Monday 30 June 2014


I've always had a soft spot for the ubiquitous cartoon desert islands that, in my youth, were a staple icon of the cartoonists who drew for such magazines as Punch, Lilliput, Men Only, Weekend, Titbits etc.

As an aspiring cartoonist – some forty-odd years ago – I tried my hand at several jokes featuring desert islands and/or messages in bottles like this one, which combined the two...

Friday 20 June 2014


She was a woman working the male-dominated world of film animation and what she brought to it was a artistic sensibility that helped shape some of the best-loved Disney animated films of the 1950s and one of Disneyland's most popular and enduring attractions, it's a small world...

Mary Blair (1911-1978) had a talent for graphic art with, as her fellow concept artist, Joe Grant, noted, "almost a calligraphic quality to her line" combined with an eye for shape and form and how they might be expressed in animation and, above all, an astonishing talent for choosing colour palettes that arrest the eye and fire the imagination.

Mary Blair's work is currently being celebrated at the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco in an exhibition entitled Magic, Color, Flair: The World of Mary Blair, a title shared by the accompanying book/catalogue written by Disney authority, John Canemaker. You can read more about Mary Blair, her art, the book and the exhibition on my decidedly disney blog.

Meanwhile, here are few favourite examples of Mary's sensational art * from arguably her three greatest film projects: Cinderella...


  ...Alice in Wonderland...


...and Peter Pan...

* Not all of the art are featured in this blog post appear in the exhibition or the accompanying book.

Wednesday 18 June 2014

GOING FULL CYCLE: Caption Competition - THE RESULTS!

Maybe I'm losing my touch for picking quirky photos for my occasional caption competitions, certainly the most recent one garnered only a small number of entries. But, of course, it's quality not quantity that count and there was some smart and witty suggestions to go with this photo...

As David Weeks hadn't entered the competition (he says his entry never reached me!) I invited him to judge the anonymously-considered entries and here are –– THE RESULTS!


Roger O B:

For the Johnson family it was a real needle match.


Sebastian Hunt:

Seams like a perfectly normal family bike ride.


Michael Goldberg:

And this is how the Frankenstein monster was created and brought to life.


Michael Brett:

Standing room only.



Little girl: ‘Why am I the only one wearing pink?’

Man at the back: ‘How’s it going’. Man in front: ‘So-so!’

‘Champs Elysees, here we come!’

Boll Weavil:

Sometimes, the simplest ideas are the best!

I’m just making an outfit for the premiere of The Illustrated Man. The theme, for some reason, is boxer shorts, just boxer shorts….

‘It’s no good, I still have all this hemming to do. You’ll have to go round Hyde Park corner again.’

‘After 300 yards, complete the cuff buttons then turn left onto the North Circular.’



Chap on left thinks, 'another few more dresses made and I'll be down to his weight.'

And so to -- THE WINNERS...

EDITOR'S CHOICE - Special Commendation

Matt Field:
'Get off the bike, Carrie, and show your Mum how to do a running stitch.'
Boll Weavil:  
‘It’s no good, I still have all this hemming to do. You’ll have to go round Hyde Park corner again.’ 



Chap on left says: 'Fortunately Mum's fads tend to be cyclical!'


Woman: ‘When you said would I like to come cycling with you and a singer, this wasn't quite what I had in mind!’

Congratulations to the winners, many thanks to all the entrants and to David for his adjudication!


Sunday 15 June 2014


We've still twelve months to go to our quarter-century and silver celebrations, but today marks twenty-four years since David and I first 'got together'...

Marriage, and even civil partnerships, still being a thing of the future, we count our anniversary from our first proper (and, actually, rather improper) date: dinner at the Savoy Grill and an overnight stay inn the hotel upstairs!

To commemorate our two-dozen years together, here's a 'selfie' of the two of us (taken several years ago, before we knew they were going to be called 'selfies') in one of the exquisite, gilded, mirrored rooms in Teatro La Fenice in our beloved Venice...

