Many thanks to Dick L for contributions to this page.
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Denis Quilley and Julia McKenzie star in an exclusive BBC recording of the Royal National Theatre’s hit 1993 revival of Stephen Sondheim ‘s musical thriller. Introduced by Sheridan Morley. A half-mad barber returns home after escaping from an unjust imprisonment, to take vengeance on the judge who sentenced him, ravished his wife and now plans to marry his daughter. However, Sweeney doesn’t limit himself to one victim, he takes revenge against the whole world for his and his daughter’s suffering by slitting the throats of his customers, whose corpses are then made into meat pies by his enterprising accomplice, Mrs Lovett.
Guys and Dolls. By Frank Loesser. Broadway star Mandy Patinkin, Claire Moore, John Challis and Anita Dobson star in an exclusive, complete BBC recording of Frank Loesser’s 1950’s musical. Introduced by Sheridan Morley.
Set in a New York alive with gamblers, cops, nightclub performers and members of the Salvation Army, the score includes ‘Adelaide’s Lament’, ‘Luck Be a Lady’ and ‘Sit Down, You’re Rocking the Boat’. A gambler in need of cash bets he can make any girl go to Havana with him. But his pals pick a girl at the Save a Soul Mission in need of recruiting sinners to her cause. The all-time Broadway classic ran for 1200 performances and won a Tony Award for Best Musical. Music and lyrics written by Frank Loesser based on stories by Damon Runyon, with a book by Abe Burrows and Jo Swerling.
Kismet. A “musical Arabian night” set in ancient Baghdad full of romance and intrigue, recorded for BBC Radio 2 in 1994. Robert Wright and George Forrest’s Tony Award-winning musical was first produced on Broadway in 1953, before successfully transferring to London’s West End. The MGM film version was released in 1955.
Stars Ethan Freeman as Hajj the Poet, Julia Migenes as Lalume, Stephen Hill as Caliph, Katrina Murphy as Marsinah, Frank Middlemass as Omar Kayyam, David Adler as Wazir, David Healey as Jawan, Frank Jarvis as Hassan Ben, David Kelsey as Chief Policeman and Anny Tobin as Widow Yussef. Wright & Forrest’s classic score is based on the themes of Alexander Borodin, a book by Charles Lederer and Luther Davis, and Edward Knoblock’s play.
Carousel. The musicals continue with one of the greatest shows of them all. With music by Richard Rodgers and book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, based on Ferenc Molnar’s “Liliom”, Carousel is set in New England between 1873 and 1888 and tells the story of fairground barker Billy Bigelow and his love for Julie Jordan.
Gigi. By Colette. Lerner and Loewe’s musical telling the story of a young girl trained by her aunt to be a courtesan.
My Fair Lady. Alan Jay Lerner and Fredrick Loewe’s 1956 adaptation of George Bernard Shaw ‘s Pygmalion.
Jesus Christ Superstar. Musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice.
An all-star cast is headed by ex-Spandau Ballet singer Tony Hadley and The Who’s Roger Daltrey and includes Frances Ruffelle and Julian Clary. The legendary rock musical ran at London’s Palace Theatre for nine years.
The King and I. The relationship between the powerful King of Siam and a widowed English schoolteacher, recruited to tutor his wives and many children, begins with restrained hostility – but gradually gives way to more tender feelings.
A Chorus Line. Based on true stories, A Chorus Line revolutionised Broadway, becoming the longest running musical in New York theatre history, breaking records, winning nine Tony Awards, seven Drama Desk Awards, the New York Critics’ Circle Award and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
The Wild Party. Kerry Shale and Lorelei King perform Joseph Moncure March’s classic poem chronicling a night of debauchery in 1920s New York.
Sunflowers Behind A Dirty Fence. By Angella Emurwon. Young Yakobo has never been in trouble before – but now he’s lost his grandfather’s favourite photo and, in his desperation to make things right, he decides to take an ill-advised trip to the big city of Kampala. Yakobo’s never been away from the comforts of home before and has no idea about many things. Reluctantly joining forces with the street urchin, Tonnie, together they topple in and out of bizarre adventures and discover why good people sometimes do bad things. Like sunflowers behind a dirty fence, the two friends are to find that sometimes the best things can be hidden behind an unwelcome exterior.
