It’s not very classy for a film & TV blogger to lose their sh*t over a piece of trade news the way I did earlier today. But damn me if the existence of a new radio play of Neil Gaiman’s fantastic “Neverwhere” isn’t the best Christmas present I could possibly hope for. Gaiman’s delightful novel (which was, originally, a subpar miniseries the BBC put forth in 1996) tells the story of Richard Mayhew, the strange girl Door and their adventures in Gaiman’s mythical “London Below.” This brilliant alterna-verse is populated with characters named for London landmarks (The Old Bailey), regions (The Angel Islington) and tube stops (The Black Friars). This story is Gaiman’s at his finest and delivers up the perfect blend of fairytale, myth, modern crime story and romance. This recording which, according to Gaiman “will be broadcast somewhere in the first 4 months of 2013” will be available for anyone to listen anywhere in the world with the BBC’s iPlayer. I hope to hell they release a final version to purchase. I will buy the sh*t out of it. Feast your eyes on the amazingly talented voice cast that has assembled.
James McAvoy—Richard Mayhew: McAvoy is a personal (and Pajiban) favorite. He’ll be perfect for the role of our hero, an ordinary young man plunged into an unknown world (not wholly dissimilar from the part he played in Wanted).
Natalie Dormer—Door: A young woman from the mythical “London Below” with the inherited ability to “open” things. Dormer’s simper has annoyed many in the past in both her role in “The Tudors” and on “Game of Thrones.” Thankfully, this being a radio play, the simper won’t be a problem. Instead we’ll be treated to Dormer’s bright, rich delivery. Of which I’m a fan.
David Harewood—Marquis de Carabas: My mind was blown a few weeks ago when I discovered the “Homeland” actor was British. (Watched him run a British prison cell block with an iron fist and a loaded syringe was jarring to say the least.) I should have remembered him, of course, from that episode of “Doctor Who”. He’ll be absolutely delightful as the cunning Marquis, Richard and Door’s unreliable ally.
Sophie Okonedo—Hunter: Another “Doctor Who” alum (and what B-level British actor isn’t), Okonedo has one of my favorite voices. This is an instance, however, where I’m particularly bummed we won’t be seeing a filmed version of the story. Okonedo is PERFECT for the physically impressive and imperious Hunter. Basically, she rules.
Benedict Cumberbatch—The Angel Islington: Better and better yet! The Angel Islington is a serene, arrogant, androgynous and imposing figure. Sound familiar? I haven’t been this excited about voice casting since, uh, Benedict Cumberbatch was cast as Smaug. Fun fact, the Angel Islington was played in the original series by Peter Capaldi (aka Malcolm Tucker). Odd choice, that.
Romola Garai—Jessica: I was just saying earlier today that Romola Garai (lately of “The Hour”) has recently become a favorite girl crush. I’m a huge fan. Jessica is a disappointingly small role for someone of Garai’s caliber, but I’m sure she’ll pull off the part of Richard’s disapproving girlfriend with aplomb.
Anthony Stewart Head—Croup: Messr Croup along with Messr Vandemarr (played by David Schofield) are the terrifying (yet hilarious) assassins out to get our heroes. I think you all know how I feel about Head (who can play the heavy with the best of them). I can’t wait to hear him snarl.
Lucy Cohu—Lamia: Cohu is not very well-known stateside. She had an integral role in the “Torchwood: Children Of Earth” series and a supporting (but seductive) role in Becoming Jane. I saw her in a play a few years back in London and let me assure you, the woman has a voice that drips sex like butter drips from a crumpet. She’s a perfect choice for the Lamia which is, essentially, London Below’s version of a vampire.
Benard Cribbins—Old Bailey: Sexy? Maybe not in the strictest sense. But, oh, you “Doctor Who” fans must surely be rubbing your hands in glee. Wilf!
Christopher Lee—Earl of Earl’s Court: What Lee lacks in sex he makes up for in
eyebags venerability. If you’re not sure how much joy you’ll get out of listening to him, then I urge you to rewatch The Lord Of The Rings with his commentary on. You’ll learn more about Tolkein than you ever dreamed. Bottom line, this is slam-dunk casting and Gaiman is exactly right to be over the moon about it.
And a photo of part of the assembled cast courtesy of Neil Gaiman’s website.