Update July 12: I’ve listened to Going Solo pt 2 (available until Aug 9) now and it is brilliant. Mr. Malahide’s narration shows how thrilling and terrifying Dahl’s experiences were. From a gruesome accident in a Gladiator to being vastly outnumbered by German planes in his Hurricane, Roald Dahl was truly fortunate to be able to return home safely to his beloved mother. And he makes it perfectly clear that most fighter pilots did not make it home, paying tribute to their determination, friendship and bravery. The Roald Dahl biographical dramatization have been wonderful. Thank you to the BBC for broadcasting them.
Both RFodchuk and I have enjoyed them tremendously. Actually, being greedy, we’d like a little more 😉 We think Patrick Malahide would be perfect for narrating Roald Dahl’s twist-in-the-tale style short stories for adults. That would be brilliant!
Roald Dahl: Going Solo part 2 will air Sunday, July 10 on BBC Radio 4 at 3pm.
As World War II rages, Pilot Officer Dahl takes to the air in a series of daring deeds. An inspirational account of survival when things seem hopeless, in which the extraordinary is made human.
“The second part is about the time I spent flying for the RAF in the Second World War. There was no need to discard anything from this period because every moment was, to me at least, completely enthralling.”
Having joined the RAF Dahl discovers a love of flying. But a crash in the Western desert almost ends his war before he’s started. Eventually he rejoins his heavily depleted squadron during the hopeless last days in Greece. Dogged air fights, secret missions and many narrow misses with death ensue before he eventually returns home to his loving mother. (source: BBC)
I’ve now listened to both “Boy” and the first part of “Going Solo” and they are fantastic. Patrick Malahide’s narration is simply beautiful, warm and sincere. His slightly raspy quality gives it all that sardonic Dahl-ian edge as he goes into darker territory. These productions, written by Lucy Catherine, combine Mr. Malahide’s narration with voice acting from a very talented cast.
(Mostly) Spoiler-Free ReCaps
“Boy” deals with Dahl’s youth. We hear about the difficulties his widowed Norwegian mother had raising young children in Wales. She was obviously a very strong woman, never afraid to stand up for her children, and Dahl loved her very much. He also loved Norway very much, visiting it each summer vacation and finding it a magical and exciting place.
My favorite part was all about Mrs. Pratchett, the miserly, filthy woman who ran the local shop. Mr. Malahide describes her perfectly, making her quite the creepy figure. Young Roald tried to get his own back on her, but that wound up backfiring. 😮
The years spent in boarding school brought their own horrors from greedy headmasters, fearsome matrons, embarrassing school uniforms, and fagging for psychopaths. It wraps up with Dahl leaving school to join the work force where he could indulge his taste for adventure and see the world.
Going Solo Part One:
This one is quite a bit more serious than Boy as it begins to go into WWII. Working for the Shell company Dahl is stationed in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanganyika (now Tanzania) after nearly being dispatched to dusty old Egypt. 😉
On the voyage there he runs into the last remnants of the old British Empire rulers (Em-Pahh!!) who are completely and unashamedly dotty. While in Tanganyika he encounters deadly snakes, both green and black mambas, and a very merciful lion. The lion story is especially good and helped get Dahl’s start into paid storytelling.
There he befriends his young servant Madishu, teaching him how to read. Together they read about the trouble brewing in Germany and realize that war is inevitable. Finally it does indeed breakout with frightening consequences for both men. The area was once ran by the Germans with many Germans still there, so Dahl quickly found himself in a position of authority for which he was ill equipped to handle.
Part One concludes with Dahl deciding to leave Shell company in order to join the RAF. There was some concern over his height as he was a towering 6′ 6″. But, nonetheless he got through his training to become a pilot. Happily, the training was an absolute delight for him, as he experienced the thrill of going solo over Kenya with a bird’s eye view of the glorious wildlife. The intensity and joy of that experience comes through crystal clear in Mr. Malahide’s narration.