Nightfall #19: “The Devil’s Backbone”

Silver Donald CameronIt makes sense that pretty much every NIGHTFALL episode that takes place in or around Halifax, Nova Scotia has to do with the sea, and for those who find the sea a bit frightening, this story won't help at all.

"The Devil's Backbone" – one of the earliest episodes I can remember listening to – was penned by prolific and highly-respected Canadian author Silver Donald Cameron (photo left). Mr. Cameron was one of my earliest contacts. A very pleasant person, he was quite happy to indulge my questions and I was quite happy to listen to his answers. I have an e-mail interview with him from 2003 that I hope to write up for the full-length entry on this episode. Cameron has written much about the Maritimes, the sea and environmental issues. One of his most prestigious plays was The Sisters, written for CBC Playhouse, with music by the late Stan Rogers.

Paul Mills – this was the third of the three plays he produced for the series – had an interesting story about the post-production on this episode. It seems that he and sound effects artist Bill Robinson created all the underwater effects using a barrel of water, a couple of vuvuzelas and some condoms. As I recall (I have a recorded phone interview with Paul that I need to transcribe), sports horns (not exactly vuvuzelas, I gather, but the principle is the same) were recorded underwater to produce the cries of the monster, as well as to provide bubble effects for the scuba divers. The condoms, as I understand it, were used to protect the microphones while submerged, as well as providing a resonating surface for the horns. I am so looking forward to having an excuse to reproducer this effect myself some day.

The cast features four now-recurring NIGHTFALL actors: Neil Dainard, Neil Munro, Linda Sorenson and Hugh Webster.

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The Devil's Backbone

Air Date: 11/7/80
Writer(s): Silver Donald Cameron
Production Location: CBC Toronto
Producer: Paul Mills
Featuring: Neil Munro, Linda Sorenson, Neil Dainard, Hugh Webster
Commercial Synopsis: Beneath the fog and the gray-blue waves lies a field of gold ingots-guarded by something huge, dark and deadly. A few people are willing to risk it.  (DHPA)

If you like what you hear, please contact the CBC Shop and encourage them to release the series!

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November 2011
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