Gulliver’s Travels – Classic Serial

I’ve adapted Jonathan Swift’s satirical book Gulliver’s Travels for the Classic serial slot on Radio 4.

I love the book.

The last time it was adapted for the radio was 30 or so years ago in a version that only dramatized the first voyage (Lilliput) and starred Frank Finlay and Spike Milligan. (I’ve heard some of it – and it’s really more of a reading of the book than a dramatization.)

My adaptation is in three episodes – each an hour long, and I dramatize all four of Gulliver’s voyages.

In Ep 1 Gulliver goes to Lilliput. (Gulliver a giant among the little people.)

In Ep 2 he goes to Brobdingnag. (Gulliver tiny, among giants.)

In Ep3 he goes to Laputa (the flying island where there are mad inventors) and Glubbdubdrib the tribe of magicians and necromancers.

And finally, he goes to the Country of the Houyhnhnms… A land of rational horses and disgusting humanity – the Yahoos.

The accumulation of the voyages has a profound emotional affect on Gulliver as he moves through his story…

And the end – gets very dark…..

Arthur Darvill plays Gulliver. With a strong supporting cast. It’s been a very technically demanding play. Sam Hoyle directs.

Nigel Lewis creates the sound design.

EP 1 is on this Sunday (5th February) R4 at 3pm. And it’s repeated on the following Saturday (11th February) R4 at 9pm.

Eps 2 and 3 are in the same slots in the following weeks.

(UPDATE: The Radio Times Preview/Review of Episode 1 is now HERE)


To those asking about the music we used – here are some of the main themes:

Cape Clear by Seth – titles and credits

String Quartet No 3 {Mishima} 1, from Kronos Quartet plays Philip Glass.

For Sympson’s theme String Quartet No 3 {Mishima} 6, as above.

For Gulliver’s theme Flugufrelsarinn by Kronos Quartet.

Gulliver’s theme Karen B’yr Til Engil & …Eins Og Venjulegt Folk by Johann Johannsson. From album, Englabörn. Label – 4AD – For Houyhnhnm theme.

17 thoughts on “Gulliver’s Travels – Classic Serial

  1. I’m really enjoying your adaptation but why are you using the American English term “row boat” rather than the British English term “rowing boat”? It grates a little. Thoroughly enjoyed it otherwise.

    • You’re right – that slipped through. (Think it came from another project – where an actor used the phrase with a west country accent – must have stuck in the back of my head.) Don’t think it appears in Ep 2 or 3 though!

    • Thanks, Liam! Very kind of you to say that. The sound designer was Catherine Bassett and the director Sam Hoyle. I was lucky to be working with them. I don’t know if the BBC have any plans to make the serial available commercially. Will try to find out.

  2. Really enjoyed Ep 2 but missed Ep 1 and cannot recover. Frustrating. I like the treatment: as dark and sharp as I remember but the tedious parts left out. Good job. The classic serial is one of R4’s best bits and I like this particular one a lot.

  3. Great adaptation – well done Matthew !
    The Reverend Dean himself would have enjoyed it immensely aso he would !
    Please can you tell me about the accompanying music – that too was great.
    More power to your elbow !

    • Thanks!

      Music- Will check with Sam the director – but off top of my head i know we used some Philip Glass for the main refrains, Margaret Leng Tan toy piano music for Lilliput, Wendy Carlos in Laputa – and an incredible orchestra that use instruments made out of ice for the land of the Houyhnhnms… (Whose name escapes me – but i can find out!)

  4. How can I get a copy o f this dramatisation? I heard only part of it and was blown away. I player have removed it!!! Is there a way I can buy a copy? Well done for a brilliant piece of work.

    • HI – thanks for saying that.

      I don’t know if the BBC are planning to make the serial available to buy. (But, that doesn’t mean that it won’t be!)

      I have noticed that torrents of the serial are springing up in different places.

      There’s one here, for example, if you can use an .rar file :

      (let me know if you have any luck)

  5. Hi, I tried the link and downloaded the soft ware, but it won’t run the file. I shall endeavour tomorrow. (too much wine intake!) I was so impressed with your dramatisation I blogged it here, hope you don’t mind.
    I really think you should get BBC t do a CD thingy or something. It is AWESOME!!!
    Thanks for responding so quickly. i always think real writers like you have better things to do!! Clearly you ARE human after all. (Only kidding)

  6. Pingback: Gulliver’s Travels Repeated on BBC Radio 4Extra | Matthew Broughton's Blog

  7. Pingback: Gulliver’s Travels on Audible | Matthew Broughton's Blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.