Bronteana: Bronte Studies Blog Archives

April 26, 2006


Filed under: Audio Clips,Charlotte Bronte,Downloads,Drama,Jane Eyre,Radio — by bronteana @ 5:09 pm

BBC Jane Eyre in 5 parts

Back by popular demand, here are all three parts of the BBC's radio production of Jane Eyre. I do not know when it was produced but I have a feeling it is from the 1950s. This is only a guess. The production features Meg Wynn Owen (aka Megwynn Owen) as Jane Eyre, and Patrick Allen as Mr Rochester. I will say that if this production had been a film rather than an audio recording it would doubtless be one of the contenders for 'best adaptation.' In fact, this production has as astonishing St. John Rivers. Finally, an actor who takes St. John seriously enough to make him a real threat. You truly believe that he could murder Jane and not receive one stain of guilt on his 'crystal conscience'!

The strange omission is that this version actually omits Helen Burns entirely! Otherwise, it is a faithful, moving, and thoughtful adaptation. And, yes, Jane and Rochester are extremely well portrayed as well!




  1. Ah no, it was in 1972- probably around May. Just before JE ’73! I often wonder if Michael had heard it and used it to help him find the role. 🙂 But you know that Arnold Moss CBS Radio Mystery version- I always think it is from the fifties, but it is actually 1977 which is shocking because it is so bad…

    Comment by ThisbeCiel — April 26, 2006 @ 8:32 pm |Reply

  2. 1972?! How did you find that out?

    Well, as we know, these things don’t necessarily get better with time 😉 For instance, that 1977 one had some innovative revisions of the story… you know, with the spoons of doom and Bertha’s dinosaur-ish cry! Fascinating stuff!

    Comment by Brontëana — April 26, 2006 @ 10:01 pm |Reply

  3. Oh, I think I told you that I have a list of “Jane Eyre derivatives” and this adaptation is listed with the year and adapter and other stuff. From this list, I see that Rochester’s song was recorded with music by Alfred Jepson in 1962 (New York, Etnorb) but I haven’t found it a mention of it on google, but the list says that the Parsonage has it, so you know…

    However I know a Finnish group has recorded “Rochester’s Song to Jane Eyre” in 2001 on a CD called Love Songs- info:
    Love Songs
    Composed: 2000
    double male choir and electronics
    Texts by
    Thomas Moore: Echoes (in English)
    Francesco Petrarca: Or che ‘l ciel e la terra e ‘l vento tace (in Italian)
    Charlotte Brontë: Rochester’s song to Jane Eyre (in English)
    Catullus: Catulli Carmina CIX (in Latin)
    Shakespeare: Sonet no 104 (in English)
    Duration: 11’
    Commissioned by the Polytech Choir
    Fp: Polytechnic Choir, cond. Tapani Länsiö, Helsinki, May 26, 2001

    But yeah, I really want that song with a guy singing it- not a girl! (Sorry Juliet Stevenson), so I kinda went off on this tangent 🙂

    And pity about the 1977 version, surely they had a better human/animal cry than a dinosaur! What poor special effects. But spoons- they are scary. ^_^

    Comment by ThisbeCiel — April 26, 2006 @ 10:34 pm |Reply

  4. You know my feelings on Italian art songs. I haven’t found any pre-20th century Italian Corsair songs yet, but I still say that ‘Amaryllis, Mia Bella’ can only be properly sung by Mr Rochester 😉 I don’t tend to like the bass voice but when it is ‘mellow’, well, it’s a beautiful thing 🙂

    This is the first I have heard of this list, I think, although I think you mentioned a book on the subject. Maybe I’ve confused it.

    Comment by Brontëana — April 26, 2006 @ 10:40 pm |Reply

  5. Spoons???????
    What do you mean? Now I am too curious to know!!

    Comment by mysticgypsy — April 26, 2006 @ 11:22 pm |Reply

  6. Mysticgypsy! You surprise me! A woman of the world and you don’t know about the terror tea spoons can elicit? Have you learned nothing from Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre? *cough*Heathcliff spoon*cough*

    (The CBS Radio Mystery Theater production of Jane Eyre is the one where we got the idea for the scary Heathcliff spoon.)

    Comment by Brontëana — April 26, 2006 @ 11:52 pm |Reply

  7. OMG!! the Infamous Heathcliff Spoon!
    I should have guessed!! 😉

    (btw, do you owe us a sketch of that, eh?:P)

    Comment by mysticgypsy — April 27, 2006 @ 12:10 am |Reply

  8. Thanks for these! I have a day off tomorrow so shall settle in with a cup of tea and a hot cross bun and enjoy!

    Comment by Liz — April 27, 2006 @ 9:32 am |Reply

  9. Thanks so much for sharing! I can’t wait to listen to the show. (You know, in my spare time…)

    Comment by rinabeana — April 27, 2006 @ 9:41 am |Reply

  10. to Mysticgypsy:

    I suppose I do…

    Comment by Brontëana — April 27, 2006 @ 4:16 pm |Reply

  11. to Liz:

    Sounds great! I might take the time to do something similar… only I’ll have to be marking exams between bites 😉

    Comment by Brontëana — April 27, 2006 @ 4:18 pm |Reply

  12. to Rinabeana:

    I hope you enjoy it!

