After another successful BBC Radio 4 adaptation of Thunderball, we grabbed a few precious minutes with Martin (who along with his wife Rosalind Ayres) is architect behind the James Bond BBC radio plays.
Martin, tell us about how these adaptations began.
During the centenary celebration of Ian Fleming in 2008, we (Jarvis & Ayres Productions) put forward the idea to the BBC of dramatising one of the novels, which turned out to be Dr. No. It was intended to be a one-off but we were asked if we would like to do more!
And how did you approach adapting them?
Well as with all adapted dramas, it is challenging reducing say 80,000 words into a maximum of 18,000 for an hour and a half’s worth of ‘radio screenplay’. Our remit has always been to serve the writer and novel as best we can, conveying it truthfully and faithfully. Ian Fleming was a tremendous travel writer too who took us on exciting journeys, capturing the colour, scents and atmosphere of a place and we try to echo that in the production. Some things are inevitably conflated but otherwise we always try to stick closely to the source material.
The casts have been wonderfully eclectic, how do they come together?
Many of our stars are friends and colleagues from over the years and they do not need asking twice. What is interesting is that they all love to come aboard, which is a testament to the novels. Toby Stephens has played a great Bond in all the dramatisations and was our first choice and in fact, he was EON’s too.
Any more planned and will there be a box set?
Yes, the next one will be Moonraker in 2018 and it will be down to the BBC if they release a set, but we would certainly like them to.
Finally, you narrated You Only Live Twice for Ian Fleming Publication’s audio book series. What was that like?
Lucy Fleming was planning the series and at the time asked if I would like to direct them. I was too busy to take the whole lot on but I was able to advise on the nuts and bolts of the productions and was asked if I would read that particular one, which I immensely enjoyed.
Martin Jarvis, OBE is an English actor. After a successful and varied career in film and television, he became particularly noted for his voice-acting for radio and audio books.
Together with his wife Rosalind Ayres, Jarvis runs the radio production company “Jarvis & Ayres Productions” through which he has produced five James Bond radio plays from the Ian Fleming Novels. He’s directed all five plays he’s produced and performed the voice of Ian Fleming in all of them as well. He also has narrated the audio book for You Only Live Twice for Ian Fleming Publications.
The BBC radio 4 adaptation of Thunderball was aired live on December 10th at 2:30pm GMT and available for a short period on BBC iPlayer here. Starring Toby Stephens, Tom Conti, Alfred Molina, Janet Montgomery, James Callis, Josh Stamberg, Lisa Dillon, Julian Sands, John Standing, John Sessions and Ian Ogilvy.