Sound lovers, are we going to discuss the spin-off? There are so many these days. Originally, they involved a couple of comedians celebrating / ripping a trash movie series (How did it happen?) or, indeed, a movie (The worst idea all time), or get enthusiastic about old TV programs (Sentimental in the city, Veronica Mars Investigations). Then we had shows that did the same thing but for contemporary shows: (Receipts to Island of love). In recent years, the shows themselves have taken over, with old stars scouring old episodes (90210MG, The sopranos who speak) and new series such as The crown and Strictly order “official” podcasts to keep fans hooked until the next episode is released.
Official shows have an advantage as they can attract the actual stars of the show to give the juicy story inside. The downside is that the guests never do that. No one would admit that another actor in the show is boring, that the work is boring, even that the lunches are a little bad. These shows are all celebrations, not mickeys.
Which brings me to No Time to Die: The Official James Bond Podcast. Hosted by the always great James King, this has interviews with actors Daniel Craig, Léa Seydoux, Rami Malek and director Cary Joji Fukunaga, as well as producers Michael G Wilson and Barbara Broccoli (I’m obsessed with BB, by the way. by the way; she’s at least as fascinating as James Bond himself), as well as plenty of behind-the-scenes talent. King, a movie critic, works hard to get a feel for what’s going on, and you get a feel for the scale of the production, the weight of Bond’s story, how incredibly complicated it is to create. a familiar but new blockbuster. I enjoyed the interview with Chris Corbould, who is in charge of vehicles and very happy that Bond’s Aston Martin is getting “aggressive” this time around.
Writers Neal Purvis and Robert Wade are interesting, and Phoebe Waller-Bridge is fabulously charismatic without saying anything at all. Still, cheerleaders without spices or spoilers can be very thin, so thank God for Bond songwriter David Arnold, who didn’t work on this particular film and can therefore be casually honest: “All composers are faced with the incredible history of this music… when you stray too far from it, your main Bond music fans make their opinions heard.
I also really enjoyed Arnold’s own 10-part series, James Bond’s music, on Scala Radio. It was broadcast in its entirety in May for Scala subscribers, but is now repeated, program by program, every Sunday. We have just reached the personal era of Arnold Bond – he wrote the score for five Bond films, Tomorrow never dies To Quantum of Consolation – and he’s exceptionally insightful on what a sheet music can do for a movie, even when the melody itself is appalling (I had to mute it for Patti LaBelle’s’ 80s extravagance If you asked me).
Another type of epic story: The sand man was a DC comic book series written by Neil Gaiman from the late 80s to the mid 90s. The Stories of Skinny Robert Smith-alike Dream and his weird siblings, Destiny, Death, Desire, Destruction, Despair and Delirium (and Dappy: no, not really), it was wildly popular and was recently revived in various spinoffs, including a Netflix series, soon. Last year Audible released an audio version of The sand man, and now The Sandman: Act 2 is outside.
The cast is starred and includes James McAvoy in Dream and Miriam Margolyes in Despair. Gaiman himself provides the narration, and the thoughtful, enveloping sound design is thrilling. If you’re not a comic book fan, brace yourself for the camp pump: people who say “well met” instead of “hello”, casually wear ripped fishnet stockings, hang out in the terribly misty garden of fate. If you’re already a comic book fan, you’ll probably be into contemporary audio drama already, and such a gothic hoo-ha will turn you on. No matter who you are, the amount of storytelling makes this drama an audiobook, though, as always, our mental imagery surpasses even the original designs. Be warned: everything takes a lot longer than reading any comic book. Allow 13 hours for this one.
A Strand That Knows Exactly How To Use Audio Is Radio 4’s Occasional Documentary Series Curfew. His last two episodes, The last taboo and Kaleidoscope, would not work in any other broadcast medium, simply because the visuals would mean that speaker identification and their stories need an element of privacy. In The Last Taboo, a single voice spoke about child abuse in the family – not the details of the abuse, but the way it was subsequently treated – with moving effect.
And in last week’s Kaleidoscope, we heard from young trans people, ages 10, 15, and 16. The 10-year-old’s mother also spoke, and her description of the hardships faced by the family due to the constant media chatter on trans issues was horrific. . The Sun sent a reporter to her child’s primary school! Ugh. By the way, I wonder why Curfew was not made into a BBC Sounds podcast. He seems made for that. BBC Sounds is very busy launching new podcasts, while some of its existing radio programs would be absolutely perfect as podcasts, with no effort whatsoever.