Raymond Raikes

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5 Dec 1991
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Radio includes stereophony



Born 1910, Dulwich. His father was a stage designer/producer. Educated at Uppingham, then went to Oxford and took an English degree, got involved with OUDS as a general hand, then as an actor, also producer. Came to London and acted in plays and also in films – he talks about working on Blossom Time at Elstree. At the outbreak of the war [World War Two] he won a place as one of the two announcers on Forces Radio. Was called up, and eventually went back to Forces Radio. On demobilisation he returned to the BBC Radio, producing serials, which included some of the Dick Barton episodes. He describes his method of producing and calls himself an ‘actor’s director’.


He talks about producing Shakespeare for radio, winning the Italia Prize with The Foundling which was one of the stereo [sound] experimental productions (1965). Shortly after this production, stereo transmissions stopped, and it wasn’t until 1967 that this production was shown.



Raymond Montgomery Raikes was a British theatre producer, director and broadcaster.

He was particularly known for his productions of classic dramas for British Broadcasting Corporation Radio"s "World Theatre" and "National Theatre of the Air" series, which pioneered the use of stereophonic sound in radio drama broadcasts. After leaving Oxford, he began his career as a film and stage actor, appearing with the Birmingham Representative and the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre as well as in the West End play While Parents Sleep. His film appearances included The Poisoned Diamond, directed by West.P. Kellino (1931) and lieutenant"s a Bet, directed by Alexander Esway (1935).

During World World War II, he worked as an announcer for the British Broadcasting Corporation Forces Programme for two years and then joined the Royal Signal Corps, with whom he served in North Africa, Italy, and London.

After the war, he joined the British Broadcasting Corporation drama department, initially working on the production of the soap opera The Robinson Family and then producing and directing the Dick Barton - Special Agent series which regularly obtained 20,000,000 listeners daily. He went on to become a producer and director for the British Broadcasting Corporation Third Programme, where his output included 17 Shakespeare plays, the Oresteia trilogy by Aeschylus.

The Wasps and Lysistrata by Aristophanes. And The Bacchae, Medea and Hippolytus by Euripides.

He also introduced British radio audiences to less frequently performed Elizabethan and Jacobean dramas, Restoration comedies, and works by 20th century authors such as Robert Graves and Jean Anouilh.

Foreign many of the plays he directed, he would adapt the archaic English for modern audiences and he also adapted existing English translations of foreign works. Many of the productions had incidental music written by the composer Stephen Dodgson, with whom he had a long and genial collaboration. Raikes" last production for the British Broadcasting Corporation was his own translation of Euripides" Iphigeneia in Aulis in 1975.

Following his retirement, he studied Egyptian hieroglyphics and Russian as hobbies.

He had a large personal library and for many years also served as chairman on the library committee of the Garrick Club. Raikes died in his sleep at his home in Bromley, Kent at the age of 88.

The couple had one daughter. Raikes" papers, including scripts, production papers and correspondence, were acquired by the British Broadcasting Corporation Written Archives Centre in 2003.

Raikes received two Prix Italia awards in 1965 for his stereophonic productions of The Foundling by A. R. Gurney and The Anger of Achilles by Robert Graves. At the 1965 Prix Italia, Raikes won the Radiotelevisione Italiana Prize for literary or dramatic programmes with The Anger of Achilles by Robert Graves and the Prix Italia for stereophonic musical and dramatic programmes with A. R. Gurney"s The Foundling