The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, adapted by Jill Adams

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BBC Radio 7, 23-28 August 2010
Charmingly directed by John Taylor, this adaptation conjured up a prelapsarian world of Edwardian England, in which Mary Lennox (Jessica Marshall-Gardner) discovered a private world of her own in which she could not only find affection, but discovered something about herself. The story became a rite-of-passage tale, foregrounding childish innocence as the solution to worldly problems. Mary might have been a difficult child, but once she encountered Dickon (Ian Taylor), the ragamuffin boy from the village, she understood the importance of caring for others. Such qualities also impressed the adults: Mr. Craven (James Faulkner) began the tale as a rather lofty, remote guardian, similar to the uncle in Henry James' Turn of the Screw; by the end, he had come to understand the importance of sharing his life with others. Would that James' uncle had done the same, rather than entrusting the care of his wards into the hands of a naive governess.
For lovers of radio drama, this adaptation offered the pleasures of hearing familiar voices, alas no longer with us. As Mrs. Medlock the housekeeper, Beryl Reid sounded both motherly yet domineering at the same time; sometimes her northern accent wavered, but nonetheless she came across as someone concerned for Mary's welfare, yet not prepared to put up with any nonsense from the little girl. Robin Bailey's Ben Weatherstaff began as rather a curmudgeon, reluctant to tolerate the presence of young children in the garden - especially the area kept under close lock and key by Craven. However it soon emerged that this was nothing more than a facade: Ben actively cared for his employer, and was prepared to go to any lengths to carry out his wishes. However when he discovered that Mary's motives were anything but sinister, Weatherstaff's disdainful air melted, and he transformed himself into someone resembling a favourite uncle, ever ready to participate in the children's schemes.