BBC’s Forgotten Narnia Production | Talking Beasts

BBC produced television and radio adaptations of The Chronicles of Narnia around the same time… but the latter is often forgotten. In this episode, the podcasters share their reactions to hearing BBC Radio 4’s Narnia serial for the first time.

In Part 2 of this discussion, the podcasters chat about the beloved Focus on the Family Radio Theater versions.

Glumpuddle, Movie Aristotle

20 Responses

  1. Cleander says:

    While I have heard of the BBC radio dramas, I only know one person who has heard them. They do sound interesting, but I’d have to agree with the general consensus that the Focus on the Family dramas are better (not least because of Paul Scofield’s lovely voice and Douglas Gresham’s cool intros).
    Most audio dramas I’ve heard tend to go the way of the BBC, relying heavily on the actors to narrate the action instead of an actual narrator. Personally I dislike this because it sounds too contrived- it’s more straightforward to have a narrator tell you what’s happening than have characters explaining to each other what they all see already.

  2. Larry W. says:

    Sylvester McCoy was good as Reepicheep and Dr. Who. I think this version was two CD’s shorter than the Focus on the Family radio theatre, which may have been a disadvantage (it feels too rushed). I am not sure if this version is worth buying— especially if you already own the Focus on the Family dramas. It is interesting to hear another radio drama based on the Narnia books.

  3. Frodo B says:

    The BBC Radio dramas weren’t horrible. X3 My sister discovered them and we gave them a shot. I prefer Focus, but always open to trying to listen/watch different adaptations. The audio dramas are really great to listen to when you just don’t feel like you have enough time to sit and read. I think I only really listened to LWW, PC, and VotDT… may or may not try listening to the others eventually.
    I’m actually more fond of listening to audio books of the Chronicles of Narnia, specifically MN read by Kenneth Branagh, HHB by Alex Jennings, and SC by Jeremy Northam.
    As always, a great podcast episode. You guys nailed the outro. 😉

  4. The lord Tarva says:

    I have still yet to listen to the focus on the family adaptions. I love Aslan from the cartoon and did not know there was another radio version!

  5. Violamom says:

    I’m pretty sure I heard a bunch of the BBC LOTR cast in the Prince Caspian excerpt! Which wouldn’t surprise me, since these were produced roughly in the same time period. Great podcast! 😀 <

  6. Cleander says:

    I love those audiobooks as well! I remember listening to them nonstop for a year… Branagh and Jennings and Derek Jacobi (VDT) were awesome.

  7. Col Klink says:

    I’ve only been able to listen to one of the BBC Narnia radio dramas, The Magician’s Nephew. I was able to get it from the library. I’d be interested in hearing the others but I’m not convinced they’re worth paying money for.

    I’m not a big fan of the framing device of using the seven friends of Narnia (though I know RoseTreeDryad is interested in seeing their relationships developed more in an adaptation) because I don’t think of the books as being one long story. But it definitely sounds interesting (and there are enough adaptations of the books that I’m not super annoyed by a change like that.) In fact, these kind of sound like the most interesting adaptations of Narnia. Not the best but the most interesting.

    It’s interesting that Glumpuddle sometimes feels the FOTF Radio Theatre Narnia dramas use a narrator too much because I felt like BBC Magician’s Nephew used a narrator way too little. It just felt really fake the way the characters would describe what was happening. To be fair though, in the clips used in this episode, it sounds a little more acceptable when they do that, mostly because some of the actors sound better than the ones in MN. Digory and Polly were so flat in that one. When they say that Jadis ripped off an iron bar and hit someone with it, they sound like they’re reporting the weather! When the characters do that in the Radio Theatre adaptation, they try to sound shocked, making it relatively natural.

    Some of the actors in the BBC radio sound pretty good. I agree with the podcasters about Stephen Thorne and Nikabrik sounds really good. But a lot of them I don’t like. Bree and Hwin sound really old though to be fair they’re supposed to be looking back on their lives and narrating them. But the actors from the FOTF Radio Theatre sound so much more like how I imagine the characters. Reepicheep sounds way too chipper and perky. I feel like he should be voicing Pattertwig or maybe a monopod. And I agree with Glumpuddle about Puddleglum. What was up with him?

    One of the weirdest things about the BBC Magician’s Nephew was how abrupt the climactic confrontation between Jadis and Digory. He hardly seemed to struggle with the decision over what to do with the apple at all. I have no idea why they would handle that in such an undramatic fashion.

    I did some research on Brian Sibley who wrote these radio dramas. Apparently, he’s really interested in fantasy books and their adaptations because he’s written books about a lot of them. (Narnia. His Dark Materials. The Lord of the Rings. Mary Poppins.) This radio series was probably a labor of love for him. I wish it had turned out better. But, hey, maybe if I ever listen to the whole thing, I’ll decide that they’re really good.

  8. Andy Harrelson says:

    Never got around to any audio adaptations, might give the FOTF adaptation a shot though. For what it’s worth though, this comes a close second.

  9. Col Klink says:

    How do you know which are best and second if you haven’t gotten around to any?

  10. Keeper of Lantern Waste says:

    I haven’t listened to all the books, but my favorite so far is LB narrated by Patrick Stewart.

  11. Keeper of Lantern Waste says:

    I admit, I was one of the people who saw the title of this podcast and immediately thought, “Wait, you mean Focus on the Family?”

    With audiobooks on the rise again, I am curious if they’ll have another go at Narnia. I’ve been hearing (ha, no pun intended) great things about Audible’s Sandman adaptation, which while I have not listened to it, I am thoroughly impressed by its star-studded cast. If they did something similar with Narnia I’d finally break down and get Audible.

  12. Andrew says:

    Loved this episode, guys! The tension in PC of arriving at the How sounds like something I’d like to listen to!

  13. Narnia1 says:

    Camila Power played Lucy in the BBC radio series of Lion, Witch and Wardrobe and then played Jill Pole in the Silver Chair BBC television version. So that is why Lucy sounds like Jill on the radio.

  14. Keaton Stone says:

    I was a bit upset not to know about this but very intrigued by it. is there any place online where I can read it yet?

  15. JFG II says:

    That’s cool. I might give Wardrobe a try based on that.

  16. coracle says:

    Brian Sibley is also the man behind the script of BBC radio LOTR.

  17. coracle says:

    I didn’t know that BBC had done it either, even though I was in London when LWW Television series first screened.
    One point in case Bernie Cribbens comes up again on here:
    In England we say “BURN-id”, not “Ber-NARD”.

  18. Col Klink says:

    Yeah. Thanks for sharing that.

  19. Mack says:

    I was hoping this could rival the Focus versions because I refuse to buy anything from Focus on the Family. Sad day. I guess I’ll just re-read the books. That’s the better option I suppose.

  20. Mary says:

    I have been having the hardest time finding a downloadable version of these and want to relive my childhood– how did you get your hands on this? Will be searching till the end of the earth for the horse and his boy downloadable recording.