Originally published in 1924, `Whose Body?' was the first book to feature Dorothy L Sayer's most famous creation, the Gentleman detective Lord Peter Wimsey. This excellent radio dramatisation, first broadcast in 1973, is an excellent rendering of that fine book.
Ian Carmichael stars as Wimsey, and perfectly captures his essential qualities. The easy going charming man about town, with a quick keen intellect and demons that haunt him after his experiences in the first world war. Carmichael is perfect in the part, and his voice sounds just like the one I hear when I read the books. I am however a bit biased, as Carmichael came from Hull, my home town for many years.
The cast list reads like a who's who of British vocal talent, with Patricia Routledge as Wimsey's mother, Gabriel Woolfe as his friend Inspector Parker, Stephen Thorne as his nemesis Inspector Sugg and the wonderful Peter Jones as Wimsey's ineffable and indispensable manservant Bunter. With that much talent around a decent show is assured, and a decent show is what we get.
The story starts when Mr Phipps discovers a body in his bath, wearing nothing but a pince-nez. A wealthy industrialist disappears at the same time, one who bears a resemblance to the corpse in the bath. Lord Peter has to untangle two tangle threads to arrive at the truth behind these strange events.
The murderer becomes obvious quite early on, but the whole thing is done with so much charm that it is a joy to listen to anyway. And there are some quite outstanding moments, such as episode four where things get very dark for Wimsey, in a chilling sequence that is juxtaposed with a very lighthearted and almost funny scene in which Bunter interrogates another gentleman's valet. It works perfectly to make one of the best half hours of radio that I have heard.
The story is split into 5 half hour episodes, spread over two discs. Episode three is plit between discs one and two. Sound production and clarity is excellent for a recording that is now 40 years old, it sounded as though it was recorded yesterday. Liner notes are actually quite extensive and interesting, and a lot better than the BBC's usual record in this department.
In all a 5 star dramatisation of a 5 star book. I loved it, it just flew by. 5 stars.