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For teachers and students of English Literature, this week there are a couple of acclaimed adaptations of classic stories, a drama exploring  the shadowy relationship between the state and the stage in the 1730s and a fascinating new series looking at contemporary fiction.  While some of this material would be applicable for GSCE and A-level teaching, it would be of particular interest to those studying English at a higher level.


What is a story? BBC Radio 4, 1st episode 6 July 1.45pm and then available on BBC Radio Player

Drawing on the expertise of leading contemporary writers,  Marina Warner (Chair of this year’s Man Booker Interntional Prize) presents this 10 part series looking at the world of contemporary fiction. With guest writers such as Michelle Roberts and Julian Barnes, each week she will consider a different angle of storytelling with discussions on “the reasons for writing, writers as witnesses and political interaction”.

The series opener looks at early experiences of stories.


Scribblers   BBC Radio 3, 5 July 10pm and then available on BBC Radio Player

This drama focusses on the disintegration of the relationship between First Minister Robert Walpole and the young playwright, Henry Fielding that eventually brought about the Theatrical Licensing Act of 1737., ‘Scribblers’ moves between high politics and the emergence of political theatre, and how this was effectively strangled by government content control enabled by the Act.  Written by Steve Waters the drama includes performances from Niamh Cusack and David Troughton.


Far From the Madding Crowd BBC4, 5 July 10pm

John Schlesinger’s acclaimed 1968 adaptation of the Thomas Hardy novel about unrequited love and class distinctions in 19th century rural England. Starring Julie Christie and Alan Bates.


Kidnapped  Film4, 8 July 4.30pm

Directed by Delbert Mann, this 1971 adaptation of R.L. Stevenson’s classic adventure story incorporates some elements from the novel’s sequel, “Catriona” and stars Michael Caine and Trevor Howard


The Talented Mr Ripley Channel 4, 6 July 1.10am (Sunday night)

Lush, Oscar nominated film based on  Patricia Highsmith’s 1955 pyschological thriller, the first book in her acclaimed “Ripliad” featuring Thomas Ripley.