Apoc­a­lypse Wow

The Gaiman/ Pratch­ett novel heads to Ra­dio 4

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Last year Ra­dio 4 man­aged to do jus­tice to Neil Gaiman’s Nev­er­where: the ur­ban fan­tasy that be­gan as a low- bud­get TV show, flour­ished as a novel, lan­guished in film de­vel­op­ment hell and then was res­cued as a star- stud­ded ra­dio epic. Now, it’s Good Omens’ turn: Gaiman and Terry Pratch­ett’s apoc­a­lyp­tic black com­edy that was once go­ing to be a film di­rected by Terry Gil­liam and, years later, a TV se­ries by Terry Jones. So, what hap­pened?

“The story Neil told me is that there had been at­tempts at do­ing it be­fore, but the writ­ers had given up,” ex­plains di­rec­tor Dirk Maggs, who spe­cialises in adapt­ing sto­ries such as 2013’ s Nev­er­where into big ra­dio pro­duc­tions. “He said, ‘ You’re the first writer to get to the end of it!’ It wasn’t easy. I re- read the book and my heart sank. I al­ways say there’s noth­ing you can do in film that you can’t do bet­ter on ra­dio, but hav­ing an an­gel oc­cupy the body of a medium and then have them both speak through the same mouth… I’m still think­ing how I’m go­ing to do this!”

Orig­i­nally re­leased in 1991, the novel tells the story of an­gel Azi­raphale and de­mon Crow­ley, rep­re­sen­ta­tives of good and evil on Earth, who have de­cided that the up­com­ing apoc­a­lypse is a bad idea. To stop it, they need to find the An­tichrist – who they

sci- fact! ap­pear to have misplaced. Like Nev­er­where ( which fea­tured James McAvoy and Bene­dict Cum­ber­batch), the ra­dio adap­ta­tion is driven by a well- known cast. Mark Heap and Peter Ser­afi­now­icz will play the re­spec­tive leads, sup­ported by Colin Mor­gan, Louise Brealey, Clive Rus­sell and Phil Davis. “We were thrilled with the cast,” says Maggs, “but the best bit for me was dur­ing the first read- through, when Neil saw Mark and Peter, turned to me and said, ‘ those are the voices I wrote for!’”

Good Omens will air on Ra­dio 4 in De­cem­ber.

Hands up who’s got a good feel­ing about this one.

From left, Neil Gaiman, Dirk Maggs and Terry Pratch­ett.

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