Audio Drama Wiki

Bleak House is a radio serial by John Dryden, based on the novel by Charles Dickens. It was first broadcast on BBC Radio 4 beginning on 29 November 1998, in five 60-minute installments. It was recorded on location at Chiddingstone Castle in Kent.



Charles Dickens' tale of Jarndyce and Jarndyce, a tangled court case that touches the lives of many people, from the regal Lady Deadlock and her dark secret, to the humble girl Esther Summerson.


  • John Jarndyce - Michael Kitchen
  • Esther Summerson - Claire Price
  • Ada Clare - Honeysuckle Weeks
  • Richard Carstone - Robert Portal
  • Lady Honoria Dedlock - Daisy Beaumont
  • Inspector Bucket and Sir Leicester Dedlock - Berwick Kaler
  • Tulkinghorn - Anton Lesser
  • Kenge - John Shrapnel
  • Harold Skimpole - Michael Fenton Stevens
  • Guppy - Rob Jarvis
  • Jo - Danny Worters
  • Woodcourt - Brendan O'Hea
  • Miss Barbary and Hortense - Ellie Haddington
  • Krook - Michael Atwell
  • Miss Flite - Jean Marsh
  • Snagsby - Greg Hicks
  • Vholes - Jonathon Oliver
  • George - Eamon Boland
  • Smallweed - Roger Frost


  • Charlie Hayes
  • Tamara King
  • Suzanne Rainforth
  • Dell Synott
  • Hugh Terry
  • Music by Sacha Puttnam and Nick Russell Pavier
  • Directed by John Dryden

Critical Reception[]

Winner of a Sony Award for Best Drama, and the Spoken Word Awards for Best Production and Best Adaptation, Dryden's version of the Dickens classic is one of the most acclaimed classic serials.

“Bleak House is one of the jewels in the crown of radio drama…” – Christopher Robson, Plays and Players

“Only when you hear a production like this, in which different scenes have been recorded in different rooms, do you realise how monotonous is the acoustic used by most radio drama. It makes the story live in another dimension…” - David Sexton, Sunday Telegraph

“…quite extraordinary richness and complexity of sound, and a deep, dark, sinister, fog-soaked ambience. It is like looking at a Tintoretto after a succession of Constables…unprecedented depth…” - Paul Donovan, The Times

“John Dryden has pioneered in radio a kind of movie for the wireless, in which fast cutting, music and location recording are used to create pace and atmosphere…Outstanding production…Brilliant rethinking of the whole business of the classic serial…” - Mark Lawson, Radio Times[1]