New releases

O Pioneers!

Willa Cather

The first novel in the Great Plains trilogy, this is an ode to the American Midwest and the immigrants who transformed it

To the anger of her brothers, it is Alexandra who is entrusted to manage their family farm in the tough, hostile prairie of Hanover, Nebraska following the death of their father. As the years pass, Alexandra rises heroically to the challenge, finding strength in the savage beauty of the land even as loneliness and personal tragedies crowd in. A rapturous work of understated lyricism, Willa Cather's 1913 tale of a pioneer woman who tames the wild, hostile lands of the Nebraskan prairie is also the story of what it means to be American.

Pygmalion

Bernard Shaw (and others)

A star-studded BBC radio production of Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion – plus bonus drama The ‘B’ Word, telling the story of the play’s scandalous opening night.

Irascible phonetics professor Henry Higgins makes a bet with his friend Colonel Pickering that he can train Cockney flower girl Eliza Doolittle to talk ‘like a lady’ and pass as a duchess at the Ambassador’s Ball. As the day of reckoning approaches, can Eliza convince the assembled aristocrats that she’s one of them? And what will become of her afterwards?

This effervescent radio version of Shaw’s classic comedy features a stellar cast, including award-winning comedians Alistair McGowan as Henry Higgins, Morgana Robinson as Eliza Doolittle and Al Murray as Alfred Doolittle.

Also featured on this release is The ‘B’ Word, written by and starring Alistair McGowan as Bernard Shaw. Centring on the shocking opening night of Pygmalion – the first time that the word ‘bloody' was used on the British stage – it also explores the passionate love-hate relationship between Shaw; his leading man, Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree and his leading lady, Mrs Patrick Campbell, who played the 19-year-old Eliza Doolittle at the age of 49.

Cast and credits

Pygmalion
Henry Higgins……………………Alistair McGowan
Eliza Doolittle……………………Morgana Robinson
Alfred Doolittle……………………Al Murray
Colonel Pickering……………………Hugh Fraser
Mrs Higgins……………………Siân Phillips
Mrs Pearce/Maid……………………Charlotte Page
Mrs Eynsford-Hill……………………Georgie Glen
Clara Eynsford-Hill……………………Maeve Bluebell Wells
Freddy Eynsford-Hill.....……………………Tom Forrister
Nepommuck……………………David Sturzaker
Ambassador……………………John Dougall
Ambassador's wife……………………Sarah Ridgeway
Bystander……………………David Sterne
Written by Bernard Shaw
Produced and directed by Emma Harding


The ‘B’ Word
Bernard Shaw……………………Alistair McGowan
George Alexander……………………David Sturzaker
Mrs Patrick Campbell.....……………………Charlotte Page
Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree……………………Richard McCabe
Charlotte Shaw……………………Georgie Glen
Merivale……………………Philip Fox
Gurney/Fishman……………………Simon Ludders
Bell……………………Charlie Clements
Maid……………………Sarah Ridgeway
Written by Alistair McGowan
Produced and directed by Emma Harding

Charles Dickens - The BBC Radio Drama Collection Volume Four

Charles Dickens (and others)

Gripping full-cast radio dramatisations of four of Charles Dickens' classic masterpieces
Charles Dickens is one of the most renowned novelists of all time, and this final volume of the dramatised canon of his work includes some of his most complex and compelling novels.

A Tale of Two Cities
Set during the French Revolution, this radio retelling of Dickens’ powerful story of love, cruelty, violence and redemptionwon the 2012 Bronze Sony Award for Best Drama.

Great Expectations
This classic tale explores the turbulent childhood of orphan Pip, his quest to find his true identity, and his growth to maturity through misfortune and misery.

Our Mutual Friend
Charles Dickens' last complete novel is a sweeping satire of wealth and corruption, centred around London’s great river Thames.

The Mystery of Edwin Drood
In Dickens’ unfinished masterpiece, the arrival in Cloisterham of Neville and Helena Landless, twins from Ceylon, sets in motion a chain of events which leads to murder.

With a star-studded cast including Robert Lindsay, Douglas Hodge, Geraldine McEwan, Amanda Redman, Alex Jennings and Ian Holm, these BBC radio adaptations are rich in drama, romance, suspense and tragedy.

Cast and credits
Written by Charles Dickens

A Tale of Two Cities

Charles Dickens..................................................................Robert Lindsay
Jarvis Lorry..................................................................Jonathan Coy
Miss Pross..................................................................Alison Steadman
Lucie Manette..................................................................Lydia Wilson
Dr Alexandre Manette..................................................................Karl Johnson
Charles Darnay..................................................................Andrew Scott
Sydney Carton..................................................................Paul Ready
Ernest Defarge..................................................................James Lailey
Theresa Defarge..................................................................Tracy Wiles
Gaspard/Stryver..................................................................Simon Bubb
Jerry Cruncher..................................................................Carl Prekopp
Joe..................................................................Rikki Lawton
Marquis St Evremonde..................................................................Clive Merrison
Barsad..................................................................Gerard McDermott
Other parts played by Adam Billington, Christopher Webster, Adjoa Andoh, Daniel Cooper, Paul Moriarty, Alex Rivers

Directed by Jessica Dromgoole and Jeremy Mortimer
Dramatised by Mike Walker
Music by Lennert Busch
Sound production by Anne Bunting
First broadcast BBC Radio 4, 26- 30 December 2011

