BBC Audio to release 'lost treasure' screenplays as audiobooks

BBC Audio to release 'lost treasure' screenplays as audiobooks

BBC Audio is to transform a series of unproduced screenplays by writers including Harold Pinter and Arthur Miller into audiobooks.

Partnering with TV and film producing company Dancing Ledge Productions, the "Unmade Movies" will be available as digital downloads from 10th February 2022. 

The scripts have been reproduced as "vivid, cinematic radio productions" and feature a roster of actors including Hugh Laurie, Michael Sheen, David Suchet, Tim Pigott-Smith, Meera Syal and Rebecca Front. They have been by directed by Richard Eyre, Jamie Lloyd, Mark Gatiss, Joanna Hogg and Adrian Noble.

Work by Alfred Hitchcock and Ernest Lehman will also be made into an audiobook production. The Blind Man, written shortly after the duo worked on "North By Northwest", is set in 1961 and tells the story of a famous blind jazz pianist who agrees to an eye transplant. The operation is a success, but the eyes are those of a murdered man and on them is transposed the image of his murderer.

The script was discovered by Unmade Movies producer Laurence Bowen in a Texas research institute – along with extensive notes and letters exchanged between the two on the ending. Completed and directed by Gatiss, the BBC Radio 4 world premiere was initially approved by Hitchcock’s three granddaughters with Hitchcock consultant Laurent Bouzereau, and stars Laurie. 

Bowen, also c.e.o. at Dancing Ledge Productions, said: "It's taken several years to find and secure the rights for these but what a wonderful journey it’s been, bringing to life for the first-time lost treasures from the greatest writers of the 20th century. There are many reasons why screenplays don't happen – politics, funding, creative differences – and they disappear into cupboards, drawers or computer files, never seeing the light of day, but these are absolute gems and can now enter the official canons of their writers."

Miller’s The Hook sees Adrian Noble take on his first directorship in radio drama, starring Suchet, Pigott-Smith and Elliot Cowan. The unproduced screenplay tells the story of a 1950s Brooklyn longshoreman who is fired for standing up to his corrupt union boss but decides to fight back. 

Miller developed the script with Elia Kazan and it was on a trip to LA, to pitch it to Harry Cohn at Columbia Studios, that he met Marilyn Monroe for the first time. Cohn asked Miller to change the script and turn the corrupt union bosses into communists, but Miller refused and the screenplay was shelved. He and Kazan then fell out and went on to create "A View From The Bridge" and "On The Waterfront", respectively – two pieces which both closely mirror The Hook.

Also available to download are Harold Pinter’s Victory and The Dreaming Child, Alexander Mackendrick’s Mary Queen of Scots, Hammer Horror’s The Unquenchable Thirst of Dracula and Dennis Potter’s The White Hotel.

To celebrate the new project the Unmade Movies have released new audiobook jackets designed by Stuart Manning (The Blind Man & The Unquenchable Thirst of Dracula) and Paul Hocking (Victory, The Dreaming Child, The Hook, The White Hotel, Mary Queen of Scots).

The Unmade Movies productions are available to buy from Audible, Apple and all audiobook retailers from next year.