    Comment by Brontëana — April 27, 2006 @ 4:19 pm |Reply

  13. CooL! Downloading! ^_^

    Comment by le_ssa — April 28, 2006 @ 12:42 am |Reply

  14. Let me know what you think when you’ve heard it all!

    Comment by Brontëana — April 28, 2006 @ 1:20 am |Reply

  15. Great adaptation. I liked all of it. By the way, has any of you listen to the radio adaptation of Jane eyre with Ciaran Hinds as Rochester (I read in an interview with him that he also played the role in the audio version); I was just wondering if, in the audio version, he is also shouting and crying most of the times, similar with the movie version 🙂

    Comment by siansaksa — April 28, 2006 @ 5:11 am |Reply

  16. Great Adaptation! ^_^ Made me very happy, indeed. Hehehe. I think they did very well in portraying the characters. 🙂

    Comment by le_ssa — April 28, 2006 @ 7:38 am |Reply

  17. to siansaksa:

    I posted the Ciaran Hinds audio verion almost a year ago, I think. It was dreadful, and yes he was very shouty in it. I believe the audio preceeded the film. Someone at the League of the Extraordinarily Rochester Obsessed must have it, even though most of us think it is dreadful, but not I. We are committed to completeness, however, and must have every adaptation ever made. 😉

    Comment by Brontëana — April 28, 2006 @ 10:30 am |Reply

  18. le_saa:

    I’m glad you enjoy it! I keep trying to imagine what it would have been like as a mini-series. 🙂

    Comment by Brontëana — April 28, 2006 @ 10:32 am |Reply

  19. Funny how there are two audio Janes with lisps, although Meg Wynn Owen’s is a lot less annoying than Sophie Thompson’s!

    Thanks again, I loved this, it definitely hit the spot, er, as it were. Mr R was nicely posh and warm, and I appreciated having a properly passionate Jane. It’s funny how the old dialogue, which I’ve heard so many times, can be completely refreshing and bring out new shades of meaning when performed properly.

    Comment by Liz — April 28, 2006 @ 10:50 am |Reply

  20. Agreed! I really enjoyed how Megwynn was able to express Jane’shyness, and vulnerability AND her strength only using the voice. It is a wonderful thing. And I’m beginning to think that many of the most potent and passionate lines of the novel are best performed low- ie, Rochester’s breathy lines in this. Usually he shouts or at least exclaims them but they have so much more tension and feeling this way (the proposal, and the reunion, for instance).

    I didn’t even get through the Sophie Thompson/Ciaran Hinds version. I couldn’t take either one of them past the scene when Jane puts the fire out in his room!

    Comment by Brontëana — April 28, 2006 @ 11:05 am |Reply

  21. Thanks for the answers. The version with Ciaran Hinds does not sound appealing at all then, if he is still shouting 🙂 Besides, I saw Sophie Thompson in Emma movie, as Mrs Bates, and I really can’t picture her as Jane. She was good as Mrs Bates, though…

    Comment by siansaksa — April 28, 2006 @ 3:51 pm |Reply

  22. What version is this with Ciaran Hinds? Did you mean Samantha Morton in the 1996 version? Or did Hinds do another version of Jane Eyre too?

    Comment by mysticgypsy — April 28, 2006 @ 10:00 pm |Reply

  23. To Siansaksa:

    No, I hoped he would have been more on the mark with the audio version too, but sadly this wasn’t so. Previously I thought the director and writer may have thought Rochester was such a brute (since there are those added scenes where he just rages around throwing Jane’s luggage and dragging how down stairs etc…). But it looks like he just didn’t understand Rochester at ALL. I have an interview in the archives in which he says something like Rochester is ‘very very angry’ and ‘the quintessential chauvanist Englishman.’ (!!)

    Comment by Brontëana — April 28, 2006 @ 11:19 pm |Reply

  24. to Mysticgypsy:

    That version was 1997 actually (1996 = Gainsbourg/Hurt). We are referring to a radio program of Jane Eyre which Ciaran did with Sophie Thompson as Jane. The BBC aired it sometime this year but I think it was made before the Morton film.

    Comment by Brontëana — April 28, 2006 @ 11:21 pm |Reply

  25. Has anyone got advice on how I could get my hands on the Thompson/Hinds radio version.?? I seem to be in the minority concerning the film with Hinds and Morton..I think there were some wonderful scenes in it, where both of the leads were excellent, although in parts it seemed like thay were acting in different productions. Morton I thought was perfect, and Hinds certainly has what it takes to make Rochester a perfect role for him but sadly in this production overdid it in a couple of scenes. Perhaps the fact they had only a few weeks for filming has something to do with it. In any case I would love to hear the radio version! Anyone?

    Comment by northernstar — October 8, 2006 @ 2:47 pm |Reply

  26. Can anyone repost the audio version with Ciaran Hinds? I downloaded it ages ago, but lost it. Thank you!

    Comment by Liz — January 23, 2008 @ 6:55 am |Reply

  27. Good post. You make some great points that most people
    do not fully understand.

    “I will say that if this production had been a film rather than an audio recording it would doubtless be one of the contenders for ‘best adaptation.'”

    I like how you explained that. Very helpful. Thanks.

    Comment by chiz — February 13, 2008 @ 7:13 pm |Reply

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