Dirk Maggs is the god of radio adaptation as far as I’m concerned. His recent radio dramas, Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere and Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s Good Omens are unchallenged by any other adaptation. (I’m not saying I don’t like the Neverwhere television show, but it is very low budget.)
Narrated by Christopher Lee, Neverwhere takes place in a mildly futuristic London when the underground transportation system is shut down and is now secretly inhabited by a society of magical people with their own laws. Richard Mayhew of our world–London Above–is sucked into London Below when he tries to help a young girl named Door, the last surviving member of a slaughtered royal family. Hollywood star James McAvoy does a brilliant job playing the young Scot Richard, and Natalie Dormer with an equally compelling Door. On their journey, they are joined by friends the Marquis de Carabas (David Harewood) and Hunter (Sophie Okonedo). Doctor Who‘s Bernard Cribbins plays the pigeon man Old Bailey, who must keep de Carabas’ life source safe while he journeys into danger. Door is stalked by assassins Croop and Vandemar, played by David Schofeild and Buffy‘s Anthony Stewart Head. Can they befriend the angel Islington (played by a terrifying Benedict Cumberbatch) and prevent Door’s assassination? Purchase from Audible for just $14.07 to find out. Neverwhere is 3 hours and 48 minutes long and consists of one one-hour episode and five half-hour episodes. It first aired in March 2013 on BBC Radio 4. It is an adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s novel Neverwhere.
Good Omens stars a cast I couldn’t have imagined up better myself. Peter Serafinowicz plays Crowley and Mark Heap plays Aziraphale, a demon and an angel who love life too much to sit by and let the apocalypse happen, despite that the son of Satan (Adam Thomas Wright) is already born and the horsemen of the apocalypse are already in motion. Luckily, Aziraphale gets his hands on the prophecies of Agnes Nutter, witch, played by Josie Lawrence, which had belonged to a young witch named Ananthema Device, my favorite performance of the show, played by Charlotte Ritchie. It was a delight to hear some of my favorites (other than Heap and Serafinowicz, who you will recognize from Spaced) in this adaptation, such as Paterson Joseph as Famine (the Marquis de Carabas in the Neverwhere TV show), Simon Jones as Mr. Young (Arthur Dent in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy radio and TV), as well as Sherlock‘s Louise Brealey and Spaced‘s Julia Deakin. Unlike Neverwhere, which is more of a straight urban fantasy, Good Omens is a comedy fantasy. You’ll remember why you loved Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s novel so much when you hear the jokes like how highways, nuns, and most classical music were creations of Hell. Good Omens is 3 hours and 28 minutes long and consists of five half-hour episodes and one hour-long finale. It first aired in December 2014 on BBC Radio 4. Purchase from Audible for $18.58.