RL Stevenson – Kidnapped

Kidnapped, by Robert Louis Stevenson, has been one of my favourite stories ever since I was given an abridged, children’s edition for Christmas when I was about 7 or 8.

It was the year of grace, 17– … is how I remember it starting, so I was intrigued from the very beginning by the lack of precision in the date. Although I doubt that I thought of it in those terms at such a young age.

I also enjoyed the serial on TV in the mid 1960s, shown at Sunday tea-time, as all good serials ought to be.

Yes, I’m sure my Mum being Scottish helped build my interest, but after watching that serial on TV, I wanted to visit the Scottish highlands and see the glorious landscapes for myself. If Scotland is that gorgeous in black and white, it must be really stunning in colour…

I’ve subsequently enjoyed the full-length, unabridged novel a few times, as well as the sequel, Catriona. Plus, I’ve watched some other TV and film adaptations. But nothing will ever surpass my experience of that first (now nearly 50-year old) teatime serial.

Yet, often, radio drama can do a pretty good job too. So it was with great pleasure that I found Kidnapped being serialised on BBC 4 Extra. It’s four one-hour long episodes, starring David Rintoul (currently in The Iron Lady with Meryl Streep) and Paul Young.

BBC – BBC Radio 4 Extra Programmes – RL Stevenson – Kidnapped.

Needless to say, I no longer have my original book, but I can visualise it, so if I find a copy on eBay or something, I’ll be very happy.

10 thoughts on “RL Stevenson – Kidnapped

  1. you echo my feelings here.I had a crystal set that I could rig up to listen in bed at night and I heard all sorts of great stories with it.
    I was delighted to discover ,listening to this recent version ,that I was still able to slip into the very special state of mind that childhood manages so easily and to become completely lost in the adventure.And the moment when Alan tells David” I liked you because you never seemed to quarrel but now we’ve quarrelled I like you more” sums up their friendship so movingly.

  2. a very fine piece of dramatization. i could indeed submerse myself in this amazing story. i’m now desperately trying to find the music score, or information on the musicians, as the beautiful jitties do not leave my head. any idea where I can find this? i’ve tried the BBC ad exhaustiam, to no avail.

    • Well, thank you, Peter!
      beautiful cover! one of the best I’ve seen.
      thanks for your offer re the help! you can contact me through this space, I’ll be checking it regularly.

      • I loved the recently broadcast dramatization of Kidnapped, and have also tried in vain to trace the music. Catherine Czerkawska writes that she also dramatised Catriona, and I’m trying to track down a recording, probably on tape, but I’m having no success with that either! Can anyone help? I’ll keep checking the space provided. Melisande

  3. Hello and thank-you for your kind words about the dramatisation. It was a very happy production. I didn’t know this had been repeated again until the BBC contacted me today! Catriona was a lovely book to work on and the production was excellent, but I’ve only got old cassettes of it I’m afraid. I also did Treasure Island with James MacPherson, which is still available on CD, for anyone who loves Stevenson as much as I still do.

    • Hello Catherine, how lovely to hear from you! I heard a version of Treasure Island last year too, it was one and a half hours long, so I’m not sure if that was yours. I was hoping Catriona would turn up on Radio 4 Extra, but it hasn’t so far… Are you still working in radio or are you concentrating on novels? Either way, very best wishes to you.

    • Hello Catherine. How lovely to hear from you, and to learn that your dramatization of Catriona still exists! As I wrote, I’ve been searching continually for a year with no result. What’s particularly frustrating is that these words of David Balfour appear in the cassette recording I have of your dramatization of Kidnapped: ‘…but I little knew then how closely my own future and that of James More Macgregor was to become entangled.’ I can get no sense out of the BBC and was amazed that they didn’t want to record both books. Catherine, I’ve hesitated to contact you for ages because I don’t want to be intrusive, so I hope you’ll forgive me for the request I’m about to make. I simply wondered if it might be possible to copy your cassettes. I don’t mind if the quality’s not sparkling; I have a machine still that plays cassettes which I use often, and, of course, I’d be happy to pay anything it cost. If this sounds a little obcessive, then it probably is, but I remember your comment that RLS’s writing ‘sings off the page’, and it’s this quality of his, among others, that I think you’re so faithful to in your adaptation of Kidnapped to a dramatisation for radio. What a wonderful cast, too: the voices of Paul Young and David Rintoul will always be the voices of Alan and David for me now. Creating the production must indeed have been a lovely experience. I mustn’t keep writing, but I must tell you that I love your Manus, too. There are delightful echoes of ABS, aren’t there? I hope this reaches you: it comes with my very best wishes to you in all you’re doing. Mel.

  4. Does anyone know where you can buy this version of kidnapped on cd? I had it on tape as a child but I wore it out and have been looking for a replacement ever since.

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