RDF 2020 Online Showcase

22nd March 2020

It’s a funny old world. Even a fortnight ago I was optimistic that I would be down in Canterbury tonight, welcoming old friends and meeting new guests to the 6th International Radio Drama Festival. The Audio Drama makers I have met from around the world are an unusual breed; intrepid, questioning of authority and authoritarianism, and passionate about their work. If any group of bloody minded individuals could have got to Canterbury for the Festival it was you.

Radio Drama Festivals are special. They return us to a different era when families listened together to radio plays coming off the wireless. Today they create a shared experience out of an art-form that is often enjoyed alone. Driving the car, cooking dinner, doing the ironing… (although when did we last do that??) Nothing can replace the joy, the learning and the collective experience of listening to great audio plays in so many tongues from so many countries. And the opportunity to meet in the evenings, discuss the work and cook up new projects together. Well, we’re not going to try to. We will simply hold the 2020 International Radio Drama Festival at the first opportunity we can later this year.

Ironically however, in the best tradition of theatre comedy, when one door closes another opens. Now is a great time to be listening to audio drama, as thousands of us around the world find ourselves at home and unable to travel; in what governments  and press like, with a touch of drama, to call “lock-down”. It’s a great time to enjoy and celebrate radio drama, first because unlike so many other art-forms now bravely “going online”, it is the performing arts medium created for and dedicated to being played at home. The radio-play is  made for this situation. And secondly, it is the art form that most magically defies the demand that we are shut-down and shut-in. All of us who work, make and listen to audio drama know that its greatest gift is that it will take you anywhere with any characters it chooses. Just shut your eyes.

So with this in mind we are loading up all the wonderful audio dramas submitted for this year’s festival here on-line and with translations of the work into English, for you and anyone to enjoy. It’s not a substitute for this year’s festival. It’s just a little added extra, to help us through a difficult time.

Jonathan Banatvala
Artistic Director

This week we’ll be releasing all the submissions received for this year’s festival. Just click on the links below to find the playlist and scripts… and enjoy!

DAY 1 – released on Monday 23rd March

DAY 2 – released on Tuesday 24th March

DAY 3 – released on Wednesday 25th March

DAY 4 – released on Thursday 26th March

DAY 5 – released on Friday 27th March

If you’re feeling generous, please consider donating to our Crowdfunder. Money raised will go to the 2020 Audience Award winner, voted by the online public (including YOU!). Voting will happen later in the year when we’ll hold the 2020 Festival.


We are sorry to have to announce that the festival will be postponed until the autumn and will not take place next week. Please get in touch if you have any questions or if we can help with travel cancellations. However, in this time of social and community isolation, audio drama will be a vitally important art form so watch this space for news of how we intend to use it to bring light into all our lives over the next few weeks and months.

2020 Jury Chair Announced

We’re delighted to announce that our jury chair for 2020 is Jack Klaff.

Jack has worked in radio as an actor, presenter and writer for half a century. His radio roles have included Elgar, Wilde, Spode, Macbeth, Oberon, Byron, Jung, JFK, Neil Armstrong, The Count of Monte Cristo, The Sea Wolf and Quasimodo.
Jack’s readings have included Phantom of the Opera, Tynan’s Diaries, several JM Coetzee novels, The Alexandria Quartet and The Bluffers’ Guides. He has presented for LBC, Radio London, Radio 3 and Radio 4.
As a radio writer, his credits include radio sketches, talks and dramas, including his solo show Nagging Doubt.

His awards and nominations have included the Jack Hargreaves Prize for Innovative television, a Golden Rose of Montreux, a Herald Archangel for his one-man-shows, two Fringe Firsts, a Tinniswood for Radio Writing and two Sony Silver Certificates for Radio Acting.

We are delighted to have a jury chair who brings such a breadth as well as depth of experience to the role and are looking forward to some stimulating discussions.

If you’d like to attend the festival, please book a free ticket through Eventbrite.

2019 Audience Award

The jury have voted – and the audience too!

Congratulations to “Travelling in Africa” by Georgian Public Broadcasting!

This is amazing play! Come on Everybody, listen to it and you will get what I mean.”

I like story telling in this play and the whole history is interesting as well”

2019 Jury Awards

We have the winners of the 5th UK International Radio Drama Festival

Full length

1st place: Die Toten Von Feuerland/The dead of Tierra del Fuego

Andreas Ammer and Ulrike Haage, NDR Kultur, Germany (German/English) 

On May 11, 1830, the sailors of the research vessel “HMS Beagle” exchange with the indigenous people of Tierra del Fuego the young Orundellico of the Yamana tribe for a mother-of-pearl button. The 15-year-old gets the name Jemmy Button. Captain FitzRoy decided to take four of the young Fuegian hostages all the way to England “to become useful as interpreters, and be the means of establishing a friendly disposition towards Englishmen on the part of their countrymen.” Like many stories also this one does not go well…One year later, Fitzroy returned the three surviving Fuegans home. He took with him a young naturalist, Charles Darwin. Haage and Ammer do not talk about what they know or suspect anyway. But perform a revival ritual without moral gravity: An essential part of the radio play are original sound recordings of the Yamana people. The radio play – based on the diaries of Darwin and Fitzroy – tells of the consequences of being uprooted and became a model for Michael Ende’s children’s book character Jim Knopf a century later.

