Rumpole: The Gentle Art of Blackmail & Other Stories by John Mortimer; adapted by Richard Stoneman (BBC Audio, 2018) A collection of four radio adaptations. These follow the stories faithfully and offer a similar experience to the Rumpole audiobooks, the only notable difference being that the older and younger Rumpoles are voiced by different actors: Timothy West and Benedict Cumberbatch…
The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka (Kurt Wolff Verlag, 1915); audiobook read by Benedict Cumberbatch (Bolinda, 2018) Kafka seemingly cuts straight to the point in this simply written, somewhat overrated novella, but in truth Gregor Samsa’s metamorphosis remains open to numerous interpretations (beyond the story at face value, which also serves). Benedict Cumberbatch’s reading makes the audiobook more palatable.
Jackaby by William Ritter (Algonquin Young Readers, 2014) A supernatural detective story that doesn’t overplay its hand, relying on clever but sensible plot progression and the charisma of the eponymous Jackaby – a cross between Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock and Matt Smith’s Doctor Who, narrated by a Victorian Clara Oswald John Watson.
Mansfield Park by Jane Austen; dramatised by Lin Coghlan (BBC Radio 4, 2003) This full-cast dramatisation offers the narrative equivalent of time-lapse photography: too sketchy for the purists but sufficient to convey some of Austen’s epic to-ing and fro-ing. Its commercial release retro-boasts the involvement of Felicity Jones, Benedict Cumberbatch and bit player David Tennant.
Sherlock Holmes: The Rediscovered Railway Mysteries by John Taylor; audiobook read by Benedict Cumberbatch (AudioGO, 2010) Although contrived in places, these four Sherlock Holmes pastiches are of sufficient quality that they feel like original Conan Doyle stories. Benedict Cumberbatch, at the time having just concluded series one of Sherlock, narrates from Watson’s perspective without unduly distracting the listener.
Sherlock, Series 3 by Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat (BBC, 2014) Having cherry-picked the most famous Sherlock Holmes stories, Gatiss and Moffat in series three give themselves even more latitude for creative adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle’s material, scripting three adventures that rely very much on the telling. Freeman and Cumberbatch remain resplendent.
Sherlock: The Abominable Bride (BBC, 2016) One of the charms of Sherlock is its modernisation; yet so accomplished are Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in their roles, it seems almost a shame when this special — ostensibly a more traditional standalone period piece — ultimately ties in with series continuity.
Sherlock, Season 1 (BBC, 2010) Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman combine brilliantly in this dark, funny, fast-moving and at times stylistically surreal modernisation of Sherlock Holmes. Perfectly cast and ingeniously scripted in deference to its feature-length format, this is easily some of the best television ever made.
The Imitation Game dir. Morten Tyldum (2014) Notwithstanding its ahistorical dramatizations, and much though it might misrepresent Alan Turing the man, The Imitation Game does correctly decode the pathos of Turing’s wartime contributions and subsequent revilement for being homosexual. Benedict Cumberbatch flashes his poetic licence, but to masterful effect.