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Summary

A BBC radio celebration of the works of Oscar Wilde, including energetic adaptations of his best-known plays, short stories and original dramas about the man himself.

Long before he'd produced any of his great works, Oscar Wilde was already famous for being famous. Armed only with some witty epigrams, a carefully crafted persona and his genius for self-promotion, he had conquered America and transformed himself from nobody to star.

This radio collection opens with four plays from Radio 4's Born to be Wilde season, offering a 21st-century perspective on the making of one of the first true celebrities. First up are two sparkling and surprising productions of his two most popular comedies, marking the peak of his theatrical career. The Importance of Being Earnest and An Ideal Husband feature stellar casts including Mathew Baynton, Jeany Spark, John Heffernan and Miranda Raison, with the latter also featuring music by Steppenwolf, Taylor Swift and Amy Winehouse.

Next, two plays by Marcy Kahan and Lavinia Murray explore aspects of Wilde's life. The Warhol Years charts his astonishing rise, as he embarks on his US tour determined to be famous for 15 minutes - and then some. Oscar and Constancy portrays a celebrity marriage in crisis, as Wilde's domestic and creative lives vie for supremacy. Both dramas star Max Bennett as the young Wilde, with Dervla Kirwan as his mother, Speranza.

Also included in this collection are nine of Wilde's classic short stories. The deliciously satirical 'Lord Arthur Savile's Crime', his humorous supernatural story 'The Canterville Ghost', read by Alistair McGowan, and Joseph Ayre narrates two delightful stories with a twist: 'The Sphinx Without a Secret' and 'The Model Millionaire'. Wilde's dazzling fairytales - 'The Selfish Giant', 'The Happy Prince', 'The Nightingale and the Rose', 'The Remarkable Rocket' and 'The Birthday of the Infanta' - are read by Joseph Fiennes, Joseph Ayre, John Moffatt and Paul McGann.

Track listing:

  • The Importance of Being Earnest
  • An Ideal Husband
  • The Warhol Years
  • Oscar and Constancy
  • Lord Arthur Savile's Crime
  • 'The Canterville Ghost'
  • 'The Selfish Giant' 
  • 'The Happy Prince'
  • 'The Model Millionaire'
  • 'The Sphinx Without a Secret'
  • 'The Nightingale and the Rose'
  • 'The Remarkable Rocket'
  • 'The Birthday of the Infanta'
©2021 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd (P)2021 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd

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Wonderful

This is absolutely wonderful with a first class cast.Beautiful voices and perfect inflection, full of wit.I laughed out loud listening to An Ideal Husband, something I rarely, if ever, do.The Importance of Being Earnest is similarly good.Some lesser known stories make up the Collection.Lord Arthur Saville’s crime is dramatised too. It’s not as strong a play although the cast are very good indeed.The rest of the Collection is made up of readings and 4 children’s stories.I started to listen to The Happy Prince but the narrator’s voice I found too ponderous and didn’t suit the story.The first 2 plays really sparkle and the cast are pitch perfect.It’s worth 5* just to listen to them.Thoroughly enjoyable.

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