Anti-Heroes: A BBC Radio Drama Collection

Anti-Heroes: A BBC Radio Drama Collection

Five Full-Cast Dramatisations Including Macbeth, Emma & The Great Gatsby


BBC radio dramatisations of classic novels centred around engaging anti-heroes who dominate high society

Ambitious. Ruthless. Unprincipled. With their blurred morals and relatable imperfections, it’s no wonder we find anti-heroes so appealing and fascinating. Featuring a mixture of male and female anti-heroes across England, Scotland, France and New York, these fantastic adaptations of five of the best-known and best-loved classics of literature follow some of these flawed, nuanced characters as they steal the spotlight and make their presence known.

Macbeth Scottish general Macbeth’s life is changed when he encounters three witches who predict that he will become the king of Scotland. Encouraged by his forceful wife, he proceeds to fulfil the prophecy, but descends into madness and tyranny... This thrilling production of William Shakespeare's dark tragedy about ambition for power stars Neil Dudgeon and Emma Fielding.

The Count of Monte Cristo – Marseilles, 1815. Nineteen-year-old seaman Edmond Dantès is engaged to the beautiful Mercédès and about to be promoted to Captain. But when three acquaintances betray him, he is condemned to 14 years of solitary confinement in the Chateau D'If. Escaping the notorious prison, Dantès plots his enemies’ destruction… Iain Glen stars in Alexandre Dumas’s swashbuckling tale of revenge.

Emma – Handsome, clever and rich, Emma Woodhouse is so blessed by life that she declares she will never marry. However, she is determined to find the right match for her new friend Harriet Smith. Eve Best stars in this adaptation of Jane Austen's sparkling comedy of young love and romantic meddling.

Vanity Fair – Thackeray's deliciously ironic tale of passion and ambition, set against the backdrop of the Napoleonic Wars, follows the fortunes of penniless, social-climbing Becky Sharp and her wealthy, sweet-natured best friend, Amelia Sedley. Starring Stephen Fry as the Narrator, with Emma Fielding as Becky, Katy Cavanagh as Amelia and Toby Jones as Jos.

The Great Gatsby – Arriving in Long Island, Nick Carraway is reacquainted with his distant cousin, Daisy Buchanan, and falls in with her wealthy crowd. His neighbour, self-made millionaire Jay Gatsby, is the man who has everything – but one thing will always be out of his reach... A portrait of the Jazz Age in all of its decadence and excess, this dramatisation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's seminal novel stars Bryan Dick and Andrew Scott.



Written by William Shakespeare

Directed by Marc Beeby

Composer: Timothy X Atack

Sound design by Colin Guthrie

First broadcast BBC Radio 3, 17 May 2015

The Count of Monte Cristo

Written by Alexandre Dumas

Adapted by Sebastian Baczkiewicz

Directed by Jeremy Mortimer and Sasha Yevtushenko

Music by David Tobin and Jeff Meegan

First broadcast BBC Radio 4, 25 November–16 December 2012


Written by Jane Austen

Dramatised by April de Angelis

Directed by Jonquil Panting

Music: Martin Souter and Sarah Stowe

First broadcast BBC Radio 4, 26 November–3 December 2000

Vanity Fair

Written by William Makepeace Thackeray

Dramatised by Stephen Wyatt

Produced by Claire Grove

First broadcast BBC Radio 4, 13 September–8 October 2004

The Great Gatsby

Written by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Dramatised by Robert Forrest

Directed by Gaynor MacFarlane

First broadcast BBC Radio 4, 6–13 May 2012

© 2024 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd. (P) 2024 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd.

About the authors

William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire, and was baptised on 26 April 1564. His father was a glove maker and wool merchant and his mother, Mary Arden, was the daughter of a well-to-do local land owner. Shakespeare was probably educated in Stratford’s grammar school. In 1582 he married Anne Hathaway, and the couple had a daughter the following year and twins in 1585.

Shakespeare’s theatrical life seems to have commenced around 1590. We do know that he was part of the Lord Chamberlain’s Company, which was renamed the King’s Company in 1603 when James I succeeded to the throne. The Company acquired interests in two theatres in the Southwark area of London, near the banks of the Thames - the Globe and the Blackfriars.

Shakespeare’s poetry was published before his plays, with two poems appearing in 1593 and 1594, dedicated to his patron Henry Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton. Most of Shakespeare’s sonnets were probably written at this time as well.

Records of Shakespeare’s plays begin to appear in 1594, and he produced roughly two a year until around 1611. His earliest plays include Henry VI and Titus Andronicus. A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Merchant of Venice and Richard II all date from the mid to late 1590s. Some of his most famous tragedies were written in the early 1600s; these include Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, Macbeth and Antony & Cleopatra. His late plays, often known as the Romances, date from 1608 onwards and include The Tempest.

Shakespeare died on 23 April 1616 and was buried in Holy Trinity Church in Stratford. The first collected edition of his works was published in 1623 and is known as ‘the First Folio’.
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Alexandre Dumas

Alexander Dumas was born in 1802 at Villes-Cotterets. He received very little education but when he entered the household of the future king, Louis-Philippe, he began to read veraciously and then to write. In 1839 he began writing novels dealing with the wars of religion and the Revolution, but he is most remembered for his historical novels, The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers.
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Jane Austen

Jane Austen, the daughter of a clergyman, was born in Hampshire in 1775, and later lived in Bath and the village of Chawton. As a child and teenager, she wrote brilliantly witty stories for her family's amusement, as well as a novella, Lady Susan. Her first published novel was Sense and Sensibility, which appeared in 1811 and was soon followed by Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park and Emma. Austen died in 1817, and Persuasion and Northanger Abbey were published posthumously in 1818.
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W.M. Thackeray

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F. Scott Fitzgerald

Francis Scott Fitzgerald was born in 1896 in Saint Paul, Minnesota, and educated at Princeton. Stationed in Alabama, he met and later married Zelda Sayre. His first novel, This Side of Paradise, was published in 1920 and was a tremendous critical and commercial success. Fitzgerald followed with The Beautiful and the Damned in 1922, The Great Gatsby in 1925 and Tender is the Night in 1934. He was working on The Last Tycoon (1941) when he died, in Hollywood, in 1940.
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