RELEASED 27 OCTOBER 45 minutes
Broadcaster bbc radio 4 Adapted for Radio 4 from Nigel Kneale’s long-lost 1963 teleplay, The Road makes for a thoughtprovoking Halloween chiller.
Local squire and amateur ghost hunter Sir Timothy Hassall (Adrian Scarborough) is on the trail of a manifestation in the woods of Georgian England, when Gideon Cobb (Mark Gatiss) arrives from London, intent on debunking such provincial nonsense through rigorous Enlightenment “insight and reason – not sniffing at sorcerer’s jars”.
It’s a gift of a role for Gatiss. A lifelong Kneale superfan who’s also perfectly at home in a periwig, he eats up the rich, cod-Sheridan dialogue of Toby Hadoke’s skilful radio interpretation, gleefully mocking “folly and knavery” and railing against “the crutches of petty, trammelling morality!”
What really distinguishes The Road from other fireside ghost stories, though, is its sucker punch of an ending – an audacious and horrifying twist that we won’t spoil. Suffice to say, it taps into several of Kneale’s preoccupations, exploring the nexus between folklore and science and the capacity for traumatic events to resonate across the centuries.
That Charlotte Riches’ production has been able to make use of BBC Radiophonic Workshop sound effects from the original broadcast only adds to the sense of a lost classic returned to us from the mists of time.