Mayflies by Mike Maddox

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BBC Radio 4, 13 March 2009
This play concerned a scientist's search for an alien that eventually came to naught. Douglas Schofield (Derek Jacobi) enjoyed a glittering career as a television astronomer; he had appeared on television regularly during the 1970s and 1980s, at a time when it really seemed as if human endeavour could spread to the outer limits of the universe. Now living in peaceful retirement with his daughter Lucy (Catherine McCormack), Schofield spends much of his time fishing. One day he is out on the lake when an engineer Dave (Jason Isaacs) comes to fit a satellite dish on the roof of his house. The pregnant Lucy lets him in, and the two of them swap stories about their families: Dave is happily married with three sons, while Lucy expects her first baby while her husband Ross (Steven Cree) is away working. Meanwhile Schofield's friend Moss (Danny Webb) pays a social call on the astronomer, to tell him about the latest discoveries of alien life.
As luck would have it, Lucy's baby arrives prematurely while Dave is still in the house; together with the local midwife he helps Lucy deliver it successfully. Schofield and Mole return from the lake completely oblivious to what has happened; Schofield in particular exults at the sight of his newly-arrived grand-daughter. In a final soliloquy addressed to the baby, he reflects on the divine miracle that brought her into the world, which seems so much more tangible compared to the useless speculation about whether there is intelligent life beyond the planet Earth.
Mayflies begins as a science fiction story with Schofield speculating on the unknown, but ends up as a vivid endorsement of humanity and the need to value its contribution to the world. The stellar cast enjoyed themselves in their roles: Jacobi's absent-minded professor contrasted well with the more down-to-earth Dave, who although not concerne directly with the family's affairs, nonetheless possessed sufficient presence of mind to assist Lucy in her hour of need. The director was Neil Gardner.