Swimming Lessons is a radio play by Tina Pepler, based on a series of poems by Sally Festing. It was first broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on 23 September 2005, as an installment of the Friday Play.


The moving story of a young woman with anorexia locked into a long-term battle of wills with her loving but angry family.


Directed by Sara Davies

Critical ReceptionEdit

"Dramatist Tina Pepler wove a narrative around Sally Festing’s poems about an anorexic whose identity crisis engulfed her family. The production was less a manual on eating disorders than an essay on the fantasies we spin around ourselves. Those of Grace, the anorexic played by the steely yet frail Clare Corbett, were simply more lethal than most. She saw grotesque flesh in abundance, her distraught family saw skin stretched across bone in the most angular of configurations.

The poems often fused seamlessly with the dialogue but the play worked best in the sections where there was a slight separation. It increased the tangible tension of the play, echoing the family relationships. We have heard often of the power struggles between anorexics and their parents but what was interesting here was the relationship between Grace and her sister Rachel (Emily Bowker), who she said had “rubbed me out - and nobody drew me back in”."- Moira Perry, The Stage[1]

"The drama highlight of the weekend ...... the elegiac, emotionally charged 'Swimming Lessons', with its blend of evocative poetry, harsh reality and heartstring-tugging music from Faure, was the most terribly haunting thing."- Elizabeth Mahoney, The Guardian.


  1. Review in The Stage

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