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BBC Radio
Posted on Sunday 17 February 2013 at 7:51 am

Rachael's Week in BBC Radio Vol. 4

Listened to this week was fairly random but highlights included Sherlock Holmes vs. Dracula (OMG!) and Holy Fool.
Next week I'm most looking forward to another batch of interesting sounding dramatizations.

I use a program called Radio Downloader to download hours of stuff every day (I can't recommend RD enough) and will possibly never listen to a great deal of it. I often listen to things for the first time months after they air. Because of that, I do two things in these BBC Radio posts.

(1) Listened - I'll discuss all the shows I listened to this past week. Some of these may be newly aired things but many may have aired months ago or, if they're things I sought out to buy, might not have aired for years. I will include links to the BBC website for everything and to AudioGo for anything available for purchase. AudioGo is the official site for BBC Radio and is almost always cheaper than iTunes, Amazon download, etc. If you don't already have an account there and want to enter my email (brattyjedi at gmail dot com) as the recommender the first time you buy something, I can get points good towards free downloads :) If something isn't available for purchase, you don't have it downloaded, and based on my comments on it you'd really like to listen to it, let me know and I might be able to help.

(2) Downloading - This will be kind of a look ahead to what I've set up to be downloaded in the upcoming week with thoughts on why I selected it.

Listened to 10 to 16 February (mostly in order of preference, best to worst):
Peter Roberts - Holy Fool
This was a fantastic play. It is based on a real-life knight of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, William Marshall. I've no idea how much of the story as told is close to reality, beyond the major things anyway as all titles they give him such as being one of the largest landowners in Britain and eventually regent for the very young Henry III are accurate, but I enjoyed the story either way. William is presented as a knight living by the somewhat fictionalized and completely idealized code of knights, chivalry and the whole nine yards, while the world around him engages in Realpolitik and refuses to cooperate with his striving for honor. His triumphs and tragedies are somewhat inspiring but really just fun to follow. I'd absolutely buy it if it were available from AudioGo.

Sherlock Holmes v Dracula
Fair warning: I despise Dracula (the original novel) and love Sherlock Holmes (anything and everything). This is a radio play that essentially rewrites Dracula to have Holmes and Watson running around behind the scenes dealing with Dracula, making everything Van Helsing, Harker, et al. do in the original Dracula novel easier. The mere premise guarantees I'd like it better than Dracula. It is a fun Holmesian pastiche, even though the supernatural element isn't exactly suitable. They play well with much of the usual territory for Holmes and Watson and the general feel is great, silly fun.

Lavinia Greenlaw - The Kamikaze Handbook
This was a deep and moving play. It is about a young woman in occupied Japan in the immediate aftermath of WWII. Her life is pretty terrible until she comes across the titular Kamikaze Handbook and uses its advice to guide her own actions. The strength she finds and the choices she makes are very moving.

The Christopher Marlowe Mysteries
This is a four-episode sitcom about playwright and secret spy Marlowe. The actual mysteries presented in each episode are a mixed bag, but the ambiance, characters, and acting are always entertaining.

Professor Challenger: When the World Screamed and The Disintegration Machine
Dramatizations of two short stories featuring Conan Doyle's second most famous creation. The Challenger stories are OK, but I'll always prefer Holmes. The dramatizations here are well done. When the World Screamed is by far the better story and is worth the listen. The Disintegration Machine is kind of a lame story but the adaptation makes the most of it and almost rises above the starting material.

Various Episodes of Panel Shows
I'm usually more up to date on these as they are good to only half listen to in the background while piddling around with other things. I didn't have as much piddling time while I was at my parents' over the holiday break, though, so I got behind. I'm slowly getting caught back up and am almost there, I think.

The Unbelievable Truth: Listened to the last two episodes of the most recent series this week so I'm fully caught up on this one. Best line from this series came in episode 6: David Mitchell to John Finnemore, "You're actually doubly right so prepare to be smug." Finnemore: "I'm always prepared to be smug."

The Museum of Curiosity: I also finished the last two episodes I have this week on this one so I'm all caught up. There wasn't anything in these two to highly recommend, certainly nothing as good as the Buzz Aldrin episode I mentioned last time.
Back episodes at AudioGo.

Downloading 17 to 23 February:
This is a collection of spooky tales by various authors that actually started last week but I missed it. Fortunately all the episodes are still available for another day or two.

Rosemary Sutcliff - The Eagle of the Ninth
A dramatization of the novel set in Britain during the era of the Roman conquest. Wasn't there a movie version of this fairly recently?

Martyn Wade - Miss Kilmansegg and Her Precious Leg
A dramatization of a poem by Thomas Hood. The poem, for anyone interested, is available here.

Tomasi di Lampedusa - The Leopard
A dramatization of one of the many novels that has long been on my To Read List. This one is a famous Italian historical drama focusing on Sicilian aristocracy in the eighteenth century.

Murder is Easy and Hercule Poirot - The Murder of Roger Ackroyd
Two Agatha Christie dramatizations. Not much I need to add to that to let you know if you'll want it or not.

Strike for a Kingdom
A one-shot period play about miner's strikes in the 1920s. History and political activism? How could I not want it?

I think I've Got a Problem
This is a supposedly silly and music-themed sitcom from the early 2000s. Don't know much about it, but could be good.

Hard to Tell
A four-part comedy about relationships - romantic, familial, whatever.

The Harpoon Series 3
I have series 2 of this show downloaded but haven't listened to it yet, partly because I don't have series 1. I might end up just holding onto them both on my hard drive until I get series 1. The premise is spoofing the old boys' adventure magazines.

