RadioTimes features our The Willows + The Wendigo

In November 2022, the RadioTimes contacted us about featuring our cover of Algernon Blackwood’s The Willows + The Wendigo for their December magazine article promoting the BBC Radio 4 radio dramatization of The Willows, which appeared in their 17–23 December 2022 issue, and can be found on pp. 110-111. While not receiving a lot of real estate space in the published magazine article, our cover was featured far more prominently in their digital version (third image with the black background below). Regardless of appearing big or small, we appreciate the publicity. Thanks, RadioTimes!

While it’s available, you can listen to The Willows here:


The BBC adaptation was written by Stef Penny, with the story setup being:


Two old acquaintances, Gus and Michael, set out on a summer holiday to canoe along the River Danube. As the journey continues, they become increasingly aware of a malign presence that haunts the trees along the shoreline. Eventually, when they camp for the night on a reed-covered island, this presence make itself terrifyingly manifest.


And it features the voices of actors Bill Pullman and Julian Sands:


Between them they are responsible for two of the last century’s most memorable movie moments. Sands is lodged in the mind of anyone over 50 as Edwardian free-thinker George Emerson, striding through a Tuscan meadow to embrace Helena Bonham Carter’s Lucy Honeychurch in 1985’s Oscar-winning A Room with a View.


Pullman, meanwhile, became the personification of freedom-loving heroism for a generation of Americans after 1996 Hollywood smash Independence Day. In the sci-fi action adventure, he played US President Thomas J Whitmore, stealing the film with a rousing speech ahead of an air attack on alien warships, delivered just before boarding a fighter jet.


And the pair have often gone on adventures together in real life. “Like the time we climbed Mount Baldy in California,” says Pullman, 68 . . . “That’s 10,000 feet high. I hurt my toes and came down very slowly but Julian descends mountains at a really vigorous, fast pace, he almost jumps and runs. But we do have a great connection and it makes us natural for the relationship of these two characters who go down the Danube in a canoe.”


Regarding the adaptation, the magazine states:


This radio version of The Willows is updated to the early 1920s, set in a postwar — and post-virus — Europe, where Spanish flu has just killed millions.


Regarding Blackwood’s original story, the RadioTimes says:


Described by HP Lovecraft as the best supernatural tale in the English language, The Willows is now as forgotten as its author, who has, along with others from his era, fallen from favour.


Sands added:


“I think a lot of Edwardian authors’ work is just weirdly unfashionable . . . He [Blackwood] just dropped out of being considered, and yet he was writing at the same time as Conan Doyle, during that huge movement of theosophy and trying to raise people’s understanding and consciousness of other realms of being . . . The Willows is a strange, uncanny adventure,” says Sands, who plays Michael to Pullman’s Gus.


Then, Pullman provides some interesting insight:


“I was very familiar with Blackwood,” he says. “The Willows explores the power of nature to take us over a threshold of hypersensitivity into a realm of natural forces, which would have probably been all too apparent to our ancient ancestors, but in the modern world we have become so removed from such forces and their effect on us.”


Sadly, Sands was reported missing on Friday, January 13, 2023, and was last known to be hiking on the aforementioned Mount Baldy. He has not yet been found, which now makes the close of the RadioTimes article all the more ominous:


Sands is particularly alert to spiritual and other presences in places where nature has the upper hand. “I’ve found spooky things in the mountains, when you know you’re in a place where many have lost their lives. Whether on the Eiger or in the Andes, you may be confronted with human remains. That sort of thing can be very chilling.” As can a trip down the Danube, when the trees are whispering darkly.