Exclusive first listen to Neil Gaiman’s Stardust on BBC Radio 4

...as well as a special audio treat from Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell author Susanna Clarke

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If you’re seeking some fantastical festive fun this Christmas, then you should probably look (or rather listen) no further than the upcoming BBC Radio 4 adaptation of Stardust, the critically-acclaimed novel by Neil Gaiman that was previously made into a film starring Charlie Cox and Robert De Niro.

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Now, Stardust is being brought to you once again by director Dirk Maggs and the team behind previous Gaiman radio adaptations Neverwhere, How The Marquis Got His Coat Back and Good Omens (the latter originally co-written with the late Terry Pratchett) – and RadioTimes.com can exclusively reveal some first-listen audio from the new two-part drama. 

In this clip from early in the story (which airs on the afternoon of the 17th and 18th December in one-hour instalments), hero Tristran Thorn (The Imitation Game’s Matthew Beard) seeks the favour of local girl Victoria (War & Peace’s Aisling Loftus), only to be denied.

However, when Tristran offers to fetch her a falling star, Victoria agrees to whatever he desires – sparking him off on an adventure into a parallel magical dimension where he’ll discover “Little Hairy Men, witches, and lightning-hunting sky pirates” as well as “the secret to his own identity”, according to the drama’s synopsis.

The adaptation will also star Happy Valley’s Sophie Rundle as Yvaine (a living star that Tristran teams up with), alongside an ensemble cast that includes Frances Barber, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Alex McQueen, Kevin Eldon, Charlotte Riley, Paul Kaye and Eleanor Bron as the narrator. Gaiman and singer Tori Amos will both have small cameos in the drama too.

However, that’s not the only audio Christmas present we’re digging out of our sack early for you today – because we can reveal that another story set in the Stardust world is also being aired on 18th December (a few hours after the second part of the Stardust adaptation), and you can listen to a clip of that below too.

Called The Duke of Wellington Misplaces his Horse, the short story is written by Susanna Clarke, whose book Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell was adapted for BBC1 in 2015 and also featured the Iron Duke as a character.

The tale will be narrated by Sophie Rundle (who, as noted above, plays Yvaine in the concurrent Stardust adaptation), while a standalone adventure is intended as an accompaniment to the main adaptation.

So in other words, there’ll be no shortage of Yuletide must-listens over the coming weeks for fans of Neil Gaiman’s work, many of whom have already gotten directly involved in the project by submitting illustrations for Stardust, hoping they’ll be selected as the official artwork for the release (some of which you can see below, or in a gallery here).

And of course, once Stardust is out in the world Gaiman can concentrate on his many, many, many other projects, and the fans will be happy once again. It’s an early Christmas miracle.

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Stardust will begin on BBC Radio 4 on Saturday 17th December at 2:30pm, and conclude the following day (18th December) from 3:00pm. The Duke of Wellington Misplaces His Horse will follow at 7:45pm