BBC R7 & Rogue Male by Geoffrey Household

Aural Noir: Online Audio

BBC Radio 7 - BBC7So in following up on that terrific new dramatization of The Most Dangerous Game, you know the one I told you about the other day, I’ve come across a novel with a similar theme. Indeed, this is a novel with a similar legacy to that of Richard Connell’s short story. Consider this…

“One should always hunt an animal in its natural habitat; and the natural habitat of man is – in these days – a town. Chimney pots should be the cover, and the method, snapshots at two hundred yards. My plans are far advanced. I shall not get away alive, but I shall not miss; and that is all that matters to me any longer.” – Rogue Male

Similar to The Most Dangerous Game hey?

But as to the legacy – let me offer these…

First up we need to consider in reverse chronological order David Morrell‘s 1972 novel, First Blood, and the subsequent movie of the same name. Said Morrell: “When I started First Blood back in 1968, I was deeply influenced by Geoffrey Household’s Rogue Male.”

That’s a very strong recommendation in itself.

Then there was a 1976 TV-movie version starring Peter O’Toole (I also recall seeing it advertised as airing on A&E television network back in the 1990s)….

And lastly, in the video department, there was a 1941 film version (directed by Fritz Lang) put out under the title Man Hunt

As to the audio, I did a search of that handy dandy resource and found there a lovely UNABRIDGED reading of Rogue Male, a novel that was commissioned (and recently re-aired) on BBC Radio 7. I’ve just finished listening to it and I highly recommend it!

SERIOUSLY, be sure give this one a try. It’s totally gripping from the first sentence on. It holds your attention with a combination of great narration (by Michael Jayston), excellent writing (by Geoffrey Household) and historical relevance. It has a feel of a historical novel – giving you a sense of the time and the culture – whilst also meditating on the human mind – especially decision making. It’s not unlike Ken Follett‘s Eye Of The Needle or The Eagle Has Landed by Jack Higgins – it’s that good.

One thing that Rogue Male has, that those others lack, is a nice human-animal friendship. This is essentially a hunting story, rather than a spy story, so it is more singularly focused on those themes and less externalized. I’ve never read a story that depicts what it’s like to stalk an animal (be it human or otherwise) better than this novel does.

Here’s what one of the commenters on the torrent thread said about it:

“This simply has to be one of the best ‘reads’ I will have in 2008. The reader is brilliant and the story suspenseful beyond belief. I listened to it in bed and it kept me on the edge of my seat throughout every chapter. Thanks for upping it. This is already in my top 10 audio experiences of all time.”

Rogue Male by Geoffrey HouseholdRogue Male
By Geoffrey Household; Read by Michael Jayston
15 Broadcasts – Approx. 6 Hours 32 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Broadcaster: BBC Radio 7
Broadcast: 2004
Told in first person by the protagonist, an un-named British sportsman, sets out to see whether he can successfully stalk and prepare to shoot a European dictator. Supposedly interested only in the hunt for its own sake, he convinces himself that he does not intend to actually pull the trigger. First published in paperbook form in 1939.

And, there was a BBC radio drama version too (also available at!

BBC Radio 4Rogue Male
Based on the novel by Geoffrey Household; Performed by a full cast
1 Broadcast – Approx. 90 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: BBC Radio 4
Broadcast: 1989
Starring Simon Cadell and David Googe.

Other radio drama adaptations include:

SuspenseSuspense – Rogue Male
Based on the novel by Geoffrey Household; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: CBS Radio
Broadcast: December 31st 1951
Stars Herbert Marshall and Ben Wright.

Everything For The BoysEverything For The Boys – Rogue Male
Based on the novel by Geoffrey Household; Adapted by Arch Oboler; Performed by a full cast
1 Broadcast – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]*
Broadcaster: NBC Radio
Broadcast: 1944
Starring Ronald Colman and Ida Lupino.
*This is a lost broadcast, no known copies now exist.

And I should also mention, that a sequel, Rogue Justice, first published in 1982, was also broadcast on BBC Radio 7 earlier this year as a five-part abridged reading (also read by Jayston).

Neat eh?

Posted by Jesse Willis

8 thoughts to “BBC R7 & Rogue Male by Geoffrey Household”

  1. Rogue Male is certainly a fantastic adventure story – I loved the combination of gripping action and intense psychological development of the narrator, culminating in his final forced confrontation with himself in his final hiding place.

    I hadn’t tumbled to the similarities with The Most Dangerous Game, as I used to explain it to people as being kind of like Day of the Jackal, if The Jackal had been the hero… Either way, it’s one of the best things that BBC7 has introduced me to in recent years!

  2. Hmm, I’m not sure I can think of any other instances of Jayston doing a full reading, but you might want to track down his performance as James Bond in the BBC radio play of You Only Live Twice. It’s not a patch on the Toby-Stephens-starring BBC version of Doctor No from 2008, but it’s still fun, and Jayston is of course great. Also, he pops up in one of Big Finish’s Doctor Who plays, reprising his role as ‘The Valeyard’, an evil incarnation of The Doctor.

    On a not-unrelated subject, if you’ve not discovered them I really recommend BBC7s readings of the Dr. Syn adventures, read by Rufus Sewell. Lively adventures with lively readings… oh, and the unabridged version of The Man Who Was Thursday read by Geoffrey Palmer. Thank god for BBC7, eh?

  3. BBC7 is absolutely terrific. Now that I’ve got RadioArchive and Radio Downloader going I can really appreciate exactly how terrific it is.

    I’m going to keep my eyes open for those James Bond plays. I’m not much for audio Doctor Who – I’ve been re-watching the old series – currently watching Jon Pertwee in Colony In Space. The show still holds up pretty well, though the serial nature isn’t how I prefer it. I prefer the movie format version.

    I’ve heard quite a lot about The Man Who Was Thursday – I’ll check that out too.

    Thanks Tristan!

  4. Ah well, audio Doctor Who isn’t for everbody. But I REALLY recommend the BBC play of Doctor No – I loved that, and desperately hope for a follow-up. BBC7 also chipped in with a nice 5-part reading of Casino Royale that you might try looking out for.

    Incidentally, and on the subject of thankyous – Thank YOU for this website. I actually found it cos I was trying to find readings of H.P. Lovecraft a couple of years ago, but I found so much more than that – including Canadia 2056, the redoubtable Zombie Astronaut, and Radio Downloader of course. Seriously mate, your website is a service to civilisation and humanity, so thank you!

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