Brian Sibley

Brian David Sibley (born 14 July 1949) is an English writer. He is author of over 100 hours of radio drama and has written and presented hundreds of radio documentaries, features and weekly programmes. He is widely known as the author of many movie 'making of' books, including those for the Harry Potter series and The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies.

Brian Sibley
BornBrian David Sibley
14 July 1949 (age 69)
Wandsworth, England
Notable awardsSony Radio Award, 1985
PartnerDavid Weeks

Early life

Brian was born in Wandsworth, London,[1] to Eric George Sibley, an architectural draughtsman, and Doris Alice Sibley (née Summers). His uncle was the philosopher Frank Sibley.

His family moved to Chislehurst, Kent when he was five years old. He was educated at St Nicholas Church of England Primary School and Chislehurst Secondary School for Boys (later renamed Edgebury School for Boys).

Following frustrated ambitions to be an actor, cartoonist and animator, Sibley worked first in various clerical capacities for the London Borough of Bromley and then for a shipping and finance company in London as a clerk, office manager and head of department. In his spare time, he began submitting scripts to the BBC and, when his company was taken over, he accepted redundancy and became a full-time freelance writer.


Radio Writing and Broadcasting

Sibley's first programme was Three Cheers for Pooh, broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on 14 October 1976 to mark the 50th anniversary of the publication of A. A. Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh. The programme was presented by actor Peter Bull, featured the voices of Norman Shelley and pianist and singer Antony Miall and was directed by John Tydeman, later Head of BBC Drama.[2]

Other features quickly followed and, in 1981, he co-wrote (with Michael Bakewell) BBC Radio 4's adaptation of Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, and has also adapted C. S. Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia and Mervyn Peake's Titus Groan and Gormenghast for Radio 4, for which he received a Sony Radio Award in 1985. He returned to Peake's writings in 2011 with The History of Titus Groan, a cycle of six one-hour plays for BBC Radio 4's 'Classic Serial' based on Titus Groan, Gormenghast, Titus Alone and Maeve Gilmore's Titus Awakes. Produced Jeremy Mortimer, the series began transmission on Sunday 10 July with a cast headed by David Warner, Luke Treadaway and Miranda Richardson and won the BBC Audio Drama Award 2012 for Best Adaptation.[3]

Other major radio dramatisations by Sibley include: John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress; Tolkien's Tales from the Perilous Realm; Roald Dahl's Danny, the Champion of the World; Lucy M. Boston's The Children of Green Knowe, Laurens van der Post's The Night of the New Moon, J. B. Priestley's The Thirty-First of June, Jeffrey Archer's A Matter of Honour, Frank Baker's Miss Hargreaves, James Thurber's The Wonderful O, two series of Ray Bradbury's Tales of the Bizarre, Ray Bradbury's The Illustrated Man and a six-part dramatisation of T H White's The Once and Future King starring David Warner as Merlyn. 2016 saw the broadcasting by the BBC of his two-part dramatisation of Richard Adams's Watership Down and the J. G. Ballard short story Track 12

Original radio plays include: ...And Yet Another Partridge in a Pear Tree, starring Penelope Keith, C. S. Lewis: Northern Irishman and It's Too Late Now.

As a broadcaster, he was a contributor to and then regular presenter of the former BBC Radio 4 arts programme Kaleidoscope and the BBC World Service arts magazine, Meridian. He also presented the Radio 4 film programme, Talking Pictures, was a regular presenter of The Afternoon Shift and chaired the radio panel games Break A Leg and Screen Test.

He has also contributed to Radio 4's Last Word, Brief Lives, A Good Read, The Radio 2 Arts Show and Radio 3's Night Waves. He also presented several series of the BBC television programme, First Light.[4]

Radio features and documentaries for Radio 4, Radio 2 and the World Service have included programmes devoted to Sherlock Holmes, Jack the Ripper, Robin Hood, Dracula, Peter Pan, Winnie-the-Pooh, Alice in Wonderland and the life and work of Ambrose Bierce, Robert Raikes, Harry Houdini, Terry Pratchett, George Orwell, Roald Dahl, Ray Bradbury, Richmal Crompton, Fred Zinnemann, Frank Capra, Jim Henson, Paco Pena, James Galway, Marcel Marceau, Bob Hoskins and Julie Andrews.

