The Beacon

by Anita Sullivan

adpated from the novel by Susan Hill

The Beacon by Susan Hill book jacket


'The Beacon' is a five part BBC Radio 4 commission for Women's Hour. It was broadcast in May 2010.

Frank Prime has written a 'misery memoir' about his childhood. On the remote farm The Beacon he suffered punishment, deprivation and psychological torture at the hands of his parents and siblings. But the publication of his memoir has had a devastating impact on his family and there are questions about the truth of his story.

Duration: 44 minutes.


May Prime ............ Manon Edwards
Frank Prime .......... Steffan Rhodri
Colin Prime ........... Iestyn Jones
Elsa ...... .............. Eiry Thomas
Berenice Prime ...... Siriol Jenkins
Radio Interviewer .. Mark Lawson
Doctor Ford ........... Richard Mitchley
TV Interviewer ........Sian Williams
TV Interviewer ....... Kirsty Wark
Taxi Driver ............ Dick Bradnum

Produced and Directed by Kate McAll.



LAWSON:  Film Noir and Feminism: a dangerous liaison on the South Bank. Also on this programme, Frank Prime’s controversial best seller makes the move to the big screen. His novel has inspired a dozen imitators and created a new genre: ‘the misery memoir’. Earlier today I asked Frank this was his intention.

FRANK:     I didn’t uh... set out to be controversial. I wrote what I did because I had to. If that’s inspired other people too, well... I’m glad.

LAWSON     Many people have disturbing stories to tell of family life: what made you turn yours into a novel?

FRANK      My wife, Elsa. Something she said, quite casually, about her own family... And it came to me then. Complete. It even had a title.

LAWSON     But she never read it.

FRANK      No.


FRANK      I’d wanted to tell her for years. Why I had to sleep with a light on. Why I never spoke to my family, my sister May: never went to the farm. But I left it too late. I found her in the doorway to the kitchen. Her face twisted a little to one side, eyes startled. Elsa was dead. And the novel was born.



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