Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Complete Smiley is the ultimate mile-melter

Yesterday we drove back to London from the south western tip of Brittany. It takes about thirteen hours, which can be tedious. This time the journey was considerably lightened because we listened to ten hours of The Complete George Smiley, Radio Four's dramatisation of all the John Le Carré novels that feature his hero George Smiley, "the last illusionless man". It's over twenty hours of running time in total.

It makes great radio drama because most of it involves characters who choose their words with surgical care. Hearing great actors like Simon Russell Beale, Brian Cox and Eleanor Bron delivering lines like "a nation's secret services are the only real expression of its sub-conscious" or "between us we'd make one good man" is a rare treat. The plots are easier to follow than in the TV adaptations or the original books because on radio they have to be. Every now and then there's a "doof-oof-ratatat" interlude indicating that somebody has been shot trying to escape. A voice quickly and plausibly tells us who it was.

We haven't finished it yet. The thought that we might do so makes the prospect of driving to Glasgow in a couple of weeks time a bit less of a chore.


  1. Welcome back
    Re : Smiley, I adore the books but can't get on with the audio versions. I'm sure the lacking is e rather than them, I admire the skill of the actors but just can't feel involved.
    Maybe I lack imagination

    Great line about squeaky satchel btw

  2. Peter Tinniswood's Uncle Mort does a similar job.

  3. I got lost with the TV adaptions - audio only is such a wonderful medium as it does make you do some of the work.

    I too loved the squeaky satchel reference - instantly transported me back to 1960.

  4. What brings you to Glasgow in a few weeks? (He asks a little nosily) - the Glasgow Word Massive may be able to be assembled to show you deep-fried pizzas etc.

  5. Visiting and taking bracing walks, I expect.

  6. That should be "visiting friends".

  7. I'm sure your friends will be able to direct you to the deep-fried-pizza mines and similar.

    Have a good trip!

  8. Your Amazon link says this is not released yet - is this your meeja contacts getting you an advance copy? I am jealous.