A Fortunate Man by John Berger

I’ve adapted John Berger’s book A FORTUNATE MAN for BBC Radio 4.

It was broadcast on R4 Saturday 27th June 2020 at 3pm.

It’s now available on BBC SOUNDS for a month.

It’s a book I’ve known and loved for many years.

In the 1960s writer John Berger was living in the Forest of Dean, and became friends with his extraordinary local GP John Eskell in the village of St Briavels.  Interested in this talented and complex man, Berger asked the doctor if he could shadow him for some weeks to observe his working methods and his relationships with his patients in the forest.

Along with photographer Jean Mohr, Berger turned this experience into a remarkable book – A FORTUNATE MAN.  It describes many patient case studies, asks how we value human life, and meditates on the role of the doctor in society.  (To protect Eskell’s identity, Berger changed his name in the book to John Sassall.)

For me it’s a fascinating, intelligent, and challenging book. It’s filled with poetry, unsentimental emotion, and is ultimately extremely moving.

While the book was published in 1967, it feels modern, relevant and resonant to the world now (and particularly this country and the NHS.)

The last sections could have been written this year.

“There are such things as national crises of such an order that they test all those who live through them. There are moments of truth in which, not everything, but a great deal is revealed about individuals, classes, institutions, leaders…”

(From A FORTUNATE MAN – JOHN BERGER.)

Set in the Forest and  the somewhat isolated Forester community – it speaks directly to today.

And there is a bitter twist to the ending.

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Although I can’t claim I knew John Berger, I did meet him on a few occasions while working with the Theatre Company ‘Complicite’ in the early 2000s.  (While adapting Torgny Lindgren’s novel ‘LIGHT’ with the company.)   He was a great observer, listener, and thinker – often surprising and passionate, always insightful.  (His death 3 years ago was a great loss.)

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A FORTUNATE MAN the AUDIO DRAMA:

My radio adaptation of A Fortunate Man – is an hour long.

(It was written and recorded under lock down conditions in March/April.)

It’s produced/directed by John Norton.

Sound designed by Nigel Lewis.

Cast:

Adrian Scarborough

Peter Marinker

Barbara Flynn

Joe Sims

Carys Eleri

Scarlett Courtney

And the voices of Dorothy Burley, Kevin and Karen Wellham, Anne Childs and Robin Harris, recorded by the Reading the Forest project.

(The latter are real village voices recorded in recent years as they remember their Dr. Eskell.)

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PRESS:

radio times review

Radio Times (27th June-3rd July)

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Guardian (27/6/20)

The Times

TRACKS Series 4 : INDIGO

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The fourth Series of Tracks: Indigo is now available.

10 Episodes of 15 minutes each.

Details Here.

The entire series (and all 3 of the previous series) are available on BBC SOUNDS and as a PODCAST.

(Be aware that the episodes are often out of order on BBC SOUNDS (I have no idea why) – so double check or use the Tracks Homepage:)

TRACKS HOMEPAGE ON BBC WEBSITE

Starring:

Dr Helen Ash – Romola Garai

Freddy Fuller – Jonathan Forbes

Helen is involved in a serious car accident – but why did the car hit her? Where was she going? What is wrong with her baby daughter Frances? And what’s wrong with time?

Press:

The Observer

The Observer

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Daily Mail

sunday times

Sunday Times

TRACKS series 1, 2 and 3. (and 4)

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Ahead of Series 4, TRACKS Indigo-

The BBC have put the first 3 series of TRACKS onto BBC SOUNDS.

For design consistency the first series is now called TRACKS Origin.

ORIGIN

STRATA

and CHIMERA

(For reasons I don’t understand, the episodes are often out of order on BBC SOUNDS – so do double check!)

Are all now available:

HERE

COMING SOON:     Series 4: Tracks Indigo

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Tracks Chimera

Tracks Chimera (Tracks Series 3)

The return of Dr Helen Ash and Freddy.

Tracks Chimera is now going out every Thursday at 2.15pm on BBC Radio 4.  (The series finale will be broadcast on R4 on 27th December.)

All 9 episodes are also now available online as a boxset and podcast.

