Date of this Version
The George Eliot Review 43 (2012)
Unheralded in the Radio Times and elsewhere, Silas Mamer, dramatized by Richard Cameron, was broadcast as the Classic Serial on Radio 4 in two one-hour instalments on 16 and 23 October 2011. I was pleased that I spotted it. George Eliot has been favourably treated on radio and television, especially in the past twenty years or so. We've had televised versions of Silas Mamer, Middlemarch and Daniel Deronda. Adam Bede, The Mill on the Floss, The Lifted Veil and Daniel Deronda have all been serialized on the radio. Radio 7 recently repeated a broadcast of Silas Mamer with the late Michael Williams in the title role. Even Felix Halt was dramatized on Radio 4 in 2007 - Dinny Thorold reviewed it in the 2009 number of this periodical. Si/as Mamer was the subject of a discussion on Radio 4 in January 2010 in Melvyn Bragg's 'In Our Time', when Rosemary Ashton, Dinah Birch and Valentine Cunningham talked about its relevance to today's readers. (This programme may still be available on the BBC iplayer.)
This Classic Serial adaptation was engaging. The course of the narrative and the dialogue were close to the original text. The accents of the rural characters were convincing but had a touch of northern English. Godfrey (Conrad Nelson) and Dunsey (James Nickerson) spoke in more educated tones, although when they quarrelled they sounded angrier than George Eliot probably intended. As we now expect in broadcast drama, the cast (some of whom took more than one role) was excellent. George Costigan was a melancholy, anxious and loving Silas Marner, Deborah McAndrew a reassuring and wise Dolly, and Terence Wilton an irascible and down-to-earth Squire. The different moods and opinions of the Rainbow chorus, led by Mr. Macey (Seamus O'Neill), energetically punctuated the proceedings.