Bleak Expectations

The Complete BBC Radio 4 Series
Length: 14 hrs and 4 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (32 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The complete collected series 1-5 of the gloriously daft Victorian romp Bleak Expectations

Gasp at the evil Mr Gently Benevolent, played by Mr Anthony Head! Weep at the trials of our young hero, Pip Bin, played by Master Tom Allen! Be moved to joy and sorrow by the remarkable narration of Mr Richard Johnson! Swoon at the fragile beauty of Pip's poor mama, played by Miss Celia Imrie! Wonder at the thespian prowess of Mr Geoffrey Whitehead as six different siblings! Follow the remarkable adventures of young Pip Bin as he struggles to rescue himself and his sisters from the schemes of his evil and badly named guardian, Mr Gently Benevolent, and the blood-curdling Hardthrasher family. 

Immerse yourself in a timeless epic featuring terrifying schools, even worse prisons, opium dens, disguises, court cases, shipwrecks, underwater squirrels and swashbuckling long-lost aunts. Revel in the many fine quips, characters and scenarios written by Mr Mark Evans and produced by Mr Gareth Edwards, previously renowned for their craftsmanship on the works of Messrs Mitchell and Webb. 

Series 1: Televised as The Bleak Old Shop of Stuff on the BBC. Episodes: 'A Childhood Cruelly Kippered', 'An Adolescence Utterly Trashed', 'A Youth Utterly Crocked', 'A Young Adult Bitterly Dismantled', 'A Young Love Mercilessly Dismembered', 'A Life Sadly Smashed Then Happily Restored a Bit'. 

Series 2: 'A Happy Life Cruelly Re-Kippered', 'A Re-Kippered Life Smashed Some More', 'A Recovery Made Miserable', 'A Restoration Re-Ruined Only Even Worse', 'An Already Bad Life Made Worse but Sort of on Purpose', 'A Happy Life Broken' and 'Then Mended a Bit'. 

Series 3: 'A Lovely Life Re-Kippered Again Once More', 'A Now Grim Life yet More Grimmified', 'A Sort of Fine Life De-Niced Completely', 'A Horrible Life Un-Ruined and Then Re-Ruined Again', 'An Evil Life Sort of Explained', 'Lives Lost', 'Ruined Wrecked' and 'Redeemed'. 

Series 4: 'A Tolerable Life De-Happified', 'A New-Spoiled Life Smashed Some More', 'A Wretched Life Made Much, Much Sadder', 'A Painful Life Re-Miserablised', 'A Now Tricky Life Woefully Miseried Up', 'A Life Destroyed then Repaired and Re-Happied'. 

Series 5: 'A Pleasant Yet Dull Life Re-Evilled', 'A Re-Excited Life Made Distinctly Dangerous', 'An Alrightish Life Savagely Frozen to Bits', 'A Writerly Life Made Dreadfully Different', 'A Terrifying Life Made Even Scarier a Bit Some More', 'A Loved-Up Life Potentially Totally Annihilated'. 

Audio updated as of February 2020.

©2017 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd (P)2017 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd
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😂😂😂😂😂

brilliant writing brilliant casting brilliant performances

I have listened to this again and again since I first heard the show years ago. if you're not dead then you'll enjoy this immensely. you may enjoy it as well if you're dead, I can't really say.

3 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Utterly delightful and so very fun

I am a fan of Charles Dickens and this parody/satire seemed right up my alley. And it was! This is so different from the "typical" British comedy which is funny but not laugh out loud funny. Bleak Expectations is laugh out loud funny. Some of the jokes are incredibly witty and clever...and some of them are just the most obvious puns. But honestly, I didn't even care because 1) I love puns and 2) it had earned my delight long before that. The story just gets more and more ridiculous as it goes on (there is an alien invasion at one point) and somewhat repetitive since it's pretty much always the same bad guy who just doesn't seem to be able to stay dead. But again, honestly I didn't care because I just enjoyed the ride. The performances were really great; I've loved Anthony Head since Buffy the Vampire Slayer and he is just phenomenal at voice acting here.

Some small technical notations: I was frustrated that each episode of the series is not a separate chapter so it would be really difficult to jump to a specific episode. The last series seems to be grouped into episodes as chapters but the others are not. Not sure if this is something Audible could fix, but listeners should be aware. Also, there is a technical issue with chapter 216: there is about 30 minutes of dead air after the episode ends. It doesn't appear that any episodes are missing; there's just a few minutes you have to fast forward through to get to the next episode.

Overall, very highly recommended if you have any affection for Charles Dickens or ridiculous comedies. This series was a bright spot during a difficult time and I will absolutely listen to it over and over again.

3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Absolutely hilarious

I have actually lost count of how often I've listened to this. It is my absolute favorite! Probably over a hundred times by now, as I used to listen to this every night while trying to fall asleep (had noisy dorm neighbours that I needed to drown out and I can't fall asleep with music on). The characters are amazing and hilarious, I cannot pick a favorite, but Anthony Head is glorious in anything he does!
After 8 years and the fact that I know it by heart, it still makes me laugh. So five stars and swans all around!

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Hilarious

I read the description for this show awhile ago and thought it sounded weird and not very funny, but recently I finally decided to give it a shot, and honestly, I can’t believe I waited this long. Bleak Expectations is brilliant, especially if you know anything at all about Victorian literature. If you’re familiar with John Finnemore’s Souvenir Programme, Bleak Expectations is a bit like an extended ‘since you asked me’ sketch- satirical, punny, and more than a little absurd. I often burst out laughing in public while I’m listening because it’s just so funny. The voice acting is also excellent, especially Anthony Head. Overall, really really great.

