Richard O’Brien (The Rocky Horror Picture Show, The Crystal Maze) is to take the lead role in a new fantasy audio drama, with the new trailer for The Barren Author debuting exclusively on RadioTimes.com.
In the series, O’Brien plays The Brigadier, who tells his story in sessions via video calls to the mysterious Smith (played by Doctor Who star Sophie Aldred). But is she all she says she is, and what – in fact – is she? A publisher, a psychiatrist, or in league with forces of evil?
You can listen to the trailer for The Barren Author below:
The Barren Author is inspired by the stories of Baron Munchausen by Rudolf Erich Raspe.
The original Munchausen stories about a fictional German nobleman first appeared in 1785 in the book Baron Munchausen’s Narrative of his Marvellous Travels and Campaigns in Russia and told of his impossible achievements as a sportsman, soldier, and traveller including riding on a cannonball, fighting a 40-foot crocodile, and travelling to the Moon.
The Barren Author, written by Paul Birch, is not a literal adaptation of the Munchausen stories but instead takes “the satirical, provocative and absurd spirit of the original tales and reimagines them for 2020.”
Speaking to RadioTimes.com, O’Brien said: “I love Munchausen – I suppose I first came in contact with him at school, I’m guessing around the age of 10 or 11, and these stories were relayed to us and we were introduced to him – and then of course the Terry Gilliam movie [1988’s The Adventures of Baron Munchausen] was just brilliant… and when this came along, I thought, ‘It’s not too much difficulty… I’m in a studio with no-one looking over my shoulder and… I can have fun with it!’.
“We’ve all brushed up against fantasists from time to time – people you’ve had long conversations with and then you discover later on that there’s absolutely no truth whatsoever to what they’ve been telling you and you can’t really fathom why they bothered – why they in the first place felt they had to tell stories about their lives is fascinating!”
Though producer/director Barnaby Eaton-Jones sent O’Brien the scripts for all six parts of The Barren Author, the actor and musician opted only to read them one episode at a time while recording. “He did actually send them all at once… and I refused to do that. I took it one step at a time. One of the enjoyable things about doing it is that I never knew what was going to happen with the next episode – where it was going!
“I’m in the business of entertainment, I’m not an intellectual, so if there are any messages in what I’m doing, I hope that they’re so far beneath the surface that they are subliminal… I hate people beating you over the head with messages. I don’t think the audience should have to work – they should be taken on a journey and transported into another world and entertained. That’s the way I approach anything.”
Having “loved the madness and satirical bite of the Baron Munchausen tales”, director/producer Barnaby Eaton-Jones “had an idea kicking around for a while of taking the core concept, keeping some of the well-known elements, and updating the tales in a contemporary setting.”
Now that he’s achieved his goal in collaboration with writer Burch, Eaton-Jones’ “fingers are crossed for people loving it enough to ask for another series of escapes” – and that’s a desire that O’Brien shares.
“If people are asking for more, then I think both Barnaby and myself would be quite willing to go down that path,” he told us. “So we’ll see what happens with this first!”
The Barren Author will be released on Saturday (31st October) at £3.99 per episode or £19.95 for the six-part series. Find out more at spitefulpuppet.com.