This is the radio version of PASSION PLAY. Instead of just altering the existing scenes of PASSION PLAY into a radio format, I did a complete re-write for the different medium.
THE KING MUST DIE was broadcast on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire in six 10-minute episodes over Easter 2008.
EPISODE ONE – WHY THE DONKEY?
- PILATE’S LIMOUSINE IN A STREET IN JERUSALEM
FX: THE HUM OF A CAR ENGINE. SOUNDS OF A TRAFFIC JAM. CAR HORNS. A CAR HANDBRAKE IS PULLED UP
CHAUFFEUR: I’m sorry, sir, I can’t get through this. It’s solid.
PILATE: Call the escort captain over.
FX: MOBILE PHONE RINGS
PILATE: Pilate. … I know; we’ve just run into it. What’s happening? … Well, what about the CCTV? … What do you mean? … What use is CCTV without film inside? … I don’t care how, Confiscate a camera off a TV crew if necessary. Or grab some phones. And get the bloody riot squad out. … No, I’m not asking for a discussion about it, Quintus: just do it.
FX: WINDOW LOWERING
ESCORT CAPTAIN: We’re not going to get through this way, sir. We’ll have to back up or you’ll be a sitting duck.
PILATE: They wouldn’t dare.
ESCORT CAPTAIN: Trust me, sir; they would.
PILATE: Where’s the nearest building with a heliport?
ESCORT CAPTAIN: National Bank, sir. It’s not far.
PILATE: We’ll head there. Do whatever you need to clear the way.
ESCORT CAPTAIN: Harry, back up round this way. You’ve got room.
CHAUFFEUR: What about my paintwork?
FX: POLICE SIRENS
PILATE: Quintus, are you still there? … We’re heading to the National Bank. Get me a helicopter there in five minutes. And get me some film footage. I want to see it when I get there.
FX: MACHINE GUN BEING FIRED INTO THE AIR. SCREAMS.
ESCORT CAPTAIN: Works every time.
CHAUFFEUR: There now, you see? They can shift if they put their minds to it.
FX: CAR BEING PUT INTO GEAR; IT DRIVES OFF.
2. CAIAPHAS’S OFFICE
FX: CAIAPHAS DIALLING A NUMBER. WE HEAR IT RINGING AT THE OTHER END AND BEING PICKED UP.
ANNAS: (Answering) Annas.
CAIAPHAS: Annas, it’s me. Are you watching television? I’d switch it on if I were you. Something rather interesting is happening.
3. PILATE’S OUTER OFFICE
FX: A BUSY OFFICE, WITH PEOPLE COMING AND GOING, PHONES RINGING, PEOPLE TYPING AT COMPUTER SCREENS, PRINTERS, ETC.
QUINTUS: (On the phone) Deploy, let them see you, but do not, repeat not, move in until I give the order. Is that clear? … Good. Keep me posted.
FX: PUTS PHONE DOWN
DECIUS: Gotcha! There he is, chief.
DECIUS: See him? Guy on the horse.
QUINTUS: On a horse?
DECIUS: Well, sort of horse, isn’t it?
QUINTUS: Looks more like a donkey to me. Can you make out who it is?
DECIUS: Not from this angle. But whoever he is, they like him. Look at them, singing and dancing. They think he’s the dog’s bolognese, they do.
QUINTUS: Get a camera that can pick up his face.
DECIUS: I’ll get you a camera that can look up his nostrils.
FX: RAPID TYPING
QUINTUS: Whose bright idea was it to install dummy CCTV cameras?
DECIUS: Camera at the corner should pick him up in a just a sec. Here he comes now. One in three, chief. Cameras, that is. Orders from Rome.
DECIUS: The dummies. Latest cost-cutting wheeze from the Emperor. You can tell he doesn’t get out much. I never said that. Now, sunshine, let’s have a look at you. Well, well: look at that.
QUINTUS: Zoom in. We know him, don’t we?
DECIUS: I should coco. Wonder what he’s doing here.
FX: KEYING IN A NUMBER ON A MOBILE.
QUINTUS: Titus, we’ve got him on CCTV. Can you see him from where you are? … Can you confirm his ID? … Yes, I thought so. … You’d never get out alive. Only move in it if turns nasty. … Well, if they’re going peacefully, let them go. Don’t provoke trouble. … OK. Let me know if it changes.
FX: MOBILE RINGS
DECIUS: Hello? … Take cover, everyone. The big man’s here. And he’s really quite cross.
4. CROWDED STREET.
FX: CELEBRATION. CHEERING, CHANTING.
SUE FOX: Simon Peter? Sue Fox, Central News. We’ve met.
JAMES: Peter, we haven’t got time.
SUE FOX: I won’t keep you. I just wondered if you could fill me in on what you’re all doing here. That was quite an entrance. The whole city’s at a standstill.
JAMES: Peter –
PETER: It’s all right, James. We have to get our message across. Jesus said he would come to Jerusalem. And now he has.
SUE FOX: What are his plans?
PETER: You’ll have to ask him.
SUE FOX: He hasn’t told you?
JAMES: Peter, don’t.
PETER: We none of us know. We follow him.
SUE FOX: But you must have some idea of what he’s planning to do?
PETER: For the moment, we’re just glad to be here in Jerusalem. We mean no-one any harm. But Jesus has often said he intends to preach in the Temple. Now he can.
SUE FOX: So he’s come to preach?
