If you’re a fan of the works of Neil Gaiman, radio drama in general, beautiful coats or world-famous Scottish actors then we have three very special treats for you today.
But first, a little background. As you may recall, earlier this year it was revealed that smash-hit Radio 4 drama Neverwhere (based on Neil Gaiman’s book and TV series of the same name) was getting a sequel called How the Marquis Got His Coat Back, following offbeat character the Marquis de Carabas (Paterson Joseph, reprising his role from the 90s TV version of the story) as he seeks out his iconic missing garment in the magical parallel world of London Below.
Now, RadioTimes.com can reveal two “first-listen” previews for the new one-off audio drama (based on Gaiman’s novella of the same name), which have the Marquis in action with other Neverwhere characters – including the surprise cameo return of Hollywood star James McAvoy, who played the lead, Richard Mayhew, in the original 2012 adaptation and is now back to help the Marquis in his latest adventure.
“It’s just a privilege professionally,” McAvoy says of his return, adding that “it’s just fun to go back into that world where so much is unknown and anything is possible.”
As shown in the above clips, Richard is seemingly enlisted by the Marquis to help in his search (unlike in the novella, where he does not appear) – but he’s not the only old hand to be back a-questing. As can be heard in this next RadioTimes.com exclusive scene, another Neverwhere actor returning to the fold this autumn is Doctor Who star Bernard Cribbins, who is reprising his role as Old Bailey from the original radio play. Have a listen, and just start counting the days until the full drama is released next month.
And on top of all THAT, it turns out that James McAvoy isn’t the only surprise cameo in the series, as we can also reveal that Neil Gaiman himself is set to appear as a character called The Boatman who will ferry The Marquis and his guide across Mortlake, the River of the Dead. Phew. There are just so many revelations today our heads are spinning.
“I wrote the novel of Neverwhere about 20 years ago,” Gaiman says above in a RadioTimes.com-exclusive (we know, another one) introduction to the series. “And that was all! I had plans for other things, I never actually did them.
“And then the BBC made its Neverwhere drama series. And when it was done, I thought ‘I wish there was more of this!’ And I thought, ‘Oh, I’d better go and make some more of this’.
He added: “The Marquis is probably the most fun character I’ve ever written. He is always unpredictable, he is conniving, he is unreliable. He is… especially in Neverwhere, we see him from the outside. So I thought, it would be fun to see him from the inside. It would be fun to watch what happens when we’re actually following the Marquis on a usual day!
Gaiman (right) with director Dirk Maggs
“I mean, a usual day for him seems to involve the threat of him losing his life, several old enmities coming back, brainwashing and some unwanted family relationships. Plus, having to wear a poncho.”
How The Marquis Got His Coat Back also stars Adrian Lester, Mitch Benn and Don Warrington among others in an ensemble cast, and is directed by Neverwhere and Good Omens’s Dirk Maggs. It will be followed by another adaptation of Gaiman’s novels, Stardust, also directed by Maggs for later in the year.
How the Marquis Got His Coat Back is on Radio 4 on 4 November at 2.15pm and on BBC iPlayer thereafter.