Behind Closed Doors. Dramas following London barrister Rebecca Nyman.
One of the Lads. By Clara Glynn. Did sexist bullying drive a high flying police woman out of her job? An employment tribunal has to decide if she was treated unfairly. Claire Rushbrook stars as barrister Rebecca Nyman and Susie Riddell as former Chief Inspector Suzy Andrews. One Of The Lads is set at an employment tribunal. Suzy, ferociously bright and driven, rose rapidly through the ranks in the male-dominated Metropolitan Police. Over the years she didn’t just cope with the situation – she thrived on it. But after a move to East Yorkshire Police her career went into a downward spiral. Suzy claims sexist bullying drove her out of the job she loved. Claire Rushbrook stars as London barrister Rebecca Nyman fighting Susie’s case at the Employment Tribunal. Susie Riddell stars as former Chief Inspector Suzy Andrews.
Tilting the Odds. An equine vet’s career is in jeopardy as he faces a disciplinary hearing for serious professional misconduct. Will his barrister Rebecca Nyman, played by Claire Rushbrook, be able to mount a credible defence? Gunnar Cauthery stars as the vet Falco Hermans. Tilting The Odds is set at a Fitness to Practice hearing at the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. Falco Hermans is a vet in his thirties. Since qualifying he’s built up a successful and lucrative practice as an equine vet in the racing town of Newmarket. He’s got a big mortgage and three small children. He’s facing a disciplinary hearing on several counts of misconduct. If he is struck off he faces financial ruin and disgrace in the racing community and in his home town.
Safe House. Is Akmed Hammen a potential danger to society? With his movement and activities severely restricted under a Home Office curfew, Akmed fights to clear his name and resume normal family life. Barrister Rebecca Nyman takes on the role of a Special Advocate to plead Akmed’s case at a Closed Material Procedure hearing. Claire Rushbrook stars as London barrister Rebecca Nyman and Amerjit Deu stars as Akmed Hammen. Safe House is set at a Closed Material Procedure hearing. The drama takes us inside the secretive legal world of counter-terrorism. Akmed is suspected of being a terrorist. He has not committed a crime, but the Security Services say they have substantial reasons for believing that he represents a clear and present danger. They have put him on a TPIM – the Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measure, which puts him under a curfew and involves other restrictions on his activities. At the hearing his Barrister – Rebecca Nyman – is challenging the TPIM.
A Bad Night Out. Following a drunken altercation in a town centre a man has been arrested and held in police custody overnight. But the events of that night are disputed and the case explores whether the police acted improperly and gave evidence that was not entirely accurate. Is there a case for paying compensation?
Excluded. Thirteen year-old Cassius Young has been excluded from his Academy school in Croyden. He has been accused of bringing a knife onto the premises and persistently breaking school rules. This drama takes us into a ‘School Exclusion Hearing’ where the school governors hear testimony from Cassius, his mother, the headmaster and other staff. The school will decide whether the exclusion should be permanent. Rebecca represents Cassius at the hearing. and Catastrophic Injury
Catastrophic Injury. Jane Gibson is fighting for compensation from an NHS Hospital, claiming that because of negligence by the midwife during childbirth her baby was born with Cerebral Palsy. Set in court, Rebecca Nyman is representing the hospital in what is an emotionally charged hearing for both sides. The compensation award is crucial for the mother to offset the additional costs she will have to ensure the best care for her son.
Contact. Set in the Family Courts where Harry, a sperm donor, is trying to get a court order to allow him to see ‘his’ daughter. Barrister Rebecca Nyman is representing Beth – the mother – who is now in a lesbian relationship and would prefer Harry to keep his distance.
Harry offered to donate sperm so his lesbian friend and work colleague, Beth, could have a baby. After the birth Harry visited Beth and got to know baby Molly. For a time Beth was happy for Harry to visit but she never intended to have a relationship with him or for him to become involved with Molly as a father. Things went from bad to worse when Beth formed a relationship with Melanie and Harry felt he was completely excluded from seeing Molly. Now a judge has to decide whether Harry should have any contact rights.
Section. Barrister Rebecca Nyman is representing a client at a Mental Health Tribunal. Andrew has been in a High Security Mental Hospital for seven years, now he thinks he’s fit to be released. But will the Tribunal agree?
