BBC Radio 4 Extra, 22 November 2013
This charming evocation of C.
S. Lewis' childhood had the adult Lewis (Geoffrey Palmer) being asked to tell a story to a little girl by her grandfather
(James Ellis). As he did so, Lewis looked back on his youth, growing up in Northern Ireland with his brother Warney
The young Lewis' (Dario Ancelotti) lived an idyllic life in a house full of books. Much of his time was spent
in reading or making up stories with Warney. They even had a wardrobe into which they would retreat - partly to hide
from the officious housekeeper Lizzie (Doreen Keogh), and partly to provide a suitable place for their stories. Gemma
McMullan's production clearly suggested that Lewis' Narnia chronicles were based on these childhood memories; the
recreation of an idyllic world where good and evil were easily distinguished, and where fantasies could be successfully realized
without adult intervention.
Inevitably, however, uncomfortable reality kept intruding - most notably in the premature death of Lewis'
mother from cancer. From then on, his childhood world no longer seemed quite the same; there was always the threat of
tragedy looming overhead. Nonetheless Lewis never forgot his childhood days in Northern Ireland; even when he had moved
to Oxford, he kept returning to his birthplace to enjoy the fresh air and unspoilt landscapes.
Geoffrey Palmer characterized Lewis as a
rather wistful person, looking back on his past yet painfully aware that those golden days could never be recreated.
The Northern Irish Man in C. S. Lewis offered a powerful biographical portrait of a misunderstood writer, whose
religious beliefs have often prevented critics from understanding what he was like as a person.