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Summary

BBC Radio 4 dramatisations of three of Eric Ambler’s best-selling spy thrillers, plus Nick Perry’s play The Battle of San Pietro and a bonus documentary, Ambler at 80.

Eric Ambler has been hailed as ‘the father of the modern spy story’. His tense, gritty thrillers introduced a new realism to the classic espionage mystery, and influenced novelists from Graham Greene to John le Carré. This collection brings together three of his best-known novels, adapted for radio with a full cast.

'Epitaph for a Spy'

When Hungarian language teacher Josef Vadassy goes to collect his photographs from the chemist, he is arrested on suspicion of espionage. The roll of film contained pictures of military installations – but Vadassy knows he didn’t take them. Can he find the real spy and prove his innocence?

'Journey into Fear'

Istanbul, 1940. Amiable engineer and munitions expert Alec Graham has just concluded high-level arms talks with the Turkish government when someone tries to kill him. Escaping by steamer, he realises that his would-be assassin is also on board....

'The Levanter'

Michael Howell has kept his family's firm from nationalisation by co-operating with the new Syrian regime. But other political forces are at work in the Middle East – and Howell soon finds himself caught up in a deadly plot. This gripping tale of intrigue and double-dealing won the Crime Writers’ Association Gold Dagger Award.

Among the casts of these fast-paced adaptations are Edward Hogg, Daniel Rigby and Raad Rawi. Also included in this collection are The Battle of San Pietro by Nick Perry, a 45-minute play exploring Eric Ambler’s experiences shooting a wartime propaganda movie alongside John Huston, and the celebratory Radio 4 profile Ambler at 80, in which presenter Michael Barber discusses the author’s life and work.  

©2019 BBC Worldwide Ltd (P)2019 BBC Worldwide Ltd

What listeners say about Eric Ambler

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Excellent dramatization.

A brilliant dramatized version of three Eric Ambler books by the BBC.

Epitaph for a Spy.
In 1930's France, a naïve and hapless language teacher, is forced to discover a spy, in this Agatha Christie style thriller.

Journey into Fear.
At the beginning of WW2, a polite well mannered English engineer, flees Istanbul on board a passenger steamer, but the assassins are in pursuit.

The Levanter.
Syria 1970, the head of an engineering company and his secretary/lover, unavoidably become involved with terrorists.

The autobiographical play about Ambler during the war, is an account of his time with American film director John Huston, before and during the allied forces campaign in Italy. It is a good play and well worth listening to.

Ambler at 80, is an interesting documentary about Ambler's life and work. Included are excerpts of an interview with Eric Ambler.

All three dramatizations are entertaining drama's of the times, with good characterisation, suspense, and some comical situations. Ambler was obviously a very good writer, and had a keen eye for the ordinary in everyone, which he then placed in extraordinary circumstances.
If you like John le Carre or Graham Greene, I think you'll enjoy this.

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An interesting look back

I enjoyed these few stories very much and it was interesting to hear how little the world's situation has changed. Persecution and suspicion continue as always. Thrillers are more sophisticated these days, often not for the better. These are simple and straightforward. Plus a surprising and honest insight into the mind of the author at the end.

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Disappointing

Not to my taste , I prefer characters I care about but I didn't bond with any of these particularly.

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Outstanding: more Eric Ambler, please!!

Fantastic! And how good is Elliot Cowan doing John Huston??!! This is what audio entertainment is all about! More, please!

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  • Aidan O'Reilly
  • 03-04-21

Eric Ambler is one of our best

Here are some geat stories beautifully dramatized with style and understanding. I can not reccomed it enough.

2 people found this helpful