Protection. Set at the Court of Protection. Mary has been in a Minimally Conscious State for over three years following a road accident. Barrister Rebecca Nyman is representing her husband who feels it is time to allow his wife to die.
Defoe: The Facts and the Fictions. Mark Lawson presents a documentary exploring the far-reaching influence of Daniel Defoe. Bookshops have separate sections for Fiction, Non-Fiction, Autobiography, Travel Writing, Journalism, Economics and Politics. But all of these different forms of writing were more or less created by one author – Daniel Defoe. Defoe also pioneered, three hundred years ago, what has become one of the most fashionable literary tactics of the 21st century: “faction”, which blurs history and story. Although now considered foundations of the realistic English novel, Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe (1719) and Moll Flanders (1721) were initially published with only the names of their narrators on the cover, and were sold and bought as memoirs. Defoe’s A Journal of the Plague Year (1722), an account of the bubonic epidemic, is still often read as reportage, but was “faction” based on extensive research. His book, A Tour Through the Whole Isles of Great Britain (1724), can be seen as one of the beginnings of travel writing and The Complete English Tradesman (1726) is one of the first business or economic texts. As the author of more than 500 pamphlets, Defoe is also a forefather of British journalism.
Defoe: A Journal of the Plague Year. By Michael Butt. Ben Miles stars as the chameleon writer, businessman, debtor and hack, Daniel Defoe. In 1722, hoping to keep his creditors at bay, Defoe begins his fictional ‘journal’ of the Great Plague of 1665. But he soon comes to be haunted by the people he is conjuring.
Moll Flanders. By Daniel Defoe, adapted by Nick Perry. Daniel Defoe, once more in need of ready money, finds inspiration for a new book when he meets Elizabeth Atkins in Newgate gaol. She tells him her stranger-than-fiction story; of how she was born in prison to a petty thief and of how she loved and bargained her way from rags to riches, from prostitution in the streets of London to prosperity on a Virginia plantation, and then lost it all again. Defoe interprets it all in his characteristic manner, blending fact with fiction, and re-inventing his interlocutor as the lusty and resourceful Moll Flanders.
Defoe: Merchant, Writer, Convict, Spy. By Philip Palmer. Throughout his life Daniel Defoe was never far from trouble and died hiding from creditors. Philip Palmer’s biographical drama tells the story of a man trying to survive in an extremely hard world; of how he wrote his way out of trouble in prison, came to the attention of one of the most powerful men in England, and became a spy for the government in the lead up to the Act of Union.
Mystery Theater. Selected shows from the golden days of American radio in the 1940s and 50s, when many of Hollywood’s greatest screen stars were regular performers – often re-enacting their famous film roles.
Across the Pacific: Humphrey Bogart. Across the Pacific re-unites the original 1942 Warner Brothers’ film cast for radio with the Screen Guild Players. Humphrey Bogart stars as Captain Rick Leeland (US Army intelligence officer), Mary Astor as Alberta Marlowe and Sydney Greenstreet as “Dr Lorenz, a spy in the employ of the Japanese government”. With the melodramatic orchestra poised, prepare for “a suspenseful programme of espionage and counter-espionage” Recorded with an audience on 25 January 1943, America is at war with Japan. Can one man thwart the plans of dangerous spy network?
Adapted from the film script by Bill Hampton. With a variety of on-air sponsors in the 1940s, the Screen Guild Theater was created to help raise funds for the Motion Picture Relief Fund which maintained a Country Home offering assistance to people from across the film industry.
First broadcast in the USA on the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) in 1943.
Dime a Dance: Lucille Ball. Lucille Ball stars as New York dance hall worker Ginger Allen, who is embroiled in the terrifying hunt for a dangerous killer.
Adapted from Cornell Woolrich’s classic 1938 short story. From CBS Radio’s Suspense series which ran from 1942 to 1962.
Lucille Ball (1911-1989) was dubbed the ‘Queen of B-Movies’ in the 1940s, before she became an American TV icon in her hit comedy series I Love Lucy (1951-1957). She was also the head of the studio which made it. More TV comedy hits followed like The Lucy Show, Here’s Lucy, and Life with Lucy.
Produced and directed by William Spier.
First broadcast in the USA on 13 January 13, 1944 on the Columbia Broadcasting System.
