BBC Radio 7, 24-26 June 2009
Another swashbuckling adventure from the author of The Thirty-Nine
Steps, this time involving an alliance of English landed gentry, Anglo-Scots and Highlanders in a desperate attempt to
protect the Russian princess Saskia (Sharon Mahoney) from falling into the hands of her Bolshevik captors. The plot comprises
a series of chases all over the Scottish mainland, culminating in a climactic conflict at a castle, where the Brits fight
a rearguard action recalling similar skirmishes in the great days of Empire at Rorke's Drift and Khartoum against the rampant
Huntingtower contrasts the aristocratic English with the down-to-earth
Scots. The English are resourceful and brave, who never give up without a struggle; the Scots possess a native cunning, which
helps them create successful schemes ro outwit the Bolsheviks. Although wary of the English (who are their colonial masters,
after all), the Scots understand the significance of protecting their shores against foreign powers, and hence collaborate
to create a united front. Although the heroes of the story are nominally McCunn (Roy Hanlon) and Heritage (Stuart McQuarrie),
the real powerhouse behind the operation is a little Scottish boy Dougal (Gordon Strout), who shows an intelligence beyond
his years. Buchan's use of this character demonstrates the wish-fulfilling aspects of his story; in an ideal world boys are
the equal of men.
Huntingtower also constructs an ideal image of masculinity: true men should
be brave, loyal, fearless and equipped with sufficient natural cunning to cope with any mishap. Although such qualities might
not be found in one person, Buchan suggests that a group of men bonding together can provide sufficient protecting against
anything. Even if this means suppressing one's individuality, it's something that all men should be prepared to do.
Narrated with obvious relish by Buchan himself (David McKail), Huntingtower
evoked a world of Empire in which Britain really did rule the political waves. Nonetheless, the values it supports - group
loyalty and brotherhood across nations - still matter today. The director was Patrick Rayner.