BBC_Radio_4.svgMichael,  a radio version of the William Wordsworth poem, with new dramatised scenes by Nell Leyshon was broadcast in 2004 by BBC Radio 4.  Michael tells the story of Cumbrian sheep farmer Michael and his only son, Luke, who is forced to leave the family farm in search of financial help.

“a brilliantly crafted piece”

Tom Courtenay is the narrator in Michael, an English pastoral with a twist. For while there are delightful descriptions of the wind on the Lake District hills and the “tumultuous brook of Greenhead Ghyll”, there is absolutely nothing idyllic about the lives of the shepherd Michael, his wife Isabel and theirson Luke. Thev work all day and often late into the night, just to be able to hold on to their small tract of land. Wordsworth said his intention was to show that “men who do not wear fine clothes can feel deeply”, and he was anxious to reflect the psychological effects of poverty through his poetry. As well as benefiting from Courtenay’s beautifully enunciated delivery, the poem is broken into sections with dramatised scenes of the family’s life by playwright Nell Leyshon. It’s a brilliantly crafted piece altogether, but there’s no escaping the bleak realism at the end when everything they ever worked for is gone and all that remains is an oak tree.

Cast and Creatives

Young Luke:  Dean Petre

Old Luke: Billy Walker

Michael: Tom Courtenay

Isabel: Jackie Fielding

Music: Gary Yershon

Director: Susan Roberts