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Publisher's Summary

Five BBC Radio 4 dramatisations of John Buchan’s espionage thrillers featuring gentleman spy Richard Hannay.

The forerunner to James Bond, Secret Agent Richard Hannay is a thoroughly British action hero, pursuing ruthless villains, foiling deadly plans and risking life and limb for his country. This gripping collection encompasses all five of Hannay’s adventures, adapted for radio with superb casts including Tom Baker, Clive Merrison, Stuart Milligan, Jasmine Hyde and Patrick Malahide.

The 39 Steps

When a man is murdered in Richard Hannay's London flat, he goes on the run pursued by the police - and a gang of German spies intent on recovering a secret notebook which could destroy the British naval fleet. Starring David Robb as Hannay.

Greenmantle

1915. Summoned to the War Office, Hannay is told of an impending Holy War in the East. Greenmantle - once a mythical figure, now made flesh - is preparing to lead a great Islamic army against the infidel English. Hannay's mission: to identify Greenmantle and destroy him. Starring David Robb as Hannay.

Mr Standfast

Recalled from the Western Front, Hannay is ordered to pose as a pacifist and sent to Glasgow. Along the way, he meets a teenage Secret Service Agent who will change the course of his life. Starring David Robb as Hannay.

The Three Hostages

When a gang of international criminals kidnaps a trio of hostages, the Secret Service brings Hannay out of retirement to track them down. But the mission will pit him against an adversary who can control men’s minds. Starring David Robb as Hannay.

The Island of Sheep

A chance meeting in a train and a villainous vendetta shake Richard Hannay out of a complacent middle age, as dangerous men go in pursuit of treasure. Starring Nigel Anthony as Hannay.

Please note: the vintage stories in this collection reflect the attitudes of their time.

©2020 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd (P)2020 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd

Critic Reviews

"The BBC radio sound effects department is on top form, adding thrills that no printed book can rival." (The Times)

What listeners say about The 39 Steps and Other Richard Hannay Adventures

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Fun 1910s-1930s espionage tales

I was familiar with the Hitchcock film The 39 Steps, but didn’t realize Richard Hannay was a character in multiple stories. These are fun, very clean, espionage stories that take place from WWI - the 1930s. I really enjoyed the dramatization and cast, but thought the cast was stronger in the first four stories, when the characters are younger.

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  • Demonica
  • 05-30-20

Doesn't age well

I adored John Buchan as a teen. I still love many stories from this era. I surprised myself at how annoying I found it just now. Performances are superb. Definitely of its time and perfectly executed. I just found the stories misogynist and jingoistic now I am on my mid 50's, living in the UK under the same regime, being treated as badly as the empire directs

5 people found this helpful

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  • Banjoman
  • 07-06-20

Ripping yarns.

Ripping yarns from John Buchan, boys own adventures, very much of its time....
Brilliant dramatisation from the BBC, and excellent characterisation from the cast.
Gentleman Hannay is at times blundering and lucky, in his adventures with spies, ruffians, and rogues. These fictional stories are good adventure entertainment.

2 people found this helpful

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  • barry jarman
  • 11-10-20

Darn good listen

Thoroughly enjoyed these books. Would have preferred if the actors had been the same all the way through, which prevented me from 5 stars

1 person found this helpful

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  • B.W.
  • 07-12-20

Great up to the last one

The Island of Sheep isn't a Bert Coules production and has been recast so it is a bit disjointed from the rest even apart from the fact that it was a later addition by John Buchan and not the strongest of his stories. Otherwise these are thoroughly enjoyable yarns but of their time (early 20th C) so beware of unfortunate references to ethnicity etc....

1 person found this helpful

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  • Peter Chistopher Franck
  • 06-25-20

Some stories good, some bad.

The 39 Steps and Greenmantle are great - the other two are rotten.
Listen to and enjoy the first two and forget the rest.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Christopher Snazell
  • 05-27-20

Very Disappointing

Richard Hannay's grinding incompetence & John Buchan's xenophobic little Englander politics aren't to my taste.

1 person found this helpful

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  • tim geering
  • 04-07-21

Top Hole

If you love thrilling adventure then this is for you. A great dramatisation and cast.

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Profile Image for Stuart Carruthers
  • Stuart Carruthers
  • 03-03-21

Stories get progressively worse

There's a reason why 39 steps is the best known Richard Hannay story, it's the best. It's not to say that the others are bad (well, except for the last one) but they just aren't as good.

As for the dramatizations, they are as you would expect very good although I wish that they'd all had the same cast.

The usual complaint about audible just using chapter numbers and not story titles still applies and is very frustrating.

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  • miss a moynihan
  • 02-04-21

Great

love every minute all the stories were great and very well done we need more like this

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 09-02-20

Very much ‘of their time’.

Very much ‘of their time’ and they haven’t aged well.
Jingoistic, Imperialistic and if not fully-blown racist at least full racial stereotypes. An example being where somebody who is believed to be a middle-eastern native lies dying.
“We can’t do anything for him” says the Army Officer, but then the dying man mumbles something in English and the Officer say “He’s English - quick, get the medics!”
Lots of dodgy accents, sinister foreigners and ridiculous plot lines, with preposterous coincidences and unbelievable ‘chance’ meetings.
I tried to treat the stories as rip-roaring boys own adventures, but I could get past all the failings and all in all I wish I hadn’t purchased it.
Oh, if you do make it through to the last story, Sheep Island, listen out for the female actor playing ‘young master Peter’. So bad it’s laughable.