Celebrate the 200th Anniversary of 'Mansfield Park' with Benedict Cumberbatch and David Tennant

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David Tennant (as Ten) and Benedict Cumberbatch (as Sherlock) - an Anglophile's Dream Team? (Photos: BBC)
The potential combination of Sherlock’s Benedict Cumberbatch and Doctor Who’s David Tennant would be high on any Anglophile’s wishlist – for virtually any kind of production, whether it was a children’s cartoon, a BBC period drama or a Shakespeare play.

Sadly, the schedules of both these stars are so crowded now that seeing them perform in, well, anything together any time in the even vaguely foreseeable future seems like a pretty big pipe dream. Luckily, that wasn’t so true a few years ago.

Way back in 2003, before either of these actors had ever played the Doctor or the consulting detective, the pair was cast in a BBC Radio Four production of Jane Austen’s classic Mansfield Park. And since it’s highly likely that you had no idea who either of these gentlemen were at the time, you probably missed out on it. But, not to worry – the radio version is about to get a special repeat broadcast. Radio 4 is pulling the production out of the station archives to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the classic novel’s publication, and also probably just to make a lot of fans around the world very happy. 

Mansfield Park was Austen’s third novel, following Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice. It the story of Fanny Price, one of nine children sent to be raised by her wealthy aunt and uncle when her family experiences some financial difficulties.  Romantic entanglements of various stripes ensue – and the end result is a novel that is widely said to be Austen’s most controversial.

Felicity Jones voices the role of Fanny, Tennant plays her gambling cousin Tom, and Cumberbatch plays his brother Edmund, with whom Fanny forms a romantic attachment. Other recognizable voice stars include Julia McKenzie, Tim Piggott-Smith, Toby Jones and James Callis.

The ten-part drama will begin at 2pm GMT on Monday, May 12 on BBC Radio 4 Extra. Mark your calendars, because you’ll be able to listen pretty easily from wherever you might happen to be in the world – either through internet radio apps (Tune In Radio is my personal favorite) or using the BBC’s iPlayer Radio, which should allow you to stream the broadcast anytime for a week or so after it airs.

Honestly, since British radio broadcasts are – unlike television shows – generally not geo-blocked, I feel like we should be talking more about the awesome radio plays and shows we can listen to online, many of which feature fantastic actors that we already love from other roles. So, consider this my promise to try and feature it a bit more often, if only because I love it as a format.

Anyone planning to listen in?

ETA: You can find each episode installment as it airs on the BBC Radio 4 Extra site. Start with Episode 1 here