Rocky Fortune: Frank Sinatra. Oyster Shucker (aka “Pearl Smugglers”). Frank Sinatra portrayed job-seeking drifter Rocky Fortune for NBC for 25 episodes during an album-recording hiatus that ended with the release of the legendary ‘Songs for Young Lovers’ in 1954. As a lowly ‘Oyster Shucker’, Rocky’s taken on at the Fifty Fathoms Clam House. He inadvertently gets involved with a pearl smuggling scam, but will he get the girl – sassy Iris?
Cast includes: Jack Nessel, Lynne Allen and Jack Kruschen.
Directed by Andrew C Love.
Announcer: Eddy King.
First broadcast in the USA on NBC (National Broadcasting Company) in 1953.
Rocky Fortune: Frank Sinatra. Rocket to the Morgue (aka “Rocket Racket”; “Zenith Foundation”). Genial drifter Rocky Fortune is always in need of an odd job. This time he finds himself moon-bound for a ‘Rocket to the Morgue’. Or is it all just a load of moonshine?
Cast includes: Howard Culver, Don Diamond and Edith Terry.
Scripted by George Lefferts. Directed by Andrew C Love.
Announcer: Eddie King.
First broadcast in the USA on NBC (National Broadcasting Company) in 1954.
Rocky Fortune: Frank Sinatra. Steven in a Rest Home (aka “Insurance Fraud”; “Steven Crandall”; “Double Indemnity”) Always in need of a job, genial drifter Rocky lands in a complex identity scam in ‘Steven in a Rest Home’.
Cast includes: Frances Eurey, Maurice Hart, Jack Maither and Herb Ellis.
Directed by Andrew C Love.
Announcer: Eddie King.
First broadcast in the USA on NBC (National Broadcasting Company) in 1953.
Drive In: Judy Garland. 1946: “There are a lot of things that can happen at a drive-in that aren’t on the menu”. Legendary Hollywood actress and singer, Judy Garland stars in this thrilling episode from CBS Radio’s Suspense series. Star of film classics The Wizard of Oz (1939) and Meet Me in St Louis (1944), this drama sees Judy in far more peril than we’re used to – as single, star-struck waitress Mildred working in a Hollywood drive-in diner. One night she attends to a very late customer, but never can she have expected such a terrifyingly dangerous encounter.
Earlier in 1946, aged 24, Judy Garland had given birth to her daughter Liza Minnelli.
First broadcast in the USA on the Columbia Broadcasting System.
Lifeboat: Tallulah Bankhead. Legendary hard-living actress Tallulah Bankhead reprises her role as Constance ‘Connie’ Porter in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1944 film Lifeboat for this NBC radio adaptation. July 1943: Connie is a glamorous foreign correspondent aboard a lifeboat alone in the middle of the Atlantic, after the freighter ship SS Argo was torpedoed by a Nazi submarine. She soon rescues John Kovak from the ship’s engine room (Jeff Chandler) and sparks fly between the couple as they pick up other survivors – including a Nazi seaman from the enemy U-boat.
Presented by NBC’s Screen Directors’ Playhouse on November 16th 1950, the film’s director Alfred Hitchcock briefly explains how he made the movie – based on a story by John Steinbeck.
Adapted for radio by Jack Ruben
Announcer: Jimmy Wallington
Produced by Howard Wiley and directed by Bill Cairn.
First broadcast in the USA on NBC in 1950.
The Black Museum: Orson Welles. The Open End Wrench. Orson Welles’ tale inspired by a real case from Scotland Yard’s gruesome gallery of murder artefacts.
The significance of the wrench is not necessarily what you’d assume, at least not at first. Lowly quiet Martin Beech appears to have been cuckolded, but is his shock at the drunk-driving demise of his wife genuine?
The Raincoat: Orson Welles’ tale inspired by a real case from Scotland Yard’s gruesome gallery of crime-related ephemera
Even a simple garment like a raincoat can be connected to the brutal murder of a married woman.
In The Black Museum, Orson is your host and guide through tales based on the grim and ominous collection of objects connected to significant British crimes.
The films of Orson Welles films have guaranteed him a place in the pantheon of film heroes (Citizen Kane, The Magnificent Ambersons, Touch of Evil). This series is one of several fascinating sidesteps into a medium which arguably contributed to Welles’ success – radio.
