Sir Ian McKellen will lead the cast of new BBC adaptation of ‘Paradise Lost’

The BBC has announced details of a new Paradise Lost adaptation.

17th-century English poet John Milton’s epic poem was first published in 1667 and consists of twelve books.

Lord of the Rings star Sir Ian McKellen will John Milton in BBC Radio 4’s exclusive adaptation, alongside Frances Barber as his wife Elizabeth and Simon Russell Beale as Satan.

Adapted by award-winning British poet Michael Symmons Roberts, Paradise Lost will be broadcast in two parts, on Saturday 24 March at 2.30pm and on Sunday 25 March at 3pm.

McKellen commented: “One of the great rewards of this project, apart from working with Michael and Sue and Frances of course, is that I have renewed faith in the work – it is a great, great poem. Being written by a blind man it has special relevance to a radio audience, as it is all in the sound of the words, not in the look of the words on the page.

“I think that is the revelation to me, that if you speak Paradise Lost out loud, you’ll begin to recognise what a truly great poem it is.”

The cast also includes Jonathan Keeble as Beelzebub, Ashley Margolis as Adam, Emily Pithon as Eve, David Seddon as Christ, Conrad Nelson as Raphael and Russell Dixon as God.