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Blood, Sex and Money
Glenda Jackson stars in this award-winning BBC Radio series, inspired by literature's greatest ever whistleblower, Émile Zola, and his epic saga of the Rougon-Macquart family.
First published between 1870 and 1893, Émile Zola’s 20-book cycle chronicling four generations of the Rougon-Macquarts, was a shocking exposé of the decadence, degradation, and moral decay of 19th-century France. It included some of his greatest novels, among them his masterpiece, Germinal.
These innovative, ambitious dramas, first broadcast on Radio 4 over 24 hours in 2015-16, is a radical reimagining of Zola’s classic series, introducing us to 104-year-old matriarch, Dide, imprisoned in an asylum in southern France. Trapped, but omniscient, she broods over her ‘family of wolves’. As a young woman, she gave birth to two dynasties that exemplified French society. One legitimate – rich, powerful, obsessive and corrupt. The other illegitimate – poor, vulnerable, weak and depraved.
In these three seasons, themed around blood, sex and money, we come to know the members of her extended family intimately – the good, the bad and the misguided. As we follow their highs and lows, we are taken deep into the heart of France’s ‘Second Empire’, and drawn into the tragic, farcical reign of Napoleon III, as it marches forward towards a modern, industrialised society.
This groundbreaking series won Best Drama at the BBC Radio and Music Awards 2016, and Best Adaptation at the BBC Audio Drama Awards 2017, and boasts a star cast including Robert Lindsay, Julie Hesmondhalgh, Holliday Grainger, Samuel West, Anna Maxwell Martin, Paul McGann, Georgina Campbell, Jack Lowden and Alison Steadman.
Also included is a 30-minute bonus programme, The Life and Work of Émile Zola, in which Glenda Jackson travels to Paris to discover how Zola’s experience and the physical and cultural landscape in which he lived influenced his great novels.
Written by Émile Zola
Dramatised by Dan Rebellato, Oliver Emanuel, Martin Jameson and Lavinia Murray
Produced and directed by Pauline Harris, Polly Thomas, Kirsty Williams, Nadia Molinari and Gary Brown
Executive Producer: Melanie Harris
Series Producer: Susan Roberts
Sound designer: Eloise Whitmore
"Unmissable." (Daily Telegraph)
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Addictive, Edifying Fun - Truly Outstanding
I cannot recommend this series highly enough. The dramatizations are tautly written, convincingly performed, and just spellbinding, really. It dramatizes the twenty novels that constitute Zola's Les Rougon-Macquart series, his masterwork, and these performances got me so interested that, in the month since listening, I've already read three of the original novels and plan to read more.
To assist those interested and those who are in the midst of listening, here is my overview of which chapters present which of Zola's novels.
Part 1: Blood
Ch. 1 / Ep. 1: Animals / based on Zola's The Fortune of the Rougons
Ch. 2 / Ep. 2: Fire / based on Zola's The Conquest of Plassans
Ch. 3 / Ep. 3: Food / based on Zola's The Belly of Paris
Ch. 4 / Ep. 4: Politics / based on Zola's His Excellency Eugène Rougon part 1
Ch. 5 / Ep. 5: Drink / based on Zola's L'Assommoir
Ch. 6 / Ep. 6: Art / based on Zola's The Masterpiece part 1
Ch. 7 / Ep. 7: Masterpiece / based on Zola's The Masterpiece part 2
Ch. 8 / Ep. 8: Fury / based on Zola's La Bête humaine part 1
Ch. 9 / Ep. 9: Trains / based on Zola's La Bête humaine part 2
Part 2: Sex
Ch. 10 / Ep. 1 Performance / based on Zola's Nana part 1
Ch. 11 / Ep. 2 Power / based on Zola's His Excellency Eugène Rougon part 2
Ch. 12 / Ep. 3 Family / based on Zola's The Kill
Ch. 13 / Ep. 4 Lovesick / based on Zola's The Dream
Ch. 14 / Ep. 5 Innocence / based on Zola's The Sin of Father Mouret
Ch. 15 / Ep. 6 Jealousy / based on Zola's A Love Episode
Ch. 16 / Ep. 7 Affairs / based on Zola's Pot-Bouille
Ch. 17 / Ep. 8 Lust / based on Zola's The Ladies Paradise
Ch. 18 / Ep. 9 Flesh / based on Zola's Nana part 2
Part 3: Money
Ch. 19 / Ep. 1 Crash / based on Zola's Money
Ch. 20 / Ep. 2 Massacre / based on Zola's Germinal part 1
Ch. 21 / Ep. 3 Trapped / based on Zola's Germinal part 2
Ch. 22 / Ep. 4 Swindle / based on Zola's The Bright Side of Life
Ch. 23 / Ep. 5 Inheritance / based on Zola's The Earth part 1
Ch. 24 / Ep. 6 Reap / based on Zola's The Earth part 2
Ch. 25 / Ep. 7 Fate / based on Zola's La Débâcle part 1
Ch. 26 / Ep. 8 Apocalypse / based on Zola's La Débâcle part 2
Ch. 27 / Ep. 9 Ghosts / based on Zola's Doctor Pascal
Unfortunately, it does not actually include the "30-minute bonus programme, The Life and Work of Émile Zola," though the product description would lead you to believe otherwise.
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