The Gaiman/ Pratchett novel heads to Radio 4
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.