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`Dr No` BBC Radio 4 adaptation reviewed

26-May-2008 • Media Alert

Dr No (dramatised on BBC Radio 4, Saturday 24th May 2008), newly adapted by Hugh Whitemore, had moments of tremendous accidental topicality, reports The Guardian.

Click here for the "listen again" feature on Radio 4.

"The political situation was as cheerless as the weather," said Ian Fleming, played by Martin Jarvis to sound like Martin Amis in a stinking mood. It was as if he knew about the disappointing bank holiday weather and the by-election result in Crewe.

Mostly, though, this was enjoyable other-worldly nonsense. Without visuals, Fleming's writing was foregrounded, which meant confronting uncomfortable stuff ("[Bond] couldn't make love to a child - but there was nothing childish about her body") as much as relishing the sometimes surprisingly rich prose. As Bond rowed across the sea at night, Fleming noted that "a patch of phosphorous winked at the bows and dripped jewels when Bond lifted his paddle out of the water".

Toby Stephens made a fine Bond, with the right mix of steely charm and hints of a gentler side ("how kind and soft the sea can be," he sighed as he rowed), and there were cracking cameos from a starry cast. Peter Capaldi was the armourer, unimpressed with Bond's Beretta: "Ladies' gun, sir. No stopping power. Bit fancy-looking." Just like Bond himself.

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