BBC Radio 4, 7 March 2011
Johnny Jones (Richard Briers) is a sixtysomething ex-toolmaker, whose
comfortable life has been rudely interrupted by his doctor's injunction to stop driving on account of brain seizures. Hitherto
he has thoroughly enjoyed going out in his antique car - called Zelda - as this provides him with some form of respite from
his wife Alice (Ann Davies). Now he has to contemplate the fact that he will live with her 24/7, and make use
of public transport should he want to travel anywhere.
Mr. Jones Goes Driving describes Johnny's last day on his own in Zelda.
He visits local garage-owner Imran (Muzz Khan), then goes to the grave of his dead infant son, travels on to Camber
Sands in Sussex, and eventually visits his ex-lover Elizabeth's (Helena Breck's) house.
At heart, however, Johnny is an emotional coward who cannot engage with any situation
on a serious level. He would rather hop into Zelda and drive away, in the hope that such situations might be defused. The
fact that he invests his car with anthropomorphic qualities (i.e. by calling it Zelda) emphasizes his cowardice. Six years
previously he had enjoyed a passionate affair with Elizabeth, but had simply walked away from it, calling it "just one of
those things," without thinking of the emotional effect this decision might have had on Elizabeth herself. Now his cowardice has reduced him to an emotional wreck; he cannot even bear the idea of leaving Zelda
with Imran at the garage. Rather he abandons the car on Camber Sands and tells Imran to go and collect it himself.
Briers gave a convincing characterization of Johnny; the kind of man who perpetually
tries to justify himself to listeners without taking any responsibility for his own actions. The fact that he singularly failed
in this task revealed his emotional inadequacies. The director was Gordon House.