In 2007, Patrick Malahide appeared on Channel 4 radio as Dr. Tabor in the 2007 Afternoon Play “The Invention of Dr. Cake” adapted by Jonathan Holloway from Andrew Motion’s 2003 novel. Richard McCabe portrays Dr. Cake (if indeed that is his real name…he might actually be a certain Romantic poet) and Claire Higgins is Dr. Cake’s housekeeper, the enigmatic Mrs. Reilly. Since this is a radio play illustrations are ably provided by Wikipedia and a few guest stars. 🙂
Dr. Tabor Visits Woodham
Narrated from Dr. Tabor’s perspective, it tells the story of how in the 1840s he travels to the village of Woodham in Essex to meet with Dr. Cake, a physician with considerable success in the treatment of consumption. Dr. Tabor notices how cozy the villagers’ cottages are, their windows open allowing the free flow of air. He finds little of the miserable miasma normally found in small working class villages rife with consumption. This is the work of Dr. Cake who has worked with area farmers to ensure healthy living conditions for the locals.
When he reaches his destination, Dr. Tabor finds that Dr. Cake himself is afflicted with the deadly disease and is reaching the end of his life. However, Dr. Cake is lively in his conversation, and the two men strike up an immediate bond. This is largely due to their shared love of the arts, particularly poetry. Dr. Tabor, we learn, is a huge fan of the Lake District poets, especially John Keats, who died (hmmm?) in 1821 of consumption. Dr. Cake has read and compliments Tabor’s own early efforts in poetry which Tabor humbly dismisses as the romantic fancies of a young man. Continue reading