Sir Tom Stoppard’s hour-long radio play, Darkside – “a fantastical story about fear, philosophy and madness, woven together with the original music” – was broadcast on BBC Radio 2 yesterday.

If, like me, you missed it, you’ll be pleased to know that it is available for the next six days on the BBC iPlayer, along with some rather impressive accompanying animated visuals.

Best place to start, though, is with the stunning three-minute teaser from Aardman Animations, best known for Wallace and Gromit.

The play marks the 40th anniversary of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon album and features actors Bill Nighy, Amaka Okafor, Iwan Rheon, Adrian Scarborough and Rufus Sewell.

Do let us know what you thought of it. So far, the feedback has been very encouraging indeed.

Author: FEd

Features Editor of David Gilmour’s official blog, The Blog (‘Features’ previously being its rather naff title), affectionately – or lazily – shortened to ‘FEd’.

32 thoughts on “Darkside”

  1. Hi FEd,

    I listened to Darkside ‘live’ on Radio2 on Monday night, whilst following #Darkside on twitter (sober, I might add, via headphones, with the lights out, which served to heighten proceedings).

    It was a totally surreal experience.

    Other listeners were tweeting random observations throughout the broadcast, which served to embellish the philosophising interpretations of the event.

    The themes of the album were masterfully crafted by Sir Tom Stoppard’s compelling script.

    I must confess to not having encountered any of his (no doubt substantial) body of work, being a mere simple, northern working-class kind of guy (pre-occupied with more mundane past-times). However, 40 years of listening to TDSOTM (and obviously, by definition, Pink Floyd) provided the vision to grasp the nuances of the issues being portrayed. There were numerous, subtle and not so subtle hints to various other works of music, film, etc. The play interweaved perfectly with TDSOTM to create an evocative, provoking tribute to the ultimate, most definitive of concept albums of all time. This is not a drill. The juggler has rung the bell…

  2. Whoop whoop!

    Just listened for the second time (it’s the perfect length for a basket of ironing you know) and enjoyed it immensely.
    Partial as I am to a bit of ethical thought experimentation, I found that the basic premise worked well, picking up the obvious themes and spinning a yarn of thoughts around a genuine attempt to explore and cast light on some of the burning issues of our (and anyone else’s) times.

    The whole thing has a heart-warming, earnest simplicity (which of course the empty husk of a reviewer in “The Telegraph” finds pretentious) and the section around “Any Colour You Like” was quite beautiful. In fact as the piece developed it became a more and more coherent narrative …having the confidence and sense to allow “Brain Damage” and “Eclipse” to speak largely for themselves.

    Good work Tom, and nice soundtrack.

  3. How nice, the BBC iPlayer is working outside the UK, I’m listening to it just now. Wow! Thanks for the link. I remember you wrote a few months ago on this blog that David had described it as “fascinating”.

    A pity I don’t understand the words (no chance of any subtitles? 😉 ) but it’s a real pleasure to listen to this timeless masterpiece once again. Oh and did I hear the bell of High Hopes at 23:38, or is it just my imagination?

    Happy 40th, Dark Side… !

    1. I’d be interested to see if there is a script / transcript out there anywhere?

      There’s a lot of ideas, wit and no little poetry in there – too much to take in on just a listen.

      How’s the old deerstalker Fed … any light you can shed with some sleuthing?

      1. How’s the old deerstalker Fed … any light you can shed with some sleuthing?

        Afraid not.

  4. I found it quite brilliant — fiendishly so.

    Dark Side of the Moon is for me a deeply personal listening experience and my all-time favourite Pink Floyd album – I’ve always been reluctant to hear it covered, interpreted, or otherwise ‘tainted’. Sir Tom Stoppard is a brilliant playwright and in the few works I am familiar with, there has always been a “moralist” lurking somewhere in the subtext – either as character or theme. After the third listen (alas, I couldn’t get the visuals on my platform – but have since viewed … the wonders of modern science!!), I was pleasantly surprised at how well he ‘stitched’ everything together.

    “Do you believe in the juggler?”

    Personally, I don’t think it matters … and that is the conundrum.

  5. Was just discussing this 2006 playlist with a friend and we were contemplating the merits of the various covers of I Put A Spell On You. Love, love Nina’s but one of my all-time favourite interpretations is this. To be fair, Joe Cocker and CCR each did an amazing version also.

    1. Not forgetting David’s 1992 effort with Mica Paris and Jools Holland, of course. Truly sublime. One of the extras on the David Gilmour in Concert DVD.

