Gloomsbury

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0105A Desperate Attempt To Have Fun2012102620121121 (BBC7)
20150227 (BBC7)
20150228 (BBC7)
20150301 (BBC7)

Vera and husband Henry are summoned to London to provide 'fun' for Ginny and Lionel Fox.

The writer Vera Sackcloth-Vest has to tear herself away from her beloved garden just at the moment when her mammillarias are about to open.

She and her husband Henry have been summoned to London by her bosom chum, the novelist Ginny Fox. Ginny and her husband Lionel have realized that they have never had what is known as "fun" and they beg Vera and Henry to provide it.

Simultaneously, Vera's ardent acolyte Venus Traduces asks Vera to educate her, so she can be taken seriously by the Gloomsbury set. Exhausted by her efforts to educate and entertain, and haunted by the fear that her beloved Henry will soon be posted to the Balkans, Vera endures an emotional crisis at a picnic in Kensington Gardens.

Rescue arrives unexpectedly, and she escapes back to her beloved Sizzlinghurst, just as her mammillarias lift their saucy little faces to the sun.

Cast:

Vera Sackcloth-Vest - Miriam Margolyes

Henry Mickleton - Jonathan Coy

Venus Traduces - Morwenna Banks

Mrs Ginny Fox - Alison Steadman

Lionel Fox - Nigel Planer

Produced by Jamie Rix

A Little Brother production for BBC Radio 4.

0106 LASTHe's Got To Be Stopped2012110220121128 (BBC7)
20150306 (BBC7)
20150307 (BBC7)
20150308 (BBC7)

Vera braces herself for Henry's departure on a Foreign Office posting to Romania.

Vera Sackcloth-Vest is bracing herself for the departure of her adored husband Henry on a Foreign Office posting to Romania.

Her friends Ginny and Lionel Fox have come down to Sizzlinghurst to support her, along with her slightly demented devotee Venus Traduces. Whilst maintaining a veneer of cheerful serenity, Vera is inwardly desperate and hatches several intricate plots to detain him: an ominous dream, a succession of spurious telegrams, an extensive repertoire of ailments. She even attempts, disastrously, to persuade the cook to stage a staff crisis.

Meanwhile, down in the gazebo at midnight, Venus encourages Henry to resist all Vera's attempts to detain him as she will surely give in at the last moment and go with him to Romania.

Cast:

Vera Sackcloth-Vest - Miriam Margolyes

Henry Mickleton - Jonathan Coy

Mrs Gosling - Alison Steadman

Venus Traduces - Morwenna Banks

Lionel Fox - Nigel Planer

Mrs Ginny Fox - Alison Steadman

Mr Gosling - Nigel Planer

Produced by Jamie Rix

A Little Brother production for BBC Radio 4.

0201Anarchy Looms Over Staplehurst2014040220151117 (BBC7)
20151118 (BBC7)

With a general strike looming, the Foxes visit Sizzlinghurst to see how aristocrats live.

Talk of a General Strike is in the air as Lionel and Ginny Fox pay a visit to Sizzlinghurst Castle to see Vera Sackcloth-Vest and Henry Mickleton.

Green-fingered Sapphist Vera Sackcloth-Vest shares a bijou castle in Kent with her devoted husband Henry, but longs for exotic adventures with nervy novelist Ginny Fox and wilful beauty Venus Traduces. It's 1921, the dawn of modern love, life and lingerie, but Vera still hasn't learnt how to boil a kettle.

Ginny is writing a new book and wants to pick Vera's brains about her aristocratic childhood. But all is not well. Henry thinks that Ginny is a bad influence on Vera because Ginny is so highly strung and Lionel thinks that Vera is too aristocratic and not socialist enough for Ginny.

Terrified that the oppressed people of Staplehurst will rise up and storm the castle, they flirt with a posh kind of socialism until the working class DH Lollipop pops in with his demi-mondaine Venus Traduces and tells them that he likes them just the way they are.

Producer: Jamie Rix

A Little Brother production for BBC Radio 4.

0202Desperate For A Thumbs-up2014040920151124 (BBC7)
20151125 (BBC7)

Ginny Fox and DH Lollipop desperately seek literary acclamation for their latest work.

