BBC Radio 4 Saturday Play - "Theremin"

Posted: 1/3/2009 11:00:35 AM

From: Croxley Green, Hertfordshire, UK

Joined: 10/5/2005

More of a Theremin Hearing than a Theremin Sighting...

I haven't heard it yet, but a friend has just told me that today's Saturday Play on BBC Radio 4 has Leon Theremin as the lead character.

Here's what the BBC website has to say about it.


[i]By Melissa Murray

Leon Theremin, gifted inventor and reluctant spy, is forced to find a way to bug the US Embassy in London. Now he has to save himself and his former lover from both the CIA and the KGB.

Theremin …… Tom Hollander
Alex …… Kate Ashfield
Olga …… Ania Sowinski
Will …… Trystan Gravelle
Sergei/Ambassador …… Stephen Critchlow
Boss …… Malcolm Tierney
Ambassador’s wife/Waitress …… Janice Acquah
Bart …… Jonathan Tafler
News seller/Man 2 …… Chris Pavlo
Bellboy/Man 1 …… Dan Starkey

Producer Mark Beeby.[/i]

The play will be available for listening on the website soon (I presume) and until 10 Jan 2009.

I wonder if the sound track uses his eponymous instrument.

Here's the review that the Financial Times gave it. (link (

[i]Scientific visionaries and the repercussions of their inventions, real and fictitious, link drama and documentary this weekend. Saturday's Radio 4 play, Theremin (2.30pm), recreates the enforced return to Soviet Russia of the inventor of the ethereal-sounding musical instrument besides more sinister devices. An unwise investor in Wall Street, involved in bugging foreign embassies, potentially a double agent, he was mysteriously whisked back to the motherland. Melissa Murray's script entertains, despite Russkies conversing in accented English and the educated 1930s English pronouncing "exquisite" like modern Americans. ***[/i]

Posted: 1/3/2009 11:30:47 AM

From: Kingston, NY

Joined: 2/13/2005

Good find Gordon.
Hope the BBC hosts an on-line recording after too!

Very encouraging Lev himself and his (eponymous - thank you for keeping the lingo alive too!) instrument are inspiring varied work that's spreading awareness of our space controlled obsession.
Posted: 1/3/2009 6:05:49 PM

From: UK

Joined: 4/15/2008

Someone just telephoned me to tell me about this radio play. (I haven't had chance to listen to it as yet). I came online to post news of it here ... and see that it's been spotted already by Gordon.

While I'm here, I'll mention another recent "spotting". A few weeks ago I posted about hearing the theremin played on a regular BBC 2 radio program. On January there was a highlights of the year show, "recalling some of the best performances on 'Friday Night is Music Night' during the past year" - including the theremin performance of Midsomer Murders. Here's the url for it at the BBCi player:

You'll find it almost exactly half way through the programme (you can move straight to it with your cursor).
Posted: 1/4/2009 7:45:31 AM

From: Canada

Joined: 8/1/2008

The Financial Times wrote in its review of the Leon Theremin radio play:

"Melissa Murray's script entertains, despite Russkies conversing in accented English and the educated 1930s English pronouncing "exquisite" like modern Americans."


I presume this is a reference to putting the emPHAsis on the second syllable rather than the first....??

Posted: 1/4/2009 8:10:42 AM

From: Croxley Green, Hertfordshire, UK

Joined: 10/5/2005

Good news. It's now on playback at the above link for the next week. There is theremin playing to be heard [i]and[/i] an explanation of what a theremin is too.

Omhoge - [i]eponymous[/i] is a Radio 4 kind of word. Fortunately Theremin avoids the Radio 4 cliché of an overly erudite narration. (*)

(*) For the perfect send up of this you have to hear Sir Henry At Rawlinson End by Vivian Stanshall. Stanshall makes Monty Python sound a bit slow-witted by comparison.

You can find Sir Henry at Amazon and on iTunes, and the first nine minutes on youTube. (

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