Classic Radio Sci-Fi

BBC Drama Collection: Five BBC Radio Full-Cast Dramatisations

This collection contains almost ten hours of first-class radio ranging from the 1975 Radio 4 adaptation of Conan Doyle’s Lost World to the 1989 Radio 3 presentation of Czech writer Karel Čapek’s 1921 play Rossum’s Universal Robots (R.U.R.) and the 2007 Radio 4 dramatisation of Polish author Stanisław Lem’s 1961 novel Solaris. It is a great pity that the 1941 BBC radio version of R.U.R. is lost, but then so much classic radio has gone forever (perhaps to be picked up only in a distant galaxy).

R.U.R. and Solaris are unique, thought-provoking pieces, important culturally and from a literary point of view. I would like to see these issued as standalone productions, perhaps with an introduction from a Braggian team of commentators.   

Frankenstein and The Time Machine are relatively recent BBC Radio productions (1994 and 2009 respectively) and display all the great acting and technical presentation skills that modern stereo production brings to radio. DAB and Internet Radio quality is superb and these CDs deserve to be listened to through good headphones rather than in the car.

Perhaps the most interesting play from the point of view of the radio enthusiast is Conan Doyle’s Lost World. This too might well have deserved publication on its own. The three CDs have a cast representing the best of BBC radio drama from the 1970s, with Francis De Wolff, Kevin McHugh, Carleton Hobbs and Gerald Harper (of BBC television’s Adam Adamant fame). The music and special effects from the BBC Radiophonic Workshop are especially good and, of course, the drama itself is one of Conan Doyle’s best creations.

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