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Publisher's Summary

Sir Ian McKellen stars as Milton in this dramatised retelling of John Milton's epic poem about the fall of man.

Milton's biblical masterpiece, first published in 1667, is one of English literature's most seminal works. Straddling three worlds - heaven, hell and earth - it tells the gripping story of fallen angel Satan's rebellion against God, his temptation of Adam and Eve and their subsequent expulsion from the Garden of Eden.

Written to 'justify the ways of God to men', it aimed to show what caused mankind's fall and the consequences for the world, both bad and good. By reaching back to the beginning of time, Milton hoped to discover the events that had led to the political and societal upheaval of his own era - as well as using allegory to ask powerful questions about authority, government, tyranny and disobedience. In this brand-new dramatisation, Milton himself (Sir Ian McKellen) is the blind narrator grieving the loss of his wife, played by Frances Barber.

Also starring Simon Russell Beale as Satan, and adapted by award-winning poet and broadcaster Michael Symmons Roberts, this enthralling drama is a vital piece of storytelling with striking parallels to contemporary events. 

Cast and credits:    

Milton........................Sir Ian McKellen 

Elizabeth........................Frances Barber 

Satan........................Simon Russell Beale 

Beelzebub........................Jonathan Keeble 

Adam........................Ashley Margolis 

Eve........................Emily Pithon 

Christ........................David Seddon 

Raphael........................Conrad Nelson 

God........................Russell Dixon 

All other parts were played by members of the company. 

Written by John Milton. Dramatised by Michael Symmons Roberts. Produced and directed by Susan Roberts.

©2018 BBC Worldwide Ltd (P)2018 BBC Worldwide Ltd

Critic Reviews

"Devilishly good...I urge you to give it a listen." (The Telegraph)   

What listeners say about Paradise Lost

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Fantastic!

A beautifully artistic take on Milton.

This dramatisation is fantastic!

Just keep in mind, this is not the poem in full. This is a dramatic take on the writing of the poem. It includes some of Milton's verses, but it is definitely abridged.

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Paradise Lost is a story you must read!!

From start to finish this epic and I mean epic poem grabs you up and take you on a journey unlike no other. If you have not read this book yet I highly recommend it for those who enjoy captivating books. This book will go on your list of favorite read I promise you!

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A literary masterpiece brought to life

As a pastor, I take issue with some of Milton's theology, but that's beside the point. This poem is a work of genius and the actors perform their roles magnificently! Whether as an act of religious devotion, intellectual curiosity, historical study, or literary appreciation, do yourself a favor and listen to this spectacular drama.

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great

love it well not a dull moment bit was superb very very very very good

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  • Joseph Suter
  • 05-22-19

Excellent voice acting.

This adaptation of John Milton's epic poem is wonderfully voice acted by a great cast.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 04-11-21

Very enjoyable

I loved it but it was quite expected since it's a BBC production. Whenever I reach for their dramatisations I'm certain I'm going to enjoy them and so I have this time.

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  • Zach Bromfield
  • 02-19-21

Overall an impressive adaptation- not for young listeners!

Firstly I will address the issues. The first being that the adaption sticks to honouring the lengthy dialogues of the epic prose supplied by Milton, which may throw listeners of quick, modern dramas off. I started listening to this last year and was thrown off by the elegaic wordy dialogue and only recently returned to the book this year. You have to be in the mood to listen to the adapted dialogue of Milton’s defining epic that depicts the fall of man and loss of paradise.
This is definitely a book to enjoy while walking and there are definitely high points of listening to a depiction of the enduring battle between the forces of heaven and hell and how the story of mankind plays into it. The quality of the production is superb with convincing audio cues and sound effects to truly immerse the listener.
This is however not for kids, as the audio book does not shy away from the violence, the description of the origin of Sin and her son death, and the pleasures Eve and Adam partake in after tasting the forbidden fruit.
Another issue for me was the depiction of Lucifer. While this epic is notorious for depicting the fallen archangel of light in a dramatic light, whose quest to infiltrate paradise is widely considered as comparable to the quest of a romantic hero, the voice actor for him seems too oily and worm-like for me to consider him in that light. This is ideal of course when he takes the guise of a serpent to seduce Eve into taking from the forbidden tree, but for fans who wanted a more sympathetic and romantic fallen angel who rebelled against God, you will not find him here. I doubt that the other adaptation of Paradise Lost featuring Ian McDiarmid in full malevolent villain mode, known as Palpatine and Darth Sidious from Star Wars, will fulfill that romantic niche either!
The events of the book are intercut with Milton, who was blind in his later life, dictating his story to his wife, and appropriately, the story is told in segments between which Milton and his wife comment on the dark and wondrous events of the epic, grounding the audience and giving them time to reflect on each passage.
From Lucifer’s rousing speech in Pandemonium, to the journey to Paradise, to the War in Heaven and the fall of Adam and Eve, with a hopeful ending of reconciliation and Lucifer’s punishment as Adam and Eve walk out of the Garden of Eden hand in hand, this audiobook does a fine job of depicting Milton’s epic. What would likely take 12 hours with one narrator, this full cast audiobook condenses into a manageable two hours, akin to BBC’s adaptation of Dante’s Inferno in its succinctness, its dialogues serving as the narrative to tell a story that doubtless so many academics and casual readers struggle with to this day. The BBC has come through in adapting yet another historical prose epic along with the Greek Classics enjoyed by schools and fans of epic mythology and fantasy.

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  • David Adams
  • 11-26-20

its better to reign in hell, than serve in heaven☆

a wonderful dramatisation of a great poem, well worth your time.
I enjoyed how it weaves between paradise and hell and milton at home with his wife~☆

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  • Ahmed Shabir
  • 07-30-20

the reality of truth

a lovely heartfelt performance which gives a very plausible tribute to Milton s version of creation and the political turmoil between heaven and hell

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  • bradley
  • 08-13-19

Simply sublime

Words can't do this justice. Utterly astounding performance and fantastically dramatised. I highly recommend this!

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  • Di
  • 01-10-19

Excellent Adaptation

Highly recommended adaptation. Great introduction if like me you struggled to read it on the page