Agnes Sam: DoraDora
Agnes Sam
Paloma Books
Trade Paperback (B)
Radio Drama

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Author Interview


An African maid finds herself unwillingly drawn into the struggle against apartheid after witnessing her only child being shot dead by a police marksman. Having previously avoided any involvement in the resistance movement, Dora now feels compelled to confront the man who killed her daughter and the system of violent oppression he defends, vowing to avenge the death of young Ellie.

Set in Port Elizabeth, this South African tragedy takes place shortly after the unbanning of political parties. It is a time of turbulence and transition. Violence has erupted between supporters of different opposition groups. Collaborators have stirred mistrust and suspicion amongst friends and neighbours while others choose to play no part in the struggle. It remains unclear whether free and fair elections will ever take place in the country.

Amidst this turmoil, Dora goes about her business – in service to a wealthy, white family in the suburbs by day, raising Ellie in the township by night. But when a political rally being held at the local sports stadium descends into chaos, the ensuing violence results in a personal tragedy that will change her life forever.


Written by Agnes Sam in the late 1980s, ‘Dora’ was conceived as an original screenplay. After submitting it to the BBC’s Script Unit in Birmingham, the author was persuaded to adapt it for radio – a process which led to the play being recorded at BBC Bush House in central London and it’s first broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 1990. Selected as a ‘Pick of the Day’ by The Sunday Times newspaper, the play was broadcast as part of Radio 4’s prestigious ‘The Monday Play’ slot and subsequently repeated as ‘The Saturday Afternoon Play’ before being syndicated to other stations in Europe.

This edition of ‘Dora’ contains the original screenplay as well as notes on direction and screen treatment.