AudioGO, out now
The all-star cast version of Gaiman’s look at London Below…
I’ve always loved Neverwhere – from its BBC2 incarnation, which was one of the first shows I covered for DreamWatch all those years ago, through the original novel(isation), whose ARC still sits on my shelf, and the comic book from DC/Vertigo. Gaiman wrought magic in this tale, which Dirk Maggs has very effectively transferred to audio.
Maggs hasn’t hesitated to update the story where necessary, but the core of Gaiman’s tale – the journey of Richard Mayhew through London Below as he helps the Lady Door to find out why her family were killed – doesn’t need any changing. From Mr Croup and Mr Vandemar’s first appearance to the final scene with the Marquis de Carabas opening one more door for Richard (was this the inspiration for the end of Life on Mars?), the story grabs you, and you find yourself transported to a London that part of you hopes really does exist. There should be an Earl of Earl’s Court, monks at Black Friars, and it’s reality that’s wrong when you find out that there aren’t.
The strong cast of the original TV version is echoed in Maggs’ production: Anthony Head’s Mr Croup is every bit as chilling as Hywel Bennett’s television incarnation (one of my touchstones for portrayals of evil on TV); David Harewood’s Marquis, Benedict Cumberbatch’s Angel Islington, and Christopher Lee’s Earl draw you in with the richness of their voices. James McAvoy and Natalie Dormer make a strong central pairing, with Romola Garai getting Jess(ica)’s self-centredness spot on. It becomes a game of guess the famous voice at times with the other parts! And of course, as they always say, the effects are better on radio (although I wasn’t as disenamoured of the original video versions as some).
AudioGO provide the episodes intact, as well as a couple of extended sequences, and some behind the scenes material.
Verdict: A wonderful piece of fantasy given a lavish treatment. Recommended. 9/10