Thanks to Harry Alan Towers, British radio was host to his dulcet tones for a spell in the early 1950s – including his famous cinematic anti-hero in The Lives of Harry Lime.
Writer: Ira Marion.
Music: Sydney Torch
Producer: Harry Alan Towers
Produced by Towers of London and first broadcast in the USA in 1952.
Let George Do It: There Ain’t No Justice. A corpse sets detective-for-hire George Valentine on a search for a missing embezzler. ‘Let George Do It’ was a sponsored American radio drama carried by the Mutual Broadcasting System from 1952. Robert Bailey stars as George Valentine, gleaning clients from his classified ad in the Personal Notices: “Danger’s my stock in trade. If the job’s too tough for you to handle, you’ve got a job for me.”
With Virginia Gregg as George’s secretary, Brooksie.
Scripted by David Victor and Jackson Gillis.
Music by Eddie Dunstedler.
Directed by Don Clark.
Announcer: John Hiestand.
Sherlock Holmes: The Adventure of Copper Beeches. A young, frightened woman pays a visit to the Baker Street detective. A job offer that seems too good to be true is just the beginning of a most mysterious case. John Stanley stars as the original super-sleuth, Sherlock Holmes with Alfred Shirley as the dependable Doctor Watson.
American radio drama series carried by the Mutual Broadcasting System from 1947.
Based upon the character of Sherlock Holmes, created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Dramatised by Edith Meiser.
Music by Albert Berman.
Announcer: Sy Harris
Produced and directed by Basil Loughren.
End of the Road: Glenn Ford. 1947: Danger awaits car salesman Speed Evans as captivating dame, Sylvia arrives in his showroom.
Starring Glenn Ford as Speed Evans and Cathy Lewis as Sylvia Ganlon.
Adapted by Irving Moore and Robert Richards from a story by Irving Moore.
Glenn Ford (1916-2006) A practical man, the Canadian-American film star began acting after school – but at his father’s behest, maintained a number of pragmatic skills – wiring, plumbing, roofing. Ford was in both the US Marines and the Navy, even serving in Vietnam.
Big screen roles included Gilda, The Big Heat, Midway, The Sheepman, The Gazebo, Pocketful of Miracles, Don’t Go Near the Water, The Fastest Gun Alive and Superman.
From CBS Radio’s Suspense series which ran in the USA from 1942 to 1962.
Pete Kelly’s Blues: Gus Trudeau. An old pal of roaring 1920s jazz cornet player Pete Kelly is suspected of murdering a mobster. Set in a 1922 Speakeasy at 417 Cherry Street, Kansas City, where a heady mix of gangsters, pulpy thrills and spills are readily available.
Stars Jack Webb as Pete Kelly with his ‘Big 7’ jazz group.
Pete Kelly’s Blues may have only run for three months on American radio, but it spawned a whole film in the mid-1950s. A novel mix of hard-boiled thriller and musical interludes, Jack ‘Dragnet’ Webb not only stars but also directs.
A keen fan of jazz in real life, Webb did not miss the opportunity to get some of the genuine article into the series. It’s fair to say happy endings weren’t high on the agenda.
Written by Joe Eisinger.
Music by Dick Cathcart, with scoring by Matty Matlock.
First broadcast on NBC in the USA in 1951.
Box Thirteen: Alan Ladd. 1947: In ‘Actor’s Alibi’ struggling writer Dan Holliday’s ad for inspirational adventure backfires. Stars Alan Ladd as Dan Holliday. With Sylvia Picker as secretary Suzy and Edmund MacDonald as Police Lieutenant Kling. Former hack turned freelance thriller writer Dan needs to generate ideas, so places a classified ad in the paper: “Adventure wanted – will go anywhere, do anything – Box 13.” Played by Hollywood film star Alan Ladd (1913-1964), he’s the very image of a perpetually rent-owing, down-at-heel luckless gumshoe wannabe.
Renowned for being only 5 foot 5 inches or so tall, actor Alan Ladd’s tough California childhood gave way to small roles in theatre, film and radio before silver-screen success. His films included: This Gun For Hire, Duel of Champions, The Carpetbaggers, One Foot in Hell, The Deep Six and The Proud Rebel.
Box 13 is a syndicated 52-part series created by Alan Ladd’s company, Mayfair Productions. The series premiered on December 31st 1947 on New York radio station WOR.
