This coming 16 June, Radio 4 will be a wall-to-wall Joycefest, kicking off at 9am and running until midnight: a new, five-and-a-half hour dramatisation of Ulysses, narrated by Stephen Rea and starring Henry Goodman, Niamh Cusack and Andrew Scott, will be punctuated by broadcasts by Mark Lawson in Dublin and discussions about the book’s place in 20th-century literature.
To reassure those who might quail at some of the book’s more full-blooded material, the Beeb has emphasised that its raciest parts will be concentrated after 8pm (although there has not been a cull of the explicit: as the dramatisation’s producer, Jeremy Mortimer, points out: “You can’t have a Molly Bloom that doesn’t enjoy sex”).
On the Radio 4 blog, Gwyneth Williams adds
The dramatisation is by Robin Brooks and features a cast of 24 led by Henry Goodman, with Andrew Scott, Niamh Cusack and Stephen Rea. It is produced by Jeremy Mortimer. And Mark Lawson will guide us through the day – from kidneys in the Today programme to sex and Molly Bloom late at night.
There is one concern.
One anxiety for all at Radio 4 is the unreliable Irish weather, as Lawson will be broadcasting live. “Ulysses is set on a sunny day, but I bet it rains,” said [Radio 4's commissioning editor of drama, Jeremy] Howe.
I hope Brian Cosgrove is happy…