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Publisher's Summary

The complete first and second series of Mark Tavener’s BBC Radio 4 comedy thriller set in a crisis-ridden Cambridge college.

When prominent don and celebrity TV historian Peter Devanti dies after dining at High Table, his colleague Gilbert suspects foul play and invites his former student Simon Harrison, a disillusioned health and safety officer, to investigate. Meanwhile, Simon’s former girlfriend Zoe, a freelance journalist, arrives to write an article about Devanti’s death, reopening old wounds for Simon. After another college member dies, more skullduggery is uncovered, and Simon must find out which of the many suspects is a murderer - while also trying to get back with Zoe and keep his day job.... 

A year later, the college is recovering from the Devanti affair but struggling for cash and riven by arguments between traditionalists and modernisers. Simon, now bereft of a job, jumps at the chance to become a don - but soon finds himself embarking on another murder investigation after a student is caught cheating and his accuser is found hanged. Can Simon unmask the killer before they strike again?

Written by Mark Tavener (In the Red, Absolute Power), this brilliant black comedy stars Geoffrey Palmer as Gilbert, Samuel West as Simon and Sharon Small as Zoe, with Rebecca Front as Patricia, Michelle Fairley as Roisin, Michael Maloney as the Dean and Jonathan Coy as Bernard.

©2019 BBC Worldwide Ltd (P)2019 BBC Worldwide Ltd

What listeners say about High Table, Lower Orders: The Complete Series 1 and 2

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True, How True

I spent 35 years as a university teacher and administrator, two years of which at a university in the UK. As Sayer’s law suggests: ‘University politics are so vicious because the stakes are so low.’ “High Table, Lower Orders” captures this with searing wit and deadly accuracy! Alpha Plus, Plus!

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Wonderful!!

What wonderfully clever and entertaining stories! I thoroughly enjoyed the wit, sarcasm and all to lovable and the not so endearing characters! The stories in themselves were great but the performance brought them to life in a way that painted an incredibly vivid picture of the characters and their struggles. I would recommend this audio book to anyone who enjoys a smartly written whodunnit with a big dose of British humor!

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  • Celia 22
  • 03-10-19

Enjoyed it more than I thought I would.

Excellent performances especially from Geoffrey Palmer.
Only let down was Sharon Small’s accent.
Good stories interesting enough to keep you listening.
The tension between the Dean and the Master is very well done.
Stories a bit odd in so much as the crimes are interwoven so much in other threads of the story that you barely notice them.
Good light hearted entertainment- not laugh out funny but amusing.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 03-17-20

P.G.Wodehouse for a new generation, a joy!

The story takes second place to the wonderfully acerbic dialogue. I was grinning from start to finish. If P.G. Wodehouse wrote Inspector Morse it would have been close to this.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Demonica
  • 03-01-19

Absolutely brilliant

As an avid listener to Radio 4 when this and George Cragge were aired, what an incredible pleasure to hear it again. As a previous Cambridge resident, in the 80's ~ a pure gem of academic macheivellinism. Thoroughly recommend

5 people found this helpful

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  • Xavier Quill
  • 12-11-19

Very entertaining bit of stuff and nonsense.

Stella cast, excellent acting, amusing script; what’s not to like.?
BBC Drama at it’s very best.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Banjoman
  • 09-22-21

Light-hearted and amusing tales.

A deliciously devilish satirical comedy drama. It's well written and has a brilliant cast who bring the stories to life. Light-hearted and amusing tales.

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  • Marco
  • 08-10-21

One of the best satires of Cambridge ever created

The late Mark Tavener and Geoffrey Palmer did some of their very finest work here. It is true that in both series the murder mysteries are fairly thin: they are just hooks to explore the surreal, backbiting world of a Cambridge fellowship, with shots also fired at the civil service, politics, journalism and celebrity. In the second series the conflict between the machiavellian Master and the sanctimonious Dean, the source of much of the comedy, really takes off. Particularly recommended for anyone who has experienced a Cambridge college at first hand: I was there when these were first broadcast, and they caught exactly what I was going through day to day.

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  • Craig Hall
  • 07-07-21

Disappointing stories - excellent cast.

I purchased this as a change from my usual listening, drawn to the synopsis that it sounded an interesting twist on the usual 'murder mystery' and with an excellent cast headed by the much missed and always excellent Geoffrey Palmer.

The cast don't disappoint, but what does is the two stories. It's as if, having sold the idea of a returning bright ex-Cambridge graduate working as an investigator for the Health & Safety Executive, Mark Tavener realised the real fun was to be had with the pompous, in-fighting Dons and not the annoying lead character. Therefore, IMO the murder element swiftly becomes relegated to a secondary sub-plot, especially in the second series.

Overall, shame it didn't live up to expectations, but Mr. Palmer as always was a joy.

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  • Rose
  • 01-17-20

Boring

could not finish, sad because it could have been so much better without the interruptions, it was like having adverts without the advert. the story was let down.

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  • Ozzie
  • 12-16-19

Cambridge, in all its' absurdity

Enjoyed this immensely, good performances, plenty of witty asides. I would highly recommend this piece of work..

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  • Panda
  • 09-25-19

Good actors.

The cast are excellent. The stories less so. It’s pleasant enough and really well acted but wouldn’t listen to more series.

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  • elizabeth b.
  • 12-25-19

Terrific

Oh I did enjoy that. Such marvellous actors and very funny too. A great story. Well worth the effort

1 person found this helpful