Jeff Regan, Investigator: It All Comes Back to Me Now. 1950: Jeff gets caught up in a case of missing memories. Could a mystery woman carrying a pistol be a murderer?
Starring Paul Dubov as Jeff Regan and Frank Nelson as Anthony Lyon. Jeff Regan is a fully registered official private investigator working for the Los Angeles-based International Detective Bureau. Unlike some of his radio contemporaries, Jeff gets the job done through diligence and tenacity – rather than gun-toting fisticuffs. The series debuted on CBS in the US 1948 starring Jack ‘Dragnet’ Webb. After he left the role on radio, Jeff was played by Frank Graham and finally Paul Dubov (1918-1979) who appeared in many Hollywood films as a support actor, rather than playing the leading man. Jeff Regan, Investigator came off-air in 1950.
Currently missing. If you have a copy, let me know.
Sorry, Wrong Number: Agnes Moorehead. 1943: Agnes Moorehead stars as the neurotic, bedridden Mrs Elbert Stevenson who overhears a murder being plotted via crossed phone wires.
The show proved so popular that between 1947 and 1960, Moorehead freshly performed her “one-woman show” on CBS radio eight times, including versions for the East and West coasts – and always used her original script. However, the lead role in the 1948 movie version of Sorry, Wrong Number went to Barbara Stanwyck. The film roles of Hollywood actress Agnes Moorehead (1900-1974) included Citizen Kane, The Magnificent Ambersons and Show Boat. She also starred as Endora in the long-running US TV sitcom ‘Bewitched’ for ABC. Written by Lucille Fletcher, the May 25th 1943 broadcast of Sorry, Wrong Number was deemed to be “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” by the American Library of Congress and chosen for the National Recording Preservation Board. Orson Welles once called it “the single greatest radio script ever written.”
Sound-effects by Bernie Surrey.
Producer: William Spier
Moorehead was a regular performer in CBS Radio’s Suspense series which ran in the USA from 1942 to 1962.
The Humphrey Bogart Theater. Dead Man. 1949: Can a man live with his conscience after committing a terrible crime? Humphrey Bogart stars as Larry in James M Cain’s famed tale – adapted for American radio – as a voice from beyond the grave, seeking justice for a crime that seems to have gone unpunished.
Humphrey Bogart (1899 – 1957) was an iconic star of the American silver screen – playing classic bad guys and coming late to leading man status in legendary films like The Maltese Falcon, Casablanca and The African Queen. But he also made numerous radio appearances.
James M Cain was an American master of ‘hardboiled’ crime fiction. His depression era tales of crooks, blackmail and murder became classic 1940s film noir, including The Postman Always Rings Twice, Mildred Pierce and Double Indemnity.
The Clock: The Hunter and the Hunted. Father Time himself narrates this cautionary tale. Bud hates his family’s tradition of hunting.
Suspense anthology series, The Clock ran from 1946 – 1948 on ABC. Narrated by Father Time, the 30-minute program featured “unsettling accounts of ordinary people caught up in extraordinary circumstances, the weight of which carry them to an inevitable fate.. “.
Director: William Spier.
First broadcast in the USA on ABC Radio in 1946.
The Mysterious Traveller: The House of Death. The Mysterious Traveller, Maurice Tarplin, conjures up a dark tale of two greedy, paranoid spinster sisters, Louise and Martha. Starring Irene Hubbard as Martha and Elizabeth Morgan as Louise.
No rail replacement bus for this strange and forbidding narrator – every week the Mysterious Traveller would bid American listeners welcome to a story with a twist. It ran on the Mutual Broadcasting System from 1943 to 1952. It was one of many anthology series embracing the macabre, the uncanny or just the downright unnerving. Actor Maurice Tarplin was a veteran of radio noir.
Written by Robert Arthur and David Cogan
Director: Jock McGregor
First broadcast in the USA in 1944.
Boston Blackie: The Jonathan Diamond. Kind-hearted thief, Boston Blackie is called-upon to retrieve a gem, but it proves not to be a simple robbery. Stars Chester Morris as the eponymous hero.