Why the jury voted for it: First of all this was a great true story from history that no one on the jury had ever heard. It felt like you were listening to something important. The acting was first class, the soundscape and pace of the drama suited the subject matter perfectly. There was an inevitability to the tragedy that unfolded that was Greek in nature. Within a few minutes of this piece starting you felt in safe hands. Great radio drama.

2nd place: ZRTVE Radia Bum Bum/The Victims of Radio Boom Boom

Academy of Theatre, Radio, Film and TV, University of Ljubiana, Slovenia (Slovene)

The Victims of Radio Boom Boom are an original adaptation of the cult drama from 1975 by Dušan Jovanović titled Victims of Fashion Boom Boom, that is still considered as a turning event in the history of staging and dramatics.  

More than forty years later, students of the 4th year of drama acting and theatre and radio directing made an original adaptation of the text, where we wanted to draw attention to the message that is already given in the original proposal: the history of our civilization is nothing more than a repetition of violence, destruction, suffering and disgrace.

Why the jury voted for it: A jam-packed hamper of radio drama delights. In only 20 minutes the director/producer gave us reportage, great speeches from history, and a young cast enjoying themselves immensely as they wrong-footed the listener in playful, compelling and unnerving ways. The jury said they couldn’t wait to hear what was coming next in this piece.

3rd place is a tie!

James’s Story

RTE Drama on One, Ireland (English) 

The radio drama kicks off from a rather simple, but startling anecdote. Two young English art students, vacationing in a remote area of Kerry in the late 1960s, pass an old Irish farmer in a country lane. Hearing them speaking English, he calls to them and asks where they’re from. When they reply they are from London, he declares ‘I killed an Englishman once’.

The Story-Poacher creates small fleeting scenes, which play out on the landscape of the village. Sometimes he is discontented with these and discards them like early drafts. He is, in effect, writing his drama before our very ears and making us complicit. In the end, however, even he is caught short by the local Kerry people, playing themselves in the production, who have an altogether different and ‘deconstructing’ take on James’s Story.

Why the jury voted for it: A very ambitious radio drama with scenes in English and Gaelige plus interviews with real people handled in a very entertaining and intriguing way by David Zane Mairowitz. The character of the Story- Poacher dissects what a story is and in the process brings up questions as to the nature of storytelling and the reliability of memory. This play touched a chord with many members of the jury and stimulated much discussion.

Mono; Wie Mein Bruder Wahrend Eines Konzerts Von “The Who” In Einem Ohr Taub Wurde / Mono; How My Brother Became Deaf In One Ear At A Concert By The Who

David Zane Mairowitz, Germany (German/English) 

It’s TRUE. It happened during the song « Baba O’Reilly ».

My brother still goes to rock concerts, although he’s over 75, a septuagenarian teenager. During the day, he sells spare parts for lifts. He’s been doing the same work for fifty years, without more than a few weeks holiday, and without the merest promotion. Everyone wonders why, at 70, he doesn’t just retire. But he’s still strong, still mobile, why should he stop ? My brother and I haven’t been speaking to each other for years. This isn’t because of any great animosity between us, but mostly because our worlds split apart a long time ago. And suddenly, he calls, he needs my help. His new boss is trying to fire him because of his infirmity and he needs someone like me, who knows how to use words, to represent him at a labour tribunal.

Of course, Mono loses his case, and now sets off –his unwilling brother in tow – to get his ‘revenge’ on The WHO. This takes him to Camden Town, for a final showdown with Roger Daltrey (playing himself) which reveals unexpected and surprising results.

Why the jury voted for it: Just a great story, great soundtrack plus an appearance by Roger Daltry himself ! Essentially a tale of brotherhood, the character of the Fabulist echoed the Story – Poacher in James’ Story and made the listener complicit in the storytelling process. 53 minutes of thoroughly entertaining radio drama.

Short form

1st: One of our exercise books is missing 

Darrick Wood School, UK (English)

11 year-old Danny’s bag is packed, ready for school. But there’s a problem – one of his exercise books is missing. And turning up without his Geography book means only one thing: detention. Can the contents of Danny’s school bag really help him to get out of trouble?

The piece plays to the advantages of the audio medium: the action takes place in the dark and gives a voice to a series of inanimate objects.

Why the jury voted for it: All week we talked about the importance of getting a younger audience involved in radio drama and this piece does that brilliantly. A fun, inventive story with some excellent acting by the young cast. A drama that appealed to everyone on the jury.

2nd: Heruvim 

Radio Romania Bucuresti FM, Romania (Romanian)  

A radio drama about the words and logic of a group of cynical or petty adults, something without meaning for a child from a different universe.

Why the jury voted for it: This piece was moving in the extreme. A terrible situation seen from three separate viewpoints with the last of these being a deaf boy. The jury felt this was like a mini Greek Tragedy moving inexorably onwards towards a precipice. The use of soundscape was raw and shocking.

