Neverwhere

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This article is about the 1996 television series. For other uses, see Neverwhere (disambiguation).
Neverwhere
NeverwhereDVD.jpg
Neverwhere DVD cover
Genre Fantasy
Created by Neil Gaiman
Lenny Henry
Starring Gary Bakewell
Laura Fraser
Hywel Bennett
Clive Russell
Paterson Joseph
Trevor Peacock
Elizabeth Marmur
Tanya Moodie
Peter Capaldi
Earl Cameron
Composer(s) Brian Eno
Country of origin United Kingdom
No. of episodes 6
Production
Running time 30 minutes
Broadcast
Original channel BBC Two
Picture format Video
Original run 12 September  – 17 October 1996 (1996-10-17)

Neverwhere is an urban fantasy television series by Neil Gaiman that first aired in 1996 on BBC Two. The series is set in "London Below", a magical realm coexisting with the more familiar London, referred to as "London Above". It was devised by Neil Gaiman and Lenny Henry, and directed by Dewi Humphreys. Gaiman later adapted the series into novel form. The series and book were partially inspired by Gene Wolfe's novel Free Live Free.[1]

Plot[edit]

Richard Mayhew, a Scot living in London, encounters an injured girl named Door on the street one night. Despite his fiancée's protests he decides to help her; upon doing so he ceases to exist on Earth and becomes real only to the denizens of 'London Below', whose inhabitants are generally invisible and non-existent to the people of 'London Above'. He loses his house, his job and nearly his mind as he travels London Below in an attempt to make sense out of it all, find a way back, and help Door survive as she is hunted down by hired assassins.

In London Below the various familiar names of London all take on a new significance: for example Knightsbridge becomes "Night's Bridge", a stone bridge whose darkness takes its toll in human life; The Angel, Islington is an actual angel. London Below is a parallel world in and beneath the sewers. Its inhabitants are the homeless, but also people from other times, such as Roman legionaries and medieval monks, as well as fictional and fantastical characters.

Characters & cast[edit]

Character TV series Radio play
Richard Mayhew Gary Bakewell James McAvoy
Door Laura Fraser Natalie Dormer
The Marquis de Carabas Paterson Joseph David Harewood
Hunter Tanya Moodie Sophie Okonedo
The Angel Islington Peter Capaldi Benedict Cumberbatch
Mr. Croup Hywel Bennett Anthony Head
Mr. Vandemar Clive Russell David Schofield
Old Bailey Trevor Peacock Bernard Cribbins
Lamia Tamsin Greig Lucy Cohu
The Abbott Earl Cameron George Harris

Episodes[edit]

Neverwhere was first broadcast on BBC Two from 12 September 1996. There are six half-hour episodes:

  1. Door
  2. Knightsbridge
  3. Earl's Court to Islington
  4. Blackfriars
  5. Down Street
  6. As Above, So Below

Background[edit]

The idea for the story came from a conversation between Gaiman and Henry about a possible television series. Henry suggested a story with tribes of homeless people in London. Gaiman was initially reluctant to commit, as he feared that making the homeless appear "cool" might cause more young people to attempt to emulate the characters, but decided that the effect could be avoided by making the story more removed from reality.[2][3] Neverwhere received some criticism for its appearance. One major problem lay in the original plan to shoot on video (for budgetary reasons), and then later "filmise" the footage to make it look as if it had been shot on film.[4] For this reason, the programme had been lit and shot in a manner appropriate to a film-based production. However, the decision to apply the filmisation process was later reversed. In addition to what some considered the old-fashioned appearance of un-filmised video,[4] the lighting set up with film in mind appeared garish and unsubtle on the more clinical medium. Gaiman himself commented that the loss of quality resulting from multi-generational VHS copies actually improved the appearance in this respect.[4]

Production[edit]

Locations[edit]

DVD releases[edit]

The six episodes were released in the US and Canada to DVD as a two-disc set on 9 September 2005[citation needed] in conjunction with A&E Network. Despite the DVDs often being advertised as region 1, some of the actual discs, however, are region zero.[citation needed] The BBC have released the series on DVD on 23 April 2007. The opening theme tune on the original BBC2 transmission was the same as the music over the closing credits. The opening theme on the Region 2 DVD version is a series of abstract sounds, while the closing music remains intact. The music for the series was made by Brian Eno.

Adaptations[edit]

Novelization[edit]

Main article: Neverwhere (novel)

Neil Gaiman wrote a novelisation of the television series that was first released in 1996, during the television show's transmission. This was accompanied by a spoken word release on CD and cassette. The text was later re-written for the US market (Gaiman's publisher insisting that many of the references of London were too obscure for US tastes) and a third version is now available which combines elements of both earlier versions of the novel.

Comic book[edit]

A nine-issue comic book limited series began in June 2005, written by Mike Carey (who had worked on Lucifer, a spin-off from Gaiman's The Sandman), with art by Glenn Fabry.[5] Vertigo changed a character, the Marquis De Carabas, that had been portrayed in the TV series and on the Radio as a man from the African Diaspora into a creature with a black skin tone not seen in the real world. The comic is an adaptation inspired by the novelisation, rather than the original TV series. Thus the characters and settings do not generally resemble those seen in the series. The series was published by DC Comics's Vertigo imprint. The collected volume was also published by Vertigo, in February 2007 (ISBN 1-4012-1007-4).

