Lew Wallace

Ben Hur

Ben Hur

A BBC Radio 4 Full-Cast Dramatisation


A thrilling adaptation of Lew Wallace's epic biblical tale of betrayal, destiny and redemption.

Judea, 26 AD. Two men's lives run almost in parallel. One is a prince of Jerusalem. The other is known as 'He that is born King of the Jews'...

When Judah Ben Hur visits his childhood playmate Messala, now a Roman tribune, he hopes to rekindle an old friendship. But their meeting has devastating consequences. Betrayed and falsely accused of attempted murder, Judah's property is confiscated and his family arrested - and he himself is sent to the galleys. En route to the sea, he meets a carpenter's son, who gives him water - and looking into the man's eyes, he almost loses his desire for vengeance.

Freed from slavery years later, Judah travels to Antioch, where he hears of a King who will lead the Jewish people, and vows to go and fight for him. He also encounters his former friend Messala once more, and seizes the opportunity to crush him in a high-stakes chariot race. Emerging victorious, he journeys back to Jerusalem to find his lost mother and sister, and raise a resistance force against Rome. But as his life intersects with that of the King he champions, he comes to realise that Jesus of Nazareth is not a warrior, but a saviour - and that the path to his kingdom lies through forgiveness.

First published in 1880, Ben Hur was famously adapted as a 1959 blockbuster starring Charlton Heston, which won a record 11 Oscars. This spectacular, cinematic dramatisation boasts a stirring score by award-winning composer Wilfredo Acosta, and is brought to life by a stunning cast including Julian Glover, Samuel West and Michael Gambon.

Production credits
Written by Lew Wallace
Dramatised by Catherine Czerkawska
Directed by Glyn Dearman
Music and sound design by Wilfredo Acosta
Iras' song sung by Elizabeth Mansfield

Judah Ben Hur - Jamie Glover
Messala - Samuel West
Angel/Esther - Deborah Berlin
Amrah - Phyllis Calvert
Mother - Margaret John
Arrius/Man 2 - Derek Waring
Tirzah/Maid - Natasha Pyne
Chief of Rowers/Man 1 - Don McCorkindale
Man 1/Servant/Roman 1/Man at Inn - Joshua Towb
Thord/Man 2/Passenger/Servant - Michael Tudor Barnes
Man in Boat/Malluch - Gavin Muir
Simonides - Bernard Hepton
Sheik Ilderim - Freddie Jones
Balthasar - Michael Hordern
Drusus - Ian Masters
Iras - Becky Hindley
Jesus/Man 3 - Peter Yapp
Pilate/Guide/John the Baptist - Neville Jason
Assassin - Oliver Senton
Man 4 - Peter Whitman
Michael Gambon reads from the Bible

First broadcast BBC Radio 4, 19 March - 9 April 1995

© 2022 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd. (P) 2022 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd