A fictionalised account of the final moments in the life of Alan Turing is to be premiered via The Independent website this weekend.
In the first collaboration of its kind between a national newspaper and an independent production company, the radio drama featuring History Boys and Desperate Romantics star Samuel Barnett portrays the Bletchley Park code breaker on his death in 1954 after eating an apple laced with cyanide following his conviction for gross indecency.
Turing’s Test examines the scientist’s legacy in the field of artificial intelligence and the personal tragedy of his suicide through a deathbed dialogue with a “machine” played by actor Paul Kendrick.
The Made In Manchester (MIM) production comes amid mounting concern within the independent sector that the continued domination of the BBC is thwarting creativity in genres such as radio drama and comedy which have long enjoyed reputations for innovation both among performers and audiences.
Ashley Byrne, creative director of MIN said the newspaper website was the ideal outlet for topical short-form content and would reach out to new audiences. “Writers, actors and directors are frustrated by the conventional commissioning processes in TV and radio and want the chance to take risks on new work,” he said.
Roger Alton, editor of The Independent, said Turing was a fitting subject for the play. “He was one of the great British heroes of the 20th century whose death is a terrible scar on British justice. It is a great privilege to make this new drama available on The Independent web site, and is part of the great tradition of innovation which has always characterised The Independent.”
An internet campaign to persuade the British Government to issue a posthumous pardon to Turing , who underwent brutal chemical castration “treatment” for his homosexuality, was signed by thousands of supporters across the world including scientist Richard Dawkins, actor Stephen Fry and novelist Ian McEwan.
The shame of the court case meant Turing was dropped from sensitive government work despite his vital war role and pioneering role at the forefront of computer science.
Gordon Brown issued a statement in Septmber condemning the official treatment of Turing as “appalling”. Actor Samuel Barnett said: “There are so many things we have to be thankful to Alan Turing for and I’m delighted to have been given the opportunity to play him in Turing’s Test.”
Turing’s Test will be downloadable from The Independent website from Saturday 24 October at www.independent.co.uk/turing