“Of all the tales told on these islands, few are as strange as that of William Palmer. Cursed apparently, on the road to Canterbury in the spring of 1185; for denying the presence of the other world, by the King of the Greyfolk, or Fairy, Himself. And compelled to walk from that day to this between the worlds of magic and of men. and subsequently known in all the strange and wonderful lore attributed to the mysterious William Palmer, as Pilgrim.”
It is a strange thing to turn on a recording, expecting a single voice narrator reading from a book; and hear a fully formed piece of theatre unfolding before your ears.
After the initial surprise, I did indeed settle in and just listen. No notes, no book, no random surfing; all became unnecessary and would have been a distraction, have gotten in the way of this glory that flipped between myth and magic, and the modern day. For this was the realms of BBC radio drama, that mysterious entity that is best known by the driver or the daytime listener; and Pilgrim, created by Baczkiewicz (who was the bbc’s first writer in residence in 2000) is up there with the classics of an earlier age.
In Pilgrim, this immortal (played by Paul Hilton) has reluctantly taken the mantle as protector and saviour of mankind. Series one consists of four separate plays: Summoned to retrieve a stolen dragons egg; return a lost son to his mother; resist the clutches of a collector of occult things and beings; and finds himself on a mission to save Joseph of Arimathea. Along the way we meet Puck, a teen aged were wolf, a trapped demon, and a wise, but strangely modern, woman.
It’s curious it has taken so long to release this to the audio book audience, unless it was that it was first a complete collection and the series by series breakdown is subsequent to this? A recognition perhaps that the audience for spoken word books is a rather different group to those who chose radio four or four extra as their background listening, and different again to those who find iplayer to hear and re-hear things broadcast in the short space of time they remain available on that platform?
These episodes of Pilgrim were directed by Jessica Dromgoole and Marc Beeby. They have a total running time of 2 hours and 56 minutes; and can be purchased for £2.99 as MP3 files from Audiogo -