ON THE ROAD AGAIN

Co­me­dian/writer Toby Hadoke brings a lost Nigel Kneale story to the air­waves

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A TV play by Qu­ater­mass cre­ator nigel Kneale has been re­vived for ra­dio. aired in 1963, the road was wiped decades ago. now co­me­dian and writer toby hadoke’s adapted it for BBC ra­dio 4.

“If you don’t know any­thing about the road, ig­no­rance is bliss!” hadoke warns. that’s true of the end­ing – though we can safely dis­cuss how the play, set in 1768, opens. “It’s a ghost story set in a haunted wood,” hadoke ex­plains. “the pos­tu­la­tion is that it was the site of a mas­sacre in ro­man times, and ev­ery michael­mas those spir­its echo through time and man­i­fest as ter­ri­ble noises that afright the lo­cals.”

the play cen­tres on two men: gideon Cobb (mark gatiss) and sir tim­o­thy has­sall (adrian scar­bor­ough).

“Cobb is a philoso­pher from lon­don – boor­ish and ar­ro­gant, but in­tel­li­gent and en­ter­tain­ing,” hadoke says. “he comes to this inn and meets the lo­cal squire: he’s an in­ves­ti­ga­tor, and we see the sci­en­tific progress that needed to be made to get us where we are to­day. they get to­gether to dis­cover whether a haunt­ing can be ex­plained by science.”

gatiss’s pres­ence is fit­ting: 15 years ago he spoke to kneale about re­mak­ing the road for tV. as kneale passed away in 2006, hadoke’s script had to be ap­proved by his es­tate first.

“there were a few too many char­ac­ters, and it was an hour on telly and we have 42 min­utes, so there’s been a bit of surgery,” he ex­plains. “But be­cause there isn’t a ver­sion avail­able, I saw no need to mess with it un­nec­es­sar­ily. kneale’s widow, Ju­dith kerr of the tiger Who Came to tea fame, ac­tu­ally came to the record­ing. Be­cause she’s so fa­mous she gets all this at­ten­tion, and she wants to keep her hus­band’s name alive.”

she wasn’t the only link to the past: ac­tress hat­tie mo­ra­han’s fa­ther Christo­pher di­rected the orig­i­nal. Plus the pro­duc­tion uses its own “voices from the past”.

“I got sent script pages from the ar­chive of Ian fair­bairn, one of the ac­tors who recorded the spooky voices,” hadoke re­veals. “that made me think, ‘hang on, if the sound was recorded, then messed about with by the BBC ra­dio­phonic work­shop, I’m gonna drop mark ayres a line…’”

said ar­chiv­ist then dug out a tape of voice record­ings and weird feed­back.

“we’ve ac­tu­ally put some of those orig­i­nal sounds in our ver­sion,” hadoke con­tin­ues. “for some­thing that’s about how things echo back and forth through time, I thought that was very apt!” IB

the road airs on ra­dio 4 on 27 Oc­to­ber. there’ll be a tie-in event at Manch­ester arts cen­tre HOME.

DON’T QUOTE ME “I DON’T KNOW IF THERE IS A DAY SHOOT­ING STAR TREK WHERE CHRIS PINE DID NOT CALL ME SOLO.” John Cho re­veals some long-run­ning con­fu­sion on the en­ter­prise bridge.

The cast of The Road with Hadoke and Nigel Kneale’s widow, Ju­dith Kerr.

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