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BBC Radio 4

   
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Productions and Projects

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The Kingsnorth Six
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2011
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The Kingsnorth Six by Julia Hollander is a docu-drama about the Greenpeace activists who broke into the Kingsnorth Power station in October 2007, climbed the chimney and painted on it the slogan 'Gordon bin it', in a protest against government proposals to build new coal-fired power stations.

A year later, they were taken to court for criminal damages. In a ground-breaking decision, the activists were acquitted on the grounds that the damage they had caused to the station was minimal in contrast with the damage they had prevented to property around the world caused by climate change, to which coal-fired power stations like Kingsnorth are contributing.

The play intercuts the climb of the chimney with the court case, and is dramatised using court transcripts.

The play was broadcast on BBC Radio 4, 24 May 2011.

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A Second to Midnight
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2007
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A Second to Midnight, a Friday Play on BBC Radio 4, is a contemporary thriller set in the oil fields of the Niger Delta.

Western governments, oil companies and business analysts have long predicted that the 'peak', when oil reserves become finite and the markets begin to panic, is as far away as 2030. However, Rob Turner, oil company geologist, has just uncovered that the peak is not tomorrow. It was yesterday.

In his private life, Rob had a secret affair a few years ago with Geraldine, the wife of a good friend, Henry – the Deputy British Ambassador in Nigeria. Liz, Rob's wife, never found out but his daughter, Helen, did. It damaged the relationship between father and daughter for good and is still a source of unspoken conflict for them. Liz and Rob are in the middle of an argument when Henry rings from Lagos. Helen has been killed in a car crash in the Nigerian Delta.

Rob travels to Nigeria to bring Helen's body back, but discovers there is no body and the facts surrounding Helen's accident don't seem to add up. And there are more surprises. Unbeknown to her parents, Helen recently married Kolo Djouba, an environmental activist and chair of the Ogoni people's liberation front.

Playwrights: Christopher Reason and Andrew Walker
Directors: Gary Brown and Susan Roberts

A Second to Midnight was first broadcast on 13 and 20 July 2007. Energy Bulletin said A Second to Midnight was 'the first time peak oil and the associated geo-political issues have been addressed in a radio play on the UK's most important speech and news station.'

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Nebulous
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2006
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Set in a post-apocalyptic future, Nebulous is the story of a special government environmental investigative agency and dry cleaning service. Professor Nebulous, played by Mark Gatiss, is the director of K.E.N.T. - the Key Environmental Non-judgemental Taskforce, a group of inept eco-trouble shooters struggling against alien threats and ecological disaster.

The series is written by Graham Duff.

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The Cry of the Bittern
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1999
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In The Cry of the Bittern, a 30-part serial on BBC Radio 4, pollution threatens the East Anglian habitat of the bittern. The play's protagonists include two Cambridge graduates, Laura McLaren who works for the Environment Agency and Dean Finch, who works for a development company. There is also an environmental activist, Alex Sawyer and a young girl, Sophie, who suffers from a mystery illness.

The Cry of the Bittern was written by Tim Jackson Professor of Sustainable Development at the University of Surrey. In 1999, he also led the Economics Steering Group of the Sustainable Development Commission.

Quoting Jackson from a Guardian interview,

    'The essence of drama really is conflict. Therefore in some ways I can explore the essence of the development-versus-environment conservation dilemma in some ways more effectively in drama and possibly reach more people than I can as a scientist ... Being able to straddle the divide between art and science gives me at least an overview of the world which prevents me falling into simplistic solutions to environmental problems and from reverting to technical formalism on the scientific side. Straddling the divide between art and science is essential to being able to come up with reasonable solutions for a development which might be humane and environmentally sustainable in the future.'

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