Sold to a drunken farmer, Joey, a beautiful red-bay foal with a distinctive cross on his nose, finds a friend in the farmer's son, Albert. His father brutally demands Joey work or be sold, so Albert gently trains him to pull the plough. But it's not enough. When war breaks out, Albert's father, needy for money for his struggling farm, sells Joey to the army, where he, like the soldiers around him, must try to cope with the horrors of the First World War. Joey and another thoroughbred horse, Topthorn, lead in a terrible cavalry charge towards the machine guns of the enemy's lines. Joey is captured by the Germans and for while he is lovingly cared for by Emilie, a young French girl and her grandfather. But he and Topthorn must pull a heavy gun, battling through the mud until Topthorn dies of exhaustion. Joey wanders in no man's land, back towards the British trench, but despite a joyful reunion with Albert, Joey is not out of danger. First tetanus threatens his life, and even then Emilie's grandfather has to bid to save him from the butcher. The old man promised his granddaughter when she died he would find the horse she loved and buy him, but recognising Albert's love for Joey, he sells Joey back to Albert on condition he will love for him all his life - for the princely sum of one English penny.
In a groundbreaking production for BBC Radio 2 Michael Morpurgo's WarHorse
featuring Timothy Spall, Brenda Blethyn and Bob Hoskins had its world premiere on November 8th.
The radio version, adapted at the behest of Morpurgo by John Tams and Sally Ward closely observes the novel's storyline, narrated by Joey, the WarHorse in a remarkable performance by Timothy Spall, one of the UK's best loved and celebrated actors.
The story of a farmhorse sold from Devon into the mire, wire and machine guns of the Great War - 1914-1918 - the production brings together a stellar cast with cameo performances from Brenda Blethyn, Bob Hoskins, Geoffrey Hughes and Gawn Grainger and featuring many names from stage and screen alongside young actors making their radio debuts. The cast is led by Timothy Spall, who places Joey, the WarHorse and narrator of the piece.
The storytelling is supported by the UK's finest folk musicians, including CBS (Coope, Boyes & Simpson), John McCusker and Andy Seward.
The show is directed by John Tams and produced by John Leonard.
TX: Saturday 8th November, 2008, 19:00 - 20:00