All Fingers and Thumbs

1st Broadcast 29th December 2004 at 14:15-15:00 on BBC Radio 4

Repeated Wednesday 3rd January 2007 at 2.15 pm on BBC Radio 4



Dirk Maggs



Dirk Maggs



Written By

Alan Stafford



Produced By

Above The Title Productions Ltd for BBC Radio 4




As a sign language interpreter, Marie wants to attract more deaf people to the theatre. So does director Tom – provided it doesn’t involve a spot-lit woman waving her arms about on his dimly-lit stage. As he begins to meet and communicate with deaf people, he and Marie develop a closer working relationship.

But not all communication barriers are so simple to remove



Tom is trying to create serious theatre. Marie is flailing her arms around to amuse a few deaf people. She's the very last thing he needs. Isn't she?



A romatic comedy about communication, Sign language interpreter Marie want more deaf people to enjoy the theatre. So does director Tom- but not if it envolves a bothersome spot-lit woman waving her arms about on his stage.





Bill Nighy
Susannah Doyle
Jenny Eclair
Felicity Montagu
Steve Day
Fifi Garfield
Brian Bowles
Brian Bowles
Brian Bowles



Production Crew

Missing Image
Phil Horne Sound Manager
Spot FX Alison Mackenzie
Missing Image
Missing Image
Production Assistant Ruth Waites
Sign Language Interpreter Rebecca Edwards



Recorded at

The Soundhouse Ltd London, England

The cast in the Studio


Recorded on

22nd October 2004


Music composed & Arranged

Words and music by Alan Stafford



Comment by Dirk Maggs

None yet



Comment by Alan Stafford

I was delighted with the cast. Apart from being big star names, they fitted the roles so well. I'd always heard Jenny's voice in my head when writing the role of Sal, so it was a particular bonus to get her.

Bill tended to move around a lot during recording, Susannah was very still and contained, but the chemistry between the two was excellent.

Felicity threw herself into everything, including the excruciating dialogue (mine!) of two plays that are heard faintly over a speaker when Tom is in the lighting box. She also sang with gusto the dreadful musical number (also heard indistinctly under dialogue) with myself on piano and a chorus of all the Soundhouse staff who could be mustered, plus Dirk and Brian.

Fifi is a Deaf actress and Steve is a Deaf stand-up. Sign language interpreter Rebecca, who helped with communciation during the recording, had one additional use. Dirk recorded her doing some of the signs that involve noisier hand contact - in order to drop them in to the recording when the actors are meant to be signing.

Dirk prefers to work in the studio with the actors, leaving me in the production booth with sound manager Phil. So, at the end of a take, when Dirk asked my opinion - instead of muttering in his ear, I had to press the talkback button and address the entire cast. I wonder how many other writers have had the temerity to tell Bill Nighy how to deliver a line!

Comment by David Williams

None Yet


Running Time

1 Episode 45 minutes long



Other Items

A TV documentary crew visited the recording on day two and filmed Dirk directing Deaf actress Fifi Garfield, Bill Nighy and Susannah Doyle.

All three stars were also interviewed. This is due to be shown as part of See Hear on Saturday 20th November 2004 at 12.00 pm on BBC 2.



Cast Pictures

Susannah Doyle
Bill Nighy
Felicity Montagu
Jenny Eclair
Fifi Garfield
Steve Day
Brian Bowles



Radio Times Choice of the day

"If you're going to pull faces for a living, it's a good idea to have a pretty on to start with," spits the venomous theatre director Tom at the Sign language interpreter Marie who's been employed to sign an evening performance of his play. This play follows the character Tom on a journey from insensitve bastard to halfway decent man, who learns that it can actually be quite enjoyable being nice to people once he falls in love. The play includes for the first time, to my knoledge, a credit for a sign interpreter (Rebecca Edwards) on radio: if you listen closely you can hear the sound of her hands speaking the words.

Radio Times 29.12.2004



What Other's have said


"This highly entertaining play boasts the winning combination of witty writer Alan Stafford and national treasure Bill Nighy ... Susannah Doyle co-stars in what turns into a touching romance and a non-preachy exploration of issues surrounding deafness."

Stephanie Billen, Observer

"Alan Stafford's comedy is about love's power to vanquish theatrical egs, and it's cannily observed, rueful, funny."

Gillian Reynolds, Daily Telegraph

"Hugely entertaining. But then no actor can do bloke-at-the-end-of his-tether quite like Nighy."

Maxton Walker, Guardian

"A witty play ... Nighy, you sense, really relished his grizzled role."

Arthur Smith, Radio 4's Pick of the Week

"Unusual but affecting romantic comedy."

"Bill Nighy was just wonderful, as always"

David Sexton, Sunday Telegraph



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