I like it (despite the pixilation) because – being quartered – it's a reminder that, like all relationships, we are the sum of our separate parts and identities...

HE & ME: 1990-2014


Father's Day!

It's odd how Father's Day and Mother's Day (even after many years) can be touched with a sense of sadness when it is no longer possible to express love and gratitude to one's parents – except, of course, in memory...

And here's a memory I came across in a bag of old greetings cards I was going through prior to recycling: a home-made Father's Day card which the young Sibley made for his Dad, some time in the early 1960s...

It's disappointing to think just how close I nearly came to rivaling the success of Hallmark Cards...

Happy Father's Day, Dad!

Saturday 14 June 2014


First published in 1951, The Illustrated Man was Ray Bradbury's third book and comprised a collection of short stories revealed in the form of the bizarre tattoos with which his body is covered.

This afternoon, as readers of this blog cannot have escaped knowing, BBC Radio 4 will be broadcasting my new audio dramatization of this extraordinary book as an opener for a new series of dystopian dramas under the title, 'Dangerous Visions'

For a 60-minute play, the challenge was not simply which of the stories to dramatise, but also how to tell the book's framing device: a late-evening encounter between the mysterious Illustrated Man and an unnamed youth who is on a hiking trip in the desert...

The choice of stories was partly dictated by the fact that one of the most celebrated – 'The Veldt' – had been dramatised as an award-winning production seven years ago and was, therefore, ruled out of consideration. However, sharp-eared listeners who know the tale of the virtual experience nursery may catch a couple of references to it in today's play.

The stories chosen by my director, Gemma Jenkins, and myself were three other Bradbury "classics": 'Marionettes, Inc.', a tale of android audacity; 'Zero Hour', about a children's game that proves a threat to the human race (and soon to be extrapolated into Stephen Spielberg's new TV series The Whispers – although our take is probably closer to the original!); and 'Kaleidoscope', a space disaster that leads to a meditative reflection on matters of life and death...

To help with the linking narrative – in addition to the interludes featuring the Illustrated Man and the youth in the book – In turned to an earlier, similarly-titled short story which Bradbury  contributed to Esquire magazine in July 1950...

...oh, yes, and I added a little twist of my own to the end of the tale that I hope Uncle Ray would have excused!

Ian Glenn (centre) stars as the eponymous Illustrated man with Jamie Parker as the Youth to whom he tells his history and Elaine Claxton as the Tattoo Witch responsible for his extraordinary illustrated skin...

Here's a taste of things to come...

Featured in the first of those "illustrations", 'Marionettes, Inc.' are...

Stephen Hogan as 'Smith' and Patrick Kennedy as 'Brayling' –––– and 'Brayling 2'!

(By the way, don't you just love the full frontal lobotomies we've all been given by the BBC website?)

The Illustrated Man is directed by the talented Gemma Jenkins, whose father – veteran radio director, Martin Jenkins – directed my first-ever Bradbury-adaptation, 'The Next in Line', twenty-two years ago in 1992!

Broadcast earlier this afternoon on BBC Radio 4, the play can still be heard, on-line, for the next seven days.

A preview by Jane Anderson of Radio Times is, I think, not bad!! But then, I am biased...
In summer 2013 Radio 4 garnered huge audience and critical acclaim for its Dangerous Visions season of dramas. And so back it comes, like a user-friendly android, with more dystopian-themed tales based on the novels of some of the greatest writers of the supernatural and sci-fi genre.

The season opens with a new version of Ray Bradbury’s The Illustrated Man. Anyone who has seen the film version starring Rod Steiger will be delighted to learn that this adaptation by radio stalwart Brian Sibley is so much more faithful to Bradbury’s original.

The atmosphere is as subtly threatening to the listener as it is to the young man invited to look at ghastly predictions of the future tattooed upon a stranger’s body. From the clever use of 1960s US pop tracks to the sinister noises the insides of an android would make if you got too close and personal, the sound effects are superbly unsettling.

