Tag Archives: Divine Comedy

BBC 4 / BBC 4 Extra – Story Telling Radio

I won’t deny I stumbled upon radio stations, BBC 4 and BBC 4 extra, because of Benedict Cumberbatch.

After l had my fill of his TV shows (past and present) and movies, the next thing any dutiful fan will do is listen to his audio books and radio dramas because surprisingly he voiced quite a few.

Last Christmas, BBC 4 held a 4-day airing of Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere. Cast included (aside from BC) were James McAvoy, Natalie Dormer, and Christopher Lee. (If you’ve read the book and enjoyed it, I hope you were able to catch the radio dramatization of it. If not, well, let’s hope they will re-air it sometime soon.)

BBC Radio's Neverwhere


Radio dramas take me to a time when my grandmother was alive and she would constantly turn up the volume in the afternoons to listen to her favorite radio soap series. When TV became popular, radio dramas became a thing of the past (at least here in my region) and rarely do I get a chance to listen to one in any local AM station. The Neverwhere experience ignited my interest to the genre once more.

So again because of BC, I discovered Cabin Pressure – a radio comedy series following the lives of the crazy flight crew of MJN Air. Unfortunately, the series is on its end, and the last episode titled “Zurich” will air in December 2014. Cabin Pressure originally aired on BBC 4. BBC 4 extra re-aired episodes of the series 3 every Sunday last March. I’m still waiting for the rest of it (hopefully). You can download all the 4 series via Audible if you prefer to hear it on your own time.

Cabin Pressure by John Finnemore

Cabin Pressure by John Finnemore


For non-BC related info, BBC 4 has programmes such as Book of the Week and Book At Bed Time. Both feature books from popular and sometimes unknown (to me) authors. Fiction books featured are either read by voice actors or the authors themselves. Along with these programmes, BBC 4 feature radio dramas or comedies.  Bleak Expectations, a radio comedy series I caught in BBC 4 (unfortunately too late), is a parody/comedy mash-up of Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations and Bleak House.  The show was hilariously and brilliantly dramatized, I do hope they will re-air it once more.

BBC Radio Landing Page

BBC Radio Landing Page

BBC 4's Bleak Expectation

BBC 4’s Bleak Expectation

For radio shows that are currently airing in BBC 4, I recommend their Classic Serials of Dante’s Divine Comedy. Inferno was already aired last week and the days to listen to it has already passed (You can listen to aired shows within a week – that’s how it works). Purgatorio was aired last April 6 (Sunday) so you have 6 days to go before they remove it from the schedule. Paradiso will air this Sunday, April 13 at 21:00 (UK time).

BBC 4 extra, on the other hand, is the station where all the of the drama shows and book readings are re-aired.  One time I had the chance of hearing Mark Gatiss read his book Black Butterfly (from his Lucifer Box novels). The station schedule currently have radio drama episodes of Dr. Who, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and Alexandre Dumas’s The Three Musketeers.

For people who love to listen (as well as read) stories, I recommend the programmes and radio dramas of BBC 4 and BBC 4 extra.

BBC 4 and BBC 4 Extra have an IPlayer radio app (available in their site) for mobile users (It depends on your region). For my case since I am not from the UK,  I just listen to their shows via their internet site or live via my Blackberry radio app Nobex.




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