audiobook-logo-blue.jpg The Secret Parts

Adapted by
David Edgar

From a novel by
Eve Brook

Directed by
Jonquil Panting

First Broadcast 29th May, 2000 - BBC Radio 4

The Cast
Nathaniel Parker................. Sgt Michael Batalocco
Celia Imrie.......................... Cllr Helena Kerr
Frances Barber................... Nina
Nicholas Woollaton............. John Malcolm
Victoria Wicks..................... Rosemary Malcolm
John Rowe.......................... Insp Pearce
Kim Wall............................. Dave
Beverley Hills..................... Mary
Jilly Mears.......................... Vera
Roger Walker.................... Max Henderson

Review of Book
As a highly respected and influential City Counsellor, the late Eve Brook used her own experiences as the backdrop for her unpublished novel. It didn't matter that the novel differed substantially from the play, I so enjoyed reading it in its own right. It's a perfectly balanced mix of crime drama and romance, with wonderful witty narrative and astute observations, but also some incisive comment on serious social concerns of the day.

In essence it has the same storyline; thirty-five year old 'Lefty feminist' counsellor and long time widow, Helena Kerr, finds herself personally involved in a series of local murders connected to the Gay community. In Helena's mind, Opposition Conservative counsellor, the vile and homophobic John Malcolm, is fully implicated but she and the police, in the shape of the "perfect and house-trained" Detective Sergeant Michael Batalocco, are consistently frustrated in their attempts to prove it.

Review of Play
I knew within the first few seconds of listening that I was going to like this play a lot..! From the upbeat opening music and the lovely voice of the brilliant Celia Imrie as narrator, I was hooked long before I even had the privilege of reading the manuscript, kindly sent to me by Eve Brook's husband David Edgar. Then having read the novel, I could appreciate even more what an excellent job he'd done with it.

As well as his radio plays, David Edgar has written for theatre, including the RSC, and for film and television, winning many awards. He founded the University of Birmingham's MA in Playwriting Studies in 1989 and was Professor of Playwriting Studies from 1995. And interestingly, in 2000 he wrote the stage play, Albert Speer - a role that Nat has recently been involved with for television.

He so skilfully adapted the story into a pacey 90-minute play that loses none of the original twisting and turning, although he has changed the emphasis away from and toned down the theme of hypocrisy associated with sexuality, to hypocrisy associated with "abusing legislation to get sticky fingers in the public till"…

Introducing a clever time trick involving the BBC's long-running and legendary radio drama, The Archers, he's given it such lightness and humour as a romantic comedy and yet retained its darn good whodunit murder mystery component too.

Celia Imrie plays Counsellor Helena Kerr, Chair of the Social Services Committee on Birmingham City's Council, who discovers the body of her young gay clerk, Ben Logan, bludgeoned to death inside the Council building. At which point enter Detective Sergeant Michael Batalocco, described as "the hunk with the curly hair and naughty grin"….

After Helena's initial attempts to entice the detective sergeant are deliciously thwarted, the romantic comedy is woven in to and overlaps with the criminal investigation. As 'Batalocco', as Helena calls him, goes about things by the book in search of the perpetrator of not one, but two murders, she follows the more unorthodox route. While this most definitely produces results it also gets her into a whole lot of trouble!

Review of Nat's performance
Remaining objective while just listening to Nat is always difficult for me… but as the romantic male lead, virtually impossible..!

It's interesting that Nat played this role of police detective in the same year that he started filming The Inspector Lynley Mysteries. This medium is, in my view, so much better; it's the perfect vehicle for him to display all the facets of a character. Within the timescale of one episode being Thomas Lynley, in this radio play he could go, by means of sound alone, from bashful and flustered to teasing and goading, to coaxing, secretive and alluring, to angry and exasperated, caustic and sarcastic. The quick-fire argument exchange scene with Helena is possibly my favourite in the whole play - Nat's timing is a joy.

From playing the tantalisingly 'innocent' younger man, to creating the right mood of the before and after seduction scenes (with all the accompanying sounds necessary for radio drama..) he leaves the listener to merely supply their own imagination. This is definitely up there among my absolute favourites of Nat's radio plays. Absolutely loved it!

Radio-play, not out on CD or audio-cassette.

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