Acclaimed Hollywood actor Michael Sheen is to read Neil Gaiman's new novel The Ocean at the End of the Lane on Radio 4's Book at Bedtime strand next month, RadioTimes.com can reveal.
Fantasy author and sometime Doctor Who writer Gaiman described the Welsh star as "a fantastic, wonderful, award-winning, perfect, top-of-the-line actor," adding "and he’s a fan."
Multi-Bafta-nominee Sheen has starred in Hollywood blockbusters including the Twilight saga, the Underworld trilogy and Tron: Legacy but is perhaps best known in Britain for uncanny onscreen impersonations of the likes of Tony Blair, David Frost and Kenneth Williams – a skill that will come in handy when he lends his voice to Gaiman's novel.
"We wanted somebody who could capture the intimate tone of the narrator as well as the different voices involved," said producer Heather Larmour.
“I’m delighted that we have an actor of Michael’s calibre and talent bringing the world of The Ocean at the End of the Lane to life for Radio 4.
"It is an extraordinary novel deserving of a fantastic reader and what better combination could you ask for than Neil Gaiman and Michael Sheen!”
Published today, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is the story of a lonely young boy who finds himself at the mercy of ancient supernatural forces, before help, and friendship, arrive in the form of three generations of women who live on the nearby farm – and may have been around for a little longer than first appears.
"It’s a novel about memory and how the past changes us," said Gaiman. "It’s about families and about landscapes. It’s also a story of a seven-year-old boy who winds up getting into weird stuff rather more deeply than he might have wanted to after their lodger commits suicide in the family car.
"Things would get incredibly bad for him if it wasn’t for the family who lives in the ancient farm at the end of the lane – and things may get very, very bad even without them..."
Gaiman is known for novels such as Neverwhere – another recent Radio 4 adaptation featuring a star-studded cast including Benedict Cumberbatch and James McAvoy – as well as Doctor Who episodes The Doctor's Wife and Nightmare in Silver, and the Sandman graphic novels.
Book at Bedtime: The Ocean at the End of the Lane will broadcast in five 15-minute instalments, Monday to Friday, at 10:45pm during July.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman is published by Headline on 18 June