The Midwich Cuckoos

Starring: Bill Nighy and Sarah Parish
BBC Audio
RRP: 12.99
ISBN: 978 1 8460 7104 1
Available 08 January 2007

Driving back from a weekend in London, Richard and Janet Gayford are surprised to find the village of Midwich sealed off because of 'army manoeuvres'. There are no birds singing, the air seems thick and there is a strange sort of music in the air. It soon becomes clear that there is an invisible wall around the village, and everyone within the perimeter is unconscious.
When the barrier lifts, the strange occurrence is put down to a gas leak. The villagers seem to have suffered no adverse effects from their 'day out' - until, some months later, there is an epidemic of pregnancies among the women. All of the babies are born on the same day, all have golden eyes - and they can all communicate with each other telepathically. As they grow older and their powers grow stronger, the people of Midwich begin to feel threatened...

The Midwich Cuckoos was originally written by John Wyndham in 1957. Wyndham is most famous for the 1951 The Day of the Triffids novel, which was also released as a BBC radio dramatisation back in 1968.

This BBC adaptation of The Midwich Cuckoos was first broadcast in 2003 and stars Bill Nighy and Sarah Parish. To be honest though this recording is as timeless as the '68 Day of the Triffids - with no effort made to set this version at the turn of the 21st Century - thankfully. As far as movie adaptations are concerned, the most famous are the Village of the Damned / Children of the Damned films from the '60s.

The title is a reference to the cuckoo bird, which is known for laying its eggs in the nest of other birds which then raise them as their own. Here an "alien" presence has laid its "eggs" in the wombs of all childbearing women in Midwich in the hopes that they will raise them as their own.

As the children grow it soon becomes apparent that they are not human, but still their parents care for them. It soon becomes apparent that the children are separated into two entities. The male's minds are all linked together as once large collective, as are the female's.

The story is in a similar vein to Jack Finney's 1955 book The Body Snatchers (which went on to spawn two movie adaptations, in 1956 and 1978, entitled The Invasion of the Body Snatchers).

This modern adaptation will introduce an old classic to a new generation of potential fans. The story is straightforward and more than a little unnerving. And, in a time when we stand on the cusp of the ability to produce human clones, this story takes on a new slant. The children may no longer be simply from outer space, but could be the result of a human scientific experiment.

I for one am glad to see an old classic being reintroduced to a modern audience and if you've never read The Midwich Cuckoos then you really should pick up this new adaptation.

Pete Boomer

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