BBC Radio 4

A Body on the Backlot

A Body on the Backlot

Stanley Tucci imagines the story of modern California as a movie screenplay, tracing the dramatic history of the state from Hollywood to Silicon Valley. In this episode, the first man to direct a full movie in California meets a dramatic end. In 1911, 41 year old Francis Boggs was on the up, a pioneering movie director. But his luck was just about to run out. California wants to dazzle you with its endless sunshine and visions of the future – but that’s just a mirage. Stanley Tucci plays a hard-boiled screenwriter uncovering the full, sordid truth. He knows exactly where all the bodies are buried. His screenplays tell the stories of ten women and men who built California. It's a high risk, high reward state. A place where, if you make it, you're on top of the world. But if you don't, there's a long, long way to fall. Also in the series, the men who lied and lied and lied again to bring water to arid LA, and the story of the superstar revivalist preacher who was as big as Chaplin – before she disappeared without trace. We'll also hear about the genius who first brought silicon to Silicon Valley, right before he became a passionate eugenicist - Silicon Valley's dirty little secret. Over ten episodes, Stanley Tucci tells the real story of California: a story littered with dead bodies, disasters and duplicity. Academic consultant: Dr Ian Scott, University of Manchester Written and produced by Laurence Grissell

Duration: 14 min

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