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Posts Tagged ‘1980’

Nightfall #26: “The Appetite of Mr. Lucraft”

Sir Walter Besant (r) & James Rice (l)This week we present the second of 1980's two Christmas episodes and one of my favorite adaptations and period pieces: P. Norman Cherrie's "The Appetite of Mr. Lucraft".

Based on the 1875 short story "The Case of Mr Lucraft" by James Rice and Sir Walter Besant (photo left, respectively), it tells the tale of a poor, down-on-his-luck actor by the name of Lucraft, who is on the point of starvation when he is treated to a magnificent feast by the reclusive gentleman, Ebeneezer Grumbelow. Upon finishing the repast, Mr. Grumbelow makes the bizarre offer to buy Mr. Lucraft's appetite. Thinking him to be extremely eccentric, Lucraft accepts the deal (and the huge sum of money). However,  he soon comes to realize the true terms of the arrangement when he begins to experience the effects of everything his host eats and drinks.

It's a fun episode and very reminiscent in style to "But Oh! What Happened to Hutchings!" from the third season. Series regulars Graham Haley, Douglas Campbell, Nicky Guadagni and Robert Christie star.

(NOTE: This ends the run of recordings I obtained over XM Radio. I will try to continue providing you with the best recordings I can, but they won't all sound as good as these have.)


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The Appetite of Mr. Lucraft

Air Date: 12/26/80
Writer(s): P. Norman Cherrie (based on the 1875 short story The Case of Mr Lucraft by Sir Walter Besant & James Rice)
Production Location: CBC Toronto
Producer: Bill Howell
Featuring: Graham Haley, Douglas Campbell, Nicky Guadagni, Leslie Yo, Abbot Anderson, Robert Christie, John Peters, Maureen Fitzgerald
Commercial Synopsis: As a special holiday treat for listeners who are watching their waistlines, a story about a mysterious and corporeal stranger who agrees to purchase Mr. Lucraft's appetite. Gluttons should avoid this one at all costs.


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

Nightfall #25: “On Christmas Day in the Morning”

Sandy WebsterThe 1980 Holiday season brought us not one, but two Christmas episodes!

This week's is a fun little story that, at first, seems pretty unlikely as a NIGHTFALL episode. It's one everyone can listen to: no severed limbs, no creepy ghosts, no self-destructive split personalities, and no historical vampire royalty. Just a good ol' mystery. Oddly enough, though, it was penned by the same duo that brought you episode #3, "Welcome to Homerville". Hard to imagine this story coming from Don Dickinson and Allan Guttman!

It is an adaptation of one of British author Margery Allingham's popular Campion mysteries, originally written in 1952. For the purposes of making it a one-off story, the writers replaced Arthur Campion with a retired provincial judge and set it in rural Ontario during the Second World War.

The story deals with the death of the local mail carrier, who seems to have been the victim of a hit and run, on Christmas morning. Things look bad for the mayor's son and his girlfriend, except in order to pin the crime on them, they would have to explain how the carrier managed to deliver mail to a reclusive old woman after he was dead.

The episode features the wonderful voice of Sandy Webster (photo left) as the judge, as well as series regulars Colin Fox, Arch McDonnell and Robert Haley. Michael Wincott and Elva Mai Hoover play the teenage suspects.

(NOTE: There's a slight dropout in the recording at 28:00, but it's only momentary. Nothing significant to the story is lost.)


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On Christmas Day in the Morning

Air Date: 12/19/80
Writer(s): Don Dickinson & Allan Guttman  (based on the short story by Margery Allingham)
Production Location: CBC Toronto
Producer: Bill Howell
Featuring: Sandy Webster, Colin Fox, Arch McDonnell, Sandra Scott, Robert Haley, Elva Mai Hoover, Michael Wincott, John Stocker
Commercial Synopsis: The sudden death of the local mail carrier on Christmas morning presents a newly-retired judge with a bizarre mystery: how could the carrier have delivered mail to an elderly woman after he was dead?


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

Nightfall #24: “Where Do We Go From Here?”

