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BBC Radio
Posted on Sunday 24 March 2013 at 7:55 am

Rachael's Week in BBC Radio Vol. 9


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Listened to this week was Neverwhere, Greek tragedies (Troy and Odyssey), and Sons and Lovers.
Next week I'm most looking forward to quite a bit of science fiction, a miniseries about the English Civil War (God's Revolution), and a few mysteries.

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 17 to 23 March (mostly in order of preference, best to worst):

Neverwhere
So I naturally loved this. The sound effects to get the atmosphere and to place images in the listeners' heads was a particular strength here, I think. The script and acting were all obviously wonderful but that was basically a given with the people behind it. I had two minor problems. First and foremost, there is a very tiny difference between the book and this radio version that shouldn't really matter but is bugging me to no end. It is a completely spoiler thing so I won't mention it here but I've discussed it in a previous LJ post. Second, the Angel Islington talking sooooo slooooowly when he is calm was a bit overdone and annoying, I thought. I get the idea of making him seem all serene and then the contrast when he gets worked up and speeds up, but I don't think the annoyingness is justified by the pay off. I loved everything with the Angel anytime he started getting emotional and thought all that was superb, but I think they could have shown that same thing while being just a tad faster on his normal voice.
I'd buy this in a heartbeat, but the guy who was really responsible for the audio version has said there are no current plans to release it. Silly BBC not wanting to take my money when I want to give it to them.

The Odyssey
I loved this. I loved it so much I almost put it ahead of Neverwhere but I didn't mostly because I wanted to keep it and Troy back-to-back even if they're in the wrong order for chronology and the way I listened to them. As an adaptation of the Odyssey, it does a great job of telling the basic stories and making them all exciting for radio (another one like Neverwhere that used sounds very well to paint pictures in the listener's mind) with only a few hitches. Tim McInnery is great as the eponymous star, but the real treat here are all the B, C and lesser characters popping in and out of Odysseus's tale. There are so many fantastically written characters and amazing performances I could never list them all so I'll give you the top three in a very tight, photo finish race. First, if I could cheat I'd say all the gods and goddesses but John Wood as Zeus can take it on his own. He's great as he alternates between pretending not to care about the lives of puny mortals and then stepping up to help out. Second goes to Alice Hart as a princess with the obvious hots for Odysseus when she fishes him nude from the sea. And a very close third to Benedict Cumberbatch (Is he seriously in everything on BBC Radio? I didn't even know he was in this until I heard him) as Odysseus's son Telemachus who is a hilariously petulant little man-child having a temper tantrum at the start then comes back in the end much closer to a full adult, but still a little petulant, to help save his mother's honor and his father's life and throne.
This was originally from 2004 and done in celebration of the Olympics returning to Greece. I've no idea when it last re-aired, if it has. I bought it from AudioGo to go along with the download I had of Troy.

Troy
This was a perfectly fine adaptation of the Iliad but not nearly as amazing as The Odyssey. Of course, that might be as much about me as the adaptations since I've always preferred The Odyssey over The Iliad. The first two parts were fairly straight-forward adaptations of the highlights of the basic story. The third part was the best to me as it went beyond Troy into the less-often told stories of Menelaus and Agamemnon going home so also included more women with Clytemnestra, Elektra, and Helen after the sacking of Troy.

DH Lawrence - Sons and Lovers
I started the first episode of this last week but got to most of it the first of this week. It was OK but didn't do much for me. I think I'm just burned out on "classic literature" about dysfunctional families. I just didn't care.

Various Episodes of Panel Shows

Just a Minute: I listened to episodes four and five of the current season of this this week. Marcus Brigstocke was a guest in episode four and I'm a fan of his so that episode was a favorite. Actually, it was a generally good episode overall. Five was a perfectly fine episode of the basic Just a Minute formula, but not quite as good as four.
Previous Episodes of Just a Minute.

Dilemma: Listened to the most recent two or three episodes. This show is consistently good but the latest one (Series 2 Episode 5) was absolutely fantastic. The guests were hilarious and meshed well together and the dilemmas presented were pure fun.



Downloading 24 to 30 March:
Don Taylor - God's Revolution
I'm really looking forward to this one. It is a long miniseries telling the history of the English Civil War. It was originally broadcast in the 1980s and has often been praised for its accuracy and ability to intertwine what is known about public events and private lives of the time. My PhD dissertation is on a rebellion in New York City more heavily tied in with England's Glorious Revolution a generation later, but The English Civil War is very important background for my research, and I'm always into anything dealing with the political culture of uprisings or rebellions or the like, so this is perfect for my interests.

John Wyndham - The Midwich Cuckoos
A dramatization of a classic science fiction thriller. I'm really looking forward to this one.

Paradise Lost in Cyberspace
This is a riff on a classic sci-fi idea: a future world in which everyone is slated to die at a certain age. In this case, the usual age is 70 but a mistake has led one man to be scheduled to die at 69 and he wants his last year.

Doctor Who
BBC Radio will run some Doctor Who adventures for a few weeks then go on hiatus then start back up again. Hopefully this is the start of another extended batch. First up is a four-part Fifth Doctor adventure (The Cradle of the Snake) then the start of a three-part Seventh adventure (A Thousand Tiny Wings).

Simon Guerrier - Graceless
This is a Doctor Who spinoff following a couple of characters from the Fifth Doctor adventure. I don't know the original so I might need to track that down before listening to this.

