moon

  1. As the wind and rain rages outside in stormy Glasgow, I have just listened to Burning Both Ends on Radio 4. What a beautiful, brilliant, moving drama about Oliver Reed and Keith Moon. Inspiring.

  2. Loved the play ! Childhood memories of Reed on Tv and of wild rugby tours where such behaviour was encouraged. Lock up the rowing boats! Thanks for a great 45 minutes !

  3. Loved it! Just listened to it and Arthur Darvil was quite a revelation! I wrote something in similar vein about the (fictionalised) meeting between Elvis and Howard Hughes in a Las Vegas hotel in 68. Wasn’t the Vincent Price/Witch finder General one of yours too? Fantastic piece of writing…

  4. I loved your play. You have a great talent and I look forward to following your career over the coming years.
    Allan from Denmark.

  5. Hi Matthew,

    Loved your play last year. Often think of it when my mind wanders… Is there anywhere online that I can listen again? Else is it due to be re-broadcast?

    Can you tell me what music/track they played at the intro, during and at the end? Can’t get it out of my mind!



    • Hi – Thanks. Pleased you liked it. Repeats of plays on R4 normally happen after a year or two of first airing. But, I’m sure that the play has found its way online somewhere – my guess is that a google search will turn it up. As for the music in the play – I used 3 tracks by The Who. The opening music is: “Baba O’Riley” – the track in the middle with the drum solo is: “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” And the track at the very end leading into the credits is: “Behind Blue Eyes.” – All worth a visit to itunes for! – Thanks again for being interested in the play. MB

  6. I can’t seem to see your play on any BBC source. No podcast available. Is there anywhere else I can hear it?

  7. Pingback: Burning Both Ends – when Oliver Reed met Keith Moon (Radio 4 Repeat) | Matthew Broughton's Blog

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