Beekeeper on the Beeb

One of the Lost Treasures of the LRKing universe is a radio adaptation the BBC did years and years ago ofcover-beekeeper

(under a previous cover, of course) which they broadcast, sold for a time in the shops, and then it sort of faded into the storied mists.  Even I never got a copy of the thing.  However, Rumour Reaches Me that the Beeb is dusting it off and giving it another airing.  As I remember, it was rather fun, despite some minor flaws with the adaptation.  The link is here, let me know if it doesn’t work for you.

And if you listen on Friday, let me know what you think of it.


  1. Carolyn Clarke says:

    The good news is that it works. The bad news is that the next broadcast is not until Friday. Oh, the anticipation. Do you know the actors for the roles of Russell and Holmes?

  2. Oh, this could be fun – I didn’t know the BBC had done this. I’ll tune in!


  3. The BBC says Monica Dolan, who most recently was in an episode of “Call the Midwife,” played Mary. That’s on the BBC’s site. And Radio Times’ description has the drama starring James Fox, who I presume is Holmes. I hope that helps!

  4. I hadn’t heard of Laurie R King, but I came in part way through the dramatisation the first time it was broadcast, and found it delightful. The second time it was on, over a year later, I recognised it, even though it was part way through, but at a different point – something about it really gripped me. Laurie you’ll love this bit – I found a copy of the book in my village mobile library (a bus that visits the villages in this part of Cambridgeshire once a fortnight). I read all the books that were available through the library before I succumbed and bought the lot! So my enjoyment started with the BBC drama, for all its faults. Hopefully this broadcast will get new readers to enjoy the books! X

    • Laurie King says:

      I agree–hearing something like this may pique the interest of a would-be reader, always a good thing. Just like the readers who come to Conan Doyle through having read Laurie King…

  5. Am I understanding the website correctly that it’s on at 3:30 pm Eastern Seaboard time? I still doubt I can catch it, as I will probably have to be working, but I want to be sure of the time so that, if I CAN tune in, I’ll have the time right.

  6. Folks who use Windows OS can use the BBC Downloader to download the podcasts as they come. You can get it from

  7. I, too, shall tune in. Fox as Holmes- interesting. The link notes the broadcast time as being in GMT (or Zulu if of a military persuasion) – right now the UK is on British Summer Time (BST), which is GMT+1. Beeb adaptations are usually pretty good – their “Lord of the Rings” was magnificent, even if it did omit the Tom Bombadill thread. That was at least 26 years ago BUT it can be purchased on Audio CD.


  8. Meredith Taylor says:

    Aha! please ignore my inquiries elsewhere as this answers my questions. Does anyone know if these can be “podcast,” so a person can hear the back episodes?

    TBFO/Mike: it happens I found that radio version of Lof theRings on cassette and it sustained us all the way across the country where there were only antelope, no radio stations. It indeed was great.

  9. Meredith Taylor, there is a program that can do that for you. Do a Google Search for “RadioDownloader” and “Nerdoftheherd”. I’m using it to get other BBC radio programs

  10. Meredith, if you find out that they can be podcast, please let me know, either by posting here or sending me a PM through the book club, because that would REALLY help me out. Broadcast time on the Eastern Seaboard is the middle of the afternoon, when I really have to be working.

  11. Meredith – my cassette (before I got the CD) of LoRings sustained me on a solo drive through Norway and into Sweden a long time ago. Glad you enjoyed it. Less than 24 hours to the Beekeeper’s Apprentice.

    Mike / TBFO

  12. Help, help, help!!! (We Luddites panic easily.) I’ve installed the Radio Downloader program, but when I search the BBC offerings it doesn’t show “The Beekeeper’s Apprentice.” Is that because it hasn’t been broadcast yet? Or am I doing something wrong?

  13. Laurie King says:

    I imagine that’s because it’s not been broadcast yet. I understand it’s supposed to be streamed for a week or so following the Friday broadcast.

  14. Message timed @ 22:20-ish British Summer Time. Beekeeper’s Apprentice – one of four half-hour programmes was broadcast @ 20:30 BST this evening on BBC Radio 4 Extra. The other three episodes will be broadcast weekly at the same slot. I also noticed it was broadcast earlier today @ 13:30 BST, if that helps.
    As to the adaptation (by Sean Prendergast, who cameoed briefly as Watson) and performance itself, taken as an isolated entity it worked very well for me. The story is told by Mary to her tutor at university over a game of chess. Radio is a different medium for drama than TV or film (movies) and the relation of the initial encounter was treated as an explanation as to how there was no impropriety in the Holmes/Russell relationship. So, while it is not a straight dramatization, it was a good scene setter.
    Please let me know what you think. I enjoyed it.


  15. I never did figure out how to use the Downloader – it just does not show the program as available. However, I found that it is not necessary, because it appears to be more or less available on demand, once the first airing has occurred, on the BBC iPlayer Radio website, so I caught it the next day. Haven’t yet decided how I feel about the adaptation.

  16. Glad you found the iPlayer Lenore. I should have mentioned it earlier in the thread. I have often found that dramatic adaptions – be they radio, TV or movie are never quite as they were written … or how you perceive them in your mind’s eye. That’s the power of imagination. They are different “takes” on the same story – as long as they take the central thread, then it usually works. Take the Harry Potter series – the movies stuck to the main thrust all the way through, but many sub-plots and asides were lost – no time to get them in … It worked for HP but not quite as well for the movie version of the Lord of the Rings. Elements had to be puffed up for visual effect, while other elements were suppressed. The DVD versions have a longer play time than the theatre release – I think that’s the expression you use in the former Colonies 🙂 . There are three more episodes to go, which should help you make up your mind, one way or the other.
    So as it is Willi Shakes’ Birthday today as well as St.George’s Day, I’ll sign off with Henry V’s call at Harfleur … “Cry ‘God for Harry, England and Saint George’.”

    Mike / TBFO

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