Banned Books: A BBC Radio Drama Collection

Banned Books: A BBC Radio Drama Collection

Four Full-Cast Dramatisations of Modern Classics


Four modern masterpieces that dared to push boundaries and disrupt the status quo

Deviant. Depraved. Dangerous. Denounced for their transgressive themes and inflammatory ideas, these 20th-century classics have all been considered so seditious that they had to be suppressed. Find out what made these iconic works so threatening to governments worldwide in these superlative dramatisations, featuring stellar casts and specially composed music.

Ulysses – Prosecuted for obscenity in the UK and US, James Joyce’s seminal novel tells the combined stories of Stephen Dedalus and Leopold Bloom, as they wander through Dublin on one ordinary day: 16th June 1904.

The Well of Loneliness – Radclyffe Hall’s groundbreaking tale of lesbian love was judged as obscene soon after its publication in 1928, and banned in the UK for over 20 years. It centres around Stephen, a baby girl born to well-to-do parents who grows up feeling ‘different’ and knows she will never be attracted to a man. But will she always be an outcast?

Brave New World – Aldous Huxley's visionary dystopian fable, banned in Ireland and Australia when it first appeared in 1932, portrays a corrupt future society where promiscuity is the norm, eugenics a respectable science and the drug soma is the opiate of the people. Token dissidents Bernard Marx and Helmholtz Watson long to be free – but it is an outsider, John ‘the Savage’, who shows them the true meaning of rebellion.

Nineteen Eighty-Four – London, chief city of Airstrip One. Big Brother stares out from every poster, the Thought Police uncover every act of betrayal. When Ministry of Truth employee Winston Smith finds love with Julia, the duo begin to question the Party – but for enemies of the state, Room 101 awaits… George Orwell’s classic tale, banned in the Soviet Union until 1988 and still one of the most-challenged books in the USA today.

The star-studded casts of these dramatisations include Andrew Scott, Henry Goodman, Niamh Cusack, Stephen Rea, Valerie Edmond, Amanda Root, Justin Salinger, John Coy, Milton Lopes, Christopher Eccleston, Pippa Nixon and Tim Pigott-Smith.

First published 1918 (Ulysses), 1928 (The Well of Loneliness), 1932 (Brave New World), 1949 (Nineteen Eighty-Four)

Cast and credits

Cast: Stephen Rea, Andrew Scott, Kevin Trainor, Harry Livingstone, Janet Moran, Ronan Raftery, Jim Norton, Joshua Ellershaw, Aidan Dunlop, Henry Goodman, Niamh Cusack, Grainne Keenan, Stephen Hogan, Des McAleer, Christine Absalom, Jonathan Forbes, Bronagh Taggart, Sean Campion, John Rogan, Peter Hamilton Dyer, Joshua Ellershaw, Lorcan Cranitch, Gerard McDermott, Denise Gough, Pip Donaghy, Frances Barber, Susie Riddell

Written by James Joyce
Dramatised by Robin Brooks
Directed by Jeremy Mortimer and Jonquil Panting
Produced by Jeremy Mortimer
Executive producer: Claire Grove
Singer: Daire Halpin
Pianist: Colin Guthrie

The Well of Loneliness
Cast: Valerie Edmond, Alexandra Bateman, Roberta Kerr, Rob Pickvance, Amanda Root, Sarah Parks, Paul Warriner, Russell Dixon, Katy Cavanagh, Sara Kaplan, Thomas Hudson, Martin Reeve, Paul Warriner, Katy Cavanagh, Malcolm Hebden

Written by Radclyffe Hall
Dramatised by Sarah Woods
Directed by Melanie Harris
Music composed and performed by Odaline de la Martinez
Celloist: Andy Wardale
Violinist Janet Fuste

Brave New World
Cast: Justin Salinger, Jonathan Coy, Pippa Bennett-Warner, Anton Lesser, Milton Lopes, Karina Fernandez, Nicola Ferguson, Sam Rix, James Lailey, Sean Baker, Scarlett Brookes, Brian Protheroe, Nick Underwood

Written by Aldous Huxley
Dramatised by Jonathan Holloway
Directed by David Hunter

Nineteen Eighty-Four
Cast: Christopher Eccleston, Pippa Nixon, Tim Pigott-Smith, Kim Wall, Robert Blythe, Sam Alexander, Susie Riddell, Christine Absalom, Don Gilet, Joe Sims and Joshua Swinney

Written by George Orwell
Dramatised by Jonathan Holloway
Directed by Jeremy Mortimer

(P) 2024 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd. © 2024 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd

About the authors

James Joyce

James Joyce was born in Dublin on 2 February 1882, the eldest of ten children in a family which, after brief prosperity, collapsed into poverty. He was none the less educated at the best Jesuit schools and then at University College, Dublin, and displayed considerable academic and literary ability. Although he spent most of his adult life outside Ireland, Joyce's psychological and fictional universe is firmly rooted in his native Dublin, the city which provides the settings and much of the subject matter for all his fiction. He is best known for his landmark novel Ulysses (1922) and its controversial successor Finnegans Wake (1939), as well as the short story collection Dubliners (1914) and the semi-autobiographical novel A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916). James Joyce died in Zürich, on 13 January 1941.
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Radclyffe Hall

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Aldous Huxley

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George Orwell

Eric Arthur Blair (1903-1950), better known by his pen-name, George Orwell, was born in India, where his father worked for the Civil Service. An author and journalist, Orwell was one of the most prominent and influential figures in twentieth-century literature. His unique political allegory Animal Farm was published in 1945, and it was this novel, together with the dystopia of Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), which brought him world-wide fame. His novels and non-fiction include Burmese Days, Down and Out in Paris and London, The Road to Wigan Pier and Homage to Catalonia.
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