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Posted on Sunday 16 June 2013 at 8:24 am

Rachael's Week in BBC Radio Vol. 21.

Listened to this week was a few random short story readings (vampires, robots, and random) and a couple of one-shot plays.
Next week I'm most looking forward to lots of dramatizations and more dystopian dramas.

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 9 to 15 June (mostly in order of preference, best to worst):
A Night With a Vampire
David Tennant is the reader of five Victorian era Vampire short stories. There were all enjoyable with just enough spookiness for a little tingle up the spine. The third story in the collection is by Guy de Maupassant and was my favorite. The fourth story is set in New England and Tennant's "American accent" was hilarious and painful on occasion, but it worked for the story I suppose and the readings were otherwise just well done.

Nick Warburton - Every Book in the World
This play is an interesting character study. Don't go into looking for action and plot but rather personalities. It is based on the life of Thomas Phillipps, a man who tried to collect a copy of the eponymous every book. The play focuses on a moment when he and his wife are hiring a carter to move the book collection to a new house and is about the relationship between Phillipps and his wife, that between Phillips and an off-stage daughter, and how it is all viewed by the carter. Issues of gender and class are danced around constantly and the whole thing is pretty interesting and well done. I spent most of the play wanting just a bit more depth then there was a bit of a twist at the end that I hadn't expected and which cast a few things in a different light and gave me the bit more but I still wanted just a bit more, which I suppose means it was very well done indeed.

A Sting in the Tale
This is a collection of short stories by various authors united around the theme of a "twist" ending. The problem is that when you know stories are going to have supposed twist endings and are therefore looking for what they might be, it is usually fairly easy to predict them. I listened to the first three episodes of five this week, which was five stories as episodes two and three were two stories each. Some were very good and some were OK but none were truly bad. All the various readers were good.

Dusty Won't Play (Afternoon Drama)
This was a random little play based on the real life incident when singer Dusty Springfield, perhaps best known for Son of a Preacher Man (or is it just that's my favorite?), went to apartheid South Africa and refused to perform in front of segregated audiences. It was an Ok play. If you're interested in Springfield or race issues, it could be worth a listen, but if you have no real interest in the subject matters, it probably won't do much for you. The acting was OK but nothing mind-blowing.

Why, Robot?
This is three short stories by different authors using Isaac Asimov's robotic stories as a jumping off point. One, The Companion by Anita Sullivan about a sort of robotic nursemaid for an older woman, plays explicitly with Asimov's three laws of robotics (briefly: robots must not harm people, must obey people, and must preserve themselves) and was my favorite of the three. The other two deal with a robot working in space developing a personality and a woman who lives a sort of robotic existence were both OK but not as good, I thought.

Elizabeth Buchan - Archaeology
A random single short story I picked up along the way. It was OK. It is about an archeologist with some form of cancer or other slow death illness (I think it was unspecified). Her nurse at her treatments looks exactly like someone the archeologist excavated and there's something about that slowly giving the woman back the will to fight her disease and live or some such. I just wasn't all that impressed.

Various Episodes of Panel Shows
Just a Minute: I listened to Series 66, Episodes 3 and 4. They were both absolutely fantastic. I listened to them back-to-back and by the end of the second one, my sides were aching from laughing way too much. Episode 3 actually features some very good playing of the game in addition to laughs in that three times someone went the full minute without being interrupted.
Previous Episodes of Just a Minute at AudioGo

Wordaholics: This is a new panel show for me. I listened to episodes three and four or series 2. I liked it OK but only OK, which is somewhat unexpected. I love panel shows, I love word games, and the host here is Gyles Brandreth, who I generally enjoy as a guest on other panel shows. All the elements should be right, but somehow it just didn't come together in a way I loved. I think the show just didn't find the right balance for me between silly and fun versus serious and intellectual. It was almost like it was trying to do both at the same time and didn't completely succeed at either. I've got episodes five and six from the same series and will certainly give them a go, but if they underwhelm me as well, I might strike it from my regular download list.
Previous Episodes of Wordaholics at AudioGo

Downloading 16 to 22 June:
George Eliot - Middlemarch
Adaptation of the complex novel. The cast includes Roger Allam, which is always a plus in my book. If you'd prefer fewer, longer episodes, which is what I actually do, there is an Omnibus version with four episodes rather than the 20 of the other.

