Radio crime drama is something we’ve neglected a bit lately (quite a lot if I’m being honest), but when one pops up in the 15 Minute Drama slot on BBC Radio 4 that’s written by the ever-terrific Val McDermid, you have to sit up and take notice. The first episode of Dead Clever is now on the BBC iPlayer right now, with four more episodes to air during the week. Find out more after the jump.
Billed as a comedy/drama, it’s a follow-up to Val’s Deadheading series, which was broadcast last year. Ex-Coronation Street actress Julie Hesmondhalgh returns as DCI Alma Blair and appears alongside John Hollingworth.
In Val words, this is what Dead Clever’s all about:
As Sayre’s Law so succinctly states, ’The politics of the university are so intense because the stakes are so low.’
The Russell Group university whose campus occupies a chunk of Alma’s patch holds itself in high esteem. It concedes that Oxbridge might just have the edge over it, but it refuses to give ground to upstarts like Durham or London. But the barbarians are at the gate. Bums on seats now rank higher than intellectual rigour and modern disciplines like Leisure Management threaten the status of ‘proper’ subjects such as Physics and Geography. Upstart young academics are snapping at the heels of their elders and betters with PhD topics like Geographies of the Menopause and The Semiotics of Clothing in the Novels of Virginia Woolf.
Into this febrile ferment of discontent, like petrol poured on flames, comes murder. The victim is Peter Piper, ancient incumbent of the Cecil Rhodes Chair of Geography, found battered to death and there is no shortage of people with good reason to rejoice at his final departure.
The clashing of tectonic plates is a mild disagreement compared with the fissures that divide the academics.
Over the course of five tense episodes, the soundscape of murder and mayhem reveals the risks and rewards of crime and punishment.
You check out episode one here, while episodes two to five will be on BBC Radio 4 daily at 10.45am