Jeremy Irons Reads TS Eliot’s ‘The Waste Land’ BBC Radio 4

Complete audio of The Waste Land, read by Jeremy Irons and Eileen Atkins…

Click on the audio player below:


Friday 30 March 2012

2:15 – 3:00 p.m. (GMT) on BBC Radio 4

Radio Times review by: Laurence Joyce

Thank heavens for Ezra Pound! Without his artistic intervention TS Eliot’s modernist poetic masterpiece would have been called He Do the Police in Different Voices instead of The Waste Land. This we learn in the introductory contributions from the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, Jackie Kay, Matthew Hollis and Sean O’Brien that set Eliot’s complex and multi-layered work in its literary and historical context.

But it is the reading of the text itself by Jeremy Irons and Eileen Atkins that is most enlightening for anyone who has ever struggled to catch Eliot’s drift. Their measured delivery, never overdone, captures the poem’s bleak emotional landscape, breathing life into its panoramic sweep and mundane detail, with Atkins chillingly perfect in Death by Water.


About this programme

Eileen Atkins and Jeremy Irons read the poem by TS Eliot, featuring an introduction by the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, Jackie Kay, Matthew Hollis and Sean O’Brien. The author’s seminal work is arguably one of the most influential of the 20th century, and is split into five parts – The Burial of the Dead, A Game of Chess, The Fire Sermon, Death by Water and What the Thunder Said.

Cast and crew


Eileen Atkins
Jeremy Irons
Rowan Williams
Jackie Kay
Matthew Hollis
Sean O’Brien


Susan Roberts
TS Eliot



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