Speech radio is ‘bad at abstraction’, Frances Byrnes believes. But with imagination, verve and the example of the finest dance writers to draw on, a radio broadcast could capture even that least verbal of performing arts, ballet. Couldn’t it? That was the task Byrnes set herself when she set out to dramatise Stravinksy and Balanchine’s 1928 ballet Apollo.
The telephone is not always an instrument of connection. Poet Donny O’Rourke remembers the ‘instrument’ that stood in the long-ago hall of his childhood. He traces a line from it into loss and into memory, and considers how the phone can shape and define human isolation as much as togetherness.
A series of uncanny coincidences leads novelist and ghost-story writer Helen Grant on the trail of M.R. James and the lost stained-glass windows that inspired his eerie story ‘The Treasure of Abbot Thomas’. Her quest takes her to Germany and then back to Britain; it also leads her to the heart of the question of what motivates her as a writer.