Audio - The Dark is Rising

This holiday season, the time-travelling midwinter-set children’s novel by Susan Cooper gets a new immersive 3D binaural audio adaptation for BBC World Service and Radio Four. Listen to the preview ...

Press Release

Adapted by BBC World Service, Complicité and co-writers Robert Macfarlane and Simon McBurney and starring Harriet Walter, Toby Jones, Simon McBurney and Paul Rhys, the series is available this December.

It tells the story of Will Stanton (Noah Alexander), an ordinary boy who begins to have eerie and magical experiences on his 11th birthday, one snowy December. Will discovers that he belongs to a group of ancient, time-travelling beings called the Old Ones, who are guardians of ‘the Light’ - and must wage an unending battle against the forces of 'the Dark’.

Together with his fellow Old Ones, Merriman (Paul Rhys) and The Lady (Harriet Walter) and Will must untangle the riddle of the Walker (Toby Jones), protect his family from the terrifying Rider (Tim McMullan), collect the Signs Of Light – and defeat the Dark.

In the preview episode, 12 year-old Noah Alexander, who plays the lead role of Will Stanton, says of his character: “He is the youngest son in the family of Stantons, and he’s also an ‘Old One’… he’s going on a quest to protect the world against the dark. He just goes through all these different quests through time and space trying to find these signs to fight back the dark, with the help of his mentor Merriman.”

Simon McBurney, director, co-writer and narrator, added “It really feels that this is a book that rises up out of a sound recording, perhaps even more strongly than if you were making a film of it, because it’s a piece that you need to listen to, and in this instance it’s best listened to on headphones.

"It’s going to give you the greatest experience, because it’s been recorded binaurally which means the sound is actually 3D; it surrounds your head, you feel as though you’re in the snow with Will. And I think this is highly appropriate to the sensory world that Susan Cooper has evoked in her masterpiece.

“One thing that is very beautiful in the book is you feel that the people that are resisting the rising dark are from everywhere in the globe. Even though it is set in rural England you don’t feel that it is local and particular - it feels on a whole different scale. And so the theme of this sense of constant darkness, pushing in at us from everywhere, in which we feel powerless… is absolutely contemporary.”

Crafted by Olivier Award-winning sound designer Gareth Fry, with original songs by Johnny Flynn, Luisa Gerstein and Heloise Tunstall-Behrens and additional music from Josh Singsby, The Dark Is Rising is a rich audio experience for the holiday season in 2022.

Listen to the preview episode here:

The Dark Is Rising will be broadcast and podcast from BBC World Service in 12 daily episodes, beginning on 20th December, 8.30am, with each episode corresponding to the ‘real time’ Midwinter setting of the novel’s unfolding. Podcast listeners will get an advance drop of the first episode on 19th December on BBC Sounds.

The series will also be broadcast later on BBC Radio 4 from 26th December in four ‘omnibus’ episodes.

When the dark comes rising, who will hold it back?

Image - BBC

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