Daniel Defoe - Robinson Crusoe
Dramatization of the classic adventure story. I have read the novel and enjoyed it.

Peter Ackroyd - The Mystery of Charles Dickens
I'm not 100% certain how to classify this one, but it sounds interesting. I believe it was originally a one-man stage play and is the story of Dickens's life with interjections from some of his most famous characters. I think the performer here, Simon Callow, is the one who originated the stage part, but I'm not for sure on that. My assumption is mostly based on this review of the stage performance when it moved to the US.

Mary Norton - The Borrowers
Dramatization of the wonderful children's tale of a tiny family living in the walls / floor of a regular house.

The Sorcerer's Apprentice
Adaptation of the story perhaps best known for the Mickey Mouse version from Fantasia but originally a Goethe poem/ballad.

Jenny Stephens - Project Archangel
A spooky thriller with a spy from beyond the grave. Sounds like fun. My one hesitation is that it is a sequel and I don't have the first one.

George Gissing - New Grub Street
Another adaptation of a classic. I haven't read the novel, but am familiar with the basic ideas of it: the lives of the literary and journalistic "hacks" of the Victorian Era.

Julia Blackburn - The Need for Nonsense
A radio played based on the life of Edward Lear, a Victorian writer. I don't know more than the Beeb's description.

Ian Rankin - The Third Gentleman
Rankin is best known as the writer of detective stories, especially those featuring his character Rebus and many of them have been adapted by BBC Radio. I think this story is a standalone and original to the radio not a dramatization, but I could be wrong on that. It is set in the late 1700s and I almost always enjoy historical mysteries.

Paul Temple and the Gilbert Case
Paul Temple is a classic, maybe even Golden Era, radio detective. Some of the original BBC shows exist and some have been recently remade. I believe this one is one of the originals from the 1950s.

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 the continuation of the Dangerous Visions program, a random collection of dystopian dramas that began last week. From the more traditional running programs, there isn't a whole lot jumping out at me. Only thing really catching my eye is the Saturday Drama, Suspicion for 10 Voices, about the arrest of Queen Elizabeth I's favorite composer on charges of sneaking seditious and Catholic messages into his works.

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,Wordaholics, and The Guessing Game .

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


failte_aoife at 7:06 pm on 17 June 2013 (UTC) (Link)
I know what you mean about Wordaholics. I tried it, too but also found it a bit meh...though I think for me it's also a bit of not getting many of the puns because I'm not a native-speaker.

I'm continuing with my crime-theme. 'London Particulars' was...nice. Nothing special but good, solid mysteries with likeable characters.
The Teahouse Detective was rather meh (but I only listened to two episodes so far). The mysteries weren't that bad but it was a bit too much 'poor stupid female who always needs to go to the wise old man for advice because she can't figure out anything on her own' (and of course her feelings always got in the way and only he was rational enough to see the solution).
Thorndyke was...unexpected. It wasn't bad but it's unusual for a crime-story not to be about 'Who did it?' but 'How was it done?' and that's what they did. The 'Who' took much less time which was just unusual. And in general I found 15 minutes a bit short for a mystery.
bratty_jedi at 10:16 pm on 22 June 2013 (UTC) (Link)
I've got both London Particulars and Teahouse Det. but haven't made it to either yet. With how much I've still got to get through for mystery programs I know I like (I've still got a handful of Rumpoles I haven't listened to, there's always more Holmes and Agatha Christie coming out, there's some Cadfael and Baldi, etc.), I'm not sure if I should try a new detective or whatever or try to get through all the favorites first.

I listened to the second series of Thorndyke stories recently and hope to get to this first series next week. I think my reaction to the stories from the second series was similar to yours for the first. It was definitely unusual. Sometimes I think it works and other times it just seems odd. The Thrilling Stories of the Railway stories are kind of similar in their focus on technical details of how a crime was committed more than who did it and why and there, too, sometimes it is really cool and sometimes it is kind of odd. There were a couple of times with those when I thought a schematic drawing of the device being used for the caper would have helped greatly.

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