Stage[edit]

In 2006, a world-premiere stage adaptation of the novel, developed by writer and actress Eve Butler and director Sasha Travis, was produced by the Savannah Actor's Theatre in Savannah, Georgia.[6][7]

In 2008, another stage adaptation was created and performed by the Actors Gymnasium in Evanston, Illinois.[1]

In 2010, Lifeline Theatre in Chicago performed an adaptation written by Robert Kauzlaric.[8][9] The eight-week run proved so successful that it was extended another four weeks. The play was viewed by Neil Gaiman and the producer of the original BBC series, Lenny Henry, during the extension.[2]

In December 2010, Galway-based theatre company Croi8 Productions performed Kauzlaric's adaptation. This was the Irish Premiere of the adaptation.

In January 2012, Reading-based Progress Theatre performed Kauzlaric's adaptation. This was the British Premiere of the adaptation.

In February 2012, Calgary-based theatre company Mob Hit Productions[10] performed a two-week run of Kauzlaric's adaptation. This was the Canadian Premiere of the adaptation.

In May 2011, the first school production of Kauzlaric's adaptation was performed at Northwest Academy in Portland, Oregon. In February 2013, Kauzlaric's adaption was performed at Friends Academy in Locust Valley, New York.[11]

On 5 April 2013, the Sacred Fools Theater Company in Los Angeles performed the American West Coast premiere of Kauzlaric's adaptation. Originally scheduled to run through 11 May, it was extended an additional two weeks due to its popularity. The play was viewed by Neil Gaiman.[12]

In August 2013, Washington, D.C. based company Rorschach Theatre performed Kauzlaric's adaptation after a successful Kickstarter Campaign.[13]

Film[edit]

A script was written for a movie version in 2009[14] and was optioned by The Weinstein Company. The project has been abandoned since.

Radio[edit]

A radio dramatisation in six parts was first broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and BBC Radio 4 Extra in March 2013, written by Dirk Maggs and co-directed with producer Heather Larmour.[15][16] During one of his book signings Gaiman indicated that it will be released for sale in late 2013.

Sequels[edit]

Neil Gaiman has said a sequel to the book titled The Seven Sisters is a possibility.[17]

How The Marquis Got His Coat Back, a novella set in the Neverwhere universe will be forthcoming in the "ROGUES" short story anthology edited by Gardner Dozois and George RR Martin.[18]

See also[edit]

  • Free Live Free by Gene Wolfe.
  • Midnight Nation, a graphic novel in which the protagonist takes a similar journey.
  • King Rat, a 1998 novel by China Miéville with a similar theme of a second city beneath London.
  • Un Lun Dun, a 2007 novel, also by China Miéville, which focuses on an alternate-world version of London that can be reached by certain individuals. Miéville mentions Neverwhere as an inspiration in the novel's acknowledgements.
  • The City & the City by China Miéville, about the city of Besźel and its "twin city" of Ul Qoma.
  • Undone, a radio series featuring a number of parallel universe versions of London between which the protagonists may pass by means of hidden "gaps". It was described by one of its authors as "a kind of comic Neverwhere".[19]
  • Mind the Gap: A Novel of the Hidden Cities, a 2008 novel by Tim Lebbon and Christopher Golden, also involves an underground, unseen version of London, and a protagonist on the run from powerful assassins.
  • The Nightside novel series, by Simon R. Green, also involves an underground, dark and unseen version of London where the main character is hunted.
  • Roofworld, a 1988 novel by Christopher Fowler about a hidden culture suspended by wires and cables above London.
  • The Matthew Swift novels by Kate Griffin are another series set in a London where magic is common but usually unnoticed by 'normal' humans. The names of the locations may not be as important as in Neverwhere but the locations themselves have power.
  • Ombria in Shadow by Patricia McKillip also tells the story of a hidden "shadow" city beneath the obvious one.

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ "In a letter from the author included in the study guide, Gaiman revealed that he got the idea for Neverwhere after reading, “Free, Live Free,” a Gene Wolfe book set in Chicago." http://www.suntimes.com/news/metro/4097439-418/city-subway-will-never-seem-the-same-again-after-reading-daleys-final-one-book-pick.html
  2. ^ Interview on the UK VHS Release of Neverwhere
  3. ^ Geoff Boucher (29 November 2011). "Neil Gaiman returns to 'Neverwhere' (and 'Graveyard Book' movie?)". Los Angeles Times. 
  4. ^ a b c DVD Bits – Region 4 and Region 1 DVD news, reviews, resources, PC-DVD, hardware
  5. ^ Neverwhere at the Comic Book DB
  6. ^ Stages of existence: Three local theatre companies move into what they hope are permanent spaces, by Linda Sickler, retrieved 7 June 2007
  7. ^ "Oops and nudity" Neil Gaiman's blog, 9 June 2006, retrieved 7 June 2007
  8. ^ http://www.lifelinetheatre.com/performances/09-10/neverwhere/index.shtml
  9. ^ "Robert Kauzlaric – Playwriting – Neverwhere". Retrieved 13 March 2013. 
  10. ^ http://www.thisisamobhit.com
  11. ^ http://geehuh.tumblr.com/post/34166791813/this-came-in-yesterday-its-official-im
  12. ^ http://www.sacredfools.org/archives.htm
  13. ^ http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1524243173/neverwhere-neil-gaimans-nightmare-wonderland-rorsc
  14. ^ "Last Orders" Neil Gaiman's blog, 17 April 2008, retrieved 25 April 2008
  15. ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01r522y/episodes/guide
  16. ^ Jones, Paul. "Benedict Cumberbatch and the cast of Neverwhere – first photo and air date revealed". RadioTimes. Retrieved 20 February 2013. 
  17. ^ Gaiman, Neil. "FAQ". http://www.neilgaiman.com. Retrieved 23 June 2014. 
  18. ^ Martin, George R. R. "Rogues Anthology delivered to Bantam". Retrieved 22 June 2013. 
  19. ^ Ben Moor. "Ben Moor as Heard on Radio". Retrieved 29 September 2012. 

References[edit]

External links[edit]