Celebrate ‘The Wicker Man’ with Entire Evening of Folk Horror Programming on BBC Radio 4 Extra

The Wicker Man
British Lion Films

This year marks the 50th anniversary of The Wicker Man, and the celebrations are far from over. On December 2, BBC Radio 4 Extra will dedicate an entire evening to honouring the beloved folk horror classic and the genre it helped transform.

Robin Hardy’s The Wicker Man tells the story of Sergeant Howie (played by Edward Woodward in the film), a  Christian police officer who arrives on a small Scottish island to investigate missing child case. Upon arrival, he’s shocked to learn that all of the locals are sexually liberal pagans with customs and beliefs that he disagrees with, and they might be harbouring very dark secrets. 

Since its release in 1973, many films have tried to emulate the quirky horrors of The Wicker Man. Its DNA can be found in everything from Ari Aster’s Midsommar to Gareth Evans’ Apostle, but few films capture the intense and purely visceral horror of Hardy’s masterpiece. The Wicker Man deserves a night of celebrations, and BBC Radio 4 Extra is going above and beyond to do it proud.

The festivities begin with Fear in the Furrows, a documentary examining the folk horror genre in the arts, namely in film, music, and literature. After that, Evelyn Hollow will interview Leslie Mackie about her role in The Wicker Man, with the second half of the conversations airing later on in the evening. This will be followed by a radio rendition of The League of Gentlemen’s “A Guest at the Dentons” episode, which follows the locals in a bizarre town called Spent.

Sentimental Journey, meanwhile, sees Wicker Man goddess Ingrid Pitt go on a trip to Argentina and share some stories. The next program will chronicle the history of “Sumer Is Icumen In,” the folk tune that punctuates the Wicker Man’s horrifying climax. And while we’re on the subject of music, a repeat of Christopher Lee’s Desert Island Discs will also air, with the the Lord SummerIsle actor picking some of his all-time favourite songs. Finally, the evening will feature a full audio adaptation of The Wicker Man, with Brian Blessed set to voice Lee’s iconic pagan villain.

The Wicker Man celebrations will air on BBC Radio 4 Extra on December 2, with the first program airing at 6.15 p.m.