Episodes

First
Broadcast
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2016012420191027 (BBC7)

2016 saw the 500th Anniversary of Thomas More's classic work of speculative fiction, which has entered the culture so deeply that the name of his fictional island is the accepted term for our hopes and dreams of a better society.

Poet Michael Symmons Roberts dramatisation brings More's strange and enchanting island to life, told through the memoirs of Raphael Hythloday.

More goes on a diplomatic trip to Antwerp, to sort out a dispute in the commercial wool trade between Britain and the Netherlands. While he is there he meets an old man who is clearly widely travelled.

More complains about the petty politics of the trade dispute, and the old stranger bemoans the state of contemporary society. There is a better way, he says, and I have seen it. The stranger introduces himself as the explorer and adventurer Raphael Hythloday, who at the height of his career of was sent out from Antwerp to explore an unmapped and remote part of the ocean. After months of sailing, he chanced upon an island society unlike any he had seen before. The island was called 'Utopia'.

Utopia fleshes out the story of Raphael's visit to the island, giving us vivid descriptions of the place and its society, its laws and social patterns and customs.

All the bearings for this new drama are be taken from the rules and descriptions of the island in More's book, and the clues he gives about Raphael's visit.

RAPHAEL HYTHLODAY - Raad Rawi
YOUNG RAPHAEL - Nacho Aldeguer
THOMAS MORE / ACHORIAN - Michael Peavoy
PETER GILES - Cameron Blakeley
ABRAXA - Emily Pithon
BARZANES - Jonathan Keeble
MACARIA - Fiona Clarke

Directed in Salford by Susan Roberts.

First heard on BBC Radio 4 in January 2016.

Utopia by Thomas More dramatised by poet Michael Symmons Roberts.