Audio Drama Wiki

The Unfortunates is a radio play by Graham White, based on the experimental novel by B.S. Johnson. It was first broadcast on BBC Radio 3 on 17 October 2010[1].

Originally published in 1969, Johnson's novel was published as a box containing 27 unbound pamphlets, meant to be read in any order. This production achieves a similar randomization in its use of the BBC iplayer, which allowed listeners online to shuffle 18 parts to form new and randomized versions of the work, as Johnson intended.

The play won a BBC Audio Drama Award for Innovation.


A sports journalist travels to a strange city to cover a football match, only to discover it was the city where he first met his friend Tony who has died young of cancer. We follow the journalist from his arrival at the train station, through lunch, to the match and on the journey home, as different memories of his friend are triggered.


  • Bryan ..... Martin Freeman
  • Tony ..... Patrick Kennedy
  • Wendy ..... Claire Rushbrook
  • June ..... Jacqueline Defferary
  • Tony's Father ..... Sean Baker
  • First Aid Woman/Tony's Mother ..... Christine Kavanagh
  • Sation Announcer/Reporter ..... Tony Bell
  • Landlady/Clerk ..... Sally Orrock
  • Guest House owner/Reporter ..... Jude Akuwudike
  • Clerk/Newspaper Voice ..... Lloyd Thomas
  • Grocer/Clerk ..... Sam Dale
  • Passing Child ..... Joseph Dudgeon
  • Tony's son ..... Greta Dudgeon
  • Directed by Mary Peate

Critical Reception[]

"I enjoyed listening to it. Freeman was just right; his bewildered mildness captured perfectly the tone of the book, which is sometimes comic, sometimes elusive, and occasionally very affecting.

But the really exciting thing is the way its producers have made use of the possibilities of the iPlayer. Visit the website and you'll see the sections have been posted separately so you can shuffle it yourself. It'll be up there for three months; if you missed it, do look. Johnson, whose creative life was a struggle – he killed himself in 1973 at the age of 40 – would be amazed."- Rachel Cooke, The Observer[2]