3rd: Jakou kávu máte rád? / What Kind of Coffee Do You Like? 

Czech Radio, Czech Republic (Czech)

Part of a project called Minute plays, which is being broadcast in Czech Radio since 2012. In this project, plays anywhere from one to five minutes long are introduced to the listeners, and they sometimes include poetic dramatization. What Kind of Coffee Do You Like? questions whether a person’s coffee preferences might reveal something about them.

Why the jury voted for it: A beautifully realised 2 minutes of comedy. The jury felt this was a breath of fresh air, being one of only a few comic pieces in the competition. The humour was adult, sassy and ironic set in a situation everyone could envisage easily.

Congratulations everyone!! 


2019 NEWS – We’re going paperless!

UK International Radio Drama Festival

UK Radio Drama Festival Goes Green

The UK International Radio Drama Festival is the first major international radio drama festival to go paperless. Each year, we print, transport and recycle some 75000 sheets of paper, providing participants in the festival with access to English language translations of the works in other languages and written scripts in English of the works in that language to support participants whose first language is different. Those translations and texts are a vital part of the festival, ensuring that everyone is able to enjoy the plays they are hearing to the full.

This year, our festival is breaking new ground and going paperless. With the generous support of festival entrants, we are providing participants with e -readers, pre-loaded with the scripts. The e-readers will remain the property of the festival to protect authors’ rights and to ensure that casual drop-in audience members and fully committed jurors alike have quick and easy access to the translations.

Announcing the move, Jonathan Banatvala, the Festival’s Artistic Director said: “A paperless festival has been an ambition since we first started five years ago. It’s a very different approach to that used by most festivals but – just as we were the first to provide access to the festival plays online and to introduce an audience award – we are also very proud to be making this innovation. It’s clearly important that an international festival does everything it can to keep its carbon footprint low.

2019 Jury Chair Announced

UK International Radio Drama Festival 2019
Press Release

Acclaimed UK radio drama actor to chair 2019 Jury

Jonathan Keeble

We are delighted to announce that Jonathan Keeble will be chairing the jury for the fifth UK International Radio Drama Festival. Jonathan combines his audio work with a busy theatre and TV career. He has featured in over 700 radio plays for the BBC appearing in everything from Shakespeare to Sherlock Holmes to Dr Who as well as playing the evil Owen in The Archers. Much in demand for his voicework, this ranges from the Voice of God in the Sistine Chapel to The Angel of Death in the film Hellboy 2 with all stops in between. A multi award-winning narrator, Jonathan has recorded over 600 audio books.

Making the announcement today, the festival’s Artistic Director, Jonathan Banatvala said “I can think of nobody who better represents the breadth and depth of radio drama than Jonathan Keeble. It has been my privilege to work with him as an actor on a number of projects including our first bilingual piece and I know at first hand how fully Jonathan understands radio drama as an art form and how much he appreciates the limitless possibilities it offers. I am delighted that he will be joining us in this fifth anniversary year to chair our jury.

2019 Press Release

UK International Radio Drama Festival
“The Greatest Admiration in the Universal World”
Press Release

2019 Poster

The fifth UK International Radio Drama Festival takes place in Canterbury from 18 – 22 March 2019. The festival presents five days of live listening to radio/audio plays drawn from 18 different countries and presented in 15 different languages.

This year’s theme – celebrating our fifth anniversary – takes as its theme “your best ever work” and has attracted over 60 entries ranging in length from a couple of minutes to a full hour.

Entries come from national broadcasters and from independent producers and span a wide range of genres. Listening sessions take place throughout the day from Monday – Friday. We listen together in glorious mono, recreating the experience of the 1 million plus daily UK audio drama listeners, many of whom enjoy their audio drama in the car or in the kitchen. Listening sessions are free and members of the public are very welcome on a drop- in basis. For those who cannot make it to Canterbury, all plays included in the festival are available to hear via our website. An English language script is available to live and online listeners for all plays; reading in English whilst listening in another language is an experience very similar to watching a film with

The festival jury makes two awards – for the best full- length entry; and the best short form (under 7 minutes). In addition, anyone who has heard the work may vote for the “audience award” in an online poll. The jury is made up of professionals and audience members; anyone who can commit to the full week of listening is welcome to put themselves forward to join it.

Speaking about the festival, its Artistic Director, Jonathan Banatvala said:
This is a very special festival. It constantly surprises and delights me – whether that is a perfect two minute gem or a totally immersive hour long soundscape. But it is the opportunity for everyone – professional or audience member alike – to talk to each other about the work they have made or heard over a cup of tea which makes it so unusual.

In addition to the listening events, we will be welcoming Gillian Reynolds , Radio critic of The Sunday Times, to an evening in conversation with Kate Chisholm of the Spectator at Waterstone’s book store on Wednesday 20 March at 6.30pm.

We are delighted that this year’s festival has sponsorship from the Writer’s Guild and the Authors Licensing and Collecting Society . We are very grateful for their support.

Wederick de Backer (Belgium), winner of the 2018 UK International Radio Drama Festival Award for ALMANAK