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Audio Drama Review


Full-cast Dramatisation


Author: Johanna Spyri
Starring: Ciara Janson, Richard Johnson, Rosalind Knight and Margaret Courtenay
BBC Audio
RRP: £9.99
ISBN: 978 1 408 40066 1
Available 10 July 2008

When Heidi, a lively orphan girl, goes to live with her grandfather in a little hut high in the Alps she soon learns to live in perfect harmony with her surroundings, leading a carefree life with her constant companion, Peter, a young goatherd. But her happiness is short-lived when she is sent to stay with a rich city family as a companion for the sick Clara. Although she becomes fond of the older girl, Heidi is terribly homesick. Will she ever be able to return to the Alps and the happiness she once knew with her friends...?

Johanna Spyri's story about the the adventures of a young Swiss girl called Heidi is one of the most popular children's stories ever written. But while Heidi's pleasure in the beauty of the Swiss mountains and her rich relationships with her friends and family are perfectly evoked in the original novel as well as the numerous movie and film adaptations, I was a little apprehensive about how well an radio production of this classic tale would stand up.

The answer is surprisingly well. This series originally began broadcasting on BBC Radio 4 on 29 December 1995 and to be honest it's amazing that this 1881 tale has managed to stay as fresh and entertaining as it has, but then the core of this story is a fairly straightforward and timeless tale.

Young Heidi's parents have died and her aunt takes her to stay with her Grandfather in a small hut in the Alps. Her grandfather wants nothing to do with the outside world, but he has his reasons. A local young goatherd, called Peter, from the village and his blind grandmother also befriend Heidi. As the seasons pass, we witness the changes of the surrounding environment and wildlife as Heidi fits in to her new home with ease.

Several years later Heidi's aunt returns to collect Heidi and take her to be the companion of a rich girl called Clara, who is wheelchair bound. Heidi spends a year with Clara, getting increasingly homesick, but she's keen to learn to read and write so that when she returns to the Alps she can read to Peter's blind grandmother. When Heidi returns to her grandfather she starts to write to Clara, arranging for her to come and spend some time with them in the Alps.

This radio dramatisation is incredibly well produced. The cast are all uniformly excellent, and this is one CD that will certainly keep young mouths closed over long and boring car journeys. A joy from start to finish.


Amber Leigh

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