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Vasily Grossman's Life and Fate: Listen online, download and keep

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Leigh Aspin Leigh Aspin 12:00, Saturday, 17 September 2011

Life and Fate graphic

Every episode of Life and Fate will be available as a podcast for 14 days after broadcast to download and keep

Another big Radio 4 moment has arrived: every drama slot across eight days (apart from The Archers, rest assured!) is being commandeered to bring you a dramatisation of an epic historical novel. The title alone is both compelling and a little daunting: Life and Fate by Vasily Grossman.

So how best to support this on air event online?


I’ve been assured by several people I respect that this is a 20th-century masterpiece. But if you still need to be convinced that this is worth giving up a number of hours of your life to, then I hope you’ll be inspired by some of the people we’ve asked to advocate the work to you. Two leading actors from the cast – Kenneth Branagh and David Tennant – have recorded their thoughts, and Andrew Marr has written an introduction on the Radio 4 Blog. For a more in depth discussion of the life and work of Vasily Grossman, I recommend last Monday’s special edition of Start the Week.

Ready when you are

Let’s assume you’re in! But while you’re already likely to be a loyal Radio 4 listener if you’re reading this blog, you may find it hard to make time for a whole week’s worth of drama, however enticing. Here’s where the digital offer plays its key role: enabling you to catch up at a convenient time. Every part of the drama will be available on the Radio 4 website after broadcast until a week after the final part is broadcast. And we’re podcasting every episode too, meaning that you have 14 days after broadcast to download and keep each edition for free.

Guiding you through

I’m assured by the drama’s producer, amongst others, that a family tree is an essential aide memoire to help us keep track of the novel’s large number of characters. So download this friendly guide before you start.

There are synopses on the programme pages and more background to the production on this blog post.

However you listen, I hope you enjoy it.

Leigh Aspin is Interactive Editor at BBC Radio 4


  • Comment number 1.

    Suggest add Archive on 4 - The Life and Fate of Vasily Grossman to the list of programmes. (And also remind the iPlayer people that it is 45 minutes long: it's current allocation is insufficient, resulting in the ending being cut off.)


  • Comment number 2.

    Thanks Russ. We'll reinstate the end of the programme.

  • Comment number 3.

    Excellent to see the downloads all on one page - the only practical way to follow such a multifarious sets of broadcast slots, and it was also helpful to have been able to download the Start The Week special on the subject (even if it was broadcast in the wrong week, really). 'Any chance of putting the readings from Grossman's war reports back up as a download, too, for those who missed them?

    One little final suggestion that would meet with guaranteed approval if followed - why not omit the redundant 'this is a download from the BBC' audio messages this time? We know that's what it is, we downloaded it from the BBC, and it will get a bit tiresome hearing that thirteen times in succession. As for the messages at the end stating that the BBC hopes we enjoyed the programme, is 'enjoyed' quite the word for the battle of Stalingrad? Just a thought. Otherwise, great stuff!

  • Comment number 4.

    I love the photo on the main Radio4 page. I am reminded of The Glums (a Jimmy Edwards vehicle).

  • Comment number 5.

    Total immersion in Life and Fate - Oxford, podcasts, reading on my K****e. Difficult to fit in a working day around Vasilly Grossman as well but early rising means a podcast fix. Thank you Radio 4 for this stimulating and thought provoking approach to such a wonderful novel.

  • Comment number 6.

    It is most wonderful. Thank you BBC. However, it has stirred up some very deep emotions, and I just can't help thinking of what happened and is happening in Palestine. I think i may need to have some counselling. Can anyone help me. Maybe should have come with a health warning.

  • Comment number 7.

    In the episode Journey the scene where the SS Officer meets the Russian prisoner and also meets Eichman in the camp is almost exactly the same as the scene in Chapter 3, Courante from The Kindly Ones by Jonathan Littell. It was uncanny.

  • Comment number 8.

    great program, I've been downloading the podcasts from the US. but I had to stream the final episode live!

  • Comment number 9.

    Marvellous stuff, and filled a necessary hole in my life after the re-runs of "the Killing" finished on BBC 4. I've downloaded the lot and will listen again, but would love a cast listing to cover the whole series - it's a bit lumpen having to copy and paste episode by episode.


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