BBC Radio 4

Benedict Cumberbatch Returns for a New Series of 'Rumpole' Radio Plays

Excellent news for Benedict Cumberbatch fans – a new series of radio plays based on Rumple of the Bailey are slated to air this summer on BBC Radio 4!

This is good news for those of us who feel like we maybe have been going through a bit of Cumberbatch withdrawal of late. Yes, a new Sherlock special is headed our way later this year, Marvel’s Doctor Strange is on the horizon and his West End turn in Hamlet is slated for later this summer, but since the Oscar campaign for The Imitation Game wrapped in February, there’s been much less Cumberbatch to go around. Happily, we seem to be done with that for a bit.

The first installment of this four-part series will be Rumpole and the Portia of Our Chambers and will air on Friday, July 3 at 2:15pm. The series will once again be based on the Rumpole of the Bailey books written John Mortimer, adapted by Richard Stoneman and produced by Marilyn Imrie.

Listen: ‘Sherlock’ Stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Louise Brealey Read WWII Love Letters

For those who are busy missing Sherlock – which, it seems, is most likely everyone – here’s a little something to help you get through the long days until, well, whenever the special gets here.

Stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Louise Brealey recently recorded My Dear Bessie, an audio adaptation of a series of World War II love letters written by a soldier in Cairo named Chris Barker and Morse code interpreter Bessie Moore. The two – who vaguely knew each other – stumbled into a correspondence that rapidly turned into a love affair.

Listen: BBC Radio 4’s Production of Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s ‘Good Omens’ is Online

In case your holidays were a bit too hectic to fully appreciate the fabulousness that was BBC Radio 4’s recent dramatization of Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s cult classic novel Good Omens, well you’re in luck. While the radio drama has finished its on-air run, the entire series is available to stream for free – regardless of where you live! – on the BBC iPlayer website.

First published in 1990, Good Omens subtitled The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch, tells the story of the End Times. Sort of. It involves an angel (Aziraphale) and a demon (Crowley) who quite like living on Earth, actually, and take it upon themselves to thwart the plans of the Antichrist, whose name is Adam. It’s kind of complicated. (But it’s awesome.)

BBC Radio 4’s ‘Good Omens’ Gets an Airdate

Get ready, fans of radio drama, for the apocalypse is nigh. (In the best way of course.) The highly anticipated radio adaptation of Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman’s 1990 cult classic Good Omens finally has an official airdate.

The six-part drama is due to begin with a double Monday, December 22 at 11pm and running throughout Christmas week before culminating in an hour-long finale on December 27. (This is a fairly similar rollout to what BBC Radio 4 did for their popular Neverwhere adaptation, stripping the episodes over the course of a week back in March.)

BBC Radio 4 to Adapt Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s ‘Good Omens’

Fresh on the heels of their popular all-star adaptation of Neverwhere last year, BBC Radio 4 is set to bring another popular fantasy novel to life on the radio. They have joined forces with authors Neil Gaiman (who also penned Neverwhere) and Terry Pratchett to create the first ever dramatization of their co-authored 1990 cult-classic novel Good Omens.

Good Omens, subtitled The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch, tells the story of the End Times. Sort of. What it’s really about is an angel (Aziraphale) and a demon (Crowley) who quite like living on Earth, actually, and aren’t really that interested in the Rave to team up to stop the foretold Apocalypse from occurring and defeat the Antichrist, whose name is Adam.

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

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.

Listen: 'Sherlock's' Benedict Cumberbatch as Young Rumpole in Two Radio Plays for BBC Radio 4

The one nice thing about the fact that Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch never seems to stop working ever (or sleep, possibly) is that even when we’re faced with marathon delays between new seasons of the popular mystery drama, we only really ever have to go a few weeks without seeing the actor somehow involved in something or other.

This time, he’s playing a lead character from another beloved literary mystery series, and, even if it is just audio-only, these dramas are still more then worth your time. Cumberbatch plays the younger version of Horace Rumpole, the barrister known generally as Rumpole of the Bailey, the star of a long-running courtroom TV series, which was followed by series of books and several radio plays.

Cumberbatch has been serving as the voice of young Rumpole since 2009 and has recorded 7 previous adaptations to date, all of which also featured Timothy West as an older version of the character. These two new installments however, are basically all Cumberbatch all the time, so that should make a lot of fans out there very happy.

Star-Studded Radio Version of Neil Gaiman’s 'Neverwhere' Gets an Airdate

Fair warning: I am a huge fan of author Neil Gaiman and his work and out of all of it, Neverwhere is my absolute favorite and I am basically at like DEFCON TUMBLR levels of excited for this, so you know, apologies in advance.

One of the things I love the most about the British entertainment industry in general (besides its dedication to costume dramas and enduring love for Sherlock Holmes) is the fact that they still embrace radio as a valid and valuable creative outlet. While we also had radio series here in America back in the day – soap operas actually started out as radio serials for example – once we got television, we basically broke up with radio and never looked back. Not so in the United Kingdom – the BBC frequently puts on all manner of fantastic radio series, from dramas to comedies and everything in between.

Thanks to the Radio Times, we’ve now got details on the new Radio 4 dramatization of Neil Gaiman’s popular – and awesome –fantasy novel Neverwhere. (As well as a lovely new cast photo!) It’s packed with an all-star voice cast of that reads like a who’s who list of British acting talent, including X-Men’s James McAvoy, Sherlock’s Benedict Cumberbatch, The Tudors’ Natalie Dormer, Homeland’s David Harewood, Doctor Who alums Sophie Okonedo and Bernard Cribbins, Merlin’s Anthony Stewart Head, The Hour’s Romola Garai, the great Sir Christopher Lee and more. Find out who everyone's playing - and get a better look at that photo - under the cut.