Key series for BBC Radio 2, made in collaboration with producer Malcolm Prince include Ain't No Mickey Mouse Business, Disney's Women, David Puttnam's Century of Cinema, Ain't No Mickey Mouse Music, No Place Life Home: A Judy Garland Story, Showman and Starmaker: A Tribute to Bill Cotton and, in Autumn 2010, he compiled and wrote a series of eight documentaries on aspects of The Musical. His interviewees for these series included, Michael Caine, Richard Attenborough, Angela Lansbury, Margaret O'Brien, Dirk Bogarde, Roy E Disney, Robert Wise, Ken Annakin, Richard Curtis, Richard M Sherman, Leslie Briccusse, Bryan Forbes, Sandy Wilson, Tim Rice, James Rado and Edward Albee. He also wrote and presented a series on the history of film music, The Sound of Movies.

Sibley's book, Shadowlands, was serialized on Radio 2, read by Ian Richardson in what was one of the actor's last pieces of broadcast work recorded before his death.

The Daily Telegraph radio critic, Gillian Reynolds gave him the accolade "magician of the airwaves".

In 1992, Sibley wrote much of the script for Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of Spartacus.


Sibley has written as a columnist, reviewer and obituarist for The Times, Daily Telegraph, The Independent, Guardian, Times Literary Supplement, Observer, The Listener, Radio Times, The Church Times, Films and Filming.


Books include The Disney Studio Story and Mickey Mouse: His Life and Times (with Richard Holliss); The Land of Narnia, illustrated by Pauline Baynes; The Treasury of Narnia (with Alison Sage); Shadowlands: The True Story of C. S. Lewis and Joy Davidman; The Book of Guinness Advertising; a biography of Wilbert Vere Awdry, entitled The Thomas the Tank Engine Man; A Christmas Carol: The Unsung Story; Cracking Animation: The Aardman book of 3-D Film-making, (with Peter Lord); Chicken Run: Hatching the Movie; Three Cheers for Pooh; and The Maps of Tolkien's Middle-earth with artist John Howe.

He is also the author of the children's book, The Frightful Food Feud, and has edited, among other books, The Pooh Sketchbook and The Pooh Book of Quotations and The Wisdom of C. S. Lewis.

The author of The Lord of the Rings: The Making of the Movie Trilogy and other books accompanying The Lord of the Rings, he subsequently published the official biography of the films' director, Peter Jackson: A Filmmaker's Journey.

His most recent books include The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies – The Official Movie Guide, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – The Official Movie Guide, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – The Official Movie Guide,The Making of The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists, Harry Potter Film Wizardry, The Golden Compass: The Official Illustrated Movie Companion, Mary Poppins: Anything Can Happen if You Let It (with Michael Lassell) and a retelling of 50 Favourite Bible Stories selected and read on CD by Cliff Richard and illustrated by Stephen Waterhouse.[5] In October 2016 he was one of four writers contributing new stories about Winnie-the-Pooh for a 90th birthday collection, The Best Bear in All the World. His story introduced a new character, Penguin, inspired by a vintage photograph of A. A. Milne and his young son, Christopher Robin, playing with the original teddy bear who became Winnie-the-Pooh and a plush toy penguin. The same month saw the publication of Taschen Books' The Walt Disney Film Archives. The Animated Movies 1921–1968 to which he contributed five critical essays on Disney films. He is currently editing a book of the Letters of Walt Disney.

He recorded DVD audio commentaries for Around the World in 80 Days (1956 film), Animal Farm (1954 film) and Fantasia (1940 film).

He has also appeared on the bonus extras to a number of Disney Blu-rays and DVDs, among them Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio, One Hundred and One Dalmatians, Mary Poppins, The Jungle Book, Sleeping Beauty, Beauty and the Beast, Alice in Wonderland and The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh as well as being included in the documentaries associated with various DVD releases of The Lord of the Rings film trilogy.[6]

Other Interests

President of The Lewis Carroll Society (2014-); Honorary Member of The Tolkien Society and The Children's Books History Society; Member of The Inner Magic Circle and Chair of Council of The Magic Circle (2012–14 and 2017 to date).


  1. ^ Author Page (shelfari)
  2. ^ "Three Cheers for Pooh!". Radio Times (2761): 53.
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Press Office: Biographies: Brian Sibley". BBC. Archived from the original on 13 February 2008. Retrieved 22 March 2010.
  5. ^ "Brian Sibley". Fantastic Fiction. Archived from the original on 10 June 2010. Retrieved 22 March 2010.
  6. ^ "Brian Sibley". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 22 March 2010.

