Writing On Wigan Pier



David Pownall's play has strong resonance for today.

In 1936, George Orwell embarked on a visit to Wigan, a typical coal-mining town in industrial Lancashire in order to write a book about the people, their experiences and their struggle to cope with the effects of the Depression.

Determined not to be dismissed as a dispassionate observer, he resolves to spend time living with and amongst the people.

However, he brings with him his self-guilt, his obsession with the English class system, his fiercely-held preconceptions of the working-class and his remarkable cut-glass voice, of which he is all too painfully aware.

The visit is both revealing and humorous.

He stays in an appalling doss-house above a tripe shop, tries to work down a pit, stays with a family, makes a pass at the wife, upsets the local Women's Institute and meets a priest escaping from fascism in Spain.

Whilst most who meet him take him for who and what he is, for Orwell the experience develops into a journey of self-discovery.


Orwell - Adrian Scarborough

Neil - Karl Davies

Helen - Helen Longworth

Grandad - Bernard Cribbins

Mrs Brooker/Country Lady - Thelma Barlow

Gollancz - Keith Drinkel

Arnold - Anthony Glennon

Meade/Ignatius - Tom Bevan

Directed by Martin Jenkins

A Pier production for BBC Radio 4.

David Pownall's play explores George Orwell's time in Wigan in the early months of 1936.