Jewel thief and safecracker, Boston Blackie was created by author Jack Boyle. His books were adapted for radio, cinema and TV. His mantra is “an enemy to those who make him an enemy, a friend to those who have no friends”. Boston Blackie ran on America’s NBC Radio in 1944 sponsored by ‘Rinso’. Unlike the concurrent films, Blackie had a steady romantic interest in the radio show with Lesley Woods as girlfriend Mary Wesley.
Announcer: Harlow Wilcox.
First broadcast in the USA in 1944.
The Adventures of Ellery Queen: One Diamond. If murder is the fever, who has the cure? Stars Hugh Marlowe as Ellery Queen, “the celebrated fighter of crime”. With ABC’s special guest star, Peggy Lee playing armchair detective.
After first appearing in print, ‘The Adventures of Ellery Queen’ ran on American radio from 1939 to 1948 on CBS, NBC, back to CBS, back to NBC and finally ABC. In each episode, a celebrity would try to solve the dramatised mystery.
Chantuese Peggy Lee’s 60-year career garnered her many awards and spanned many genres. Jazz classics like ‘Fever’ remain her trademark. Peggy Lee was born in 1920 and died in 2002.
First broadcast on ABC Radio in the USA in 1948.
The Radio Theater: Hostages. Whilst being sued for divorce, a paranoid policeman sees an opportunity to get even with his estranged wife – when she’s taken hostage during a failed bank raid…
Vincent Price is the host of the 1979 “revival”, originally sponsored in America by retail chain, Sears, aiming to recapture the flavour of radio dramas of the 1940s and 50s.
Stars Virginia Gregg, Shepard Menken and Vic Perrin.
Written by Ken Gerard.
Produced and directed by Fletcher Markle
First broadcast on CBS Radio in the USA in 1979.
The Third Man: Voodoo. Con artist Harry Lime recalls a low point when he arrived in Haiti. Starring Orson Welles as Harry Lime.
The films of Orson Welles, such as ‘Citizen Kane’, ‘The Magnificent Ambersons’ and ‘Touch of Evil’ guaranteed his place in the pantheon of silver-screen heroes.
In the celebrated 1949 film adaptation of Graham Greene’s novel ‘The Third Man’, Harry Lime is introduced as one of cinema’s most notorious anti-heroes. Sought in post-war Vienna by pulp writer Holly Martins [Joseph Cotton] and British Army Major Calloway [Trevor Howard], Lime manages to steal the show despite being absent for much of it!
This radio prequel to the film, ‘The Lives of Harry Lime’ earned Welles even more acclaim. His distinctive tones had already served him well as the radio voice of ‘The Shadow’ between 1937 and 1938, where he portrayed the crusader with distinctly questionable means of thwarting crime.
Stripped of the film cameras, the character of Harry Lime is not ameliorated for this radio outing. He’s an out and out rogue. Lime made it to the airwaves thanks to another Harry – Harry Alan Towers, with whom Welles collaborated on ‘The Black Museum’. Like its eponymous anti-hero, this series travelled widely, being syndicated across the USA and on Radio Luxembourg.
The music is by Anton Karas, the zither man.
Producer: Harry Alan Towers
Syndicated series made in the UK by Towers of London and first broadcast in the USA in 1951.
Dimension X: The Martian Chronicles. Ohio, January, 1999: Humanity’s encounter with the citizens of the Red Planet sparks serious repercussions for both sides. Stars Ian Martin and Jan Miner.
Ray Bradbury’s space thriller ‘The Martian Chronicles’ is now considered a sci-fi classic, from a decade when it was a relatively new literary event. As much about life on Earth as it is about matters extra-terrestrial, Bradbury’s dramatised novel charts a series of encounters between the first colonists to arrive on Mars and their gentle, telepathic natives.
The Shadow: Sabotage with Orson Welles. Mysterious explosions aboard ships at sea are blamed on sabotage. Intrepid crime fighter, Lamont Cranston sets off to investigate the shipyard where the ships are built on Sag Island…
Broadcast across America from 1937-1954, a young Orson Welles originated and played the role of “wealthy young man about town” Lamont Cranston until 1938.
With Agnes Moorehead as Margot Lane.
Dramatised from the printed stories.
First broadcast on the Mutual Broadcasting System in the USA in 1938.
The New Adventures of Nero Wolfe: Stamped for Murder. NBC radio’s orchid-loving gourmand detective genius chases a fraudulent treasure map. Stars Sydney Greenstreet as Nero Wolfe and Wally Maher as Archie Goodwin.
