Gormenghast

[Updated: May 15,1999]

Sting plays the unscrupulous 17-year-old Steerpike in the BBC radio plays of Mervyn Peake’s novels, Titus Groan and Gormenghast (originally published in 1946 and 1950, respectively). Along with Titus Alone, these books, known to many as The Titus Books or The Gormenghast Trilogy, describe the dark, enclosed world that centers in the monumental Gormenghast Castle.

The first installment, Titus Groan, sees the birth of Titus, the 77th Earl of Groan and Lord of Gormenghast. However, it is Steerpike’s single-minded and ruthless pursuit of power—and his simultaneous pursuit of Titus’ sister Fuchsia—around which this epic tale unfolds and which ultimately disrupts the long-standing Gormenghast legacy. In the radio play’s climactic scene, Sting’s young character faces off with Titus (age 17 by then) in a one-on-one battle that determines who will control Gormenghast.

So, have these books had a real influence on Sting, you ask? Well, consider the fact that Sting, who plowed through the entire massive trilogy in a single week, not only named one of his horses and a production company after Steerpike, and gave one of his daughters the middle name Fuchsia, but he also bought the rights for a proposed Gormenghast film project. The project was later abandoned after the imagination-inspiring radio play proved to be the ideal medium for Peake’s fantasy world; so ideal, in fact, that Titus Groan and Gormenghast captured Sony Radio Awards for Best Dramatization and Best Production.

BBC Radio (UK)

180 minutes

Based on the books by: Mervyn Peake

Dramatised by: Brian Sibley

Directed by: Glyn Dearman

Cast:

Steerpike Sting
The Artist Freddie Jones

Dr. Prunesquallor

Bernard Hepton
Irma Prunesquallor Judy Parfitt
Sepulchrave David Warner
Gertrude Eleanor Bron
Clarice and Cora Sheila Hancock
Fuchsia Jill Lidstone
Flay Cyril Shaps
Sourdust Robert Eddison
Barquentine Maurice Denham
Swelter Stratford Johns
Nannie Slagg Hilda Schroder
Keda Melinda Walker
Rantel Graham Blockey
Braigon Peter Acre

Bellgrove

Michael Aldridge
Titus, aged 7 Vicky Ireland
Titus, aged 17 Julian Firth

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