Benedict Cumberbatch returns as young Rumpole in two new Radio 4 dramas

Cumbers displays his taste for radio dramas as he reprises his role as John Mortimer's much-loved barrister in two new stories to be aired next week

Benedict Cumberbatch fans, you’re in for a treat next week. Radio 4 will be airing not one but two freshly-minted Rumpole adaptations for your pleasure. 


Yes, folks, that’s right. Recorded last month (pictured) when Cumberbatch was on a flying visit to London, it sees Cumbers play the younger version of John Mortimer’s much-loved barrister. 

In Rumpole and the Old Boy Net to air on Radio 4 on Thursday 20 March 2014, Cumberbatch’s Rumpole fights a case of blackmail with the help of his new pupil Phillida Trant (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 – Friday March 21 – Radio 4 will broadcast the next new Rumpole drama, Rumpole and the Sleeping Partners.

In it 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. 

Cumberbatch has been playing the role of the younger Rumpole in Radio 4 dramas since 2009.

Adaptations have included Rumpole and the Expert Witness and Rumpole and the Penge Bungalow Murders.

Previously, Timothy West has played the older Rumpole remembering his early career and introducing listeners to the younger version of himself. But R4 confirmed that he will not appear in the two new dramas, which focuses squarely on the younger incarnation played by Cumberbatch.

However West may well reappear future Rumpole dramas according to producer Marilyn Imrie.

She told “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.”

During his “flying visit” to London Cumberbatch also recorded the last ever episode of John Finnemore’s Cabin Pressure to air at Christmas, an occasion witnessed by

Fans flooded the BBC with requests for a prized ticket to the recording of – with 22,854 fans applying for just 200 places.

* Rumpole and the Old Boy Net airs at 2.15pm on Radio 4 on Thursday 20 March 2014.  Rumpole and the Sleeping Partners airs at 2.15pm on Radio 4 on Friday 21 Mar 2014.