I’ve never met Tim Goodman. I don’t know what he looks like [see above, Ed.]. I don’t know what he does most of the time. I don’t know if that’s his real name or a professional nom de plume. I don’t even know which country he lives in. Or if he’s alive.

But I do know he has given me hours of entertainment thanks to his amazing abilities at narrating audio books. His voice brings characters, scenes and plots to live in a way that adds to the impact of the original author’s words just as an actor adds to the writing skills of a playwright.

For me the London-based Bryant and May detective series without Tim Goodman is like the Bryant and May series without Bryant or without London.

Yet whilst actors get as much – if not – more attention than those whose words they bring to life on the small or large screen, on the stage or even on the radio, those who narrate books are mostly unsung. Think Hercule Poirot and most people will think David Suchet. Think George Smiley and most people will think Alec Guinness. But however good the audio book narrator, they never make it into the same thought.

Frequently barely mentioned in the packaging or online descriptions and rarely acknowledged for the skill they bring to the job, they are the unsung heroes. You only have to listen to an audio book with a narrator who is worthy and competent, but no more, to appreciate how much the very best contribute to our entertainment.

So here’s to Tim Goodman and his colleagues who are at the top of their profession and provide so much extra enjoyment to those of us who enjoy audio books.


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  1. Brit on Tuesday 17, 2011

    I’ve never got the hang of audiobooks. For some reason I struggle to follow the plot or remember who is who unless I read it with me actual peepers. Though as a kid I did like H E Todd reading his Bobby Brewster stories. There was one about chalk and cheese swapping roles that was particularly good.

    • ian russell on Tuesday 17, 2011

      And, with a book, if you nod off you don’t usually wake up three chapters on.

  2. ian russell on Tuesday 17, 2011

    Just as long as he isn’t also in the cast of The Archers I’ll doff my cap to him.

  3. worm on Tuesday 17, 2011

    There are detectives called Bryant and May? Wonder where the author got the idea for their names then…

    I’ve done some voiceover work overseas and I must say its a damn sight harder than you would imagine – conveying an emotion just through your voice without over-egging it is tricky, as is speaking in the special cadence that they use (with unusual over-emphasis on words) I imagine recording a whole book’s worth must be quite a drag

    • Brit on Tuesday 17, 2011

      Is there any job you haven’t had a bash at, Worm?

    • worm on Tuesday 17, 2011

      hmm…never really given accountancy a go…

  4. zmkc on Tuesday 17, 2011

    I so agree, Mark – a good actor can make an audio book brilliant. I began listening to Wilkie Collins’s Woman in White yesterday (there are 18 or so unabridged hours of it) and was just thinking that the person reading it is fantastic and unsung (and, incidentally, for me at least, it is detective novels that work best on audio – and unabridged is the only way to go.)

    • Mark Pack on Tuesday 17, 2011

      Zmkc – that’s really handy to know. Often thought of reading the book but never got round to it. Knowing there’s an ace audio version may well change that.