An English Tragedy


SP20100508Based on actual events at the end of World War Two, this play by Oscar winner Ronald Harwood stars Derek Jacobi.

May 1945: victory in Europe, and a Labour landslide. English traitor John Amery is arrested in Italy and brought back to London for trial. If convicted, he faces the death penalty. But his father is a senior politician; surely the Establishment will look after its own...

The play charts the weeks leading up to the execution, following John's arrest in Italy and trial in London. Like a real-life Sebastian Flyte, he clutches his teddy bear, lies, boasts and jokes as the day of execution draws inexorably nearer. Meanwhile his distraught parents try everything in their power to save him.

John Amery was the Harrow educated son of Churchill's Secretary of State for India, Leo Amery. His brother Julian was later to become a prominent Conservative MP. A troubled man, who had been expelled from Public School and bankrupted as a young entrepreneur, John became a passionate fascist. He broadcast pro-Nazi propaganda during World War 2 and ran a programme recruiting British POWs to fight for Germany on the Eastern Front. Unlike his brother Julian, John was a wild boy - bisexual, hedonistic and unstable. Why?

Ronald Harwood's work as a screen writer includes The Pianist, which won him an Oscar for Best Screenplay and his films The Dresser and The Diving Bell and The Butterfly also won Oscar nominations.

John Amery.... Geoffrey Streatfield

Leopold Amery.... Derek Jacobi

Bryddie Amery.... Isla Blair

Warder/ Sergant.... Christopher Knott

The Major / Judge.... Pip Donaghy

Dr Rosemary Pimlott.... Melanie Jessop

Written by Ronald Harwood

Adapted for Radio by Bert Coules

Directed by Philip Franks

The producer is Frank Stirling, and this is a Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

By Ronald Harwood. The true story of Second World War traitor John Amery.