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BBC Radio
Posted on Sunday 11 August 2013 at 6:47 am

Rachael's Week in BBC Radio Vol. 29

I'm onto a science fiction and fantasy theme at the moment so this week I listened to one science fiction short story dramatization, one fantasy story adaptation, and a few episodes of Blake's 7: The Early Years, prequels of sorts to the TV show. I also listened to a version of Tom Stoppard's Arcadia for something different.

Next week, I'm most looking forward to adaptations of some G. K. Chesterton stories starring Geoffrey Whitehead and Martin Freeman! There are some other good things (e.g. Lenny Henry and Bill Nighy in a radio play about different cultures and music styles), but it is hard to compete with that!

Also, a quick heads up on some personal favorites that are re-airing that I won't be recording since I already have them but others might want...
- Series 1 of Cabin Pressure is starting up again on Monday. Well, the first episode is airing anyway. No idea if it is a one-off or they'll be doing the entire series as I haven't looked beyond this week's schedule. Everyone already has the entire thing, though, right? If not, what have you been doing with your life!?
- Coincidentally since I just started listening to these this past week without realizing they'd be re-airing this upcoming week, the Blake's 7 Early Years adventures will be going daily. See my thoughts inside under Listened to for more information.
- Similarly, the Blake's 7 three-parter that is an adaptation of the first couple of TV episodes will be airing starting Friday.

Listened to 4 to 10 August:

Tom Stoppard - Arcadia (Saturday Drama)
This play from the early 1990s is a true masterpiece. It bounces back-and-forth in time and examines things like love, sex, math, history, the universe, and the meaning of "it all." I love it and really enjoyed listening to this version while reading along in the script (one of my absolute favorite ways to experience plays). This production was done with the same cast as the original National Theatre run in 1993 and includes Bill Nighy, Samuel West, and Emma Fielding. I highly recommend it.

Harlan Ellison - I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream
I Have No Mouth, etc. is a classic science fiction / horror short story. It is a chilling and fantastic tale and this short dramatization of it was pretty good. Ellison himself plays an important part and the adaptation does a nice job of capturing the mood if not all the details of the original story.

Blake's 7: The Early Years
Blake's 7 was a late 1970s/early 1980s BBC science fiction show focusing on the leader of a rebellion against a dystopic society and the band of reluctant criminals he recruited to his cause. I'm slowly working my way through the TV show and have finished the first series. These radio dramatizations were done in the early 2000s to give some background on the other characters, their stories before they met Blake. I've listened to five of the eight episodes. I've been entertained by them all and really enjoyed a couple but I don't know that I've been blown away by any of them. I'll definitely finish the last three this week and recommend these to anyone familiar with the show and interested in the characters, but I'm not sure it would be a good starting point for anyone new to the Blake's 7 universe. As I mentioned in the intro, BBC is re-airing these and a three-part radio adaptation of the first couple of TV episodes and the latter would certainly be a better starting point for any newbies.

The Sorcerer's Apprentice
This is just a light little play, adapting the Goethe tale best known in the Mickey Mouse version from Fantasia. My mother love's Sorcerer's Apprentice Mickey and that more than anything is probably what prompted me to listen to this. It was a more detailed version than Disney though certainly not on par with Goethe. If you want a shortish (45-min) fun little fantasy story, you could certainly do much worse than this one.

Comedy Panel Shows
The News Quiz 81:7: Aw, man! This is the last News Quiz in the current run. It was a good episode to go out on, broadcast from the Edinburgh Fringe Fest. with some interesting discussions and a fun little reference to Sandi Toksvig as the next Doctor, though there were a few sexist jokes. I'm just always sad when there's no more News Quiz!

I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue 59: 6: Rob Brydon was back this week and it was another great episode, but not quite as fantastic as last week's. Unfortunately this was the last in the current run so no ISIHAC for a while either. :(

Downloading 11 to 17 August:


Annie Caulfield - Almost Always African
A radio play about a Gambian musician in London meeting with an English rock star. This big draw for me is that it stars Lenny Henry and Bill Nighy.

Tanika Gupta - The Whispering Tree
Radio play about a young girl who withdraws into Hindu tales to escape the reality of her mother's death.

Eric Pringle - Hard Row to Porlock
This is a dramatization of a real sea disaster in 1899.

SuperYou (Afternoon Drama)
A radio play about a celebrity singer who only exists in a digital world. Should she reveal her real identity or not?

The Burning Times (Afternoon Drama)
This is an updated gothic tale about a gang of girls who attack the local "witch" and perhpas get more than they expected.

Marks & Gran - Von Ribbentrop's Watch (Saturday Drama)
Radio drama about a Jewish man who might be able to make his fortune from selling the watch of a Nazi but his family objects.

One-Week Multi-Episode Programs

GK Chesterton - The Club of Queer Trades
This is a dramatization of some short stories by Chesteron. I don't know these particular stories, supposedly about people with odd jobs, but I generally like Chesterton's work and the dramatizations include Martin Freeman and Geoffrey Whitehead among others so I'm excited about this!

Jack London - The Sea Wolf
Dramatization of the classic adventure story.

Multi-Week Multi-Episode Programs Starting this Week

Tomorrow, Today Series 2
This is another one of those where I have series 1 but haven't listened to it yet and am just grabbing series 2 in case I like series 1. The premise of this sitcom is a 1960s science fiction show set in the early 2000s and imaging what the future will be.

Comedy Panel Shows
It's Not What You Know and Come the Revolution are somewhere in the middle of their latest runs. I've Never Seen Star Wars Series 3 is doing a repeat run.

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


this_other_life at 11:38 am on 11 August 2013 (UTC) (Link)
Blake's 7 is one of my all time favourite programmes and I'm currently working through re-watching the whole series. The Early Years are, as you say, a bit hit and miss but do at least have some of the original cast which makes them better than the new radio plays with a completely original cast. Good though the actors are, they aren't the right voices and I found it hard to keep track of who was meant to be who.
Have you ever listened to any of The Infinite Monkey Cage? That's a must-listen for me; hilarious!
bratty_jedi at 8:44 pm on 11 August 2013 (UTC) (Link)
I'm not that attached to the actors' voices so I was OK with that. My problem was that some of the background stories just didn't seem to me to fit with the characters when we first meet them. I listened to the last three this morning and they were OK. Zen's story was a great stand alone science fiction story and was my favorite in that sense but it didn't feel like it had much to do with the Blake's 7 universe.

I haven't listened to The Infinite Monkey Cage. I'll check it out.
donutsweeper at 2:19 pm on 11 August 2013 (UTC) (Link)
Have you tried "Welcome to Night Vale"? It's a twice monthly podcast (each 25 min or so long) that's been running for a bit longer than a year. It's presented (from its description) "in the style of community updates for the small desert town of Night Vale, featuring local weather, news, announcements from the Sheriff's Secret Police, mysterious lights in the night sky, dark hooded figures with unknowable powers, and cultural events." I consider it a bit like listening to Garrison Keillor if the Prairie Home Companion had a Lovecraftian bent.

Available for free on itunes, feedburner, stitcher and more. (Listening in order is not strictly necessary, but probably helpful)
bratty_jedi at 8:56 pm on 11 August 2013 (UTC) (Link)
I haven't tried the Night Vale thing yet but I've been hearing lots of good things about it. I think you're the third flister to mention it. I'll try to give it a go soon.

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