Friday, 24 February 2017

Time to hear Fenella's Hedda Gabler once more?


In 1966, the same year she starred in Carry On Screaming, Fenella Fielding played Hedda Gabler on BBC Radio. Playing Hedda could not have been more different than larking about at Pinewood Studios with Kenneth Williams and Bernard Bresslaw. 

Fenella spoke of her pride in this performance during one of her recent memoir shows at the Phoenix Artist Club and it's clear to me this role has left its mark on the actress. She had played the part on stage for a short period the same decade but sadly it did not transfer to the West End, despite being a huge success. The Times newspaper apparently described Fielding's performance as "the experience of a lifetime". The chance to play Henrik Ibsen's famous female character on the radio was one Fenella seized with both hands.

Fenella was joined for the broadcast by Michael Gwynn and a young Ian McKellen. Sadly I've never heard this programme, which was adapted and produced by Charles Lefeaux. Fenella's Hedda Gabler was originally broadcast on the Third Programme, now Radio 3. I'm not sure if it has been heard since however as it's now over fifty years ago, I think it's definitely due another airing. It would be great to hear another aspect of Fenella's career. 

So come on BBC Radio 4 Extra, why not find room in your wonderfully diverse schedules of comedy and drama for this classic?

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  1. The Times quote was used in a notice about her birthday a few years ago. I'd love to hear this too. Simon

  2. I suspect the recording hasn't survived. It is amazing how many shows from as recently as the 1980s are missing. Radio 4 Extra often get Keith Wickham to patch together off-air recordings to allow quite famous shows to be heard.

    1. Thanks Alan. I hope some of it has survived though :)