Neil Gaiman is a very interesting man. He’s married to cult singer Amanda Palmer, which is interesting in itself; he occasionally writes for Doctor Who: again, very interesting. He’s won many awards for his writing, including a Hugo, Newbery and Carnegie Medals, a Nebula, and a Bram Stoker. Right now though, the most interesting thing about him is the radio dramatization of his novel, Neverwhere.
The novel itself is descended from the television series by Gaiman and Lenny Henry, and the radio play is one generation further along.
Neverwhere is set in London Below, a magical place where familiar London landmarks are more than just that. Radio 4’s adaptation has a sterling cast, including Sherlock’s Benedict Cumberbach as The Angel Islington, Christopher Lee (YES!) as the Earl of Earl’s Court, Bernard Cribbins as Old Bailey…you get the idea.
The cast also features Hollywood star James McAvoy as Richard Mayhew, playing an ordinary mortal who finds himself in the subterranean world of Neverwhere, after coming to the aid of Lady Door (played by Natalie Dormer).
Gaiman was so impressed by the Radio 4 casting that he said if there were to be a Hollywood adaptation of the play, he would have no qualms about transferring the cast directly.
“The amazing thing about Neverwhere was that you could just as easily have taken that cast without changing a single soul and made a $300m Hollywood movie and not have lost anything,” Gaiman told the Radio Times.
“Would I cast James McAvoy as Richard Mayhew in Neverwhere the film? Absolutely. Would I cast Benedict Cumberbatch as the Angel Islington? Oh, just watch me!
“From that point of view I thought it was really perfect casting.”
“I just watched as the magical casting happened,” he said, “but later, reading a Radio Times article, I discovered that a lot of it had to do with James McAvoy just being a huge Neverwhere fan – and Natalie Dormer was as well – so those guys were just ‘Oh, yeah, lead me to it – we’re in!’ and I think the fact they all said yes right off the bat, with enthusiasm and delight, meant that everybody else was on board.”
Will Neverwhere come to the big screen? Who knows—it would be amazing though. Fans of Cumberbatch et al should probably start petitioning now!