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In 2003, I heard part of a radio adaptation of William Gibson's Neuromancer on XM Radio, shortly after I had finished reading the book for the first time. Unfortunately, I had a flight to catch and was only able to listen to a few minutes of it.

Many details from the book were cut in the few scenes (bar scene) that I heard, but it clearly had very high production quality. This was not an audio book, but rather featured a full cast with sound effects.

I have a three-part question about this show:

  • Who produced this show?
  • Did it cover the entire book?
  • Is it available for download or purchase anywhere?
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The Neuromancer radio drama was produced by the BBC World Service Radio Drama Department as a Play of the Week. It is an abridged, dramatized form of the entire book. It originally aired in two parts in August/September 2002, and was re-broadcast in October 2003.

Neuromancer (Radio Play)

The BBC World Service Drama production of Neuromancer aired in two one-hour parts, on 8 and 15 September 2002. Dramatised by Mike Walker, and directed by Andy Jordan, it starred Owen McCarthy as Case, Nicola Walker as Molly, James Laurenson as Armitage, John Shrapnel as Wintermute, Colin Stinton as Dixie, David Webber as Maelcum, David Holt as Riviera, Peter Marinker as Ashpool, and Andrew Scott as The Finn. It can no longer be heard on The BBC World Service Archive.

Unfortunately, the audio stream has not been available from the BBC since at least 2005. This radio play is unlikely to resurface on BBC, as the department that produced the show no longer exists. The BBC World Service Radio Drama department (2000-2011, not to be confused with the newer BBC London Radio Drama department) was terminated at the end of 2011 due to a 25% budget cut in April 2011 (austerity measures resulting from the financial crisis).


Original Broadcast

BBC World Service

  • Part 1: Saturday, August 24, 2002 (repeat Sunday, August 25 and September 8, 2002)
  • Part 2: Saturday, August 31, 2002 (repeat Sunday, September 1 and 15, 2002)

The above dates are inferred based on multiple sources. Several sources list the original broadcast date as September 8 and 15, 2002. However, it was not unusual for several repeats to run as filler (usually around midnight of the original broadcast date and possibly 5 or 6pm the next day or late the following weekend). Another source shows August 31 and September 1:

UT SAT AUGUST 31 SATURDAY
2300-2430 *BBCWE PLAY OF THE WEEK: Neuromancer, SF by William Gibson
UT SUN SEPTEMBER 1 SUNDAY
1700-1800 *BBCWE PLAY OF THE WEEK: Neuromancer, SF by William Gibson
           [how come it took a sesquihour at 2300?]

Another source also has August 24 and 31, 2002, with a re-broadcast date of October 11 and 18, 2003.

Someone had apparently preserved the original broadcast (the linked post was written by Cory Doctorow, praising the preservation effort), but it is no longer available, either:

Neuromancer radio play preservation effort in the teeth of bureacracy

A fan of the BBC radio play adaptation of William Gibson's Neuromancer has launched a one-fan preservation and distribution effort. Jody Armstrong has the audio available for download on a web-page, along with some fan-art and a plaintive disclaimer begging someone from the Beeb to return the phone-calls and emails left asking for permission to do so.

I found a low-quality recording of the original broadcast on YouTube, as well as a copy of the afore-mentioned preservation effort from the Internet Archive (they are from the same broadcast). Other, slightly better (louder, not necessarily higher quality) recordings of the original broadcast are on YouTube as well (Part 1, Part 2), but they lack the introduction from the BBC.


Rebroadcast

I found precise information on the dates of the re-broadcast on a british sci-fi forum.

BBC World Service

  • Part 1: Saturday, October 11, 2003 6:30pm GMT (repeated 2am GMT)
  • Part 2: Saturday, October 18, 2003 6:30pm GMT (repeated 2am GMT)

Possibly more definitive dates and times for the re-broadcast can be found here, although the dates are different due to unknown US time zones (probably EST):

Sundays and Mondays, October 12th/13th and 19th/20th: Play of the Week presents a two-part presentation of William Gibson's cult science fiction novel, Neuromancer, which was the first place the term cyberspace was used. First airing Sundays 0101, repeated Mondays 0501.

A high-quality (128k) version of the re-broadcast is on SoundCloud (this is exactly what I remember hearing on XM Radio):

Alternatively, here is a bookmark-friendly playlist containing both parts:

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