What does it sound like?:
This is series of about 20 books but I’m singing the praises here of the superb Radio 4 dramatisations that I discovered about 18 months ago and have been working my way through.
The stories revolve around Charles, an actor now well out of the first flush of his career. Charles has all the cynicism of someone steeped in a profession that hasn’t delivered on its promises to him and yet he remains utterly in love with, as well as he tries to hide it at times. Charles has such a knack of being wrapped up in murder and intrigue that these could have been called Midsummer Mummers as the body count grows in each series of 4 episodes.
What does it all *mean*?
That might put some of you off as it sounds like standard potboiler fayre but the ace in the hole here is Bill Nighy as Charles who brings a warmth and humour to the part and the scripts that lift these way above routine Afternoon Play Radio 4 material (good though those can be, of course). The supporting casts are never less than good but it’s Nighy who makes it far more than the sum of its parts. If you had to pigeonhole these it would be “comedy drama” I suppose – certainly they are funny and charming rather than dark. The music stabs between scenes are fantastically Afterword-friendly as well – Charles could easily post here in his gaps between jobs.
Goes well with…
With 15 of these to enjoy, mainly in 4 half hour episodes per story, I didn’t dip into the source material until the last week when I decided to read the most recent book. Interestingly, it’s darker than any of the adaptations and far less humorous; whether that’s the overall style of the books or just a result of the plot (Charles finally starts to come to terms with his drink problem), I can’t say, but I didn’t enjoy the book as much as the radio plays.
All available but outside of iPlayer Radio releases you’ll need to buy online or CD
Might suit people who like…
A comfort blanket