At last, Ginny Fox has finished her rewrite of Borlando and rushes it off to her friend and confidante, Vera Sackcloth-Vest, for appraisal. Meanwhile, DH Lollipop has just completed a rewrite of Lady Hattersley's Plover and is nervously awaiting the critical verdict of Lionel Fox.

Never have two literary giants been so eager to have their geniuses confirmed, but self-doubt plagues their every waking hour.

Due to a series of unfortunate coincidences, involving Lionel's inability to remember addresses and Vera's obsession with creating a new Blue Garden at Sizzlinghust, which involves her sending off for hundreds of new plants by mail order and storing them in Gosling's shed, the manuscripts go missing.

What the writers interpret as a literary thumbs-down from their readers is nothing more than misdirected-mail. Friendships are strained to breaking point, while Ginny and Vera try to guess what the other is thinking and Mrs Gosling burns DH Lollipop's filthy manuscript when she accidentally comes across it and reads it from cover to cover.

Producer: Jamie Rix

A Little Brother production for BBC Radio 4.

0203Bonfire Of The Jealousies2014041620151201 (BBC7)
20151202 (BBC7)

Vera is consumed with jealousy because of the literary success of her friend Ginny Fox.

Vera is consumed with jealousy, because Ginny has won a literary prize and is going to be photographed for the front cover of Vanity Fair by acclaimed Society photographer Manta Ray. To make matters worse, Venus is getting a teeny crush on Ginny. So, when Ginny asks for style advice in advance of her photographic session, Vera's suggestions have an edge of mockery.

Vera, wracked with torment, breaks the habit of a lifetime and unburdens herself to Mrs Gosling. But of course Mrs Gosling's life has been an endless struggle to suppress her jealousy of her employers' wealth and privilege. Even a chance encounter with Sigmund Void on Hampstead Heath fails to shake Vera from her melancholic mood. In the end it falls to Henry and Lionel to try to boost Vera's confidence.

Producer: Jamie Rix

A Little Brother production for BBC Radio 4.

0204Ever Decreasing Literary Circles2014042320151208 (BBC7)
20151209 (BBC7)

Flushed with her recent success, Ginny holds a literary salon at Vera's castle.

Flushed with her recent success, Ginny is to hold a literary salon, but she wants Vera to co-host it. They argue about where to have it, whom to invite and what kind of refreshments should be offered. Mrs Gosling is obstructive about the possibility of vegetarianism.

Meanwhile, Henry can't decide whether to carry on working for the Foreign Office or write a biography of Byron or Tennyson, and follows Vera round the castle unsuccessfully trying to elicit her advice.

When the great day arrives, Henry is banished from the castle lest he gets in the way. Instead of the longed-for literary celebrities, however, the only arrival at Sizzlinghurst that day is a snowstorm of apologetic telegrams. Hurt and aghast that nobody loves them, Vera and Ginny blame each other.

The only person who turns up is Venus, who wasn't invited and has never read a book in her life. Only as the day draws to a close does Vera remember with horror that today was Henry's birthday and that she has neglected him without so much as a card, a gift or a kiss. Wracked with guilt, Vera makes up to Henry on a pile of dusty sacks in Gosling's shed.

GLOOMSBURY - THE SERIES

Green-fingered Sapphist Vera Sackcloth-Vest shares a bijou castle in Kent with her devoted husband Henry, but longs for exotic adventures with nervy novelist Ginny Fox and wilful beauty Venus Traduces. It's 1921, the dawn of modern love, life and lingerie, but Vera still hasn't learnt how to boil a kettle.

Producer: Jamie Rix

A ittle Brother Production for BBC Radio 4.

0205The Theory And Practice Of Hanky Panky2014043020151215 (BBC7)
20151216 (BBC7)

Vera and Henry get into a stew about who should tell their sons the facts of life.

Vera and Henry are undecided about whether it is time for their Eton-educated sons, Charlie and Fred, to be told the facts of life. Neither parent feels that they are sufficiently qualified to discuss the birds and bees with their sons, so they go in search of somebody who is. Ginny and Lionel, conveniently staying, are invited to contribute, but it soon becomes clear that they are urgently in need of sex education themselves.

The Goslings deliver conflicting opinions: Mrs Gosling is affronted by the very mention of the facts of life, whilst Gosling, dealing with pollination on a daily basis, would happily talk of nothing else all year.

