I’m a big fan of John Mortimer’s snarky and clever Rumpole stories. Horace Rumpole, the rumpled but crafty barrister, loves hopeless cases. BBC TV had a successful series of RUMPOLE OF THE BAILEY starring Leo McKern as the crusty lawyer. In 2012, BBC Radio 4 presented a series of Rumpole episodes starring Benedict Cumberbatch as “The Young Rumpole” and Timothy West as “The Old Rumpole.”

Now, BBC Audio and Penguin Random House have released some of these episodes on CD. The first batch, Rumpole: The Gentle Art of Blackmail & Other Stories, includes “Rumpole and the Man of God” where Rumpole defends a clergyman accused of shoplifting. In “Rumpole and the Explosive Evidence,” Rumpole defends a known safe cracker. “Rumpole and the Gentle Art of Blackmail” is set in 1964 where Rumpole returns to Oxford and defends a young gardener who is accused of blackmailing the Master of St. Joseph’s College. Rumpole defends Dr. Ned Dacre, who is accused of murdering his wife, in “Rumpole and the Expert Witness.”

I enjoyed all of these dramatizations of classic Rumpole stories. I’ll be buying the next set in this series when it becomes available. If you enjoy first-rate dramatization, I highly recommend Rumpole: The Gentle Art of Blackmail & Other Stories. GRADE: A


  1. Steve Oerkfitz

    Unfortunately I have a hard time listening to audio plays or audio books. My mind drifts and I’m always rewinding. I always find something visually to distract me or if I sit back and close my eyes I fall asleep. Glad you enjoyed it though.
    On another point can anyone answer this stupid question. In Britain they refer to what we call cookies as biscuits. What do they call biscuits?

  2. Jeff Meyerson

    Scones, in some cases.

    I never listen to audio books either, with only a couple of exceptions – ANGELA’S ASHES, read by Frank McCourt, and MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL. I can’t do anything else when I am listening and lose track at times.

    I am a huge Rumpole fan, and as far as I can tell I’ve read all the stories and novels.

    1. george Post author

      Jeff, I’ve read all the Rumpole stories and novels, too. Wonderful series! I’m enjoying these BBC Audio versions quite a bit! STEELY DAN tonight!

      1. Jeff Meyerson

        Great! Enjoy. We’re seeing The Eagles tonight, Steely Dan next week. What Steely Dan does at the Beacon is – generally – choose one album each concert, do that straight through from beginning to end, then do more a “greatest hits” the rest of the night, along with a few older and more obscure cuts. This year they are doing THE ROYAL SCAM, AJA (twice), COUNTDOWN TO ECSTASY, GAUCHO, THE NIGHTFLY (Donald Fagen’s first solo album – twice), BY POPULAR DEMAND (when you buy a ticket you get to vote for which songs you want to hear), and GREATEST HITS. In the past we’ve seen the GREATEST HITS and BY POPULAR DEMAND (Donald Fagen: “Basically, we do whatever we feel like doing”), but this year again we’re seeing my favorite, AJA.

      2. george Post author

        Jeff, no set list for Buffalo is up on the web site. I usually write down the songs as I’m listening to the concert so I’ll have the actual set list on this blog when I post about the concert this weekend. I think AJA is my favorite STEELY DAN album, too.

      3. george Post author

        Rick, we went to a STEELY DAN concert last year. We’re going again this year hoping they perform two of my favorite songs: “Deacon Blues” and “FM.”

  3. patti Abbott

    Although I listen to podcasts all the time, audiobooks don’t work as well. Perhaps the reading takes me back to being read to sleep as a child.

    1. george Post author

      Patti, my Mother read to us as kids and I enjoyed it. I have no problem listening to audio books. I used to listen to vinyl albums for hours as a kid.

  4. Rick Robinson

    I don’t listen to many audiobooks, Barbara was listening to the Montalbano books while walking, but has been going to the club (24 Hour Fitness) instead this year. Listening while walking works for her. Like Steve, my mind tends to wander. All that aside, it wouldn’t be Rumpole without McKern.

    1. george Post author

      Rick, Timothy West does a great job as “The Older Rumpole.” And I like Benedict Cumberbatch as “The Younger Rumpole.” Entertaining!

  5. Jeff Meyerson

    Deacon Blues is my favorite too. I’m always disappointed if they don’t do it, but since it’s the Aja concert I know they will be doing it. I also like My Old School, which they almost always do.

    The Eagles did a great 2 1/2 hour show tonight, pretty much every song you could imagine, ending with Desperado. The Garden was totally sold out for tonight and tomorrow night’s shows.

    1. george Post author

      Jeff, no “Deacon Blue” or “FM.” But the set list included “My Old School” and many STEELY DAN hits. Diane loves The Eagles. “Desperado” may be her favorite song.


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