Read This and Act Now

Apologies for the peremptory nature of the post title, but quick action is required here. It emerged today (although the press release announcing it is dated a week and a bit ago) that the BBC (who had the stupendous good taste to broadcast my story “The Amazing Arnolfini and His Wife” last year) are reducing the number of short stories broadcast on Radio 4 from 3 per week down to 1. I cannot begin to fathom why they are doing this, but whatever the reasons, it’s not good for short stories.

Did I hear you say “We’re not gonna take it”? I thought I did. Good. So here’s what we’re going to do. This is the text of an e-mail I received this evening from Susie Maguire (aka @wrathofgod on Twitter). Please read it and act on it, as soon as ever possible:

The new Controller of Radio 4, Gwyneth Williams, will be a guest on FEEDBACK on BBC Radio 4 next week. How very timely.

Would you add your name to a letter/question to ask her?

Would you pass on this email to other writers who care about the health of the short story…?

The more of us, & the better known the writers who sign it, the more likely it is to have some effect.

If so, please find below a short, polite question, proposed by Ian of

Reminder: info on her decision to cut the short story’s presence on Radio 4 outlined here

If you’d like to add your signature, please email YES to

ian AT shortstoryweek DOT org DOT uk

& cc to me: info AT susiemaguire DOT co DOT uk

NB – It would be really helpful if you could reply within 24 hours so that the question can be lodged as soon as possible. This is by no means the *only* action interested parties can take, but it’s a start, and I hope you might add your weight to it with this (and further suggestions are welcomed)




Proposed question:

We were surprised and disappointed to learn of the decision to reduce the short story output on Radio 4 to once a week from next spring. Radio 4 has been a great champion of the short story for many years. It is one of very few places in the UK where both new and established writers can have their short stories broadcast to a large audience, and where radio listeners can enjoy readings of the short story form. This move comes at a time when interest in the short story is growing, but paid opportunities for short story writers are still scarce. Could Gwyneth Williams please explain:

1) what has led her to make this decision?

2) whether the short stories on Radio 4 extra will be new commissions or repeats of existing recordings?

3) how this decision fits with the BBC’s sponsorship of the National Short Story Award (and indeed if this will continue?)

I know I can rely on you. Thank you. You’re all wonderful. Except possibly you. But I’ll even like you if you act on this one.

6 thoughts on “Read This and Act Now

  1. Vanessa Gebbie says:

    Yup – agree with it all, and have signed the petition.

    But I cant help thinking to hold a bit more weight, it needs to have another petition from listeners, who are not writers? Lets hope that’s happening too.

  2. admin says:

    That’s a very good point, Vanessa. I guess the thing for now is that it’s going to be a lot easier to get a bunch of writers organised in a short space of time, because we’re all within a very small number of degrees of separation. But we most definitely do need to work out how to get the listeners interested as well, because they’re the ones who count in the end.


    Very sad news for all short story writers and listeners. It’s difficult enough when they choose three stories from three hundred submitted. God knows what chance anyone will have now. Cut some of the crap “drama” I listen to and lets have more short stories.

  4. admin says:

    Hi Maurice and thanks for dropping in. Yep – I wonder if the Opening Lines concept will even survive or if it will be shunted off to Radio 4Extra. Mind you, there isn’t as much drama as there used to be either. I will, however, have to politely disagree with you on the subject of the crapness of radio drama, because at least one writer of my acquaintance is producing some excellent stuff 🙂

  5. admin says:

    That’s really good news, Ian (and thanks for dropping in!)

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