External links

BBC Audio Drama Awards

The BBC Audio Drama Awards is an awards ceremony created by BBC Radio to recognise excellence in the radio industry, in particular in audio dramas. The first awards were presented in 2012 and the ceremony has been located at BBC Radio's home Radio Theatre, Broadcasting House.The awards were announced in October 2011 and first opened to nominations. The first ceremony proved hugely successful. Prior to this, there was no official awards ceremony to recognise audio dramas; the Sony Radio Academy Awards mainly encompassed radio shows and presenters while the Richard Imison Award (best drama by a newcomer) and Tinniswood Award (for best original drama) were awarded separately. The Imison and Tinniswood Awards are now incorporated into the Audio Drama Awards.

Clarence Reginald Dalby

Clarence Reginald Dalby (1904–1983), born in Leicester, England, was the third illustrator of the Railway Series by W.V. Awdry and a Royal Air Force intelligence officer during the Second World War.

Clay animation

Clay animation or claymation, sometimes plasticine animation, is one of many forms of stop motion animation. Each animated piece, either character or background, is "deformable"—made of a malleable substance, usually plasticine clay.

Traditional animation, from cel animation to stop motion, is produced by recording each frame, or still picture, on film or digital media and then playing the recorded frames back in rapid succession before the viewer. These and other moving images, from zoetrope to films to video games, create the illusion of motion by playing back at over ten to twelve frames per second. The techniques involved in creating computer-generated imagery are conversely generally removed from a frame-by-frame process.

Dave Hewson (composer)

David Graham "Dave" Hewson (born 25 November 1953 in Wandsworth, London) is a British composer of scores for television and films. His work includes a collaboration to develop scores for ITV News. Hewson works from his composing studio in East Sussex. At Trinity College of Music, Hewson was a pupil of Richard Arnell. They worked together on films including Dilemma (1981), Doctor in the Sky (1984), Toulouse-Lautrec (1986), and The Light of the World (1989). Hewson has written several works with Brian Sibley.

Frank Sibley (philosopher)

Frank Noel Sibley (28 February 1923 – 18 February 1996) was a British philosopher who worked mainly in the field of aesthetics. He held the first Chair of Philosophy at Lancaster University. Sibley is best known for his 1959 paper "Aesthetic Concepts" (Philosophical Review, 68), and for "Seeking, Scrutinizing and Seeing" (Mind, 64, 1954). Both papers (and some others) have been anthologized, "Aesthetic Concepts" multiple times.

Sibley has been considered an important contributor to Aesthetics in the analytical tradition. His collected papers, including some posthumous, were published by Oxford University Press in 2001 as Approach To Aesthetics, together with a companion volume of critical and evaluative essays on his work.

He was the uncle of the writer and broadcaster Brian Sibley.

Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of Spartacus

Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of Spartacus is a 1992 concept album produced and composed by Jeff Wayne with Lyrics by Gary Osborne, telling the story of Roman gladiator, Spartacus.

It starred Anthony Hopkins, Catherine Zeta-Jones (in her first recording role), Fish, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, and Scots singer Alan King as Spartacus.

It was also the first Jeff Wayne release that is not related to his musical adaptation of The War of the Worlds. Based on a story outline by Jeff Wayne, the script was written by writer Brian Sibley and playwright John Spurling with Sibley responsible for the script of 'Animal & Man', 'The Eagle & the Hawk' and 'The Appian Way' and Spurling largely responsible for the script of 'The Parting of the Ways' and 'The Last Battle'. Also starring in the album is Chris Thompson and Jo Partridge, who appeared in The War of the Worlds. Originally, Thompson had a singing role, but his song was dropped from the final version of the album. It is rumoured that Thompson possesses the only copy of his song.

The lead vocals representing Spartacus himself were performed by Scottish vocalist, Alan King of Blind Faith (Walk On Fire album) fame.

The artists for the album were Gino D'Achille, Christos Achilleos and Andrew Wheatcroft, art directed by Richard Evans

Kaleidoscope (UK radio series)

Kaleidoscope was a BBC Radio 4 arts programme which ran for 25 years from 1973. It ended with the major schedule changes that occurred in April 1998, when it was replaced by Front Row.

Luke Treadaway

Luke Antony Newman Treadaway (born 10 September 1984) is a British actor and singer. He has won an Olivier Award for Best Leading Actor for his performance as Christopher in the National Theatre's production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time in 2013. He has also been nominated for an Evening Standard Theatre Award.

Malcolm Prince

Personal website

Malcolm Prince is an English broadcaster and radio producer.Born in Solihull, West Midlands, he attended The University of Warwick.

He is a producer at the BBC radio channels. He specialises in feature documentaries and music entertainment shows. He began his radio career aged 13 working at BRMB Radio in Birmingham. His mentor was Ed Doolan who took Prince with him to the local BBC Radio station in 1981. At Radio WM, Prince developed his radio skills while continuing his education. In the mid 1990s, Prince sold an idea to BBC World Service which became the series 'Ain't No Mickey Mouse Business'. This was the beginning of a long and successful partnership with the writer and broadcaster, Brian Sibley.

