A gently hilarious full-cast deconstruction of John Buchan’s ripping yarn, courtesy of the British Comedy Company. It’s a hoot!

Written by John Buchan and Peter Wear.

“If someone had come up to me a week ago and said, “Richard Hannay, within a week you will be wanted for murder, suffer serious injury, be pursued by spies, lost on the Scottish Moors, handcuffed to a beautiful woman and shot,” I would have said, “When do I start?”

John Buchan, with his Establishment hat on, was actually the 1st Baron Tweedsmuir, and recipient of numerous gongs for service to the Empire. But he was also a prolific writer, publishing over 100 books including the “The Law According To the Taxation of Foreign Income,” which many still regard as the last word on the subject. Fortunately for us, he occasionally managed to tear himself away from the dark arts of offshore revenue collection to write thrillers, of which “The 39 Steps” is by far his best known – thanks in part to Alfred Hitchcock’s brilliant 1935 film version, and now this wonderfully funny and affectionate parody.

Set immediately prior to the First World War, it’s a ripping yarn of dastardly foreign spies intent on creating a new world order. It was an immediate bestseller, and has subsequently never been out of print, despite being snootily dismissed as the fons et origo of the “snobbery with violence” type of adventure. PC or not, it remains a cracking story. Other classic thrillers, including Geoffrey Household’s “Rogue Male” and Ian Fleming’s “James Bond” novels owe it more than a passing debt – as does the audio you’re hopefully about to download. And at this point, it’s probably best to let Peter Wear, founder of the British Comedy Company, attempt to justify the liberties he’s taken with Buchan’s masterpiece .

“Who is to say that the story Richard Hannay told to John Buchan is the true version of the events he described? Maybe he was holding something back for reasons of national security, or so as not to offend the sensibilities of the time, or, more likely, to avoid embarrassment at the club. After extensive research, and a degree of artistic licence, it has become clear that the story is more amusing than was first thought.”

And so it is. This affectionate and masterful parody contains plenty to laugh at. Not belly laughs, necessarily – Peter’s subtle and refined humour is of a kidney that never draws attention to itself with great neon signs proclaiming “look at this – here comes the joke!” It’s more that the comedy sneaks up behind you, then whacks the back of your head with a spade. “Never knowingly funny” might be its motto – and “The Thirty-Nine Steps . . . I counted them” is all the more successful for this softly softly approach.

P.S. The 39 Steps actually do exist – they form a tunnelled stairway leading from a hilltop villa down to the beach in the appropriately named English seaside town of Broadstairs – the very house in which Buchan was convalescing in 1914 while he was writing the book.




Our audiobooks download as zipped files (due to their size and for your convenience). Once unzipped you will find all of the mp3 files for your audiobook named, and in correct file order.  Due to the way Apple has designed iOS, iPhones and iPads don’t recognise these zip files automatically (unlike Android devices).  So, if you buy one of our titles via your iPhone or iPad, there are two ways to find and listen to your files:

[1] Download for FREE iZip for iOS – then download the audiobook using the link provided either on the webpage or the email we sent you. After the file has downloaded click on the Open With option and choose iZip. The app will open and ask if you want it to unzip all the files, say yes. A minute or so later you will have a list of mp3 files in order, and you just need to tap on the one you want to play and it will start playing in the Audioplayer. You can easily play, pause, jump forward or back.

[2] Slightly easier – download the zip file to your PC or MAC, unzip it to a folder you know the location of (such as your Music or Documents folder), then use iTunes to transfer the files in the same way you would a music album.

We hope you enjoy your audiobook and come back for more soon!


The British Comedy Company


John Buchan/Peter Wear


Paul Kent


Paul Kent


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