10 FEBRUARY 1961, Page 15

SIR, --Mr. Forster's review of the present state of BBC

radio programmes only served to show how much his vision has suffered while watching tele- vision. He paid a television critic's homage to the mass appeal of Woman's Hour, in which he has 'taken part in a small way,' and he did not fail to make the customary snide comment on the state of the Third Programme. I realise that he was short of space but feel that he could have found room to acknowledge the enormous contribution which the Drama Department has made to the vitality of the theatre and to our cultural life. Contrary to his belief the drama producers in radio are far more accessible than their opposite numbers in television who are scared to experiment, to spend money or offend public opinion. Mr. Forster's bored and whiskered men have done more to encourage young British playwrights than any of the trumpeted experi- mental and try-out theatres, they have led the theatre in producing plays from abroad and they have built a repertory of our classic theatre which should put the Old Vic and Stratford permanently to shame. There is not space to enumerate the plays which have received British and sometimes world premieres on the BBC radio. Suffice it to • say that during the last three years I have heard plays for the first time by Yugoslays, Greeks, Japanese .and by Betti, Beckett. Schehade, DUrrenmatt, lonesco, Alan Owen, Harold Pinter, Fahhri, Strindberg, Ostrovsky, Salacrou. de Montherlant, Lorca and many others.

When the television producers can show a similar achievement I shall be prepared to concede the rela- tive failure of the radio drama department. We ought to be grateful for the existence of the BBC radio services. It is easy to find fault with them; it is time they got the acknowledgment they deserve.—Yours faithfully,

Ferndale, Brill, Bucks IAN G. RODGER [Peter Forster writes: 'I did not mount an attack on the radio Drama Department: I simply did not mention it, intending to return to it on another occasion. However, I gladly echo Mr. Rodger's tribute. Val Gielgud has done a vast amount for drama, and at present his own traditionalist tastes arc balanced by the more avant-garde inclinations of Donald MacWhinnie, his whom God preserve from the praise of Harold Hobson. In this context, though, Mr. Rodger's sneers at TV drama are as unnecessary as silly : to praise sound, you do not have to disparage TV.'—Editor, Spectator.]