The Milky Way by Doug Lucie

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Afternoon Drama on BBC Radio 4

BBC Radio 4, 25 April 2013
Set in the late 1950s and early 1960s, The Milky Way centred on the ambitions of milkman Bob Reilly (Shaun Dingwall) to help his son Andy (Ted Reilly) and his friends achieve success as they form a rock 'n roll band called The Milky Way.  As he works hard to fulfil his dreams, Bob encounters a rogues' gallery of shady characters, publicists and other types associated with the music industry, including Gerry Crowe (Tim McInnerny), and Vernon (David Cardy).  He also enjoys a close friendship with local resident Sarah (Jemima Rooper), who offers him regular encouragement.  If given half a chance, she would probably sleep with him as well, but Bob remains faithful to his wife Ann (Belinda Stewart Wilson).
As Heather Larmour's production unfolded, I wondered whether it was going to be one of those rags-to-riches dramas, in which young working-class lads achieve stardom and end up changing their names (examples that come to mind include Tommy Hicks - Tommy Steele, Ronald Wycherley - Billy Fury, or Terry Nelhams - Adam Faith).  However the action progressed in a very different direction: while Andy was grateful to his father for arranging local gigs, it was evident that the son did not particularly want to progress any further.  He was much more interested in 'settling down' to a respectable life of marriage and children.  As a result Bob became increasingly isolated; perhaps he was not really thinking of his family's future, but rather vicariously fulfilling his own dreams of "being somebody."  At the end of the play he had to contemplate his own shortcomings, a process at once painful yet necessary.
The Milky Way took us back to a time when the music scene was undergoing rapid changes, with rock 'n roll being superseded by The Beatles, followed by the onset of The Rolling Stones.  With live musical performances by Lucie, Ian Lucie, Dave Hillman and George Stenning (vocals by Tony Bignell), the play offered a penetrating study of the limitations of human ambition.