Monday 2 July 2012

Chronicles of Narnia: Review of Brian Sibley's BBC radio dramatisations


In the mid-1990s, Brian Sibley adapted the seven books of C.S Lewis's Narnia Chronicles as radio dramas for the BBC.

Each novel was therefore made into a radio play, and the group was linked and framed by newly-written scenes featuring the Sons of Adam and Daughters of Eve in modern England, in conversation and providing plot summaries etc.

I am at a loss to imagine how this project could have been done any better: given the nature of the medium and the constraints (each book done in about two-and-a-half hours), everything about these dramatizations is good, sometimes great.

The abridgement is masterly such that there is, on the one hand, an illusion of leisurely pace without rush, yet on the other hand all the most important, most moving scenes and profound messages of the books seem to be included and given full value.

There are many wonderful vocal performances - Maurice Denham as the Professor, Bernard Cribbins as Puddleglum and John Sessions as Shift stand-out in my memory - but nearly all are at least good.

It may sound a bit silly, but I would award 10/10 for this - because I honestly cannot think how a radio dramatization of the Narnia books could have been any better. 



Brian Sibley said...

Thank you! Greatly appreciated!

ibmiller said...

Have you listened to the Radio Theatre productions of Narnia? I have found it a bit harder to find Sibley's productions, but I like the Silver Chair which I listened to a long time ago. The Radio Theatre productions do feature Cribbens in other roles :)

Bruce Charlton said...

No - I haven't heard them.

ibmiller said...

Here's the complete set! Rather humorously, the BBC will sometimes replay these dramas rather than their own.