Added to this, there are three stories within the main plot-line and the compound effect is as mind-blowing as any of the scientific creations, alien invasions and meteor storms encountered. Literally, out of this world.
'Radio stalwart', eh?!

You can read and hear more about the production, my thoughts on the book and my long friendship with Ray Bradbury, HERE

Order copies of the original book in the UK HERE, and in the USA HERE

Above: A selection of cover art for The Illustrated Man including (bottom) the work of the brilliant fantasy artist, Jim Burns.

Below: A few interesting links...
Phil Nichol's bradburymedia.

The Centre for Ray Bradbury Studies.

The Bradbury Machine by Brian Sibley.

Brian Sibley's radio profile Encountering the Illustrated Man.

Farewell to the Martian Chronicler by Brian Sibley.

A Man Who Won't Forget Ray Bradbury by Neil Gaiman.

Picturing Ray Bradbury by Irene Gallo.
 Photograph: Sophie Bassouls/Sygma/Corbis

Friday 13 June 2014


This is the last of my Bradbury dramatisations – at least until tomorrow's broadcast of The Illustrated Man (BBC Radio , 14:30) – and, like each and every one of the previous six plays, I chose today's story because it seemed especially suited to the medium of radio.

I've always been disturbed by the sound of the wind: its wrathful roaring, its scary moaning, its terrifying whispering... Ray Bradbury's 'The Wind', brilliantly capitalises on just such an irrational fear of elemental forces.

Another story taken from The October Country (illustrated, left, by Joe Mugnaini), the play was first broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on 11 December 1997, 'The Wind' was part of the Ray Bradbury's More Tales of the Bizarre season and features Vincent Marcello, Stuart Milligan, Lisa Ross, Caroline Strong, Gerard McDermott, Caroline Jones and David Brooks –– and the sound of the winds of the world...

Thursday 12 June 2014


This next Ray Bradbury play is one of my personal favourites because it is mysterious, metaphysical and profoundly moving. 'The Scythe' has provided cover imagery for several editions of Ray's 1947 collection of short stories, The October Country – such as the one on the left.

From time out of mind, popular culture has depicted the scythe-wielding Grim Reaper as a cowled, phantom figure with skeletal limbs. In this story, however, the harvester of humanity assumes a human face...

'The Scythe' was first broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on 4 December 1997 with an exceptional cast featuring John Guerrasio, Bryony Glasgow, Hugh Dickson, Barbara Barnes and Barclay Wright.

I hope you find it a memorable listen: it still brings a lump to my throat and a tear to my eye...

Tomorrow: 'The Wind'

Wednesday 11 June 2014


Today's Ray Bradbury story comes from his first short story collection, Dark Carnival, published in 1947 and, like so many of Ray's best stories, is about the interior existence of the central character – in this case a young boy for whom the house in which he lives is the only world he knows...

'Jack in the Box' was first broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on 27 November 1997 as part of a second season of Bradbury dramatisations – Ray Bradbury's More Tales of the Bizarre. Introduced by the author, and directed by Adrian Bean, the play features Richard Pearce as the Boy with Ed Bishop, Caroline Jones, Sarah Rice, Caroline Strong, Jenny Lee and Christopher Wright.

Tomorrow: 'The Scythe'

Tuesday 10 June 2014


Forty years ago, today, I received the following letter (which many of my readers will have seen) from science-fantasy writer Ray Bradbury, to whom I had written a fan letter asking some questions about a mutual hero – Walt Disney...

The letter itself is remarkable, but – even more so – is the fact that it led to an almost 40-year friendship.

To hear me talking about this letter on the BBC website for their upcoming drama series, 'Dangerous Visions', which features my latest Bradbury adaptation The Illustrated Man, click HERE

And, as part of the lead-up to that new production, I continue sharing some of my earlier adaptations of classic Bradbury stories with, today,  The Fruit at the Bottom of the Bowl, first published in Detective Book Magazine, November 1948.