The Medical Detectives
A series of medical mysteries adapted from a short story collection but I believe all based on real life cases. I think they are all stand-alone tales not part of an ongoing series following one doctor/detective. The first has Bill Nighy in it and the third has Roger Allam.

Miss Marple - They Do It With Mirrors
BBC Radio loves doing dramatizations of Agatha Christie. I will eventually have them all, I suppose.

Poirot - The ABC Murders
Ditto.

The Architects
This is a one-shot comedy (possibly a pilot for a new sitcom) about a once famous architect who has been left behind and the mess his office is now in. I'm mostly checking it because Geoffrey Whitehead plays the head architect.

Peter Tinniswood - Call It a Canary
This is something of a follow up to last week's Tinniswood - A Touch of Daniel. It is another story set in Tinniswood's Brandon Family series. I'm just collecting them for now and will listen to them in a batch eventually.

Brian Appleton's History of Rock 'n' Roll
I'm not sure about this one, but I'll give it a shot. It is a comedy about a media studies professor with a chip on his shoulder. He claims he helped to create many of the greatest or best known rock songs but his contributions have been deliberately denied by the stars he helped. The first episode is about helping Rod Stewart with Maggie May, the second is about convincing The Who to smash their instruments, etc.

A Look Back at the Future
I'm not sure about this one, either. It is from 1994 but set in the not-too-distant future and is a panel of comedians looking back at the recent past (so the early 2000s which was the future for the comedians recording it but the past for the characters). If this is more like panel shows, I'll probably get a kick out of it as background noise. If it is more like sketch comedy, I'll get bored with it. I'm not expecting it to be something heavy on plot or character that I'll need to really focus on.

Running Dramas
BBC Radio has several weekly or daily programs that do various original radio plays or dramatizations. The main ones are Afternoon Drama, Friday Drama, Saturday Drama, Drama on 3, BBC Cymru Wales Drama, BBC World Drama, 15-Minute Drama, Classic Serial, and The Wire. This week I'm most looking forward to an Afternoon Drama play about the IRA's attempted assassination of Queen Elizabeth (Sullom Voe on Thursday), a modernized version of Charles Kingsley's The Water Babies (a sort of fairy tale about child labor) as the Classic Serial, and two American Westerns: Shane as the Saturday drama (they did a Western last week, too) and Kneebone Bonanza as the 15 Minute Drama.

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, Dilemma.

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

Comments:

chemina42
chemina42 at 11:40 pm on 24 March 2013 (UTC) (Link)
You wouldn't happen to be able to point me in the direction of either a download of Neverwhere or a place where I can listen to them all? I fear I might have missed a chance to listen to them online already. Is it over? Or does it have a few more episodes to go? I don't want to read too much for fear of spoiling myself!
Rachael
bratty_jedi at 11:52 pm on 24 March 2013 (UTC) (Link)
Neverwhere has finished airing but all episodes are still available at the official BBC page for streaming online. They'll be up at least through 29 March so Friday. Some of the episodes currently say they'll be up for at least a year, but I think that is a mistake and it is best to plan on it going down on Friday.

If you still want downloads so you can listen on something other than a full computer with internet access or so you can have it after it is pulled, you can get it all using Radio Downloader but I have a fuzzy memory that RD doesn't work for you. Am I right in that? If so, let me know and I can help you out.
chemina42
chemina42 at 1:57 am on 25 March 2013 (UTC) (Link)
Ok good, so I haven't missed a chance to listen to it online yet, though I have to say, I'd still like something new to listen to on my commutes.

Yeah, Radio Downloader doesn't work for me. I have the wrong operating system, heh.
aoife
failte_aoife at 8:39 am on 26 March 2013 (UTC) (Link)
Somehow I don't get round to listening much atm. This week I only had Cadfael: Monk's Hood which I very much enjoyed and Dürrenmatt's The Physicists which was Drama on 3 a while back. Dürrenmatt was the first author of classics I read voluntarily without being forced to by a teacher ^^ Though I only read some of his novels, never one of his dramas. However I wasn't that overwhelmed...the story just didn't grab me as much as his other works.

I listened to the Medical Detectives-episode with Roger Allam, once (though I think my file had at least a few minutes missing so thank's for pointing that out, I'll try to catch all of it, this time ^^). It was good but didn't make it in my favourite Allam-plays.
Rachael
bratty_jedi at 11:29 am on 26 March 2013 (UTC) (Link)
I think I'm going to do Mysteries for at least part of April and hope to get to a couple of Cadfael ones then. And maybe the Medical Detectives, though it is a little lower on the priority list.

I'm pretty sure I'm not going to get to much this week. I usually listen when I'm working out and get a ton of listening in one the weekends in particular when I go for long hikes in the woods. This week, there was a freak snow Sunday so I didn't go out and then I spent all day yesterday in bed with a slight cold, trying to keep it from becoming a major cold, so I haven't listened to anything yet this week (well, a few panel shows while sitting at my computer but those don't count) whereas I'd usually have three or four hours of stuff done by now.
aoife
failte_aoife at 12:11 pm on 26 March 2013 (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, similar for me. I usually listen on my way to uni and back but currently are semester-holidays so that I can't do that. I sometimes go for longer walks and listen during them but right now I'm also not going out as much as I probably should XD So right now I'm only getting round to some listening while doing some housework (and that isn't much either *cough*)


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