In 2000, Prince became a staff producer at BBC Radio 2 producing a variety of weekly programmes and documentaries.

Today, he produces:

Paul O'Grady - Sundays from 5 pm (Producer)

Graham Norton - Saturdays from 10 am, (Producer)2017

Alan Carr and Melanie Sykes (Producer), Saturday specialsCameron Mackintosh from A to Z (Producer/Writer), presented by Graham Norton2016

pet shop boys, documentary (Producer), four part series hosted by Graham Norton, Frances Barber and Miranda SawyerA Carpenters Christmas (Producer), presented by Petula Clark


Will Young - Essential 90s RnBRadio 2 Eurovision - various programmes


The Fuller Picture - The Simon Fuller Story, (Producer), presented by Nicki Chapman2013

Who Is The Doctor? - A 50th anniversary Doctor Who SpecialOther notable productions include:


Clare Balding presents 2012 - The Year To Remember (Producer)

Sixty Amazing Years - The Diamond Jubilee Weekend (Producer/Executive Producer)2011

Michael Grade On The Box - a history of popular television for March 2012 (Producer)2010

The Musical - a landmark eight-part series for September 2010, written by Brian Sibley, telling the story of Broadway and London's West End (Producer)

The London Palladium Story - a two-part documentary celebrating 100 years of the famous West End theatre (Producer)

David Puttnam's Century of Cinema, The Sequel with Brian Sibley - a revised repeat of the acclaimed series (Producer)

The Paul O'Grady Christmas Show - Christmas Day 20102009

Who on Who? David Tennant interviews Russell T Davies about his work on Doctor Who

Cilla's Sunday Love Songs: two special programmes

The Beatles, Covered presented by Cilla Black

The Paul O'Grady Christmas Show - Christmas Day 20092008

Bill Cotton - a tribute to the late Bill Cotton

The Bette Midler Christmas Show - Christmas Day 2008, repeated 2010

The Paul O'Grady Christmas Show - Christmas Day 2008

Icons - a season of music documentaries (2008)

Happy New Year - The Ultimate ABBA Chart (New Year's Day 2008) and repeated in May 20082007

Re-X-amining Kylie (Boxing Day 2007)

Alan Carr's Christmas Box (Christmas Day 2007)

X-amining Kylie - David Tennant interviews Kylie Minogue (November 2007)

Dale's Groovy 60s - hosted by Dale Winton (2007)

Shadowlands, read by Ian Richardson (2007) and repeated in 2008

Carly Simon: Stage and Screen (2007)2006

The Natalie Cole Christmas Show (2006)

My Life - The Music and Story of Billy Joel (2006, 2002)

Cliff Richard - Take Another Look (2006), repeated 2010

Ain’t No Mickey Mouse Music (2006)2005

Behind The Glass - The Phil Ramone Story, presented by Alison Moyet

Liza With a ‘Z’ and All That Jazz (2005), starring Liza Minnelli

Project: Who? (2005), with Christopher Eccleston

Doctor Who: Regeneration (2005)2004/3

Andrew Lloyd Webber - The Man Behind The Music (2004)

The Language of Kylie - The Kylie Minogue Story (2003)

Cilla, What’s It All About? (2003), starring Cilla Black

The Music Never Ends - The Michel Legrand Story (2003)

Real Songs - The Diane Warren Story (2003)

Barbra Streisand Special (2003)2002-2000

The Rolling Stones Story (2002)

Clouds In My Coffee, The Carly Simon Story (2002)

He’s Playing Our Song - The Marvin Hamlisch Story (2002)

Thank You For The Music - The Benny Andersson & Björn Ulvaeus Story (2001)

Never Miss An Angle - The Real Walt Disney (2001)

Manilow In The Spotlight (2000), starring Barry Manilow

The Nina Simone Show (2000)

Country Roads with Johnny Cash (2000)

A Day At The Races (2000)

Keep The Music Playing - The Alan and Marilyn Bergman Story (2000)Prior to 2000

The Rodgers and Hammerstein Story (1999)

David Puttnam’s Century of Cinema (1999), starring David Puttnam and Robert Redford and presented by Brian Sibley

Disney’s Women (1998)

Ain’t No Mickey Mouse Business (1995, 1998)

To Be Continued (1998)

Starring Julie - The Julie Andrews Story (1998)He also produced The Russell Davies Song Show from 2002-2004. In September 2004, he created Elaine Paige on Sunday which he produced until 2010.