Running Dramas
BBC Radio has several weekly or daily programs that do various original radio plays or dramatizations. The main ones are Afternoon Drama, Saturday Drama, Drama on 3, 15-Minute Drama, Classic Serial, and The Wire. This week I'm looking forward to Sunday's (today's) Drama on 3 ghost story The Stranger's Will, Wednesday's Afternoon Drama Do You Like Banana, Comrades? about life behind the iron curtain, and Saturday's The Wire thriller Early Warning about a deaf girl hearing a murder.

Standing Panel Show Subscriptions
Whatever episodes of the following panel shows happen to air in any given week are always on my download list: Act Your Age, Heresy, I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue, I've Never Seen Star Wars, Just a Minute, The Museum of Curiosity, The News Quiz, The Unbelievable Truth.

Anything good y'all listened to recently or looking forward to next week?


bratanimus at 1:02 pm on 17 February 2013 (UTC) (Link)
That sounds fabulous! So many radio plays that I'm sure I would love to listen to. I'm not really in a position with the kids to do much listening these days, lol, but it's nice to know this is out there if I get a moment now and then. I adore good radio plays. :)
bratty_jedi at 1:24 pm on 17 February 2013 (UTC) (Link)
I mostly listen while working out so at the gym or when going for walks / runs / hikes whatever outside. That has gotten me in trouble once or twice when I burst out laughing randomly and nearly trip while running or when I get so intent on listening and working out that I miss everything else. One of the gym employees flat out asked me last time I was there what he'd done to offend me because I was obviously ignoring him and I had to explain he hadn't done anything and I wasn't ignoring him, I was just oblivious to anything other than Sherlock Holmes v Dracula.
bratanimus at 1:52 pm on 17 February 2013 (UTC) (Link)
LOL, that's priceless! You tell that gym employee not to interrupt when Sherlock Holmes is chasing Dracula, for Pete's sake. ;)
failte_aoife at 2:01 pm on 17 February 2013 (UTC) (Link)
It's semester-break now so I don't get to listen to quite as much as when I can listen on the bus to uni (I should start working out again, more...it would be better for me and I had time to listen more XD) so this week was mainly 'the usual suspects': More Les Mis, the first ep of Elvenquest (still brilliant) and The Now Show (my go-to topical comedy when News Quiz isn't on, the next episode will have John Finnemore so I'm looking forward to it even more than usual).
I did listen to Elephants can remember, a Hercule Poirot-audioplay which was...nice. I mean defenitely well made and I love Agatha Christie but it wasn't one of her best stories (i did figure it out quite early) and downloaded 'Clouds of Whitnesses' and hope I'll get round listening to that, soon as it's a Dorothy Sayers-story I really enjoy.

I also listened to Holmes vs Dracula and admit I felt a bit meh about it. I also love Holmes and am quite indifferent about Dracula but as you said it's basically Dracula with Holmes & Watson instead of Van Helsing so for me it didn't really add anything to either story.

Edited because I just saw that audiogoo.uk now has Kafka the Musical in case you haven't seen it yet ^^

Edited at 2013-02-17 02:45 pm (UTC)
bratty_jedi at 3:33 pm on 17 February 2013 (UTC) (Link)
I've got Elephants to Remember and will get to it eventually. I've actually only read a couple of Christie's books because I just never liked them anywhere near as much as Holmes.

I tried a couple of episodes of The Now Show and didn't enjoy it all that much. I suppose with News Quiz on break and Finnemore on there this week it is worth giving it another go.

Thanks so much for the heads up about Kafka! I hadn't checked the audiogo new releases lately and wasn't planning to until next week when I hope the complete Cabin Pressure Series 4 will be up (maybe not for another week after that?) so I wouldn't have spotted this for at least another week. Of course, now I have to make a decision. I was planning on going on a hike in a little bit and listening to Copenhagen. Should I stick with that or listen to Kafka the Musical instead? Or make sure it is a long enough hike to fit them both in? Three and a half hours could be doable...
failte_aoife at 4:40 pm on 17 February 2013 (UTC) (Link)
I quite like Hugh Dennis and do enjoy the Now Show but overall I also like The News Quiz more as it has more sponteneiety.

Well...on a very selfish note I'd want you to listen to Kafka the Musical so you can tell us how you liked it as I'm tempted to buy it, too but like to have another opinion first ^^ but I really enjoyed Copenhagen, too...so no, I won't be any help ;)
bratty_jedi at 8:26 pm on 17 February 2013 (UTC) (Link)
Just got back from hiking. I did them both. I'll do the full write ups next week, but...

Kafka is easily 5 out of 5 stars. It was labyrinthine and, well, Kafkaesque. It does a nice job of presenting aspects, themes more than moments, of his life almost like a Kafka story. I've not read all of his works and could have missed many references but in my opinion the feel of this was most similar to The Trial. The acting, pacing, etc. are all very strong.

Copenhagen on the other hand is probably about 500 out of 5 stars and completely blew my mind. Kafka does mention the difficulties of life in Germany between the wars so there was that nice little uniting factor to the day's listening.
Unsentimental Fool
unsentimentalf at 2:32 pm on 18 February 2013 (UTC) (Link)
I loved Copenhagen hugely. I've listened to the first couple of eps of Strangers and Brothers- it's massively condensed but the essence of the books is there.

I don't have much time for audio, as it works out; a bit while cooking and a coupleof hours while cleaning the fish tanks out!

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