I spent nearly four very entertaining hours listening to the latest interaction of Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere, a full cast production that I swear was completely rewritten yet again for this production. Gaiman would win the 2015 BBC Audio Drama for Outstanding Contribution to Radio Drama for this series. He certainly deserved it!
Over the decades, I’ve read the novelisation of the original series Gaiman did in the BBC published trade paper edition, I’ve seen the BBC Two video series, I‘ve read the author’s preferred text version, and I swear, though I can’t find any mention of it now, that I’ve heard Gaiman reading it. I know I’ve heard he version of Neverwhere that was first broadcast on BBC Two back in 1996.
This dramatisation in six parts was first broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and BBC Radio 4 Extra in March 2013. It was written by Dirk Maggs and co-directed by him with producer Heather Larmour. Thisdramatisation features a most excellent cast including David Harewood, Sophie Okonedo, Benedict Cumberbatch, Christopher Lee, Anthony Head, and David Schofield. Sophie Okonedo plays Door from London Below and James McAvoy performed the role of Richard Mayhew from London Above, both done perfectly.
Do keep in mind that is not a reading, but a full on theatrical production. As such it makes full use of ambient sounds from footsteps to a murder of crows. Gaiman’s original text is adapted freely here which some reviewers really, really hated. Me, I liked it but I’ve listened to thousands of hours of audio productions down the decades and such a production done right is always a great. The cast from those who’ve never heard of most likely to those well-known such as Benedict Cumberbatch, Christopher Lee and Anthony Head are spot-on in their voicing of their characters.
If you’ve read either version of Neverwhere or seen the video series, I think you’ll find much to enjoy here. It makes me wish that the Jim Henson Company had followed through on their option to develop it as a film as it’d made a great film from the folks who gave The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth and Mirriormask.
(BBC Two, 2013)