EPISODE 1

EPISODE 2

EPISODE 3 –  (Written by Matt Hartley)

EPISODE 4(Written by Lucy Catherine)

EPISODE 5

EPISODE 6 (Written by Caroline Horton)

EPISODE 7 (Written by Timothy Atack)

EPISODE 8

EPISODE 9

BBC Series Link

Podcast (All episodes of Series 3 are now available.)

WARNING: From 26 January 2019   TRACKS: CHIMERA will no longer be freely available to listen to online (The BBC are planning a commercial release later this year).

If you want to hear Series 1 and 2 – They are available on AUDIBLE and AMAZON.

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Helen and Freddy in studio

Tracks Chimera – Previews  / Reviews:

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Radio Times

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Observer

The Observer

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The Times (2/11/18)

Music:

(A list of some of the music used in this series)

Black Phase – by Tim Hecker

Toccata – by Jaga Jazzist

E-musik – by Neu!

Satellite Snyper – by Pantha Du Prince

Im Bann – by Pantha Du Prince

Laker Boo – by Portico Quartet

We Move Lightly – by Dustin O’halloran

Shattered Glass – by DJ Food

Turquoise Hexagon Sun – by Boards of Canada

Seoul – by Amiina

Boga – by Amiina

Elephant Gun – by Beirut

September Song – Agnes Obel

Scenic World – by Beirut

Muesli –  by Minotaur Shock

Beau Nash – by Minotaur Shock

La Foule – by Edith Piaf

Never Understand – by The Jesus and Mary Chain

The Refused are fucking dead – by The Refused

Barok Main – by Mica Levi and Oliver Coates

Singularity – by Jon Hopkins

TRACKS: Strata

TRACKS STRATA  is Series 2 of Tracks

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Tracks: Strata is a prequel to the first series, and is set in 1980 in the mountains of Snowdonia.

It stars Fiona O’Shaughnessy (Utopia), Kai Owen (Torchwood) and Robert Pugh (Game Of Thrones).

Told over six 15-minute episodes, the drama is an online-first commission for Radio 4. It will be serialised as a podcast online before being broadcast on air as two 45-minute Afternoon Dramas.

TRACKS – Series 1:

Series 1 episodes start here.

TRACKS STRATA (Tracks Series 2):

Episode 1 – Ordovician

Episode 2 – Archean

Episode 3 – Devonian

Episode 4 – Pleistocene

Episode 5 – Holocene

Episode 6 – Anthropocene

Tracks: Strata will be broadcast as an omnibus on BBC Radio 4  – 7 & 8 December at 2.15pm.

Omnibus – TRACKS STRATA:

Part One

Part Two

All Episodes of Series 1 and 2 are now available on AUDIBLE or AMAZON.

Cast:
Rachel…. Fiona O’Shaughnessy
Ifan…. Kai Owen
Sam…. Robert Pugh
Afa…. Betsan Llwyd
Charlotte…. Shelly Rees
Ronny…. Dafydd Emyr

Directed by James Robinson
A BBC Cymru Wales Production

13/11/17 – Tracks Strata was reviewed on Front Row – BBC Radio 4.  (Roughly the last ten minutes of the programme.)

10/12/17 – Tracks Strata was Sheila McClennon’s BBC Radio 4 ‘Pick of the Week.’  (It appears as the second item in the programme.)

LINKS:

Tracks Strata – Trailer

Tracks Strata – Guardian Preview

Podcast Home Page

TRACKS BBC HOME PAGE

Tracks – Series 1 blog

*****Slightly Spoiler-ish*****

(Don’t read if you’d rather not hear anything about the story before you listen to it.)

This (below) is from the BBC publicity:

“Snowdonia, 1980. It’s the dawn of a new decade and the future is coming. But in the wilds of Snowdonia, the ancient history of the landscape is hard to escape.

Rachel Turner is looking for fossils with her four year-old son, Joe. But when a freak earthquake shakes the land beneath their feet, Joe vanishes. With the help of two locals, Rachel embarks on a desperate search to find her son. But as darkness descends, the secrets hidden in the ancient forests of the mountain are uncovered.

