Audio Drama Wiki

Richard Imison (born 31 October 1936 – 9 February 1993) was an influential Script Editor for BBC Radio Drama from 1963 to 1991.


Born in Birkenhead, Merseyside, in 1936, Imison studied archeology and anthropology at Pembroke College in Cambridge. In the late 1950's, he founded the Pembroke Players theatre company. Upon graduating, he went to work for the BBC, working primarily for BBC Radio[1].

In 1965 he married Patricia Murray, with whom he had two children.

In 1991, he took an early retirement, intending to paint, spend time with his family, and write a book about radio drama. He died of cancer in London in 1993.

Radio Career[]

In the thirty years that Imison worked for BBC Radio Drama it was the largest patron of original creative dramatic writing in Britain; in Imison's department he and a team of readers presided over 10,000 script submissions per year[2].

In the role of Script Editor, no other single individual had as much influence in either the discovery of new talent or the encouragement of established writers such as Edward Albee, Ludmilla Petrushevskaya, Alexander Gelman, Harold Pinter, Tom Stoppard, John Arden, Terance Rattigan, and Samuel Beckett in the production of Drama for this genre. Imison also created the Just Before Midnight series and was instrumental in bringing about several acclaimed, epic serials, including The Lord of the Rings in 1981.

"What Imison gave in breadth he also gave in depth," wrote John Tydeman in Imison's Independent obituary. "Unstintingly he would encourage and enthuse. He had an intuitive flair for discovering a new writer as well as being able to analyse the faults in the script of an experienced one. Added to this he had the clarity of thought and explanation in suggesting how improvements should be made."

In the 1970's, Imison acted as a consultant to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which was attempting to revive radio drama in the United States. He also traveled to Russia to organize a season of radio drama by Russian playwrights.

Imison eventually rose in the corporation to become Deputy Head of the BBC Radio Drama department. In 1991 he was appointed the managing director's spokesperson for radio[3].


In addition to his work as a producer and script editor, Imison was involved in several awards designed to recognize important work in the medium. He served on the steering committies for both the Prix Italia awards and the European Broadcasting Union.

In 1977, Imison was a key player in creating the Giles Cooper Awards with Geoffrey Strachan of Methuen Publishing. Named for acclaimed radio playwright Giles Cooper, these awards comprised a series of published volumes of the award-winning scripts. The awards continued until the year after his death.

After his death in 1993 the Society of Authors established the Richard Imison Memorial Award in recognition of Imison's enduring influence on the development of high quality dramatic writing.[4]

Plays Produced by Richard Imison[]

List of Plays produced by Richard Imison

External Links[]


  1. Diversity entry
  2. Hendy, David. Life on the Air - a history of Radio 4. Oxford University Press 2007
  3. Diversity entry
  4. The Independent Obituary