BBC Radio 4 Audio Drama No Name 1989

Wilkie Collin’s No Name was written in 1862 and tells the story of Norah and Magdalene Vanstone and is a reflection illegitimacy, greed and revenge in the Victorian Era.
It was first broadcast in August 1989 in 6 hour long episodes.
Episode 1 March 1846
Episode 2 July 1846
Episode 3 June 1847
Episode 4 July 1847
Episode 5 August 1847
Episode 6 December 1847
I found this to be rather long and cumbersome to be honest, it just seem to drag at times..
It opens with daft happiness and the happy middle-class Vanstone family putting on a play at their country pile Combe-Raven, so you know from that moment that doom is on the horizon. Pa Vanstone is a gentle soul and seemingly generous, the perfect father and he is accompanied by Ma Vanstone, a kind and loving sort. Not forgetting governess Miss Garth who lives with them and there are two daughters Norah  and Magdalene (who is engaged to Frank Clare…not a good choice apparently) but no sooner we find, an unusual letter, a train crash and Ma and Pa Vanstone are in turn snuffed out leaving the girls to fend for themselves.
You think this was bad enough but it turns out that (shockingly!) Ma and Pa had neglected to get married and the daughters are plunged into further catastrophe. The girls are disinherited due to an oversight by their father and are thrown out of their home with nowhere to go by last remaining member of their father’s family who has a long-standing grudge against the now deceased Pa Vanstone.
Norah accepts the charity of Miss Garth and moves into her old home to learn the trade of governess in her turn. Magdalene however decides that revenge is the only answer and vows to regain their inheritance from her spiteful uncle or his pathetic son.

Enter swindler, Captain Wragge who is some rather distant relation of her mothers, he reminded me very much of Wilkins Micawber from David Copperfield, possibly a bit too much, oh yes and his wife is bonkers.

Magdalene and Wragge find a way of making money in a one women show by treading the boards, Magdalene is a great success and makes much money, in the meantime Wragge is tasked with finding her evil relative which he does. First off, disguised as Mrs Garth she  tries to extract the money by appealing to her rival but that is doomed to failure, she then decides to marry him, the sickly and simpering Mr Noel Vanstone.

But his crone of a housekeeper Mrs Lecount who is equally determined to keep him single and we spend a vast amount of time whilst these two lay traps, side-step and out do each other at each turn.

And Magdalene eventually wins out but at six hours long this took some staying power.

The cast was great but the story for me was too convenient in places when Noel suddenly dies…and gosh, just at the right time.

If you happen have lost of free time then have a listen you have been warned!

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