Finally a willing educator is found. Venus, deeply broody for her first child, volunteers to rush down to Eton and enlighten Charlie and Fred over ginger beer and crumpets. Worried lest they should suddenly become grandparents before their time, Henry and Vera swiftly call a halt to the whole scheme and pack Venus off to climb Everest instead.

GLOOMSBURY - THE SERIES

Green-fingered Sapphist Vera Sackcloth-Vest shares a bijou castle in Kent with her devoted husband Henry, but longs for exotic adventures with nervy novelist Ginny Fox and wilful beauty Venus Traduces. It's 1921, the dawn of modern love, life and lingerie, but Vera still hasn't learnt how to boil a kettle.

Producer: Jamie Rix

A Little Brother Production for BBC Radio 4.

0206 LASTTwo Broads Broadcasting2014050720151222 (BBC7)
20151223 (BBC7)

Vera is terrified when she receives a letter inviting her to do a lecture tour of America, and instantly begins a search for plausible excuses. But when Ginny asks her to help present a programme on BBC Radio about modern poetry. her anxiety is swiftly forgotten. Vera sees a chance to read one of her poems on the radio and share the limelight with those two wonderfully modern poets, TS Jellitot and DH Lollipop.

Henry warns Vera not to underestimate Ginny, however, who won't allow Vera to read anything unless Ginny agrees to it... and Ginny does not think that Vera's poem is modern enough to be in her programme.

What Ginny has not bargained for is the prudery and authority of Lord Reith who will not allow TS Jellitot to appear on her programme, because his American accent will corrupt the listeners and banishes DH Lollipop from Broadcasting House because of the constant sexual references in his language.

It falls to Vera to save the day by impersonating TS Jellitot and DH Lollipop live on air and then to get one over on Ginny by reading out her poem before Ginny can stop her. The broadcast falls apart, but Vera returns Sizzlinghurst the victor. Back at home, over a brandy or two, Henry reminds Vera about the prohibition movement in America. Reason enough for Vera to wriggle out of her lecture tour. Chin chin!

GLOOMSBURY - THE SERIES

Green-fingered Sapphist Vera Sackcloth-Vest shares a bijou castle in Kent with her devoted husband Henry, but longs for exotic adventures with nervy novelist Ginny Fox and wilful beauty Venus Traduces. It's 1921, the dawn of modern love, life and lingerie, but Vera still hasn't learnt how to boil a kettle.

Producer: Jamie Rix

A Little Brother Production for BBC Radio 4.

Ginny asks Vera to help her present a programme on BBC Radio about modern poetry.

0301All Very Hush Hush20150529

When Henry decides to work from home, his wife - the novelist and gardener Vera Sackcloth-Vest - is forced to rearrange her secret liaison with Venus Traduces lest Henry should discover her betrayal.

But Henry has more pressing matters to attend to. His boss from the foreign office is coming down for a secret meeting to discuss a breach of security at Sizzlinghurst and, as a result, Henry can't stop seeing spies round every corner. His paranoia is fuelled by the arrival of a journalist and a photographer from that hotbed of Bolshevism, the Observer newspaper, who have come to interview Vera, and by the unexpected visit of Ginny Fox and her Socialist husband, Lionel, who have come to do research for Ginny's new novel on the Foreign Office.

Everyone appears to be asking intrusive questions and Henry becomes very, very twitchy - especially when he discovers that the interviewer is the working class genius DH Lollipop and the photographer his occasional squeeze, Venus Traduces.

Now Henry feels properly betrayed and only Vera denouncing Venus in public can assuage his jealous rage.

Produced by Jamie Rix

A Little Brother production for BBC Radio 4.

0302A Slanging Match Made In Heaven20150605

Vera Sackcloth-Vest has promised her husband Henry, that her affair with Venus Traduces is at an end - but when Venus writes Vera a secret billet-doux, Vera is powerless to resist and makes hurried plans to meet Venus in London.

However, before she can leave Sizzlinghurst, Lady Utterline Amoral and Lytton Scratchy arrive unexpectedly to take a tour of the garden. Keen to see them leave, Vera's patience is put to the test in the face of Lady Utterline's snobbishness, insisting that Vera should follow her example and hold an annual garden party to raise money for the Red Cross.

Meanwhile, Henry is chased round the sofa by Lytton who, as an irrepressible gossip, let's slip that Vera and Venus are back together. His suspicions now confirmed, Henry insists on accompanying Vera down to London.

