Welcome back to DailyAudio, our attempt on NoScriptForLife.com to help you through lockdown or self-isolation with reviews and recommendations on easy to find audio books. Today we look at:
THE TOFF AND THE RUNAWAY BRIDE by John Creesey
BBC Radio Dramatisation in Six Parts
Starring Terrance Alexander, Robert Dorning and Rosalind Shanks.
The Toff is one of prolific novelist John Creesey’s less well remembered creations. Creesey wrote over 600 novels in his life, so some are bound to be more remembered than others. Despite featuring in several novels, The Toff never made it to the small screen, and the only adaptations for radio appear to be The Toff on the Farm and The Runaway Bride.
The Honourable Richard Rollison is more than just a high society drifter. Otherwise known as The Toff, he is a Simon Templar type character, an all-round thoroughly respectable and honourable gentleman, a relic of a bygone age in the modern era. A good humoured Batchelor who is often called upon by friends (and friends of friends) to help with delicate matters, such as when his good friend Guy finds his bride has run away just, mere minutes into their marriage.
Terrence Alexander (whom you might remember better as Charlie Hungerford in 80’s police potboiler Bergerac) plays Rollison, gamely assisted by his man servant Jolly. Typically his investigations and earnest determination to help good folk out of tricky situations leads to trouble and brushes with the police, and this story is no different. We follow the eponymous amateur sleuth as he struggles to find out if there is any truth to the warning given to the bride of the title, that good egg Guy is already married. Having been acquainted with this chap for some time Rollison knows he’s no bigamist but when he hears stories that his friend suffered head trauma whilst serving in the armed forces, and then finds he played it all down and kept it quiet from everyone he knew – including the blackouts he suffered, then Rollison begins to ask if it is possible good old Guy married another woman during one of these blackouts? Is it possible there are entire swathes of his past The Toff knows nothing about? And why did the bride’s father forbid them to marry and then change his mind?
It’s an intriguing set up but despite following the trail all over London and to Paris, this six part serial does descend into a bit of a run-around. Albeit a well cast and well crafted one. There are several longeurs (such as the business over the trip to France which seems to exist merely to pad out episode five) and dead ends, but on the whole this is gently enjoyable stuff. If you’re looking for something to put on whilst you potter about the house, or to give you something of a Sunday classic feeling, then this would be right up your street.
I can’t say whether or not this mystery will leaving you guessing up until the final minutes because I’m hopeless at solving mystery stories, whether in this case that’s down to Creesey or me being dim in this regard I don’t know. It kept me guessing up until the end, that I can say.
As with most things I listen to, there’s little violence, no swearing – nothing at all to offend your granny. Plus, it’s made by the BBC so it’s dripping in class and good performances. If that’s your kind of bag then you should definitely track it down and enjoy it. I might try one of the novels next.
Find this on YouTube.com. Just type in The Toff and the Runaway Bride.
Copyright Martin Gregory 2020