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

Final chapter is missing

Had the final chapter been included, this would have five stars. Too bad. Want a refund.

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    1 out of 5 stars

That strange wacky British humor

I am returning this audio book. I really enjoy the actor's voices, especially those I recognize from Cabin Pressure. But I do not get British humor when it gets wacky. Perhaps it truly is funny to someone British, but I am left baffled . . . wondering what is funny. Over and over again in this audio book

I will keep trying out other British BBC comedy series since some of them really are funny, but there must be some cultural divide where the wacky stuff doesn't translate.

Most of this book, to be honest, I slept through. But I tried before and after sleeping through the middle of it to listen to the story and jokes - because I really wanted to hear some comedy. But this book didn't work for me and I can't finish it. I had to go reload Cabin Pressure and John Finnemore's Double Acts onto my iPod to get some good laughs.

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  • Rian Peters
  • 08-01-17

One small problem

I really enjoy bleak expectations and have listens to it may times on the radio and was overjoyed when the full series came on to audible but the only issue I have with this version is that the chapters are broken down irrationally rather than by episode or series. If this issue is ever fixed then I would have no issues with this audiobook

21 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Jase
  • 01-23-18

Exellent but spoilt by the bizarre chapter length.

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes

Who was your favorite character and why?

There are 217 chapters!

Any additional comments?

What were they thinking in using chapter lengths of such short length??? Some chapters are less than 1 minute long while others stretch to a more normal 20+ minutes - the sheer amount of miniature chapters though results in a "blip" in playback , rather like an old record skipping. Really annoying , REALLY ANNOYING! Please fix it so we can download again and enjoy it properly.

15 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • chris
  • 09-03-18

Very entertaining

Would have given it 5 stars all round if it weren't for the absurd amount of chapters (200+). Ideally it'd be split in to episodes.

5 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Nigel
  • 10-31-17

Can we please have 1 chapter per episode


After listening to the first few episodes I didn’t understand the raving positive reviews, but persevere to series 2 and you’ll be rewarded.

It’s recorded in front of a live audience and I found, in series 1, there were many people with loud laughs + some people who laughed at anything. Their sound level is just too high and started to annoy. Thankfully series 2 onwards it’s fine, and that is the same with the writing, it improves a lot.

To really appreciate it you need to enjoy silly; some characters remain, but are undead. People turn into dinosaurs. An authentic period drama it is not.

The audio is split into 217 chapters, some are an episode in length, but most are only a few minutes long. This is frustrating as you can’t use ‘sleep timer’ + ‘End of chapter’. Please Audible and BBC can we please have 1 chapter per episode, as can’t understand the logic why you would split chapters into 1-2 minutes chunks.

Also in Chapter 216 there is a 28 minute gap of nothingness, pure silence. What’s that all about?

Ignore the formatting, that’s not the fault of the programme (Bleak Expectations), it’s a grower and a bargain for all five series @ 1 credit.

5*

11 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • "danby25"
  • 05-02-19

CHAPTERS PLEASE

Like everyone else I found the way this has been split into millions of chapters really annoying! One chapter per episode. Please fix this!!

4 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • S Adam
  • 12-03-18

Spoiled by excessive chapters

All it required was a chapter stop at the end of each episode but whoever set this up has created 200 stops, some in the middle of dialogue resulting in a momentary but annoying jitter as the next one is played. It also makes using the sleep timer to the end of each episode unusable.

If Audible or the BBC read this comment, please sort this out.

4 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • tubbydaddy
  • 03-26-18

Funny comedy shame about the chapters

Really enjoyed Bleak Expectations. Well performed and well written. Lots of laugh out loud comedy. Only real let down is the chapter listing. Instead of the usual 1 chapter per episode, we have been given 1 chapter per track That makes it pretty much impossible to trace favourite episodes. Audible could have done better here.

4 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Stephen Moffatt
  • 08-01-17

An Absolute Joy....so clever, so funny!

What did you like most about Bleak Expectations?

From the first episode this radio series sparkles with with both with and broader too. The writing is very clever - the writer is clearly very fond of Dickens but paraodies his stories beautifully, gently mocking the Victorian values, the caricature characters and the fascinations of Britain's educated middle-class readers at the time.I loved the clear Goon Show references and all of the gentle references to contemporary pop culture - Darth Vader, Close Encounters of the Third Kind etc. And what acting...! Wonderful energetic performances throughout - all of the actors clearly loving the show and the script.Fabulous value too - would have forked our twice the price for such funny and original entertainment.

Who was your favorite character and why?

The Elder Pip Bin - the pomposity and self-importance are so funny.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The moment when a character encounters alien life and reproduces the Theme to 'Close Encounters of the Third kind' will stay with me forever - sublime!

4 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Will Dunsmure
  • 01-02-20

Why so many chapters??

200+ chapters is unnecessary and can be distracting as you begin to notice the small gap between each one.

There is also a long silence of over an hour between the penultimate and final episodes.

The story itself is great with wonderful performances.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Kindle Customer
  • 11-28-19

Enjoyable - last chapter missing

Have listened to this many times on 4extra and really enjoyed it! Unfortunately the last episode didn't play on Audible. Lots of minutes of silence. Have tried re-download' to no avail. Shame

2 people found this helpful