Talking Books

Talking Books with Robert Kirkwood, weekdays from 3pm and 10pm

Talking Books at 80

The Talking Books service from RNIB is 80 years old, and we have many special shows, features and documentaries coming up. More information is on the Talking Books at 80 page.

Read On

If you're passionate about books and reading, tune in every Friday from 3pm. Author interviews, book news, technology updates and everything you've always wanted to know about the RNIB Library. 

Head to the Read On Page now

Now Playing ...

Full Circle by Michael Palin

Read by Michael Palin

In Full Circle, Palin and a film crew go on a year-long adventure visiting 18 countries along the Pacific Rim. Not for nothing is this part of the world called the "Ring of Fire"; volcanoes punctuate the landscape, and Palin even climbs one still smoking from a recent eruption.

But the difficult landscape is only one challenge in this at times hair-raising, at times hilarious, always fascinating journey around the world's largest ocean.

14 Episodes, Monday to Thursday until 14th of December

Catch-Up with ...

The Lady in the Van by Alan Bennett 

Read by Ray Sawyer

With the permission of the author, we present a short 2 part story, The Lady in the Van from Alan Bennett's collection of work, Writing Home.

Life imitates art in The Lady in the Van, the story of the itinerant Miss Shepherd, who lived in a van in Alan Bennett's driveway from the early1970s until her death in 1989. It is doubtful that Bennett could have made up the eccentric Miss Shepherd if he tried, but his poignant, funny but unsentimental account of their strange relationship is akin to his best fictional screen writing.

Bennett concedes that "One seldom was able to do her a good turn without some thoughts of strangulation", but as the plastic bags build up, the years pass by and Miss Shepherd moves into Bennett's driveway, a relationship is established which defines a certain moment in late 20th-century London life which has probably gone forever. The dissenting, liberal, middle-class world of Bennett and his peers comes into hilarious but also telling collision with the world of Miss Shepherd: "there was a gap between our social position and our social obligations. It was in this gap that Miss Shepherd (in her van) was able to live".

Read by Ray Sawyer it's only two episodes long, and you can listen to an interview with Alan Bennett here.

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie (One Week Left)

Read by Christopher Oxford 

Roger Ackroyd knew too much. He knew that the woman he loved had poisoned her brutal first husband. He suspected also that someone had been blackmailing her. Now, tragically, came the news that she had taken her own life with a drug overdose.

But the evening post brought Roger one last fatal scrap of information. Unfortunately, before he could finish the letter, he was stabbed to death…

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd was one of the first Talking Books ever recorded and sent to listeners back in 1935, and this updated recording is played as part of the Talking Books 80th Anniversary

Junior Talking Books

A children's classic, every Saturday morning at 9am and Sunday at 3pm and at the moment it's Heidi by Johanna Spyri. Catch up on the latest episode or find out more about our Weekend Children's Show here.

Coming Soon

Some Christmas favourites coming soon. Suggest a book by emailing or contacting me via Talking_Books on Twitter.

Booker Prize

Every year we feature the Man Booker shortlisted authors, here are the latest and a few from the awards over the past few years - Man Booker Prize authors

Podcast Shows

Author interviews, special shows, documentaries and more, all available to listen online or download as a podcast. Includes chats with Michael Palin, Bill Bryson, Michael Bond (the creator of Paddington Bear as pictured below), James Herbert's last ever interview, a full short story by Denise Mina and the man behind Parker and Brains in Thunderbirds and co-inventor of the voice of the Daleks. 

Podcast shows here.

Most recent podcasts for Talking Books

Marlon James

The winner of the Man Booker Prize 2015 joins Robert Kirkwood to talk about 'A Brief History of Seven Killings' and the seven voices needed to narrate the audio version.

John Aitchison

Author Interview - Wildlife cameraman and producer John Aitchison joins Robert Kirkwood to discuss his work and his book The Shark and the Albatross.

Comics Empower

A digital comic-book store specifically for blind and partially sighted customers, including a new hero with no sight, who has to save the world.

Listen Again


Catch up with EVERY EPISODE of the latest Talking Book featured on Insight Radio


Full Circle

Circle 01

Circle 02

Circle 03

Lady in the Van

Lady in the Van 01

Lady in the Van 02

Murder of Roger Ackroyd (One week left)

Roger Ackroyd 01

Roger Ackroyd 02

Roger Ackroyd 03

Roger Ackroyd 04

Roger Ackroyd 05

Roger Ackroyd 06

Roger Ackroyd 07

Roger Ackroyd 08

Roger Ackroyd 09

Roger Ackroyd 10


Coming Soon

James and the Giant Peach

James 1/3

James 2/3

James 3/3

About Talking Books

Robert Kirkwood presents the best of the spoken Word. The famous RNIB Talking Books studios have such a rich and varied history. Authors such as Ruth Rendell, Roald Dahl, P.D. James, A.S. Byatt, Fay Weldon, Doris Lessing, Lady Antonia Fraser and lots of other greats, making up a veritable Who’s Who of UK literature, have all visited us and recorded something.

Narrators over the years have included Joanna Lumley, Richard Baker, Sir John Gielgud, Joss Ackland and Jim Broadbent amongst hundreds of others. In the early days of the RNIB Talking Book service, there was no such thing as commercial audiobooks, so the RNIB library is the only place to hear people such as Peter Cushing and Joyce Grenfel read books aloud.

On Insight Radio's Talking Book show we've featured all of the above! Where else could you hear Peter Cushing read Sherlock Holmes followed by Victoria Coren talking poker, or Cherie Blair reading Postman Pat followed by Frederick Forsyth telling us about cocaine trafficking?

Tune in every day at 3pm (or 10pm or 3am) for exclusive audio, author interviews, behind the scenes features and our featured book or short story of the moment. I'll also keep adding content to the Talking Books podcast feed so make sure you subscribe.

Subscribe to the Talking Books podcast feed on itunes

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