February 8, 2012

Sea Change (2012)

Sea Change is a 90 minute radio drama, written by John Fletcher and directed by Marc Beeby. It stars Charles Edwards, Kim Wall, John Rowe, Richard Dillane and Carl Prekopp. It was broadcast on BBC Radio 3 on 29 January 2012. It is available to download from the BBC until Friday 10 February.

British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s disgraceful process of “appeasement” with Nazi Germany remains one of the United Kingdom’s less pleasant periods of the 20th century. A new BBC radio play, Sea Change, explores not only the appeasement process but also the unexpected political coalition that changed British foreign policy and ended Chamberlain’s career. Docudramas are always a tricky thing to pull off; too dramatic and they lose authenticity, too withdrawn and they seem boring. Sea Change manages to skirt the line marvelously for its 90 minute duration, presenting an insight into historical that is at once familiar and surprising.
On the one side we follow Neville Chamberlain, a deeply misguided and fallible political leader, who appears to be the only man in Europe consistently fooled by Hitler’s constant promises of restraint and peace. Behind him stands Joseph Ball, a manipulative and aggressive spin doctor who acts as the play’s main antagonist. On the other side we follow Rex Leeper, an Australian press offer within the foreign office, and Harold Nicholson, an idealistic MP who seems to be the only politician willing to take a stand and speak against Chamberlain’s approach.

The play is a rich, nuanced one, in which no one stands outright as a villain and that everybody’s motivations are understandable – even when utterly misguided or reprehensible. I enjoyed it a lot: it touches on politics, war, morality, homosexuality, the press, and even the BBC itself. It’s a very strong, enjoyable drama.

It’s often quite hard to listen to the BBC’s radio drama output, because so little of it is commercially released outside of the UK. The BBC has been making quite a few available online, however, as part of their podcast range. Sea Change is available free for download as an mp3 – this is a limited offer, however, and they’ll be taking it offline and replacing it after this Friday (10 February). Go now and check it out.


  1. I just listened to my download of 'Sea Change' today on my drive to work. I was riveted. Brilliant stuff.

  2. Thanks for the very kind review, Grant.

    "Sea Change" is now available for download on Amazon:


    John Fletcher.


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