Produced by Jamie Rix

A Little Brother production for BBC Radio 4.

0303Relishing The Gentleman20150612

Having declared that she would rather die than take any of Lady Utterline's advice, Vera has decided to open her garden to the public.

Ginny and Lionel have come down to help without realising that Vera is planning to dress up as a man (to avoid being recognised), so that she can indulge in a secret liaison with Venus, who is planning to dress up as a Russian Fortune Teller - Mrs Pullova.

And all of this charade just to deceive Henry.

But from the moment Vera asks Ginny and Lionel to be co-conspirators in her plot by luring Henry away from the garden party, things start to go wrong.

Eventually, Henry finds out about the clandestine meeting in the fortune teller's tent and - despite an unwanted furore when the police arrive to arrest DH Lollipop for selling the vicar his pornographic novel (Lady Hattersley's Plover) - Henry manages to put a stop to Vera and Venus's elopement.

Produced by Jamie Rix

A Little Brother production for BBC Radio 4.

0304Women In Love And Men In Disgrace20150619

Ginny Fox has planned a trip with Vera Sackcloth-Vest to see her sister, Nesta Bell, at Charlatan House in Sussex, so that Nesta can paint Vera's portrait.

Lionel disapproves of the Bohemian lifestyle of Nesta and her husband Cliff and goes off to spend the weekend with Henry at Sizzlinghurst. Cliff is a rogue who spends half of his time away from the house living with his lover, Mrs Hutchinson. Nesta only tolerates Cliff's dalliance because there's another man living at Charlatan with whom she's really in love - Duncan Grunt. Unfortunately for Nesta, Duncan only has eyes for his homosexual lover, who also lives in the house, and whose name is Flopsy. And to top it all, Nesta's two children run up and down the garden without any clothes on.

When Ginny and Vera turn up at Charlatan House, Nesta makes an improper suggestion when she asks if she can paint Vera in the nude. Vera is shocked and wants to leave. Unable to share Vera with her sister, Ginny storms out too, and she and Vera return to Sizzlinghurst, where their mood is not lightened by the discovery of Henry and Lionel wrestling naked in front of the library fire as research for DH Lollipop's new book.

Produced by Jamie Rix

A Little Brother production for BBC Radio 4.

0305Tired Of London20150626

Henry finally gives up his job at the Foreign Office and embarks on a career as a writer. He lands a job as London Diary writer for the Evening Standard, a publication loathed by Vera because it maligned her when reporting on her elopement with Venus.

But Henry has writer's block and can't think of a single thing to write. He asks Vera to do it for him. She refuses, but does offer to accompany him up to London to see Ginny and Lionel Fox in the hope that something on the trip will inspire him.

Lionel and Ginny are having their own problems - Ginny feels trapped by the city and wants to escape to the country. Lionel suggests to Henry that they go to London Zoo as this has always been a source of inspiration to him. There, Ginny reflects on how the animals in their cages resemble the way she feels about her current situation and, when Henry pounces on the idea as a splendid subject for his article in the Evening Standard, Ginny throws a fit. She accuses him of plagiarism and storms out.

Vera and Henry are sitting in the cafe alone when the Prince of Wales happens to turn up with one of his mistresses and starts to flirt with Vera. Jealousy inspires Henry, but it takes Vera to save his reputation as a fledgling writer.

Produced by Jamie Rix

A Little Brother production for BBC Radio 4.

0306 LASTOne Day My Prince Will Come20150703

The visit of the Prince of Wales to Sizzlinghurst to admire Vera's garden has ardent Monarchist, Mrs Gosling, in a tizzy. It also leaves Henry on edge. and suspecting everyone of trying to assassinate the Prince.

With good cause it would seem.

Gosling's rampant Republicanism and grandmother's shot gun means that Henry has no choice but to lock the gardener up in the potting shed. Then two gun-toting Americans pop in unannounced and brandish their weapons on the front lawn - the poet Gertrude Klein and the socialite Mrs Wallis Simpleton.

Henry manages to disarm them just as the Prince makes his entrance. But when the Prince of Wales makes a play for Vera, asking her out on a clandestine date to to the theatre, Henry regrets getting rid of the guns.

If the Prince continues to threaten his marriage, Henry might have to assassinate the Prince of Wales himself.

Produced by Jamie Rix

A Little Brother production for BBC Radio 4.