This production was originally broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on 28 December 1995 and features Nigel Anthony, John Hartley and Roger May. As Ray Bradbury notes in his introduction, Nigel Anthony gives a remarkable performance in the part of Acton playing a man arguing with his own inner thoughts...

Tomorrow: 'Jack in the Box'

Ray's letter to me appears in Shaun Usher's marvellous book, Letters of Note, Deserving of a Wider Audience (a superb anthology of insightful correspondence from writers, musicians, artists, politicians, presidents and comics. You can order a copy HERE

Monday 9 June 2014


Another day and another excursion into the imagination of Ray Bradbury...

'The Jar' is one of Ray's most intense and chilling stories: first published in the magazine Weird Tales in November 1944, it has been dramatised several times on television and radio.

This production of my dramatisation was directed by Martin Jenkins and first broadcast on BBC Radio 4 at 11:00 pm on 21 December 1995 as part of Ray Bradbury's Tales of the Bizarre.

The play is introduced by the author and the talented cast features Roger May, Andrew Branch, Shelley Thompson, Paul Jenkins, Bon Sherman, John Hartley, Helen Horton, Carole Boyd, David Collings and Ray Shell.

Tomorrow: 'The Fruit at the Bottom of the Bowl'

Sunday 8 June 2014


All this week I am blogging Sibley dramatisations of some of the most bizarre and beguiling stories by that master of science-fantasy, Ray Bradbury, as a curtain-raiser to next Saturday's broadcast of The Illustrated Man which I have dramatised to open BBC Radio 4's new season of 'Dangerous Visions'

Yesterday, I played you my adaptation of Ray's chilling tale, 'The Next in Line', written for the BBC's Fear on Four series. As a result of that piece, the director, Martin Jenkins and I pitched the idea of a series of Ray Bradbury stories specially dramatised for radio with introductions by the author.

Ray enthusiastically agreed and, joined by writer Catherine Czerkawska and director Hamish Wilson (who had collaborated on some Bradbury stories broadcast by BBC Scotland), we embarked on a series of 30-minute plays under the generic title Ray Bradbury's Tales of the Bizarre.

The season debuted at 11:00 pm on 7 December 1995 with my dramatisation of Ray's 'Night Call, Collect'.  Radio Times marked the broadcast with a piece of art by Alan Young (left) and the programme featured a tour de force solo performance by actor, Kerry Shale...

Tomorrow: 'The Jar'

Saturday 7 June 2014


A week today (Saturday 14 June) BBC Radio 4 will be broadcasting my dramatisation of the Ray Bradbury classic, The Illustrated Man: a fantastical collection of short stories that come to life on the skin of a mysterious and extravagantly tattooed man.

This sixty-minute drama will be my eighth foray into adapting the work of one of America's greatest imaginative writers, whose books I have loved since the days of my youth and who, for almost forty years, I had the privilege and pleasure of calling a friend. We are pictured below, in 1995, during one of my visits to Ray's Los Angeles home.

As a prelude to The Illustrated Man, I shall be giving Sibley Blog-readers an opportunity to hear my earlier excursions into the unique and extraordinary imagination of Ray Bradbury, beginning, today, with 'The Next in Line', an episode of the BBC's famous late-night radio series of terror tales, Fear on Four.

First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on 31 December 1992, 'The Next in Line' starred Peter Marinker and Carole Boyd (best-known to fans of the BBC's long-running radio 'soap', The Archers, as Lynda Snell) with Trader Faulkner and Sandra Dickinson.

The play was directed by Martin Jenkins (whose daughter, Gemma Jenkins directs the forthcoming production of The Illustrated Man) and, like all Fear on Four stories, it is introduced by The Man in Black, Edward de Souza.

Tomorrow: 'Night Call, Collect'