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Summary

BBC Radio adaptations of Anthony Hope's famous swashbuckling adventure novel and its sequel.

Anthony Hope's swashbuckling historical novel The Prisoner of Zenda was first published in 1894 and was an instant hit, spawning an 1898 sequel, Rupert of Hentzau, and launching the Ruritanian romance genre. Included here are the radio dramatisations of both thrilling novels, starring Julian Glover as Rudolf Rassendyll and King Rudolf, Martin Jarvis as Rupert of Hentzau and Hannah Gordon as Flavia.

The Prisoner of Zenda - On holiday in the East European province of Ruritania, English gentleman Rudolf Rassendyll is caught up in a web of subterfuge. When his distant cousin, King Rudolf, is drugged on the eve of his coronation, Rassendyll is persuaded to impersonate him at the ceremony, thereby thwarting Rudolf's half-brother's attempts to seize the throne. But as the doppelganger is crowned, the real King is kidnapped and imprisoned. To save him, Rassendyll is forced to continue the deception: and finds himself falling in love with the King's intended bride, Princess Flavia....

Rupert of Hentzau - Three years on from his Ruritanian adventures, Rudolf Rassendyll is living in voluntary exile, separated from his beloved Flavia since her marriage to the King. His only consolation is the annual red rose she sends him, as a token of love and remembrance. But now, instead of a flower, she has sent a letter—and this incriminating missive has been intercepted by the dastardly Rupert of Hentzau. The repercussions will bring Rassendyll face-to-face with his old foe, as he is embroiled once more in danger and intrigue.

First published 1894 (The Prisoner of Zenda) and 1898 (Rupert of Hentzau).

The Prisoner of Zenda

Rudolf Rassendyll/King Rudolf - Julian Glover

Colonel Sapt - Nigel Stock

Princess Flavia - Hannah Gordon

Count Fritz von Tarlenheim - David Timson

Rupert of Hentzau - Martin Jarvis

Duke Michael - Michael Spice

Antoinette de Mauban - Anne Kidd

Lord Burlesdon - Clive Swift

Lady Rose Burlesdon/ Innkeeper - Diana Bishop

Countess Helga - Hilda Schroder

Rosa - Cherry Gilliam

Captain Detchard - Terry Scully

Johann - Sam Dastor

Josef - Haydn Jones

Train guard - William Sleigh

Bersonin - David Gooderson

Customs officer - Brian Haines

Adapted by Eric Maschwitz and Kay Patrick

Produced by Martin Jenkins

Original music (1939) by Robert Chignell and Leslie Woodgate

First broadcast BBC Radio 4, 19 May 1973

Rupert of Hentzau

Rudolf Rassendyll/King Rudolf - Julian Glover

Queen Flavia - Hannah Gordon

Herbert/Bauer - Nigel Anthony

Hermann/Anton von Strofzing - David Sinclair

James - Timothy Alcock

Station-Master/Butler - Wilfrid Carter

Countess Helga - Hilda Schroder

Count Fritz von Tarlenheim - David Timson

Madame Helsing/Mother Holf - Diana Bishop

Rischenheim - Kerry Francis

Rupert of Hentzau - Martin Jarvis

Chancellor Helsing/Farmer - Peter Williams

Constable/Thug - Vernon Joyner

Colonel Sapt - Nigel Stock

Fraulein Helsing - Bonnie Hurren

Bernenstein - Sean Barrett

Simon/Thug - Fraser Kerr

Rosa - Cherry Gilliam

Adapted by Cynthia Pughe and Kay Patrick

Produced by Martin Jenkins

First broadcast BBC Radio 4, 26 May 1973

©2022 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd (P)2022 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd

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Short but enjoyable

At just under 2 hours each, much shorter than the audible versions of the two novels.

Due to being a dramatisation it is probably best if the reader/listener had already read/listened to the full novels since some dramatised scenes are simply sound-effects that have no context unless you are familiar with the full work.

Overall though, worth a listen.

1 person found this helpful