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Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

NeverwhereNeverwhere was originally written by Neil Gaiman and Lenny Henry for a BBC TV series.  Today Neil Gaiman blogged about the upcoming Neverwhere radio production, with its all-star cast, co-directed by Dirk Maggs who directed three Hitchhiker’s Guide Radio adaptations.

I loved classic Who so watching Neverwhere for the first time in the early noughties as I did was nostalgic; all the series needed was a blue box and a curly-headed guy offering jelly babies to all and sundry to make the trip down memory lane complete.  Neverwhere is as truly wonderful and horrible as only BBC in the classic Doctor Who era could possibly achieve, although it was made in 1996.  The special effects are appalling.  The sets are largely real, as in REALLY underneath London.  The comedy sometimes reminded me of Douglas Adams, at other times truly awful puns are reminiscent of Piers Anthony: for example, Knightsbridge is Night’s Bridge, Angel/Islington is an angel called Islington.  Good British actors ham it up in a pantomime style just like so many episodes of Doctor Who. The SFX, the puns, the actors, combine to create a unique flavour, making it a delicious cult classic to be treasured especially by classic Who fans and their (our?) ilk.

When I read the novel riding on trains in Melbourne a few years after watching the TV series, I realised that the Neverwhere TV series had many similarities to the original Hitchhiker’s Guide TV series: I preferred the novel.  The problem with the TV series was that it took books I loved and translated them into a visual medium where my imagination provided far better imagery for novels that were not cut and adapted due to constraints, the chains of the visual medium.

The radio play for Hitchiker’s Guide was far, far superior to the television production.  Great actors, good sound effects, dialogue and narration that provided more depth and, in my opinion, more humour, while allowing my imagination to provide the visuals once more.  I don’t believe I ever had the opportunity to listen to the entire series as I only heard a few episodes or portions thereof on the radio and when visiting friends.  I feel a virtual shop calling me, but only if I can find discs: I loathe the purchase of ‘a software license’ where my money can be flushed and my license revoked.  Also, I’m a collector, I WANT THE ARTIFACT.

I digress.

The Lord of the Rings BBC radio play is also brilliant, arriving in my household as a benefit of marrying wisely.  (Just don’t watch Monkey too soon before listening to the LoTR radio play: the dubbed voice for Pigsy is Gollum.)  Although segments of the LotR books have been cut to fit the 13 hour timeslot, the story is richer with fewer omissions that the LotR movies.  I admit to loving the movies, purchasing the collector’s edition on DVD then convincing my husband that he wanted the new, more extended edition on BluRay.  When he saw it on BR, leaping off the screen AND with new added footage, hubby was very happy with his birthday present.  [shifty eyes]

Although Neverwhere the TV series will always have a special place in my heart, I’m really looking forward to the radio production.  There won’t be issues around Harrod’s refusing to allow filming, for starters!


Neverwhere radio cast
That’s left to right, Benedict Cumberbatch, David Harewood, Natalie Dormer, Dirk Maggs, James McAvoy, David Schofield and Anthony Head, all gathered today to record the BBC Radio 4/Radio 4 Extra production of NEVERWHERE.

In his blog, Neil lists the cast as:

James McAvoy                Richard
Natalie Dormer                 Door
David Harewood               Marquis
Sophie Okonedo               Hunter
Benedict Cumberbatch      Islington
Anthony Head                   Croup
David Schofield                 Vandemar
Bernard Cribbins               Old Bailey
Romola Garai                    Jessica
Christopher Lee                Earl of Earl’s Court
Andrew Sachs                    Tooley
George Harris                    Abbot
Don Gilet                            Fulingous, Ruislip, Blackfriar
Abdul Salis                          Sable, Sump, Clarence, Homeless Man
Paul Chequer                     Gary, Guard 2
Lucy Cohu                          Lamia
Yasmin Paige                     Anaesthesia, Tenant 2 – female, Match girl
Johnny Vegas                    Lord Ratspeaker
Stephen Marcus                Varney, Homeless man, Letting agent, Guard 1
Karen Archer                      Sylvia, Old Woman, Dream Hawker, Mother
It’s due for broadcast in the first four months of 2013.  I assume that sales are to be announced.  I’m looking forward to my birthday present next year.  🙂

Nalini is an award-winning writer and artist as well as managing editor of Dark Matter Zine.


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