Main content
Sorry, this episode is not currently available

Born to be Wilde: An Ideal Husband

Oscar Wilde's playful and poignant drama, about a blackmailed politician and his exacting wife. With John Heffernan, Miranda Raison, Lucy Doyle, Ryan Whittle, and songs.

Oscar Wilde's classic comic melodrama is given a sparkling and surprising new production, featuring the music of Steppenwolf, Taylor Swift and Amy Winehouse.

Robert Chiltern is the man of the moment: a rising star in government, wealthy and with a loving wife. All this is thrown into jeopardy when the mysterious Mrs Cheveley rolls into town with damning evidence of a past misdeed. Robert Chiltern turns to his friend Lord Goring for help, an apparently idle philanderer and one of Wilde's greatest dramatic creations. Goring has his own dirt on the blackmailer, but can he make it count to save his friend's career, let alone his marriage?

Robert Chiltern . . . John Heffernan
Laura Cheveley . . . Miranda Raison
Arthur Goring . . . Ryan Whittle
Gertrude Chiltern . . . Lucy Doyle
Mabel Chiltern . . . Saffron Coomber
Lord Caversham . . . Michael Bertenshaw
Lady Markby . . . Elizabeth Counsell
Phipps . . . Tony Turner
Mason . . . Sean Murray

Musical direction and arrangement by Colin Sell

Directed by Sasha Yevtushenko

An Ideal Husband is part of a celebration of Oscar Wilde's life and Work, Born to be Wilde, offering a 21st century perspective on the making of a modern celebrity. Featuring energetic adaptations of his best-loved plays, and an imaginative approach to the less familiar aspects of his biography - this is Wilde's life before the fall.

We encounter Wilde on the make, Wilde in his pomp, Wilde on the edge of the abyss.

We see the young Wilde create his own celebrity and fame, before he'd produced any work to be famous for. We see Wilde the devoted family man, having to confront his growing estrangement from his wife. We see a hubristic Wilde, flirting with danger by publically hinting at his own sexuality.

These biographical elements are given greater poignancy by our knowledge of what happened next. And the successes of An Ideal Husband and The Importance of Being Earnest in 1895 marked the climax of his theatrical career, but also the point of his downfall.

Each of the plays are introduced by Oscar Wilde himself (played by Max Bennett).

57 minutes


Audio Books - great readings

Audio Books - great readings

A selection of highlights available to download via the iPlayer Radio app

The Shakespeare Sessions

The Shakespeare Sessions

Immerse yourself in Shakespeare’s world