British actor, Sydney Greenstreet’s stage career didn’t give way to cinema roles until he reached his sixties, when his co-stars included Peter Lorre and Humphrey Bogart.
The New Adventures of Nero Wolfe ran from 1950-1951.
Wolfe originated in Rex Stout’s books and two films were made, but the author disapproved and the character didn’t stray into vision again until the late 1970s.
Written by Alfred Bester.
Director: J Donald Wilson
Producer: Edwin Fadiman
First broadcast on NBC Radio in the USA in 1950.
Shamed. By Furquan Akhtar. Shabana’s son has been arrested for a very serious crime. She feels shunned by her community. Yet she believes that the son she has lovingly nurtured cannot be capable of such a callous crime. She determines to be supportive and to clear his name. Hard hitting drama by the 2014 winner of the Alfred Bradley Bursary Award for new writers.
The Beautiful Cosmos of Ivor Cutler. By Vanishing Point and National Theatre of Scotland created by Sandy Grierson, James Fortune and Matthew Lenton, with Ed Gaughan and the company.The fragmented life of the surrealist, poet, songwriter and eccentric, Ivor Cutler. He shot to fame, when The Beatles cast him in The Magical Mystery Tour. George Martin produced his records, John Peel had him on numerous sessions, Bertrand Russell admired him, he wrote plays for Radio 3. But it is his voice that distinguishes Cutler. His studied melancholia and frail persona tells naive fables which have an existential sting in the tail. He grew up in Glasgow when the pursuit of happiness was never going to be written in the constitution. Like most ‘loveable’ eccentrics Ivor was a provocateur. Off stage we also tell the love story of Ivor and the poet Phyllis King who were together 40 years. It is a romance told in tiny moments of cups of tea and trips to the zoo, and his most lovely song: Beautiful Cosmos. Ivor is played by Sandy Grierson and Phyllis is played by Elicia Daly.
Like Bob Dylan, Ivor’s brilliant song writing is sometimes hidden by an idiosyncratic delivery. James Fortune has arranged Ivor’s songs for a small ensemble which have been specially recorded for Radio 3 by Julian Simmons. Ivor’s many characterisations were just seen as amusing when he appeared later in life on Andy Kershaw’s Radio 1 show. In fact Ivor was already showing signs of the dementia that would engulf him. He once told Piers Plowright (who had produced him for Radio 3) ‘My mind has been broken into.’
Tracks. By Matthew Broughton. A nine-part conspiracy thriller about life, death and the human brain. When Dr Helen Ash witnesses the brutal and disturbing crash of the plane that is carrying her father, the incident sets her on an investigation into a dark conspiracy. Florian Chauvin was flying to Wales to tell his daughter something important, but his plane fell out of the sky. What was Florian coming to tell Helen? Who was he travelling with? And why did his plane crash?
True Grit. (R) By Charles Portis. Brought to the big screen in the 1969 western starring John Wayne and more recently by the Cohen brothers.
Well, He Would, Wouldn’t He? By Charlotte Williams. In 1963, at the tender age of 18, Mandy Rice-Davies found herself at the centre of one of the most sensational scandals of the 20th century. She was a witness in the trial of Stephen Ward who was charged with living off the earnings of prostitutes. At the age of 16 Mandy had run away to London and become a dancer at Murray’s Club in the West End, where she’d met Christine Keeler and society osteopath, Stephen. Soon she was mixing with London’s elite and living as Peter Rachman’s mistress. But when there was a shooting incident at Stephen’s flat, and news broke of Christine’s secret affair with Government Minister John Profumo, events began to spiral out of control. Fifty years later, Mandy looks back at those events and the impact they’ve had on her life.
The Diamond as Big as the Ritz. (R) F Scott Fitzgerald’s novella set in Montana where a family secret is starting to slip out.
A Short History Of Tractors In Ukrainian. (R) By Marina Lewycka. A novel about emigrating, family history, sisterly rivalry, tractors – and the lure of a green satin brassiere. ‘Two years after my mother died, my father fell in love with a glamorous blonde Ukrainian divorcee’.
Sian Thomas begins Marina Lweycka’s witty and tender first novel about emigrating and immigration, family history and sisterly rivalry, tractors – and the lure of a green satin brassiere.