The Grudge by James Graham

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Afternoon Drama on BBC Radio 4

BBC Radio 4, 24 May 2012
Politics can be a dirty business - no more so than in a safe Tory seat during the 1997 election, when the Referendum Party candidate Roger Percival (Stephen Critchlow) discovers that he has a connection to the sitting MP Henry Bellingham (Robert Bathurst). In 1812, the then Prime Minister Spencer Percival, Roger's ancestor, was assassinated by Henry's ancestor John Bellingham, a failed business person. The discovery of this information by Roger's election agent Georgia (Lizzy McInnerny) provides Roger with the "grudge" of the title against Henry.
Although the incident happened over one hundred and eighty years previously, it casts a shadow over the subsequent election campaign. Roger accuses Henry of deceit, while Henry (aided and abetted by his own election agent Corinne (Christine Absalom)) offers a spirited response, claiming that his ancestor had been driven to commit murder by the Prime Minister's indifference. The exchanges become more and more bitter until the day of the election ... but the result turns out to be not what either candidate expects.
The Grudge shows how the past casts a pall over the present, even though people try their best to suppress it. There are always traces to be discovered, in libraries and other archives, and often used to malign reputations. On the other hand, author James Graham keeps the action light-hearted; despite his claims, Percival would rather spend time looking after customers at his pub rather than fighting political battles. Meanwhile Henry realizes that sometimes he cannot control his own destiny, in spite of his best efforts. The director of this Afternoon Drama was Peter Kavanagh.