The Complete Earthsea Series & The Left Hand of Darkness

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What to expect

The dazzling BBC Radio adaptations of Ursula K. Le Guin’s famous fantasy saga and her ground-breaking science fiction masterpiece – plus bonus material

Ursula K. Le Guin was one of the most revered and influential writers of the 20th Century. Her ‘Earthsea’ books have sold millions of copies and been translated into numerous languages, while her trailblazing novel The Left Hand of Darkness was a landmark in feminist science fiction and ranks among the greatest SF novels of all time. This BBC collection brings together the magical radio retellings of both these seminal classics.

Set on an immense archipelago where magic is a part of life, Earthsea tells the stories of Ged, a young, reckless wizard, and Tenar, taken from her home as a child to become Arha, guardian priestess of the ominous Tombs of Atuan. Meeting for the first time deep within the tombs, their destinies become intertwined, and they unite to bring peace to their troubled world. Years later, their paths have diverged – but when Ged returns to Tenar’s island on a dragon’s back, they are caught up in an epic battle for the future of Earthsea itself. Starring James McArdle, Shaun Dooley and Robert Glenister as Ged, and Aysha Kala, Vineeta Rishi and Nina Wadia as Tenar with Toby Jones and Noma Dumezweni.

The Left Hand of Darkness takes place on an alien world in the grip of an Ice Age. Genly Ai has been sent from Earth on a mission to persuade Gethen to join a planetary union, the Ekumen. But his task is fraught with difficulty. For this is a world whose people have no fixed gender, and Genly’s encounters with the natives are marked by mutual incomprehension and mistrust. In coming to terms with their otherness and their sameness Genly must let go of his fixed ideas about identity, and embark on a dangerous journey across the snow plains with his only ally, First Minister Estraven. The stakes are high to save a world from war. Kobna Holdbrook-Smith stars as Genly, with Lesley Sharp as Estraven.

Also included Ursula Le Guin at 85, in which novelist Naomi Alderman interviews Le Guin, with contributions from Neil Gaiman, David Mitchell and Karen Joy Fowler.

Production credits
Written by Ursula K.Le Guin
Adapted by Judith Adams

Earthsea
Ged – James McArdle/Shaun Dooley/Robert Glenister
Tenar – Aysha Kala/Vineeta Rishi/Nina Wadia
Young Ged – Kasper Hilton-Hille
Young Tenar – Nishi Malde
Ogion – Paul Hilton/Michael Bertenshaw
Manan – Zubin Varla
Cob – Toby Jones
Nilgu – Noma Dumezweni
Other Cast: Souad Faress, David Hounslow, Adam Thomas-Wright, Mark Edel-Hunt, Jessica Turner, Lucy Hutchinson, Stephen Critchlow, Sam Dale, Ayesha Antoine, Richard Linnell, Jack Kane, David Acton, Chris Pavlo, Will Featherstone, Jude Akudwudike, Laura Elphinstone, Rosie Boore, Elizabeth Counsell, John Lightbody, Ryan Early, Stephen Hogan, Sean Murray, Emma Handy, Lauren Cornelius, Kerry Gooderson, Ryan Whittle, Steven Robertson, Joseph Ayre, Narinder Samra, Tom Vanson, Sabrina Sandhu
Directed by Sasha Yevtushenko
Original music by Jon Nicholls. Sound design by Caleb Knightley.
First broadcast BBC Radio 4 Extra, 27 April-5 May 2015 (Series 1), 15-22 October 2018 (Series 2)

The Left Hand of Darkness
Genly Ai – Kobna Holdbrook-Smith
Estraven – Lesley Sharp
Argaven – Toby Jones
Other Cast: Louise Brealey, Noma Dumezweni, Ruth Gemmell, Adjoa Andoh, Stephen Critchlow, David Acton, David Hounslow, Rhiannon Neads, Sam Dale, Ayesha Antoine
Directed by Allegra McIlroy. First broadcast BBC Radio 4, 12-19 April 2015

Ursula Le Guin at 85
Presented by Naomi Alderman
With Ursula K. Le Guin, David Mitchell, Neil Gaiman and Karen Joy Fowler
Reader: Ayesha Antoine
Produced by Allegra McIlroy. First broadcast BBC Radio 4, 9 April 2015
©2021 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd (P)2021 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd

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