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Elvenquest Radio Comedy

In the third age of Lower Earth, called by some the Silver Age because it was not quite golden and platinum was too expensive, the questors sought the Sword of Asnagar. Should the Chosen One wield it in the name of good, the evil empire of Lord Darkness will be overthrown, but troubles beset them at every turn. For is it not written in the great elvish book of knowing, “Isn’t life is just one bloody thing after another.”

ElvenQuest (logo)

Elvenquest is a radio comedy, from the BBC, written by Anil Gupta and Richard Pinto, which follows the questors from adventure to adventure seeking the magical sword that promises the salvation of their world from the evil Lord Darkness. However, before they begin this adventure they must first seek the Chosen One – the only being capable of wielding the sword.

In a small bookshop, just off Totnes [1] high street, and finishing a reading from his twelfth book to a small group of fans, is Sam Porter, a fantasy author whose career has come to something of halt. To the rear of the small crowd are a group of fans dressed in costume, swords and axes in hand. These are the questors and they have come to take the chosen one, Sam’s dog, back to their realm. In ensuing the chaos of the dognapping, Sam is dragged through to Lower Earth.

This comedy began, to no surprise, as a parody of The Lord of the Rings. However, it didn’t remain there long. The 24 episodes, across 4 series, tackle many of tropes and stereotypes in the fantasy genre and the world at large. The role of women in fantasy is tackled in one particularly memorable episode with the male characters’ misogynistic attitudes being expertly speared by the writers and actors. It is somewhat uncomfortable listening and yet uproariously funny.

Like any good sitcom, Elvenquest revolves around the characters. Sam, the world weary author, portrayed by Stephen Mangan, caught up in an adventure he doesn’t want and forced to follow it through to the bitter end if he stands any chance of getting home. Sam is our voice in the show. He reflects our world and, as the fish out of water, is allowed to examine the absurdity of some fantasy worlds with that critical, sarcastic, satirical eye.

Amis, Sam’s dog, the Chosen One, played by Dave Lamb, has become human and plays the role of our innocence. He is excited by everything, fears nothing, though he does wish that Sam hadn’t taken him to be neutered.

Lord Vidar, third son of the Lord of Osterman, the leader of the intrepid questors is played by Darren Boyd. He is determination and bravery. Nothing will stop the Elf Lord from reaching his goal, the Sword of Asnagar, and ridding the world of the Evil Lord Darkness. Sadly, Vidar is not blessed with a great deal of cunning or intelligence.

Penthisalea, Sophie Winkleman, the Warrior Princess, hails from a tribe of Amazons where men not deemed to be brave enough to marry have their genitals nailed to a post as warning to others. She is the object of Sam’s affections, lust actually, but her warrior’s code means she must be chaste until their quest is done. However, she rebuffs his “affection” mainly because she doesn’t like him very much. Penthisalea is wonderfully realised and one of the strongest characters in the show. She is courage and brains, never slow to wield her sword and fight for her friends.

Dean, the dwarf, is loyalty. For him, the quest and the company of Lord Vidar are everything. Here is a dwarf who is stubborn and brave, whose battle axe can solve more problems than his brain. Dean is not a fan of Sam, however is a ‘big fan’ of Lord Vidar.

Then there is the enemy, and here we have a character who is more evil than any other, the Lord Darkness. An immortal being of great power, his dream is to build an evil empire that will last forever. Alistair McGowan owns this role. The nasal voice, the timing, and the fantastic script bring a true lord of evil to life. Faced with all the trials and tribulations of running an empire, the Lord Darkness must contend with unhappy employees who accuse him of bullying, revolts in the slave mines, and funding his gigantic army as it lays siege to city after city.

Kreech, Kevin Eldon, is the Right Hand of Darkness. It is he who must bring unpleasant news to the Lord Darkness, he who must look after his master, suffer his bullying ways and avoid the attentions of the red-hot pokers. Kreech is not intelligent. However he is wise and thoughtful, and he adores the Lord Darkness.

Like a lot of good TV, Radio, and Books, the baddies get the best lines. The relationship between Kreech and Lord Darkness is at times bitter-sweet, touching, funny and hilarious. Behind every great evil lord is a henchman rolling his eyes.

Elvenquest is a character driven sit-com, radio show, fantasy adventure. For fantasy on the move, I listen as I drive, you cannot beat this show. It is laugh out loud funny and I’ve received many a strange look whilst sat in traffic. 1

[1] Totnes is a small town[2] in Devon, United Kingdom
[2] On the A385, just north of Dartmouth – if you’re interested.
[3] Not on the A385 though – I don’t live near there.



  1. Avatar David Greybeard says:

    Discovered this a year or two ago and loved it. Completely. I think it’s in the same comedy heights as Adams’ GUIDE. I’ve listened to all 4 or 5 seasons. Brilliant.

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