Benedict Cumberbatch returns as a young Rumpole for new Radio 4 drama


I have to believe that if you watched Jeopardy, and the contestant took “Actors and Actresses for $200”, Alex Trebek would then read out the word No and the only possible correct “question” to the answer would be “Is there anything that Benedict Cumberbatch cannot do“? From his small screen brilliance in Sherlock and Parade’s End to big screen greatness of Tinker Tailor, War Horse, Star Trek, The Hobbit, 12 Years a Slave and August: Osage County to live theatre performances in Frankenstein at the National Theatre, Benedict Cumberbatch can do it all.
 
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On Thursday and Friday, March 20 and 21 at 2:15pm, Cumberbatch will again share his immense talents with the Radio 4 audience as he plays the younger version of John Mortimer’s much-loved barrister, Horace Rumpole, a character he has portrayed since 2009. Rumpole and the Old Boy Net will air on Radio 4 on Thursday 20 March as Cumberbatch’s Rumpole fights a case of blackmail with the help of his new pupil Phillida Trant, played by Cathy Sara. The younger Rumpole is also being badgered by his wife to become a QC in order to have enough money to pay for a decent private education for their young son Nicholas.

The following day, on Friday March 21, Radio 4 will broadcast the next new Rumpole drama, Rumpole and the Sleeping Partners where Rumpole temporarily leaves his wife Hilda after a row and discovers Phillida appearing to get close to his rival Claude Erskine-Brown (Nigel Anthony) before she falls for Rumpole himself. In addition, our hero examines the case of Hugo Lutterworth, who’s accused of trying to kill the husband of his lover.

Previous Radio 4 adaptations have featured Timothy West as an older Rumpole remembering his earlier career in Rumpole and the Expert Witness, Rumpole and the Man of God and Rumpole and the Penge Bungalow Murders. While West will not appear in the two new episodes, producer Marilyn Imrie hopes that he will return for future Rumpole dramas telling RadioTimes.com: “We are very much hoping to have an episode in which they meet and talk to each other in some form of ether. That would be a great story.

One thing that is incredibly lacking in the States is the presence of radio drama. All I can say is thank goodness for the iTunes App Store.