From BBC Radio 4:
Janet Suzman introduces a major new dramatization of Primo Levi’s short stories about our human relationship with the chemical elements that make up our universe – a book the Royal Institution of Great Britain named ‘the best science book ever’. Starring Henry Goodman, Akbar Kurtha, Erich Redman and Juliet Aubrey. Dramatized by Graham White from the translation by Raymond Rosenthal.
1/11 Vanadium: In the course of his work as a chemist in a paint factory in the 1960s, Primo Levi receives a letter from one of the factory’s German clients, signed by a Doktor Muller. Could this be the Doktor Muller who had overseen Levi’s work as a prisoner in the lab at Auschwitz?
2/11 Argon: Primo imagines a fantasy meeting with his Piedmontese ancestors, who share a number of characteristics with the noble, rare and inert gases, such as Argon.
3/11 Sulphur – Ben Crowe plays a boiler man who saves Primo’s factory from disaster; Titanium – Evie Killip reads this short story about a little girl who is fascinated by a man painting with white paint.
4/11 In ‘Lead’, set in the ancient world, a prospector travels from northern to southern Europe in search of the valuable, but toxic, lead rock. Read by Paul Copley.
5/11: Mercury 1820s – an English captain and his wife live on a remote Atlantic island, with strange chemical properties.
6/11 Iron: The story of Primo Levi’s early life as a chemist in Mussolini’s Italy, from his student days, his early crushes and his first experiences as a professional chemist, at a time when it was increasingly hard for Jewish Italians to find work.
7/11 Gold: The Nazis invade Italy and Primo’s friends are forced to scatter. Primo and Vanda head into the mountains in order to join the partisans.
8/11 Cerium: Primo’s training as a chemist helps him to survive the terrible conditions of Auschwitz.
9/11 Arsenic and Silver: At his retirement party, Primo recounts amusing stories from a professional chemist’s life.
10/11 Vanadium Part 2: In the course of his work as a chemist in a paint factory in the 1960s, Primo Levi has received a letter from one of the factory’s German clients, Doktor Muller. The same Doktor Muller who had overseen Levi’s work as a prisoner in the lab at Auschwitz. And now Muller wants to meet.
11/11 Carbon: Levi imagines the incredible, centuries-long journey of a single atom of carbon.
Produced and directed by Marc Beeby and Emma Harding.