For anyone who’s interested, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman’s Good Omens has just been aired on BBC Radio Four, and is available to listen to worldwide. Yes, that’s right. Worldwide. That means little old me in France didn’t have to suffer the crushing disappointment of having my favourite book be turned into a radio series and not be able to listen to it because I was in France; no, instead geography did not stand in my way and I was able to listen to every episode. It was glorious.
For anyone who has been following my blog since June, you may have realised I love Terry Pratchett, probably because I stated, more than once, that I love Terry Pratchett. I think he’s great, and, yes, Good Omens is my favourite novel (tied with the equally brilliant but quite different Catch-22). Therefore I was worried this radio series would be a disaster – surely it wouldn’t live up to the greatness of the book! Well, it didn’t, but it tried really hard and was very entertaining.
I was tied between think that Peter Serafinowicz and Mark Heap were perfect for Crowley and Aziraphale, and then at some points thinking they were not quite right. I know the book so well so maybe some of the line readings weren’t as I had pictured them in my head. However their chemistry as the frenemy demon and angel was insanely good. Anathema and Newton were great, as were Shadwell and Madame Tracy. All their scenes I just loved.
Less convincing, for me at least were the Four Horsepersons of the Apocalypse and the Them (Adam, Pepper, Wensleydale and Brian). In the novel they are such big characters I was underwhelmed, I think. But that’s the thing about adaptations, especially ones that haven’t been adapted for such a long time since they were released, that I have read over and over and over again until I know it off by heart, and whose characters I had such vivid images of, at least some aspects were always going to disappoint. It was the same with the Harry Potter series when they were turned into films – they would just never live up to the books (especially when the first few missed out bits that seemed insignificant but would prove to mean a lot more later on, but I digress).
As it was with the characters, so it was with the scenes. Some scenes were just spot on, like the opening scene with Crowley and Aziraphale at the gates of Eden, and when they fed the ducks (and again, this is what made these two characters work despite some different line readings – Serafinowicz and Heap had such chemistry). Once more, it was the Horsepersons’ scenes that underwhelmed, maybe because they varied from the book and I wanted everything to be the same, even though I knew it couldn’t be. The biggest disappointment for me though was the scene where Agnes was burnt – nothing about it worked for me, and I can’t quite place my finger on why. Again, it may simply be line readings, though I think the pacing was off too.
Despite my rather wishy-washy attitude to the whole series, I enjoyed each episode and looked forward to the next one being released the next day. Honestly, it was never going to be able to live up to the book that I hold so dear, but I liked it anyway. If anyone wants to hear it, it will be on BBC iPlayer (available worldwide!) for the next 3 weeks.