On January 24th, 2002, BBC Radio 4 aired an episode of their Chillers series entitled: Who Goes There? This audio drama is an interpretation of John W. Campbell’s (under the name Don A. Stuart) 1938 classic novella by the same name. Of course, when referring to this story most people probably know it better by the name that John Carpenter made popular, The Thing.
Who Goes There? was originally adapted for film in 1951 under the name The Thing from Another World. It was a loose adaptation but one that influenced future filmmaker John Carpenter to give the classic science fiction story his own twist in 1982. I watched The Thing when I was twelve or thirteen and immediately fell in love with the icy isolation the film presented and it remains a film that feels timeless and one of a kind.
I was doing some research on audio dramas when I ran across a listing that mentioned the BBC had done an interpretation of Who Goes There? back in 2002. I knew I had to hear it, and luckily for me, it was available online in quite a few places including YouTube.
Clocking in just under 30 minutes, this ensemble piece tells the story of a group of Antarctic scientists who discover an alien in the ice and decide to thaw it out in order to study it. Once thawed, it escapes and begins taking on the form of other carbon based life forms found at the research station such as the sled dogs and the scientists.
The 1982 movie and the audio drama both do a fantastic job at instilling fear and paranoia into the viewer/listener. You truly feel isolated from the world and paranoia sets in when you realize that anyone of the characters may (or may not) be The Thing. The actors do a fantastic job conveying the stress and desperation that comes from facing such an unpredictable situation like this and I found myself really getting into the story.
My only complaint is the beginning of the audio drama spends a little too much time spelling everything out for the listener. Obviously when dealing with an audio drama production some information must be conveyed via dialogue to the listener, but I felt like this one crossed the line with directing stating facts for the listener in order to speed up with world building and move along the story. I’d rather seen this drama stretched out to forty-five minutes or an hour and allow the characters to naturally come to topics instead of listing them off over and over in order to catch the audience up to what is going on at this research station.
The audio production was adapted by Mike Walker, an award winning radio dramatist and directed by Rachel Horan. The rest of the cast is posted below:
MacReady: Liam Brennan
Prof Blair: Loan Meredith
Dr Norris: Cyril Nri
Cdr Gary: Christopher Godwin
Kinner: Harry Myers
Connant: Colin Adrian
I enjoyed Who Goes There? and it’s a quick, fun listen that I think all fans of The Thing can find some pleasure in listening to. The cast is British and the ending is different, but I think that is what makes this adaptation unique and interesting to listen to. I’d recommend listening to it alone at night with headphones and its even better if you are snowed in.
I’d rate Who Goes There? a three and a half out of five and say it’s worth a listen.