Martyn Wade

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    • Martyn Wade

    • Maggie Steed (Read by)

    • Michael Cochrane (Read by)

    • Joan Sims (Read by)

    • Elizabeth Spriggs (Read by)

    • David Horovitch (Read by)

    • Charles Simpson (Read by)

    • Geoffrey Whitehead (Read by)

    • Full Cast (Read by)

    The complete Series 1 and 2 of the historical comic sitcom about an embattled Victorian publishing company

    London, 1853, and the sedate religious publishing house of Spavin and Spavin is about to experience a radical shake-up. Vivacious actress Cordelia is on the hunt for a husband and has her eye on Gerald, one of the firm's partners, while her son Primus has ambitions to take over the firm. And when he does, it'll be out with the Bibles and in with the bestsellers - starting with Charlotte Brontë's latest blockbuster...

    Full of grand plans, he sets about wooing a wealth of other writers, including explorer Richard Burton, Charlotte Bronte and struggling novelist Wilkie Collins (who takes quite a shine to Cordelia). He even hires an assistant, Simeon, to manage publicity, and attempts to win a literary award by fair means or foul. But Primus's enthusiasm doesn't go down too well with Gerald's mother Edith (the firm's other partner), who is strongly opposed to the company publishing fiction. Worse, his willingness to spend the company's money has pushed Spavin and Spavin to the edge of bankruptcy...

    Hoping for salvation from financial ruin, Primus turns to luminaries such as Prince Albert and Charles Dickens - but could the crock of gold he's searching for be right under his nose?

    Written by Martyn Wade (The Little Ottleys), this delightful, tongue-in-cheek comedy stars Michael Cochrane as Primus and Maggie Steed as Cordelia, with a cast including Elizabeth Spriggs, Charles Simpson, David Horovitch, Joan Sims and Ioan Meredith.

    Production credits
    Written by Martyn Wade
    Directed by Cherry Cookson
    Music composed by Paul Mottram
    Violinist: Paul Mottram

    Primus - Michael Cochrane
    Cordelia - Maggie Steed
    Gerald - David Horovitch
    Edith - Elizabeth Spriggs
    Reverend Brontë/Prosser - Geoffrey Whitehead
    Charlotte Brontë - Sarah Jane Holm
    Mrs Gaskell/Emily Brontë/Katie Joiner/Mrs Prosser - Frances Jeater
    Equity/Waiter/George Eliot/Thackeray - David Antrobus
    Richard Burton - Norman Rodway
    Wilkie Collins - David Timson
    Simeon - Charles Simpson
    Prince Albert/Smiles/Trollope - Ioan Meredith
    John/Rossetti/Cab driver - Stephen Critchlow
    Mrs Quirk - Joan Sims
    Lizzie Siddal - Becky Hindley
    Mrs Beeton - Rachel Atkins
    Beeton - Gerard McDermott

    First broadcast on BBC Radio 4, 20 August-10 September 1998 (Series 1), 7-28 January 2000 (Series 2)

    ©2021 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd (P)2021 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd

Born in Liverpool, Elisabeth Sladen trained at drama school before joining the Liverpool Playhouse, first as an assistant stage manager and then as an actor. Weekly touring rep, radio and television followed, with early roles in Coronation Street, Z-Cars, Doomwatch and Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em, and she worked for two seasons with Alan Ayckbourn's company in Scarborough. She joined Doctor Who in 1973, playing the independently-minded journalist Sarah Jane Smith, and quickly became one of the series' most popular companions. On leaving the programme in 1977, Elisabeth made a return to theatre before appearing in the sitcom Take My Wife and the BBC classic serials Gulliver in Lilliput and Alice in Wonderland; she also presented the children's series Stepping Stones. She reprised the role of Sarah Jane a number of times, on television in K9 and Company and The Five Doctors, and on BBC Radio in The Paradise of Death and The Ghosts of N-Space. In 2006 Elisabeth returned as Sarah Jane for the BBC One Doctor Who episode 'School Reunion'. This led to the spin-off programme The Sarah Jane Adventures, of which five series were broadcast from 2007 to 2011. Elisabeth Sladen died in 2011, aged 63. Nicholas Courtney was born in Egypt, the son of a diplomat. He grew up in a variety of countries, including Kenya and France, and at the age of eighteen was called up for National Service. Following this he entered the Webber Douglas drama school and trained to be an actor. A stint in repertory theatre was followed by early television roles in programmes including Sword of Honour and Watch the Birdies. His first association with Doctor Who came with the 1965 story The Daleks' Master Plan, in which he played Bret Vyon. In 1967 he returned to the series, making the first of many semi-regular appearances as Colonel (later Brigadier) Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart. He also appeared on radio alongside Elisabeth Sladen in The Paradise of Death and The Ghosts of N-Space. His other television appearances included Minder, Juliet Bravo, All Creatures Great and Small and Sink or Swim; whilst on stage he appeared in numerous productions including The Dame of Sark, The Rocky Horror Show and The Mousetrap. He also released an autobiography, Five Rounds Rapid! in 1998 and recorded his memoirs (subtitled A Soldier in Time) for a 2002 Big Finish audio CD. Nicholas Courtney died in 2011, aged 81.

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