Aeschylus’ Agamemnon on BBC radio, 1946–1976

Wrigley, Amanda (2005). Aeschylus’ Agamemnon on BBC radio, 1946–1976. International Journal of the Classical Tradition, 12(2) pp. 216–244.



This article, the first academic discussion of Greek tragedy on BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) Radio, offers a historical outline of the production of Aeschylus’Oresteia plays from the inaugural Greek tragedy on the Third crogramme in 1946 to a landmark experimental production on Radio 3 thirty years later. This case-study demonstrates the importance of the radio medium in the reception history of Greek tragedy in twentieth-century Britain, and attempts to open up the discussion of the social and cultural impact of these productions. The radio medium, in permeating cultural, economic, and geographical boundaries, undoubtedly brought knowledge and experience of Greek tragedy in performance to an audience which was at once massive and diverse, and situated beyond the theatrical and educational spheres usually occupied by Greek tragedy. Attention of focused on the collaborative relationship between radio producers (such as Val Gielgud, Raymond Raikes, and John Theocharis) and translators and writers (such as Louis MacNeice, Philip Vellacott and Gabriel Josipovici), which secured a steady flow of new scripts for production, introductory talks for broadcast, and explanatory articles for publication in theRadio Times. The process also, importantly, encouraged the emerging function of the producer as textual editor for the medium, manipulating the script for realization in the visualizing imagination of the listener.

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