JAMES: He preaches wherever he goes, not just here. Now, if you’ll excuse us.
PETER: Look, I’ll see if I can set up a press conference. Then we can answer your questions properly. But I must go now.
SUE FOX: OK, that would be great. Just one thing. Why the donkey?
5. CAIAPHAS’S OFFICE
CAIAPHAS: (On the phone) Can you see it now? It’s a donkey all right. … Oh, I think we can assume he knows exactly what it means.
6. PILATE’S INNER OFFICE
PILATE: If I give an order, I expect it to be obeyed. I will not have riots breaking out in the centre of my capital city. Do I make myself clear?
QUINTUS: It wasn’t exactly a riot, sir.
PILATE: Don’t argue. Quintus, I gave you instructions to send in the riot squad. Why did you disobey me?
QUINTUS: I put them on standby, sir. They can still move in if we need them. But so far it’s all gone off peacefully, and most of them are heading home. We don’t want to create trouble.
PILATE: When the roads are blocked and I am trapped in my car because the people take it into their heads to pour onto the streets, then the city is in the hands of a mob. No-one challenges Roman authority and gets away with it in my province. Clear?
QUINTUS: Yes, sir.
PILATE: Arrest twenty ringleaders tonight. That’s an order, Quintus.
QUINTUS: I’ll get Security onto it, sir.
FX: KNOCK ON THE DOOR
FX: DOOR OPENS
PILATE: Yes, Decius?
DECIUS: ID confirmed, sir. And I’ve got his file.
PILATE: Who is he?
DECIUS: Jesus, sir.
DECIUS: Just Jesus. Preacher. Prophet. But then he’s Jewish; it comes with the territory.
PILATE: Give it to me. This file isn’t very thick. Why isn’t there more?
QUINTUS: He’s not political, sir.
PILATE: He’s a preacher, Quintus. They’re all political.
FX: PILATE LEAFING THROUGH PAPERS
PILATE: This only covers the last two months. Why is there nothing earlier?
QUINTUS: He’s only just on the radar, sir. We’ve been concentrating on the insurgents and he’s not linked to them. In fact, as you’ll see in there, when they approached him –
PILATE: So they did approach him?
QUINTUS: Oh yes, sir. And he turned them down. Flat. It cost him a lot of support. As far as we can tell, his political messages consist of a) pay your taxes on time, b) stop grumbling and c) do as you’re told. By us.
PILATE: He’s not one of your stoolpigeons, is he?
QUINTUS: I only wish he were, sir. No, he’s pukka, as far as I can tell. He just steers clear of politics.
DECIUS: Well, he steers clear of our politics.
PILATE: He’s challenging the priests?
QUINTUS: Almost constantly.
PILATE: What’s he said?
DECIUS: Mainly what a bunch of sanctimonious hypocrites and general scumbags they are, sir. He’s quite a serious pain up their fundamentals.
PILATE: I rather like the sound of him. Assuming he’s genuine and this isn’t some elaborate double bluff. Are you sure he wouldn’t work for us?
QUINTUS: Quite sure, sir. But that’s not the main reason they’re scared of him.
PILATE: Why are they scared of him?
DECIUS: Nervous rather than scared. Sir.
PILATE: I still don’t see.
QUINTUS: It’s because of who they think – and everyone else thinks – he is.
DECIUS: Our boy has delusions of grandeur, sir. Big time.
PILATE: What do you mean? Who is he?
QUINTUS: People say he’s the king.
PILATE: What king? Our king?
QUINTUS: No. It’s more theological than political. I told you: he’s not political.
PILATE: He sounds political.
QUINTUS: What was that quote? It’s in the file.
DECIUS: My kingdom is not of this world.
PILATE: That’s meaningless.
QUINTUS: I told you, sir: it’s theology. Luckily, our friends in the Temple don’t seem to understand him any more than we do. And they don’t like it.
PILATE: I don’t like people claiming to be kings. Even theologically.
QUINTUS: Well, quite. Still, his claim does bring us, as it happens, to the curious incident of the donkey.
7. CAIAPHAS’S OFFICE
CAIAPHAS: Say to the Daughter of Zion, See you king comes to you –
ANNAS: Gentle and riding on a donkey –
CAIAPHAS: On a colt, the foal of a donkey. Precisely. Zechariah Chapter 9.
ANNAS: And you’re sure he knew that?
CAIAPHAS: Annas, of course he knew it. And by now, you can be certain, the whole of Jerusalem knows it too. I’d lay money it’s in tomorrow’s papers.
ANNAS: Be very careful, Caiaphas. This has the potential to get out of hand if you rush at it.
CAIAPHAS: I’m not rushing at anything. I’m just saying that he chose the most provocative manner of entry into the city and he clearly did so quite deliberately.
ANNAS: What are you suggesting we do?
CAIAPHAS: Nothing. Yet. We’d be lynched. In any case, he hasn’t actually broken the law.
ANNAS: What about Pilate? The Romans can hardly like someone going round claiming to be a king.
CAIAPHAS: I tried them. I didn’t get past his jack-in-office, Quintus. I rather got the impression that they sitting back and enjoying our discomfiture.
ANNAS: So we watch and wait?
CAIAPHAS: For the moment.
ANNAS: And what are we waiting for exactly? Something to turn up?
CAIAPHAS: For him to make a mistake. They always do.
END OF EPISODE ONE