Tag: Stephen Fry

Blackadder: The Cavalier Years

Blackadder: The Cavalier Years

by Richard Curtis & Ben Elton; dir. Mandie Fletcher (BBC, 1988)

TV poster: “Blackadder: The Cavalier Years” by Richard Curtis & Ben Elton; dir. Mandie Fletcher (BBC, 1988)

This 15-minute Comic Relief special is by far the best of the Blackadder one-offs. Though Stephen Fry’s King Charles is a bit laboured, Rowan Atkinson plays Blackadder Version 2.5 with sardonic, simile-prone precision, ably supported by Tony Robinson as the dogsbody Baldrick.

Making History

Making History

by Stephen Fry (Hutchinson, 1996)

audiobook ready by Stephen Fry and Richard E. Grant (Penguin, 2021)

Book cover: “Making History” by Stephen Fry (Hutchinson, 1996); audiobook ready by Stephen Fry and Richard E. Grant (Penguin, 2021)

A cleverly conceived, assiduously researched but poorly paced take on the classic ‘Kill Hitler’ time alteration tale. Fry writes in a conversational style and displays an undoubted gift for off-the-cuff storytelling. As a novelist, however, his expressiveness manifests too often as waffle.

Uncle Fred in the Springtime

Uncle Fred in the Springtime

by P.G. Wodehouse (Doubleday, Doran, 1939)

audiobook read by Stephen Fry (Audible, 2021) [as part of “The Blandings Collection”]

Book cover: “Uncle Fred in the Springtime” by P.G. Wodehouse (Doubleday, Doran, 1939); audiobook read by Stephen Fry (Audible, 2021) [as part of “The Blandings Collection”]

Perhaps the most twisted and entwined plot that Wodehouse ever laid down. If anything, the Gordian Knot is perhaps too great, for the sheer effort of describing it leaves Wodehouse a bit short of his usual sparkle, the pitfalls not so precarious.

The Hippopotamus

The Hippopotamus

dir. John Jencks (2017)

Film poster: “The Hippopotamus” dir. John Jencks (2017)

Suitably if affectedly quirky, and faithful to Stephen Fry’s novel. Roger Allam, starring as a misanthropic lapsed poet investigating a spate of manor-house miracles, delivers a decidedly Fry-esque yet more measured performance than Fry himself might have managed if playing the role.

Troy

Troy

Review of “Troy” by Stephen Fry (Michael Joseph, 2020); audiobook read by Stephen Fry (Penguin, 2020)

Fry_Troy

Stephen Fry brings alive the mythological epic that is the siege of Troy. More than that, he makes his telling accessible, managing—quite heroically—to sort out the genealogies, timelines, themes, actions, characters and motivations without ever getting bogged down in detail.

 

 

The Valley of Fear

The Valley of Fear

by Arthur Conan Doyle (George H. Doran, 1915); audiobook read by Stephen Fry (ABC/Audible, 2018)

SONY DSC

In essence, two largely unconnected novellas. The first sees Holmes in fine form, his aura only enhanced by Inspector MacDonald’s shining a lesser light of uncommon strength. The second is an engaging enough story of Freemason gang activity in lawless north-east America.

 

 

The Sign of the Four

The Sign of the Four

by Arthur Conan Doyle (Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine, 1890); audiobook read by Stephen Fry (ABC Audio, 2017)

Conan Doyle_Sign of Four

A bravura second outing for Holmes and Watson, once again deflated by a lengthy coda in which neither man features. An important novel for having affirmed the strength of these two characters, and for indicating that Conan Doyle should prefer short stories.

 

 

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

by Arthur Conan Doyle (George Newnes, 1892); audiobook read by Stephen Fry (ABC, 2017)

Doyle_Adventures Sherlock Holmes

The first and arguably most accomplished batch of Sherlock Holmes short stories. The cases are consistently ingenious and Holmes is full of a vitality that Conan Doyle would not always muster. Stephen Fry reads with the obvious relish of a lifelong fan.

 

 

Jeeves and the King of Clubs

Jeeves and the King of Clubs

by Ben Schott (Hutchinson, 2018); audiobook read by James Lance (Bolinda, 2018)

Schott_Jeeves King Clubs

Schott faithfully dovetails his plot threads and recaptures much of Wodehouse’s loquacity, albeit without quite the same vim of expression or uproarious knack for aperçus. The world is right but the reading seems off. It really needed Hugh Laurie and/or Stephen Fry.