      I also cast a vote for the groovy Creedence Clearwater Revival version. Love the drumming on that one. I’m shocked that it didn’t make it to the top half of the Billboard Hot 100 chart (in October 1968). Unless I’ve got my stupid head on today, it’s a shame the archives at Billboard.com only include the Top Ten from each week, as I’d like to see exactly which 57 songs were considered better.

  6. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead is, if you know your Hamlet, hilarious and a hands-down favorite contemporary play by Sir Tom Stoppard. And one of our favorite movies!

    I think this ranks right up there as some of his best work, and has exceptionally excellent acting, I’m so thrilled by the quality of this: radio drama isn’t dead!

    I’m slightly less thrilled with Aardman Animations’ repetitiveness. The teaser raised my expectations a bit higher than the graphics provided during the radio play.

    But this was an ingeniously clever and funny script! Loved every minute!

  7. Timeless, ahead of its time, but most Floyd albums are works of art and I have been listening to Animals all day every day last week on my travels round Cumbria. That album is such a clever, fantastic piece of work. Gifted people. What more can I say?

    1. Interesting read. Thank you on behalf of all those here who don’t understand spoken English. 🙂

  8. Great graphics and the play is a brave effort but how can any prose propose to hold its own paired with that music? Moving moments by the always lovely Bill Nighy and Amaka Okafor. I will admit that it’s during their bits I would stop wishing for the ‘sound-track’ to hurry back on. I’m more Floyd than Stoppard I’m afraid. The way the way the music was woven into the play was excellent.

    Sorry folks, it’s really all about Darkside, the Music, in the end, and anything interrupting it, be it Stoppard or Shakespeare, is a bit of a waste of time.

    Bella xx

  9. There are some blogs that are difficult for me to comment on due to the fact I am unable to view the material being blogged about.

    The DSotM in itself will go into history equal to Shakespeare’s work or Van Gogh’s. So I suppose it being done by someone else is a compliment and will be many times over. At least, from the comments it sounds like it was tastefully done.

    For me and how I have, in my own “little mind” filed away what each song means to me and where it takes me can never be reproduced. I enjoy the videos from Pink Floyd that they have to go with some of the songs from that masterpiece. But to hear that piece of work and have my own video in my mind is what does it for me. It takes me there. Like floating in space…

  10. Dear FEd.

    So many things crossed my mind during the broadcasting day of the play. First of all, I was so thankful about the internet, because I live abroad the UK.

    I must say I´m young, and when TDSOTM was released I was not even born, but I can´t express with words the whole influence the disc has had in my life. Every Friday I listen to it, and week after week I get exited about it. It´s just a moment for me to close my eyes and think the week has finished (I´m a lawyer) and that we will always have good music, but mostly, TDSOTM.

    I think the play fit quite well in the music. I had to listen to it with headphones in my office. The visual effects were so relaxing.

    My favorite part was Time. We have all got to do something while we can.

    I simply loved it.


  11. Duh, I missed it. Anyone know where I can hear the whole thing (not just clips)?

    Surprised it was on iPlayer for only a week – some stuff (Melvyn Bragg’s excellent In Our Time series, for instance) is on “for ever”. Shame Darkside had such a short run on iPlayer…

    1. I do. Please check your e-mail and tap your nose twice while winking at the screen.

      Thank you, Comrade Michèle. Two taps of the nose for you, too. And an exaggerated wink.

      It definitely deserved a longer run on iPlayer.

  12. I did. I did. I tapped my nose twice, while winking at the screen – and a miracle happened! Thanks ever so much to you guys. At last it seems I have found a use for this internet thing. 🙂

  13. BBC radio Darkside…today is 10-24-2013, is there a link to hearing this program somewhere in this great big world? Cheers.

    1. It will actually be released on CD next month – the 25th – presented in a hardback book, along with the script. Artwork by Aubrey ‘Po’ Powell of Hipgnosis fame.

  14. 40 years later and this album is just as fresh today as it was back then.

    Time will never diminish with this album.

  15. Will this be for sale at any time? Like DVD or CD?

    Is it a play?

    Thanks for answering.

    1. It’s a play and yes, it will be released very soon. It’s due out on CD later this month – the 25th – presented in a hardback book, along with the script. Aubrey ‘Po’ Powell of Hipgnosis fame will be responsible for the artwork.

      More details here.

  16. I can’t say I loved it. 🙁

    I might give a try to the CD though, and spin it a few times and see if it sinks. There are definitely good ideas in there, deep and sound.

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