Dear Mr Spectator

Dear Mr Spectator

A BBC Radio full-cast drama inspired by the anonymous writings of the famous social commentator


The complete Series 1 and 2 of the drama based on the publications of the real-life Lady Whistledown - the anonymous 18th Century columnist, 'Mr Spectator'

'Wonderfully droll' The Spectator

London, 1710. Enigmatic man of letters Mr Spectator moves like a shadow through the city's streets and coffee-houses, observing the manners, morals and misdemeanours of his fellow men. He has his finger on the pulse of all the latest news and fashions, and shares his wit and wisdom in his daily news-sheet - which is avidly perused by readers from all stations of society, from the humble to the highest in the land. In these two radio series, we meet his greatest fans, who look to him to solve their problems and determine their futures...

Series 1 centres around Gilbert Mowbray, a clockmaker who is fast approaching his 40th birthday - and is not handling it well. Neglecting his workshop and his customers, he spends his time glued to Mr Spectator's musings - much to his wife Kitty's exasperation. As his midlife crisis deepens, can the nation's favourite agony uncle help Gilbert reassess his life?

In Series 2, Britain is nine million pounds in debt - but Chancellor of the Exchequer Robert Harley has a plan to generate the necessary income: a little idea called the South Sea Company. However, to get his Bill through Parliament, he needs someone the public trusts to speak out in favour of the scheme. Enlisting the aid of Palace paper-boy Ned Dempsey, Harley determines to track down Mr Spectator - but can Ned unmask the elusive scribbler before time, and Harley's patience, run out?

Adapted by Elizabeth Kuti from Joseph Addison and Richard Steele's Spectator essays, this wry, whimsical drama stars Benjamin Whitrow (Pride and Prejudice) as Mr Spectator, the anonymous oracle who, like his fictional counterpart Lady Whistledown, hid behind a nom de plume to stoke controversy. Among the supporting cast are Richard Lumsden, Sam Troughton, Bryan Dick, David Schofield, Jemma Redgrave and Claire Rushbrook.

Production credits
Inspired by and dramatised from Joseph Addison and Richard Steele's 18th-century Spectator essays by Elizabeth Kuti
Produced and directed by Heather Larmour
Violin played by Paddy O'Flaherty

Mr Spectator - Benjamin Whitrow
Gilbert - Richard Lumsden
Kitty - Amy Marston
Jonathan - Sam Troughton
Coffee-boy - Samuel Barnett
Lady - Fo Cullen
Gentlemen- Miche Doherty/Richard Dormer/Chris McHallem/Mark Lambert
Stockjobbers - Miche Doherty/Mark Lambert
Disgruntled man/Freddie/Lion - Richard Dormer
Wife/Leticia - Sarah Kants
Spectacle inventor/Gravedigger - Chris McHallem
Signor Niccolini - Miche Docherty
Isabel - Emma Bolger
Jacob - Daniel Walsh
Aggie - Laura Conway
Ned Dempsey - Bryan Dick
Harley - David Schofield
Abigail - Christina Cole
Queen Anne - Jemma Redgrave
Anne Baldwin - Claire Rushbrook
Defoe - Sam Dale
Aunt Maude - Stella McCusker
Opera Singer - David Revels
With Seainin Brennan, Niall Cusack, Paul Kennedy, Marty Maguire and Charlie Niblock-Hamill

First broadcast on BBC Radio 4, 12-16 January 2009 (Series 1), 16-20 August 2010 (Series 2)

© 2023 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd. (P) 2023 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd

About the authors

Joseph Addison

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Richard Steele

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