The Gibson

6 half-hour episode BBC Radio SF/thriller by Bruce Bedford from 1992 about a family man in the town of Bath who gets embroiled in an ancient conspiracy involving two factions — one good, one evil — and an evil power buried beneath the town.

An enjoyable enough story, albeit where a lot of it can feel a bit like a coat of paint thrown over an old house to disguise how generic it all is. Although a thriller, with danger and death, it’s actually funny at times — which though a nice touch, equally can diffuse tension too much, almost coming across as too light-hearted. And it does have some quirky ideas. But, as I say, the foundations are kind of generic — and vaguely so. The “evil power” beneath the town is never really quantified or explained, nor the motives of the cult seeking to unearth it.

The story is deliberately made weird by jumping about in time periods. The main plot takes place in modern times, but we keep cutting back to a scribe in the Middle Ages who is actually writing out a chronicle of what will happen in modern times…while the story is introduced by a voiceover from somewhere in the distant future — all very weird and intriguing. Except, um, I’m not sure it’s ever really explained how or why (unless I drifted off for a few minutes). Weird and quirky is good — but weird and quirky simply for the sake of seeming weird and quirky at the expense of logic, not so much. It’s a bit as if the writer was charged with writing a generic SF thriller (perhaps to commemorate the city of Bath since the story takes place during a city celebration!) so tried to give it a more sophisticated sheen (and some wit)…without actually beefing up the substance. Even the characters never quite become more than likeable but vague characters.

So as I say, it’s an enjoyable enough story but, strangely, when it’s done it can still feel like what it was obviously trying not to seem like — a fairly generic version of an old cults-and-ancient-evil story. It stars Robert Glenister, Freddie Jones and others.

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