The Eustace Diamonds by Anthony Trollope, dramatized by Rose Tremain

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Classic Serial on BBC Radio 4

BBC Radio 4, 23 December 2012
Sometimes it's pleasant to be transported into an amoral world, where characters fight one another for power and influence, without regard for anyone else; but do so in such a way as to render themselves prime candidates for melodrama.
This was certainly true of Gordon House's lip-smackingly enjoyable version of Trollope's classic tale.  The scenario is straightforward enough: Lizzie Eustace (Pippa Nixon), fights to retain possession of a magnificent diamond necklace, which she claims was left to her by her late husband Florian (Nicholas Boulton).  The only problem is that she cannot be relied upon to tell the whole truth, which renders her liable to challenge from members of her immediate family.  Spurred on by oleaginous lawyer Camperdown (Malcolm Sinclair), they mount a challenge to her ownership.
Meanwhile Lizzie finds that the fracas affects all her subsequent relationships, with her cousin Frank (Joseph Kloska), her lover Lord Fawn (Jamie Glover, whose inability to pronounce his 'r's' reminded me very much of Monty Python's Life of Brian (1982)), and two mature women - Ladies Fawn (Stella Gonet) and Linlithgow (Richenda Carey).
The story went through various twists and turns, as Lizzie found herself increasingly vulnerable, while her adversaries tried every single trick in the book to try and profit - both financially and legally - at her expense.  Bribery of the hapless servant Crabstick (Alison Pettit) was the least of their crimes.
I particularly liked the sound-design of this production: much of the dialogue was recorded in an echoing room, reminiscent of one of those historic houses preserved on the nation's behalf by the National Trust, whose high ceilings and lack of insulation suggest that the original inhabitants led spartan lives, despite their rich appearance.  This was an interesting point: if the protagonists did live like this, then perhaps the pursuit of the diamonds might prove futile - even if they managed to sell them, they would not obtain sufficient finances to improve their lot. 
Exactly what happens to those diamonds, and the people in pursuit of them, will be revealed in the next two episodes.