BBC Radio 7 broadcasts The Eagle of the Ninth | BBC Radio 7 Head of Programmes recommends Rosemary Sutcliff blog!

This Rosemary Sutcliff blog was praised by the Head of programmes at BBC Radio 7 in her weekly newsletter. Thank you!  Much more important, a radio adaptation of The Eagle of the Ninth (also now becoming a film) was broadcast last week – Romie (for that is what I knew her as) would have been delighted, and so pleased that listeners appreciated it (although not all -se a detailed critique froma very disappointed listener in comments below). Maybe join me in signing up to the excellent  newsletter …  and do add a comment about your view.

and finally

Mary Kalemkerian, Head of Programmes Radio 7We have had several e-mails of appreciation regarding the recent broadcast of that popular children’s novel, The Eagle of the Ninth.

Last weekend I received an interesting e-mail from Anthony Lawton, who is a family relative of the late Rosemary Sutcliff.

Anthony also happens to be the person who looks after Ms Sutcliff’s estate, and indeed granted us permission to broadcast the dramatisation of The Eagle of the Ninth on Radio 7. He has drawn my attention to a non-commercial web-site: (Here!).

It’s packed full of information about the book and the author, and also includes details of the forthcoming film. Anthony tells me ” the site is proving popular for Sutcliff enthusiasts and new readers“.

I certainly found the site fascinating, and I’m sure that those of you who rank the novel as one of your favourite “young classics” will enjoy reading the background to this wonderful work too.

Mary Kalemkerian. Head of Programmes, BBC Radio 7

Source: BBC Radio 7 Newsletter

3 thoughts on “BBC Radio 7 broadcasts The Eagle of the Ninth | BBC Radio 7 Head of Programmes recommends Rosemary Sutcliff blog!

  1. I agree. The 1956 reading of Eagle of the Ninth was a highlight of my childhood and, dammit, sowed the seeds of wanting to be an archaeologist, finally achieved when I got my degree in the 1980s as a mature student. Her writing brought the past to life in a way few other writers did, incorporating the joys and sorrows equally with the history and battles. Please give us another broadcast of the story which equals the excitement, pathos and true to the book reality of this long ago one.


    • Thank you for this. When I have a critical mass of such comments I am going to write to the controller of Radio 4, or get our agents to approach them….


  2. I have loved Rosemary Sutcliff’s works ever since I first read her novel “The Eagle of the Ninth” as a child in the 1950’s.

    I am very sorry to take issue with the staff at Radio 7 but, in my opinion, this 1996 radio “dramatization” does not come anyway near to the quality of the original (1956/57?) serialization (now unfortunately lost) of the book broadcast so many years ago on the BBC “Children’s Hour.”

    I was most unimpressed with this modern “version” on its initial airing and shall not be availing myself of the opportunity to hear it all again.

    As has now become all too commonplace, considerable liberties were taken with characterizations, historical details and the narrative flow of the text. The first three chapters (where the scene is set) were completely expunged. This is inexplicable and quite unacceptable in my estimation. The overall continuity of the storyline, as meticulously conveyed through Sutcliff’s prose, is abandoned for a confused and unconvincing muddle.

    Marcus’ arrival to take up his first command at Isca Dumnoniorum, his friendship with Cradoc, the native British charioteer, and the subsequent (Druidic inspired) attack on the fort (at new moon and after a bad harvest) with its tragic consequences for both the local tribes people and for Marcus himself, should not on any account have been omitted.

    The scriptwriter attempted at several points to embellish the storyline by the insertion of their own numerous, ill conceived and erroneous “historical” details. These were totally ludicrous to anyone with even the slightest familiarity with the Romano-British period. Furthermore, why was Esca given a Scottish accent. He was a Brigante (from what today is modern Yorkshire) not a Caledonian.

    The girl Cottia is “about thirteen” not the obviously adult woman character portrayed here and is by her own admission, (like her Aunt) “of the Iceni” (whose tribal territory was in present day Norfolk) so why is she too bestowed with a Scottish accent?

    Claudius Hieronymianus (an actual historical personage attested by a temple dedication to Serapis at York) was a legate (commander) of Legio Sexta Victrix, not (as here) “the commanding officer of the Roman Army in Britannia!” That in point of fact was the responsibility of the Legatus Augusti Pro Praetore – the provincial governor, a man of far more senior rank. The entire production was littered with many more of these blatant errors, far too many for me to list here.

    As with this inferior radio drama, I have very serious misgivings that the forthcoming movie version of Sutcliff’s novel will likewise prove to be a travesty of the original work, but perhaps I may be mistaken in this regard. I sincerely hope so!


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