The Voice I’ve Never Heard



I know his name, I know his voice, but I’ve not listened to him. Tim Goodman is the other ‘me’. He’s the audio narrator of the Bryant & May novels. His dulcet tones recently won him another top industry award for audiobook reading when he claimed his third Audiofile Earfones award for Outstanding Narration. Everyone says he’s a perfect fit for the job.

So popular is he that my audio book team at Audible receive lots of letters demanding to know when the next book will be out. But I haven’t been able to bring myself to listen to him – it’s part of an ongoing problem I have with other versions of my own stuff. I’ve never seen my movie ‘Through the Eyes of a Killer’ with Tippi Hedren, and only recently got around to listening to my play ‘The Lady Downstairs’ read by Hannah Gordon.

I did, however, watch about a dozen short student films based on my stories (I allow any film student to make them into shorts gratis provided they send me a copy) and some were brilliant.

But not Bryant & May audio. Audible kindly sent me a full set, which I’ve been steeling myself to play for ages.

Now all this may be about to change. Not only am I going to hear them, I may be about to meet Mr Goodman for the first time. Audible has come up with an idea to record our first meeting and add it as an extra to the discs, which should be interesting.

A gentleman named Gordon Griffin was the narrator for my memoir ‘Paperboy’, and one day rang me up to find out what I sounded like. ‘After all,’ he pointed out, ‘I have to be you.’ That was unnerving.

Before Audible came along my books went onto cassettes – remember those? ‘Spanky’ was narrated by comedian Rob Newman (of Newman and Baddiel). I met him at the recording session, and he was charming.

Although I spent half my working life in recording studios, I do think it’s better that authors stay out of the way of audio sessions for their books. It always surprises me when an author gives a lousy radio interview, but in the UK nobody gives you any training – and it’s needed for going into a studio live.

I’d love to write more audio plays. That can be a long-term plan, but for now I’m off to listen to Mr Goodman!

13 comments on “The Voice I’ve Never Heard”

  1. Porl says:

    I love Tim’s voice – I find it very soothing and his Arthur in particular is fab, indeed his intonation of all the main characters seems spot on! Im sure you’ll love them!

    Never knew about the Spanky audiobook – another Holy Grail to be found now!

  2. Russ Varley says:

    I too love the Bryant and May audio books and Tim’s voice is a very good fit to how the characters sounded to me when I read the books originally. But I can understand why you don’t want to listen to your voice in someone else’s voice. A very weird experience indeed.

    If I might offer a suggestion, start with Bryant and May’s Mystery Tour in London’s Glory (chapter 12). It’s just 25 minutes long and only features Arthur and John. It is one of Tim’s best readings of their conversations.

  3. His characterisation varies in the early books but for the last 10 he has it nailed. I always read the books first but always listen to the audiobooks after. I’m afraid John, Arthur, Raymond, Janice and Kasavian now sound irreversibly like Mr Goodman’s in my head now wven when reading the novels. Also, I got into them after hearing the Water Room during an attempt to make 3 week’s decorating less of a chore so I’m grateful to them for that too.

  4. Gary Hart says:

    My first experience (there’s that word again) of B&M was via an audio book when I used to work long night shifts. I found them so perfectly narrated that I immediately ordered the whole series (at that point it was up to “on the rails”) and ploughed through them as fast as I could.

    Now that I has switched to reading the books first, as I have more time free, I still read all of the text in Tim’s wonderful characters. From Arthur’s slightly horse grumble, that sound like my Grandfather, to Raymond’s slightly nasal ‘whine’.

    All I can say is I hope you enjoy them as much as I have. Thank you.

  5. DC says:

    My first experience was Memory of Blood which I picked up from Audible during a sale. I’d never heard of B&M nor their author before then. I was quickly hooked, particularly by Arthur’s and Raymond’s characterisation.

    I understand why you haven’t listened to them because your interpretation is likely to be different to Tim’s. However, I do read the book with an approximation to Tim’s style.

    I hope you enjoy the audiobooks, but I’d understand if not.

  6. Jean Franklin says:

    Oh I do hope you will enjoy Tims voice overs.i absolutely love them. He has given all the characters such distinct voices.i know them all and am very fond of them,even Raymondo…
    You deserve every happiness listening to Your stories.i hope you get as much pleasure from them as you have given all of your fans xx

  7. Brooke says:

    I tried listening to Strange Tide, as the book version is not available in US. Mr. Goodman’s version of Arthur is annoying. I had to get it out of my head quickly. Sorry.

  8. Iceni says:

    I agree with Brooke, I read the first books and only listened to the latest book from audible. I think that there are a number of characters that Tim Goodman has got completely wrong, especially Arthur Bryant. His narration is ponderous and ruins the pace of the book.

  9. John Griffin says:

    The problem may lie with how you ‘ear the books as you read. I tend NOT to have a voice, rather a visual impression, a scene or a movement. I see Arthur as a rolling, rheumy sailor in movement, with a pair of hooded, piercing eyes; John is an aging panther, lithe acceleration with a 1000mile stare. Janice is a better looking Diana Dors, Raymondo a seedy, bewildered Bobby Charlton, etc. The words tend to appear rather than be voiced…and for that reason I find audiobooks for adults irritating, almost impossible. I find Mr Fowler to be a good author for visualisation.
    For children, well I could not have managed without audiobook Roald Dahl to keep the kids…and now the grandkids…quiet in the car. “Boggis and Bunce and Bean…” is far more euphonic perhaps!
    That is also why so many genres do not activate the happy brain.
    Far more irritating than grammar BTW is anachronism in historical context – it kills the story.

  10. Corpsie says:

    Rob Newman is an obvious choice for Spanky… how on earth did I miss that?

    As for throwing a good writer unprepared into a live radio interview. I’m sorry, I was just enthusing about your books on the LBC forum. Congrats on being a braver man than the foreign secretary.

  11. Brooke says:

    Re; John’s comment. I have a completely different visual picture of Arthur and therefore hear a different voice. And that is a problem for an audio version. Arthur, rheumy indeed! Back at you, John.

  12. Helen Martin says:

    My problem is that the characters, including the Daves, have a more or less Canadian accent, whatever that is. John is educated Canadian, Arthur sort of mutter/grumbles when he isn’t lecturing, but everyone else is mostly my own voice because I don’t know the accents well enough. Perhaps I ought to experience at least one so that I have an idea what they might sound like. Funny, I used to provide voices for all the people I read, but that may have been because I did so much reading aloud and now I don’t.

  13. Michelle dempsey says:

    I have heard all the book on audio and Tim Goodman is fantastic and will always be Bryant and May . I have the book too but prefer to listen to them.

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