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Neil Gaiman - Neverwhere (BBC Radio 4)

Not the actual BBC Radio 4 logo, but bloody brilliant design.

If you think radio plays are for the lower class, think again. The BBC has proven that radio plays are far from dead, and is possibly the only non-musical auditory art form. I think.

Who's the guy at the back who looks like a wrestler/Guy Fawkes mask?

British radio, however, seems to be going the path of its American animated cousin, opting for famous A-list actors over legendary but not-quite-famous voice actors. We've seen it before, but sparingly – Cabin Pressure had Benedict Cumberbatch and Roger Allam, Absolute Power had Stephen Fry – but Neverwhere boasts of maybe the most expensive radio drama cast ever assembled.

  • James McAvoy
  • Natalie Dormer (Game of Thrones)
  • David Harewood (Homeland)
  • Sophie Okonedo (Doctor Who)
  • Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock)
  • Bernard Cribbins (Doctor Who)
  • Anthony Head (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
  • Christopher Lee (THE Christopher Lee)
  • Neil Gaiman (I know, right?)

Radio plays can be produced in two ways. First, it can be performed (and recorded) in front of a live studio audience, employing traditional techniques like using coconuts for the clippity-clop of horses. And the second way, as done by Neverwhere, is to apply the same techniques used in film soundtracks. The result is a rich, multi-layered tapestry of sound, enhanced with pretty accurate sound effects and reverb, producing an effect so flawless that you could just as well be watching a movie with your eyes closed.

Cumberbatch out-alpha-male-ing McAvoy.

With 5.1 surround sound as the standard for digital broadcast, the question to ask is: Would Neverwhere sound better while lying on a bean bag, being bombarded with the full 6-speaker set-up? Chew on that.

Neil Gaiman - Neverwhere. UK. 2013.

Original rating: 8.0 / 10
Excellent directing and sound design by Dirk Maggs and Heather Larmour: + 0.4
Final rating: 8.4 /10

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Guiles! Anthony Head is also Buffy the Vampire Slayer's Watcher, ehem. Hehehe.

Ayan, I changed it na. Haha.

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