Great Expectations

Pip..................................................................Douglas Hodge
Miss Havisham..................................................................Geraldine McEwan
Estella..................................................................Amanda Redman
Joe Gardgery..................................................................Jim Carter
Mrs Joe..................................................................Maggie Steed
Jaggers..................................................................John Shrapnel
Wemmick..................................................................Timothy Bateson
Herbert Pocket..................................................................James Simmons
Magwitch..................................................................Robert Lang
Uncle Pumblechook..................................................................Norman Jones
Aged Parent..................................................................Michael Turner
Biddy..................................................................Emma Gregory
Bentley Drummle..................................................................Alan Barker
Orlick..................................................................Brian Hewlett
Other parts played by Fraser Kerr, Gary King, Mark Straker, Norman Jones, Polly Maberley, Terence Edmond, Timothy Carlton, Elizabeth Kelly, Henry Power, Jenny Howe, Auriol Smith, Brett Usher, James Greene, James Simmons, Joanna Myers, Timothy Alcock, Nigel Carrington, Ronald Herdman, Jane Whittenshaw, Stephen Garlick

Directed by Sally Avens
Dramatised by Ray Jenkins
Music by Malcolm Clarke
First broadcast BBC Radio 5 Live, 6 October-22 December 1991

Our Mutual Friend
Charles Dickens..................................................................Alex Jennings
Bella Wilfer..................................................................Daisy Haggard
Lizzie Hexam..................................................................Lizzy Watts
John Rokesmith..................................................................Carl Prekopp
Eugene Wrayburn..................................................................Patrick Kennedy
Mortimer Lightwood..................................................................Matt Addis
Nicodemus Boffin..................................................................Jason Watkins
Mrs Boffin..................................................................Pauline Quirke
Pa Wilfer..................................................................Philip Fox
Ma Wilfer..................................................................Annabelle Dowler
Charlie Hexam..................................................................Adam Arnold
Gaffer Hexam..................................................................Malcolm Tierney
Silas Wegg..................................................................Lee Ross
Aenus Venus..................................................................Stephen Hogan
Rogue Riderhood..................................................................Jamie Foreman

Other parts played by Paul Rider, Janice Acquah, Lynn Farleigh, Benjamin Askew, Neil Stuke, Nicola Miles-Wildin, Jonathan Tafler

Directed by Jessica Dromgoole and Jeremy Mortimer
Dramatised by Mike Walker
Music by Roger Goula
First broadcast BBC Radio 4, 9 November-4 December 2009

The Mystery of Edwin Drood

John Jasper..................................................................Ian Holm
Edwin Drood..................................................................Mark Payton
The Reverend Crisparkle..................................................................Gareth Thomas
Neville Landless..................................................................Simon Treves
Helena Landless..................................................................Helena Breck
Deputy..................................................................Susan Sheridan
Princess Puffer..................................................................Mary Wimbush
Miss Twinkleton..................................................................Margaret Courtenay
Rosa Bud..................................................................Moir Leslie
Grewgious..................................................................John Gabriel
Bazzard..................................................................John Samson
Durdles..................................................................Gordon Gostelow
Jeweller..................................................................John Moffatt
Joe..................................................................David Goudge
Other parts played by Timothy Bateson, Anna Cropper, Marcia King, Michael Cochrane, Vincent Brimble, Timothy Alcock, Margot Boyd, David King, Burt Kwouk, Noriko Aida, Madeline Smith, Hilda Kriseman, Jo Kendall, Anne Jameson, Michael Graham Cox

Directed by Gordon House
Concluded by Leon Garfield
Dramatised by David Buck
Pianist: Nicholas Kok
First broadcast BBC Radio 4/BBC World Service 2-30 March 1990

Duration: 21 hours 40 minutes approx.

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Michael Smith

It is New Year at Camelot and a mysterious green knight appears at King Arthur’s court. Challenging the knights of the Round Table to a Christmas game, he offers his splendid axe as a prize to whoever is brave enough to behead him with just one strike. The condition is that his challenger must seek him out in a year and a day to have the deed returned. Sir Gawain accepts and decapitates the stranger, only to see him pick up his head, walk out of the hall and ride away on his horse. Now Gawain must complete his part of the bargain, search for his foe and confront what seems his doom…

Michael Smith’s translation of this magnificent Arthurian romance draws on his intimate experience of the North West of England and his knowledge of mediaeval history, culture and architecture. He takes us back to the original poetic form of the manuscript and brings it alive for a modern audience, while revealing the poem’s historic and literary context.

The book is beautifully illustrated by throughout with detailed recreations of the illuminated lettering in the original manuscript and the author’s own linocut prints, each meticulously researched for contemporary accuracy. This is an exciting new edition that will appeal both to students of the Gawain-poet and the general reader alike.

The Romance of the Three Kingdoms

Luo Guanzhong

A new translation and abridgement of one of the four classical Chinese novels - an epic story of warring factions in the era of China's Han dynasty

Part historical and part legend, The Romance of the Three Kingdoms dramatizes the lives of feudal lords and their retainers, recounting their personal and military battles, intrigues and struggles to achieve dominance for almost a hundred years. It is one of the most beloved works of East Asian literature, and the most famous historical novel in China.

The Life and Adventures of Joaquín Murieta

John Rollin Ridge (and others)

An adventure tale about Mexicans rising up against US rule in California

An action packed blend of folk tale, romance, epic and myth, The Life and Adventures of Joaquín Murieta tells the story of the Gold Rush-era bandit Joaquín Murieta, whose efforts to find fortune and happiness are thwarted by white settlers who murder his family and drive him off his land. In retaliation, Murieta organizes a band of more than 2000 outlaws who take revenge by murdering, stealing horses and robbing miners, all with the ultimate goal of reconquering California.

Charles Dickens' best-loved books

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