Did anyone out there listen to the BBC Radio production of Beekeeper’s Apprentice?  Any thoughts? If you missed it, they’re running it for the next six days.



  1. A Wright on April 20, 2013 at 10:28 am

    They have only aired the first of four episodes. The second thru fourth episodes will be aired on consecutive days next week. All episodes will be available for your listening pleasure for a week after the original air date of that episode.

    As to the adaptation, I really didn’t care for the use of Donleavy as the vehicle to tell the back story. Also, this adaptation has Russell telling the story of her past with Holmes in 1917, which, unless there is a two year jump in time between this first chess game to the last episode, would be wrong. The Donleavy storyline in BEEK comes to a head in the late spring of 1919.


  2. Em Frothingham on April 21, 2013 at 1:36 am

    I’m with Alice. Didn’t care for the Donleavy framing (might as well wave a red flag at us, look here look here!), and the adapter spent too much airtime on the chess game. But the voices seemed especially wrong. Russell sounds like a fresh young thing (Russell?? Surely not!), and Holmes might be arrogant and easily bored, but I imagined his voice to have more energy. I can’t imagine any Irregulars giving Mr. Fox the time of day–he’s sounds very Posh Men-Only Private Club (although, maybe I’ve just gotten too accustomed to the current “Sherlock” actor, Benedict Cumberbatch, who is admittedly much younger…) Sorry, I’ll stop now. It’s lovely that they’re publicizing the book, I guess….

  3. Margaret W. on April 22, 2013 at 4:20 pm

    Jenny Sterlin’s delightful narration is set in my mind.from many rereadings (relistens ?). Even if I reread in print I hear Mary and Holmes as Jenny interpreted them. I don’t think Mary was ever as little girlish as the radio version, though Holmes might have sounded as snobbish.

  4. Veronica Jordan on April 22, 2013 at 11:14 pm

    I too am not in love with the Dunleavy chess game. This Mary veers back and forth between reluctance to talk about her relationship with Holmes, and tripping over herself to tell every juicy detail. The Dunleavy questions about a possible physical relationship between Mary and Holmes in the first years of the apprenticship made me queasy; she strongly implied he was a nasty old man who wouldn’t have resisted the temptation to put his hands on a 15 year old.

    I also listen to the Jenny Stirling audiobook versions of each book, and to me, she perfectly captured Russell’s personality, self contained, and not girlish even when she was a girl, unlike the BBC actress. The idea that Mary would have let out a sob when Holmes spoke of the auto accident that killed her family – I wanted to yell, “ridiculous” rolling my r as Holmes would have.

    All that said, I am enjoying listening to the story despite the irritations.

  5. Laura on April 23, 2013 at 8:16 am

    I second Margaret’s comments! It’s difficult to imagine any performance improving upon what Jenny Sterlin has done. The Recorded Books taping is one of those rare treasures resulting from excellent material, perfect casing and skillful execution. Definitely worth relistens.

    Much of what I love about the book is missing from the BBC version, but that doesn’t mean it’s not good radio. It might be. Good radio is something I know very little about. It seems like the basic pieces of the story are there, and the story is good enough that I trust it to find eager listeners. I don’t think I mind the Donleavy setup. It could play out effectively as the production continues.

  6. The Bold Flying Officer on April 23, 2013 at 2:57 pm

    Aaaah – I’ve just posted on the earlier Beeb thread, the crux being that often a story is re-cast to fit the media – radio, TV or movie. To my mind, as long as the main thrust of the story is there and the acting is up-to-snuff (a Brit expression) then it should work. Audio books are different – the narrator is reading the author’s own words – a drama script for whatever medium is, perforce, an adaptation. That said, had I been dramatizing the tale, I would not have used the chess game as the skeleton to build the whole … but then I usually write about aviation, which is something completely different (as Monty Python would say).
    Fox gave a workmanlike performance as Holmes, but then in recent times I find Jeremy Brett from the 1970s Granada TV adaptations was equally POSH (Port-Out, Starboard Home on the boat trip to India in Victorian times – I’m digressing again). And then there was Basil Rathbone in the 1940s movie versions. Check those voices out. Holmes was of that – I hesitate to use the words – upper class.
    At the end of the day, I enjoyed the episode … as the French say “Chac un a son gout!” – to each, his own. It will either grow on you as you hear more … or offend you more. I look forward to the next three Friday broadcasts.

    Mike / TBFO

  7. CJ on April 24, 2013 at 3:02 pm

    Listened to all 4 and I actually enjoyed a shortened radio version of one of my favorite books. I of course love the original audiobook with Jenny’s voice and wouldn’t trade her on the longer books. But I love how they were able to take 13.5 hours of material down to 2 hours of story. It introduced a whole new audience to books I love. Would like to see some of the others from this series made into a radio programs.

  8. Alannah on April 24, 2013 at 7:46 pm

    It rather surprised me. I was entertained, certainly. Jenny Sterlin is still the voice I associate most with Russell, but this rendition was enjoyable. I do find listening to radio theater quite nice, so it is a bit difficult to manage criticism.
    However, I will say that I did not much enjoy the chess game with Donleavy. It was an interesting fanciful act of creativity, but I as a listener could’ve done without it. It seemed to me a little odd to reveal Donleavy so soon. Yes, it puts a slightly different spin on the story, but I still like leaving the shadowy opponent nameless until near the end. I have read the Mary Russell series completely several times, and I would say the script did not always sound like Russell. The exact quotations were marvelous, and I understand why the radio theater program would have to stray from the original words a bit, but the changes seemed to stray from Russell’s true nature. While the Russell of the radio theater is indeed talented, I didn’t find her quite Russellian enough. Or perhaps I am just picky.
    As Alice pointed out, the timeline seems a bit off, and I completely agree that I disliked having Donleavy be the gateway to introducing the meeting of Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes.

  9. A Fan of Deduction on April 26, 2013 at 7:44 am

    I did listen to all 4 parts, all the while laughing at the whold sound effects and also the fact I felt like a blind person just listening to the thing

  10. Xander44 on April 28, 2013 at 3:37 am

    I had never come across the Author or the Mary Russell series. What a delightful introduction via the Beeb production. I shall be in the library & bookshops looking out for hard copy as a follow up.

  11. Lenore on April 29, 2013 at 10:37 am

    I thought the scriptwriter did an amazing job of boiling down the entire book to two hours and keeping much of the original dialogue. On the other hand, I thought the device of having Russell tell the first two parts of the story to Donleavy just did not ring true. What was portrayed as Donleavy’s excessive interest in Russell’s personal life would, I think, have struck Russell as an inappropriate invasion of her privacy and quite possibly as suspicious. (Somewhere in the book – which I do not have to hand at the moment – I think she says that Holmes had warned her that his enemies might try to reach him through her.) Although obviously Russell did tell Donleavy about her relationship with Holmes, Donleavy wouldn’t have needed nearly that much information and could have drawn Russell out in a much subtler manner.

  12. Jennifer on May 1, 2013 at 6:45 pm

    I can’t believe I missed this! Laurie – Do you know if they plan to broadcast it again?

    • Laurie King on May 1, 2013 at 7:47 pm

      Did you check the BBC web site? They keep it available for a while.

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