William Makepeace Thackeray

Vanity Fair
  • Vanity Fair

  • Al Murray stars in this anarchic BBC radio reboot of Thackeray’s groundbreaking satirical novel

    Comedian Al Murray plays his great-great-great grandfather William Makepeace Thackeray as the unreliable narrator in this radical makeover of his ancestor’s celebrated satire on class, sex, money, hypocrisy and snobbery in nineteenth-century England.

    As the curtain rises on our ‘story without a hero’, moneyless Becky Sharp leaves school with her upper-class best friend Amelia Sedley. Clever, cunning and ambitious, Becky is determined to make her way in Regency society – and she’ll trample on anyone who gets in her way.

    When her plan to marry Amelia’s brother Jos falls through, she snares the aristocratic Rawdon Crawley – but her hopes of riches are dashed when the couple are disinherited by his wealthy aunt. Meanwhile, Amelia marries the dashing George Osborne, breaking the heart of her devoted admirer, William Dobbin.

    But war is fast approaching, and as Napoleon advances towards Waterloo, where will the winds of destiny blow our players? And will the ever-resourceful Becky succeed in achieving her desires?

    Pacey, contemporary, fresh and funny, this sparkling dramatisation features Ellie White as Becky, Helen O’Hara as Amelia, Blake Ritson as Rawdon, Rupert Hill as George, Thom Tuck as Jos and Graeme Hawley as Dobbin.


    Cast and credits
    Thackeray (narrator)……………………Al Murray
    Becky Sharp……………………Ellie White
    Amelia Sedley……………………Helen O’Hara
    Rawdon Crawley……………………Blake Ritson
    Jos Sedley……………………Thom Tuck
    George Osborne……………………Rupert Hill
    Dobbin……………………Graeme Hawley
    Mrs Sedley/Mrs Bute/Aunty Crawley/Jane/Rawdon Junior……………………Emma Gregory
    Mr Sedley/Sir Pitt/Lord Steyne……………………Jonathan Keeble
    Mr Osborne/Bute/General Tufto……………………Malcolm Raeburn
    Pitt……………………Lloyd Peters
    Lady Bareacres/Miss Briggs/George Junior……………………Fiona Clarke

    Written by William Makepeace Thackeray
    Dramatised by Jim Poyser, with additional material by Al Murray
    A BBC Radio Drama North production
    Produced and directed by Gary Brown

    First broadcast BBC Radio 4, 26 May-9 June 2019

RELEASED 25/07/2019

William Makepeace Thackeray was born on 18 July 1811 in Calcutta in India. After studying at Trinity College Cambridge he worked as a journalist and studied Art in London and Paris. In 1836 he married Isabella Shawe and they went on to have three daughters, one of whom died in infancy. He first found literary success with The Yellowplush Papers in 1837 and went on to write other works such asThe FitzBoodle Papers, Catherine, The Luck of Barry Lyndon and The Snobs of England before he published his masterpiece, Vanity Fair, in 1847. William Makepeace Thackeray died on Christmas Eve in 1863.