The first series of Tracks became the most successful drama series launched by Radio 4 in 2016. Over nine 45-minute episodes it told the story of Dr Helen Ash, as she uncovered a dark medical conspiracy.

Tracks: Strata is a prequel to series one, set 36 years before the events that rocked the life of Helen Ash. It explores the roots of a conspiracy that’s set to envelop the world.”

 

 

 

Tracks Strata is nominated for a BBC AUDIO DRAMA AWARD

Tracks

TRACKS is a 9-part conspiracy thriller with a cast led by Romola Garai.

It was Originally broadcast on BBC Radio 4  (August-October 2016.)

Series 1 is available to download as a Podcast and on the BBC Iplayer 

Series 2 of Tracks – “TRACKS: Strata” – is now available – Info and blog post

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(9 Episodes x 45 mins)        Trailer

Series 1 – EPISODES 1-9

Episode 1 – The Nervus Vagus – is  Here

Episode 2 – The Broca and Wernicke Areas – is Here

Episode 3 – The Pineal Gland – is Here

Episode 4 – The Bridge of Varolius – is Here

Episode 5 – Hippocampus – is Here

Episode 6 – Nociceptors – is Here

Episode 7 – The Accumbens Nucleus – is Here

Episode 8 – Amygdala- is Here

Episode 9 – Habenula – is Here

(Archive: Here’s a STATEMENT by R4 about the broadcast of the last episode of Tracks)

All Episodes from Series 1 and 2 are now available on AUDIBLE or AMAZON

PRESS/REVIEWS/MEDIA

Review of Episode 1 in  The Guardian

Review of Episode 1 in The Spectator

TRACKS Ep 6 was a R4 – “Pick of Week” – (18/9/16)  – Chosen by Hardeep Singh Kohli.

TRACKS Producer, James Robinson was interviewed on Radio 4  Friday  30/10/16 –  discussing audience FEEDBACK

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TRACKS –  DIRECTORS / PRODUCERS:

Episodes 1,2,5,8,9 – James Robinson @mcgrin

Episodes 3,4,6 – Helen Perry @bellaperry

Episode 7 – Abigail Le Fleming @haywarddollerton

Supervising Sound Designer – Nigel Lewis

SOME MUSIC USED IN THE SERIES:

Tracks theme – (written for the series) by Stu Barker.

Studio Suicide, 1980 – By Tim Hecker.

Prungen – By Jaga Jazzist.

Dido’s Lament (Dido & Aeneas) – Andreas Scholl, William Orbit, & Rico Conning.

Some Absolute End – Bill Ryder-Jones.

A1 – Olafur Arnalds & Nils Frahm.

I’ll See You In My Dreams – Johnny Mercer (featuring the Pied Pipers.)

Symphony Number 4 in G major: III. Ruhevoll, Poco Adagio – Mahler

Body Eraser – Halls.

Cancer – I Break horses

Other News:

(12/11/16): An interview with James Robinson (including audio) detailing some of the process of How We Made Tracks

Tracks short-listed for a British Podcast Award

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Tracks short-listed for some BBC Audio Drama Awards

Tracks short-listed for a Prix Europa Award

A Tracks Q&A can be found on the menu above – beware it contains spoilers.

Readers/Listeners comments for Tracks are  here under the Tracks post,  under the Contact page, and under the Tracks Q&A page.

Demon Brother repeat on R4

Update: Demon Brother is now available on Audible

Demon Brother will be repeated on BBC Radio 4 on Monday and Tuesday of next week.  (1st & 2nd February 2016)

I previously blogged about this 2-part thriller here

Both Parts are now available for download as  Drama of the Week

 

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Burning Both Ends – when Oliver Reed met Keith Moon (Radio 4 Repeat)

Burning Both Ends is being repeated on BBC Radio 4 on Tuesday (24th June 2014.)

Details here

It’ll be available on the Iplayer for a week after that.

I have blogged on this play previously here

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Frank Zappa and Me

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I’ve adapted Pauline Butcher’s memoir: “Freak Out – My life with Frank Zappa” for the afternoon drama slot on BBC Radio 4.

The play is called “Frank Zappa and Me” and it goes out at 2.15pm on Tuesday 6th March 2014.

The details are here.