BBC Radio 7, 27 January - 4 February, 4-11 February 2011
Two series of six half-hour capers set in the Edwardian era starring
the cricketer-cracksman A. J. Raffles (Jeremy Clyde) and his dim-witted sidekick Bunny Manders (Michael Cochrane), who also
narrates each story. Each episode normally involves an elaborate scheme concocted by Raffles to purloin various types of swag
belonging to the aristocracy; like a latter-day Robin Hod, he believes in robbing the rich, but would rather keep the spoils
for himself rather than distribute them to the poor.
The setting for Gordon House's production was significant: the Edwardian period
represented a period of continuing stability in Britain, where everyone "knew their place," and the sun seemed never to set
on the Empire. It was Raffles' duty - as he sees it - to take advantage of this stability and rob the rich without fear of
discovery. Who would suspect a celebrated English cricketer, who produces match-winning innings to beat the Australians and
win the Ashes, of being a full-time cracksman?
However Cochrane's Bunny seldom bothered to reflect on Raffles' behaviour, as he
narrated the tales with a mixture of wide-eyed admiration and exasperation. The stories themselves resembled genteel
Batman and Robin stories, with the hero and his sidekick escaping just in the nick of time from a series of ticklish situations,
more often than not with plenty of spoils to distribute to their various fences. Despite this, Clyde's Raffles retained his
sang-froid throughout; apart from one or two occasions he remained one intellectual step ahead of everyone. Like
the great cricketer he was, he could spin out the opposition - the police, the aristocrats, or his fellow-crooks - on all
types of wicket.
House's productions were straightforwardly told, allowing Cochrane and Clyde to show
off their vocal dexterity as they impersonated a variety of characters - crooks, aristocrats, even women. Jim Parker's theme-tune
set the mood for each episode, with a solo piano and clarinet creating an atmosphere of mystery before Cochrane commenced