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John Hurt urges actors to take to the airwaves in support of ‘forgotten art’

John Hurt with Fiona Shaw, who presented him with the outstanding contribution award at the BBC Audio Drama Awards. Photo: BBC/Guy Levy John Hurt with Fiona Shaw, who presented him with the outstanding contribution award at the BBC Audio Drama Awards. Photo: BBC/Guy Levy
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John Hurt has called on actors to support the “forgotten art” of radio drama.

The actor was honoured at the BBC Audio Drama Awards for his ‘outstanding contribution’ to radio, including recent dramas War and Peace and Jeffrey Bernard Is Unwell.

Speaking after he received his prize, Hurt told The Stage that while radio drama attracts large numbers of listeners, it runs the danger of being forgotten about altogether.

He said: “I consider it a very important part of my life. I think one of the major weapons of an actor is the voice. And I think [radio] is a forgotten art. And it’s just wonderful to be someone who is celebrating that particular art.”

However, he added: “The problem with being forgotten is that it always stands that danger [of being sidelined].”

In a speech at the awards ceremony on January 31, BBC Radio director Helen Boaden claimed radio dramas received more than a million listeners every day.

Hurt told The Stage that this number of people tuning in to audio drama meant “we don’t have to worry too much in terms of it dying completely”.

However, the actor added: “But we should always be aware. We should not be complacent about what can be considered lesser arts – not because they’re lesser, but because they don’t make the same amount of money.”

He called on actors to seek out more work in radio to ensure its future strength and survival.

“We have to support with our intentions, with what we do, those areas – and it’s quite simple, it’s quite easy: you just do some,” he said.

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