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Summary

BBC Radio 4 dramatisations and readings of Somerset Maugham’s fiction - plus bonus programme Replay: Somerset Maugham.

William Somerset Maugham was one of the most successful English writers of the 20th century and remains the most adapted for film and TV. This collection includes eight of his novels, plays and short stories, as heard on BBC radio, as well as an illuminating interview with the author himself.

The Moon and Sixpence - respectable stockbroker Charles Strickland abandons his wife and children to live as a painter in Paris and Tahiti. Starring Ronald Pickup and Patrick Allen.

The Painted Veil - first published in 1925 to a storm of protest, this is a haunting, poignant tale of one woman’s spiritual awakening. Starring Sarah Smart and Nicholas Farrell.

The Sacred Flame - invalided following an air crash, Maurice is determined to remain cheerful. But his condition affects all those who are close to him. Starring Julian Glover, Wendy Hiller, Hannah Gordon and Janet Maw.

Ashenden, Gentleman Spy - Ashenden, a writer by profession, returns from the First World War and is offered a position in the Secret Service. Five short stories based on Maugham’s own wartime experiences, read by Alex Jennings.

For Services Rendered - in this incisive state-of-the nation play, it is 1932 and the progressive Ardsley family seem to be managing their lives very well. But in reality, each of them is fighting for survival. Starring David Calder, Sian Thomas and Louise Brealey.

The Narrow Corner - sailing home from the East Indies, a doctor and his two companions are forced to seek shelter on the island of Kanda - where they encounter the beautiful, sultry Louise.... Starring Garard Green, Owen Scott, Douglas Blackwell and Cara Kelly.

Christmas Holiday - 1938, and Charley is looking forward to spending Christmas in Paris with his old school friend Simon. But they are both ignorant of the storm clouds lowering over Europe.... Starring Peter Rumney and Anthony Daniels.

The Razor’s Edge - after the First World War, Larry Darrell returns to Chicago but finds it difficult to fit back into society. To the dismay of his fiancée, Isabel, he heads for Paris and embarks on a spiritual quest. Starring Nicholas Le Prevost, John Light and Megan Dodds.

Replay: Somerset Maugham - Philip French presents an archive interview with Somerset Maugham, recorded in 1954 on the occasion of his 80th birthday.

©2020 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd (P)2020 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd

What listeners say about The Somerset Maugham BBC Radio Collection

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fantastic

what an interesting collection of SM's works. really enjoyable to have dramas and readings that are so immersive. well done BBC

9 people found this helpful

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No chapter headings

This is another audio book ruined by having no chapter headings to know which story you are listening to. Please note that each chapter does not signify a new story. The dramatisation themselves however are wonderful. Shame about the lazy upload.

7 people found this helpful

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Enjoyable and thought-provoking plays

I recently listened to Somerset Maugham's novel The Painted Veil and was moved by how the author captured people's feelings and frailties. The dramatizing in this collection of plays captures the spirit of the novel. I enjoyed this collection of plays that explore the human condition with sensitivity and realism. Character's behaving well and badly just like real life with emphases on obsessive and unrequited love. I found the themes of the plays thought-provoking. There's an interesting and revealing final piece at the end of the recording in which we hear the author in old age speaking about his life and work.

4 people found this helpful

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Great - but shoddily produced for the listener

These are outstanding stories snd wonderfully acted. The only problem is that there is no index; it is very shoddily put together by the producers: if you want to listen again to a particular part its all very hit and miss. Shame

1 person found this helpful

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Somerset Maugham

What can I say about the great and superb Somerset Maugham. He achieved a huge success with his incredible ability to observe human nature and to somehow miraculously with unique skill put his observations on paper. I love his work.

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Thoroughly enjoyable

This collection is dramatised stories and those narrated; both equally good. The casts and narrators are excellent with some big hitters on the cast list including Dame Wendy Hiller ! GSM can tell a good yarn. Some of the stories are of their time but if you buy a Somerset Maugham collection that is what you expect. Thoroughly enjoyable and recommended.

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  • scout86
  • 23-08-21

Entertaining radio adaptations

It appears that I am not the only one who found it irritating that the chapters were untitled. Here then is my quick approximation: Chapters 1-4: Moon and the Sixpence; Ch 5: Painted Veil; Ch 6: Sacred Flame; Ch 7-11: Ashenden, Gentleman Spy; Ch 12, For Services Rendered; Ch 13: Narrow Corner; Ch 14: Christmas Holiday; Ch 15-16: Razor's Edge; Ch 17: Replay: 1954 interview with Maugham on his 80th birthday (Not to be missed, imo). I am about 1/3 of the way thru these wonderful radio plays and readings by the BBC and I find they are great fun to listen to. Skilled actors speak lines from the original works, supplemented with music and sound effects. As such, they are faithful but abbreviated adaptations. Listeners desiring comprehensive treatment should look elsewhere. For example, this version of The Razor's Edge is around 2 hours; I also own Audible's narration of the full novel with Michael Page which clocks in at over 11 hours. While I highly recommend this collection, some themes are dark, some characterizations are offensive to modern ears, and this is not something a young family would enjoy.

9 people found this helpful