In 2003, he produced Radio 2’s Great British Music Debate and later executive-produced the two follow-ups in 2004.

In 2005 he produced Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant’s first Radio 2 programmes as well as the Network debuts of Paul O'Grady and John Barrowman.

In 2006 he became an Executive Producer at Radio 2.

His key collaborator is writer and broadcaster Brian Sibley, with whom Prince has created many programmes for the BBC.

Pauline Baynes

Pauline Diana Baynes (9 September 1922 – 1 August 2008) was an English illustrator whose work encompassed more than 100 books, notably several by C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien.

Peter Ellenshaw

William Samuel Cook "Peter" Ellenshaw (May 24, 1913 – February 12, 2007) was an English matte designer and special effects creator who worked on many Disney features. Born in London, he moved to America in 1953.


Shadowlands may refer to:

Shadowlands (Glass Hammer album), 2004

Shadowlands (Klaus Schulze album), 2013

Shadowlands (play), a TV film adapted for the stage by William Nicholson about C. S. Lewis and Joy Gresham

Shadowlands (1993 film), a 1993 adaptation of the William Nicholson play

Shadowlands (video game), 1992 computer role playing game published by Domark

Shadowlands, a book by Brian Sibley

Shadowlands, a non-fiction book on a scientific theory by Robert Foot

Shadowlands, the second expansion pack for the MMORPG Anarchy Online

Shadowlands, south of Rokugan in the Legend of the Five Rings game setting

The Shadowlands, a children's fantasy novel by Emily Rodda

"The Shadowlands," a song by Ryan Adams on his album Love Is Hell

Shadowlands (1993 film)

Shadowlands is a 1993 British biographical drama film about the relationship between Irish academic C. S. Lewis and American poet Joy Davidman, her death from cancer, and how this challenged Lewis's Christian faith. It is directed by Richard Attenborough with a screenplay by William Nicholson based on his 1985 television film and 1989 stage play of the same name. The 1985 script began life as I Call It Joy written for Thames Television by Brian Sibley and Norman Stone. Sibley later wrote the book, Shadowlands: The True Story of C. S. Lewis and Joy Davidman.

Shadowlands (play)

Shadowlands is a play by William Nicholson. It was first shown as a television film in 1985, directed by Norman Stone and produced by David M. Thompson for BBC Wales. It was later adapted for the stage, premiering on Broadway in 1990 and was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Play. A third version was released in 1993 as a feature film directed by Richard Attenborough.

The play is about the relationship between Oxford don and author, C. S. Lewis and the American writer Joy Gresham. It began life as a script entitled I Call it Joy written for Thames Television by Brian Sibley and Norman Stone. Sibley was credited on the BBC film as "consultant" and went on to write the book Shadowlands: The True Story of C. S. Lewis and Joy Davidman.

The Lord of the Rings (1981 radio series)

In 1981 BBC Radio 4 produced a dramatisation of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings in 26 half-hour stereo installments. The novel had previously been adapted as a 12-part BBC Radio adaptation in 1955 and 1956 (of which no recordings are known to have survived), and a 1979 production by The Mind's Eye for National Public Radio in the USA.

Like the novel on which it is based, The Lord of the Rings is the story of an epic struggle between the Dark Lord Sauron of Mordor, the primary villain of the work, and an alliance of heroes who join forces to save the world from falling under his shadow.

The Once and Future King

The Once and Future King is a work by T. H. White based upon Le Morte d'Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory. It was first published in 1958. It collects and revises shorter novels published from 1938 to 1941, with much new material.

Wilbert Awdry

Wilbert Vere Awdry, OBE (15 June 1911 – 21 March 1997) was an English Anglican cleric, railway enthusiast, and children's author. Better known as the Reverend W. Awdry, he was the creator of Thomas the Tank Engine, the central figure in his Railway Series.

Winnie-the-Pooh (book)

Winnie-the-Pooh (1926) is the first volume of stories about Winnie-the-Pooh, written by A. A. Milne and illustrated by E. H. Shepard. The book focuses on the adventures of a teddy bear called Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends Piglet, a small toy pig; Eeyore, a toy donkey; Owl, a live owl; and Rabbit, a live rabbit. The characters of Kanga, a toy kangaroo, and her son Roo are introduced later in the book, in the chapter entitled "In Which Kanga and Baby Roo Come to the Forest and Piglet has a Bath". The bouncy toy-tiger character of Tigger is not introduced until the sequel, The House at Pooh Corner.

In 2003, Winnie the Pooh was listed at number 7 on the BBC's survey The Big Read.

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