The Wolves of Willoughby Chase
by Joan Aiken

Joan Aiken - The Wolves of Willoughby Chase

BBC Radio 4

Broadcast: Friday 30th December 1994

Imagine... imagine England in Winter under snow. The year is 1832 in the reign of good King James III who never, of course, reigned at all. But imagine... The Channel Tunnel from Dover to Calais has not long been completed but already a great many wolves, driven by severe winters, have migrated through it from Europe and Russia to the British Isles. Grown savage and reckless from hunger, they gathered in packs in the north country.

Set in a different but recognisable old England, this is a period in English history which never happened, but it might have... it could happen still - the tunnel is in place...

Imagine a winter dusk in 1832. Snow lies deep and shining over the pleated hills of Willoughby Wold. It is piled on the road across the Wold but, from dawn, hundreds of men have been at work clearing it. Their hands and legs are rapped in sacking to keep out the bitter cold and they stay together for fear of the wolves. They are fighting time as well as winter for soon a visitor is expected at Willoughby Chase. A visitor from far away... from London. Sylvia is coming to stay with her cousin Bonnie.

"The Wolves of Willoughby Chase" is a story of wicked wolves without and a grim governess within that threaten Bonnie and her cousin Sylvia when Bonnie's parents leave Willoughby Chase for a sea voyage. Left in the care of the cruel Miss Slighcarp, the girls can hardly believe what is happening to their lovely, once happy home. The servants are dismissed, the furniture sold, and, dressed in rags, Bonnie and Sylvia are sent to a prison-like orphan school. It seems as if the endless hours of drudgery will never cease.

With the help of Simon the gooseboy and his flock, they escape. But where will they go? And how will they ever get Willoughby Chase free from the clutches of the evil Miss Slighcarp?

Dramatised for radio by Eric Pringle from Joan Aiken's 1961 classic novel, "The Wolves of Willoughby Chase", the first book in the 'Wolves of Willoughby Chase' series.

With Jane Lapotaire [Miss Slighcarp], Emily Watson [Bonnie], Abigail Docherty [Sylvia], John Turner [Mr. Grimshaw], John Rowe [The Narrator], Gavin Muir [Sir Willoughby], Kristin Milward [Lady Green / Mrs. Brisket], Tom Bevan [Simon], Jilly Bond [Pattern], Eva Stuart [Aunt Jane], David Antrobus [James], Derek Waring [Gripe], Ian Masters [Field], Elaine Claxton [Diana], George Parsons [Dr. Morne / Cardigan], Natasha Pyne [Emma], and Becky Hindley [Lucy / Cook].

Directed by Cherry Cookson.

Re-broadcast on BBC Radio 4: Saturday Night Theatre on Saturday 2nd December 1995 @ 7:50 p.m.

90 minutes.


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