‘Lost’ Dylan Thomas play starring Richard Burton given first radio broadcast

Original production of South Pacific mystery 'The Beach of Falesá' was shelved after poet’s death in 1953

An unaired and little-known screenplay by Dylan Thomas is to be broadcast on BBC Radio 3 this spring after it was discovered by chance at a house in Australia.

The Beach of Falesá was adapted by the celebrated Welsh writer from one of Robert Louis Stevenson’s short stories and was destined for a film production with Richard Burton. Yet the project was shelved in mysterious circumstances and, while the work was published as a novella, it was largely forgotten after Thomas’s death in 1953.

The BBC is trying to discover more about the script, including who holds the rights, as ownership passed through two film companies and even Burton himself, who brought in the author Christopher Isherwood to work on it. Stevenson’s story, published in 1892, follows a British trader on a fictional South Sea island who has a run-in with a rival. The then cash-strapped Thomas is believed to have adapted it for the screen in the late 1940s.

Alison Hindell, the BBC’s head of audio drama, said: “It was never made. It was published in a very limited run. I came across it by chance. You would have to be a real aficionado to know about it.”

Ms Hindell speculated that the drama, which will receive its world premiere on Radio 3 in May to mark the centenary of Thomas’s birth, may have been shelved because a film would have been expensive.

“In the descriptive passages intended for the designer or the cameraman, you can absolutely hear Dylan Thomas’s voice,” she said. “He plays with language and imagines the landscape so clearly and precisely. He also makes a couple of Welsh jokes. It’s not as poetic as Under Milk Wood – it’s not poetry.”

Ms Hindell’s step-daughter found the novella by chance after moving house in Sydney. It was the only object the previous owners left behind.

She alerted her stepmother, knowing she had produced other Thomas works including Under Milk Wood and The Art Of Conversation. “I had never come across it or even heard of it,” Ms Hindell said.

Burton’s relatives do not think they hold the rights, but the BBC is having to carry out some detective work including talking to academics at the University of Swansea, which owns the late actor’s papers. Burton made just one reference to the script in his diaries, published last year.

Richard Burton made one reference to the script for Dylan Thomas’s ‘The Beach of Falesá’ in his diaries (Getty) Richard Burton made one reference to the script for Dylan Thomas’s ‘The Beach of Falesá’ in his diaries (Getty)
Roger Wright, the controller of Radio 3, pointed out that a celebrated radio dramatisation of Under Milk Wood, narrated by Burton, was first heard on Radio 3’s predecessor the Third Programme. Stevenson felt he had created a significant work, writing that The Beach of Falesá was “the first realistic South Seas story; I mean with real South Sea character and details of life”.

“Everybody else who has tried, that I have seen, got carried away by the romance, and ended in a kind of sugar candy sham epic, and the whole effect was lost – there was not etching, no human grin, consequently no conviction,” he wrote in a letter to a friend.

“Now I have got the smell and look of the thing a good deal. You will know more about the South Seas after you have read my little tale than if you had read a library.”

There has been a resurgence of interest in works by Thomas in recent years. The annual Dylan Thomas Prize – worth £30,000 – was first offered in 2006 to reward young writers, partly to celebrate Thomas as the “quintessential adolescent writer”, the organisers said.

A film about Thomas, The Edge Of Love, was launched at the Edinburgh Festival in 2008 and explored the uncomfortable love triangle between the Welsh poet, his famously unruly wife, Caitlin (played by Sienna Miller) and his childhood sweetheart Vera Phillips (Keira Knightley).

The premiere of The Beach of Falesá was announced as part of Radio 3’s spring season, which also includes a day devoted to works by the French composer Maurice Ravel and a new adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra starring Sir Kenneth Branagh and Alex Kingston.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Chvrches lead singer Lauren Mayberry in the band's new video 'Leave a Trace'

music
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Home on the raunch: George Bisset (Aneurin Barnard), Lady Seymour Worsley (Natalie Dormer) and Richard Worsley (Shaun Evans)

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers

Strictly
Arts and Entertainment
NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton

film
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell and Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
New book 'The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep' by Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin

books
Arts and Entertainment
Calvi is not afraid of exploring the deep stuff: loneliness, anxiety, identity, reinvention
music
Arts and Entertainment
Edinburgh solo performers Neil James and Jessica Sherr
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
If a deal to buy tBeats, founded by hip-hop star Dr Dre (pictured) and music producer Jimmy Iovine went through, it would be Apple’s biggest ever acquisition

album review
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith is joining The Voice as a new coach

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Dowton Abbey has been pulling in 'telly tourists', who are visiting Highclere House in Berkshire

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Patriot games: Vic Reeves featured in ‘Very British Problems’
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Summer nights: ‘Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp’
TVBut what do we Brits really know about them?
Arts and Entertainment
Dr Michael Mosley is a game presenter

TV review
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

    Orthorexia nervosa

    How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
    Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

    Lady Chatterley’s Lover

    Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
    Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

    Set a pest to catch a pest

    Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
    Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

    The dark side of Mexico

    A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
    Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

    Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

    Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
    A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

    A nap a day could save your life

    A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
    If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

    If men are so obsessed by sex...

    ...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

    Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
    The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

    Rolling in the deep

    The bathing machine is back but with a difference
    Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

    Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

    Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

    Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
    House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

    The honours that shame Britain

    Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
    When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

    'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

    Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
    International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

    International Tap Festival comes to the UK

    Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
    War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border