The Autocrat

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The Autocrats' KRAB.FM programme listing

Delia created music for The Autocrat,[1] an Arts & Education Feature for radio written[2] and produced by Paul D'Andrea[3] and directed by Michael Rolfe. The "entry date" for its tape is April 1971.[1]

The tape catalogues and programme listings call it "Autocrats" or "The Autocrats" but its correct title is "The Autocrat".[2][4]

The non-profit non-commercial, listener-sponsored Seattle radio station KRAB.FM lists, in its programme guide for April 1974,[5] on Sunday 28th[6] at 7:30:

This play is based on an actual incident
recorded in 1720, when a ship from
Beirut was refused admission to the
port of Cagliari in Sardinia.  The
Viceroy of the port refused to grant
admittance, giving as a reason a dream
he had had of a ship carrying the
plague.  In the words of D'Andrea,
“...the play concerns an executive
intellect being confronted with a
manifestation of insurrection.”
Directed by Michael Rolfe of the BBC with
three of the BBC's finest actors: David
Brierley as the Adjutant; Garard Green
as St. Remys; Jumoke Debayo as Palla. 

Track Listing

The play is almost all spoken voice with a few "flare" effects (which sound like bursts of filtered noise) and Delia contributes two pieces of music, one as the Intro before the speaking starts and one as the tail-out, again without a voiceover.


A smooth, gently evolving melodic soundscape. An actress sobs over the fadeout of the final sound. The Autocrat - Intro - Spectrogram.jpg


"Rat Attack" is the name Paul D'Andrea gives to Delia's outro music, though the sound is more similar to a symphony of seagulls' cries. The Autocrat - Outro - Spectrogram.jpg


The play's copyright is owned by its author and producer Paul D'Andrea[3] who also says: “If you come across any opportunities for broadcast or other presentation, either commercial or not-for-profit, do follow up. It's work that should be known. Delia's "Rat Attack" (33:00 to 35:19) is a masterpiece.”[4]


  • Does not seem to have been broadcast by the BBC.[7]
  • “In the early to mid 70's, National Public Radio and the National Endowment for the Arts financed the production of a series of radio plays, some of which were purchased from the BBC, and it was broadcast by KRAB-FM, a NPR affiliate at that time on 28th April 1974 at 7:30pm on the 5th October 1974 at 8:30pm, 30th April 1976 at 2:00pm and 18th March 1977 at 7:30pm.[5]
  • Dozens of programmes in the "Earplay" series are available at -> Series beginning with 'E' -> Earplay NPR
    but they do not include The Autocrat.[8]
  • The BBC Sound Archive's tape TRW 7379 is missing.[1]
  • Paul D'Andrea has kindly digitised his master tape and given permission for the Delian audio to be included here.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 The Tape Library List's entry for TRW 7379.
  2. 2.0 2.1 The end credits to the radio play run: "The Autocrat was written by Paul D'Andrea".
  3. 3.0 3.1 Personal communication from Paul D'Andrea, September 2016.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Personal communication from Paul D'Andrea, June 2017.
  5. 5.0 5.1 KRAB.FM's programme listing for April 1974.
  6. The 28th April 1974 was indeed a Sunday.
  7. Nothing in the Radio Times listings at the BBC Genome Project matches it.
  8. The OTRR Library catalogue was last checked on 26 May 2016.