Max Ferguson (1954)This episode holds a very special place in my heart: it was the first episode of NIGHTFALL I ever heard.

Back in 2002, I was starting to develop ideas for a horror anthology series to be produced by what would eventually become The Post-Meridian Radio Players. I was looking at examples of past shows and an on-line friend asked me if I'd ever heard of NIGHTFALL. I hadn't. So he sent me an mp3 of this episode and, at the end of 30 minutes, a nearly decade-long obsession was born.

Prior to starting my research on NIGHTFALL, I had no idea who Max Ferguson (photo left) was. All I knew was that he had written three of the creepiest episodes of the series (the other two being "Dark Side of the Mind" and "Breaking Point"). On-line searches began to turn up all sorts of information on him, but not as a writer. Apparently Max was one of the most famous (if not the most famous) radio personalities in all of Canadian history. His radio career spanned 52 years – all of it with the CBC. His repertoire consisted of dozens of character voices, the most famous of which was the old ranch hand, Rawhide. He hosted a number of shows over the years, always managing to find new satirical uses for his vocal cast.  (A page with links to a number of his hilarious sketches from the CBC Archives can be found here.)

During a 2004 phone interview, I learned how he had landed the job of writing for NIGHTFALL

Max apparently retired from CBC several times, but somehow always managed to come back. In 1980, during one of these retirement periods, CBC Head of Radio Drama, Susan Rubes, suggested he try his hand at writing. And that's how we got "Where Do We Go From Here?". (Max told me that wasn't the original title. Apparently Bill Howell had changed it. He believed his original title had been "Perchance to Dream".)

The story is narrated from the real-time point-of-view of the main character, Neville Edwards (voiced by Neil Munro, in one of his best NIGHTFALL performances), who has just been in a terrible rollover accident, though he is still very much alive. However, to the witnesses on the scene; to the ambulance attendants; to the doctors and nurses at the hospital; even to his co-workers, Neville Edwards is dead. Throughout all this, he remains in a controlled panic. He firmly believes someone will realize the truth and then he'll be saved. It's only when he's laying on the mortician's slab that his veneer truly begins to crack.

How does it turn out? Is he saved at the eleventh hour by a mortician's observant eye? You'll have to listen to find out!

(This episode is sometimes mistakenly referred to as "Living Corpse". It is believed this came about due to the circulation of recordings made from the 1983/84 CBC Enterprises audio cassette release, which lacked the Luther Kranst/Henry Ramer intro and close. This theory has not been corroborated by any official source, however.)


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Where Do We Go From Here?

Air Date: 12/12/1980
Writer(s): Max Ferguson
Production Location: CBC Toronto
Producer: Bill Howell
Featuring: Neil Munro, Colin Fox , Michael Wincott, Arch McDonnell, Grant Roll, David Calderisi, Mary Pirie, John Stocker, Corinne Langston, Gordon Thomson
Commercial Synopsis: We learn more than we wanted to know about morticians and their scruples after a not-quite fatal car crash.


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

Nightfall #23: “Where Does the News Come From?”

August SchellenbergThis week's episode asks the very relevant-to-today question: "Who actually controls what news we see and hear?"

August Schellenberg (photo left) — in his second of two NIGHTFALL appearances — stars as foreign news correspondent David Winston, returning from Rome to be offered a national news anchor position, replacing a friend who inexplicably walked off the set one night and into a padded cell. But once he arrives, Winston is confronted by the strange, conspiracy-laden tales of a long-time friend, Stella Parsons (singer/actor Peggy Mahon, in her only NIGHTFALL role).

This episode also marks the first of nine NIGHTFALL appearances by the distinctively-voiced David Calderisi as producer Martin Grant. David is probably better known to CBC Radio Drama fans as the Voice of Introduction for the post-NIGHTFALL series, Vanishing Point.

Also featured are series regulars Frank Perry, Elva Mai Hoover and John Stocker, providing a number of extra voices.

This was the only episode written by actor James D. (Jimmy) Morris ("Welcome to Homerville", "Baby Doll").


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Where Does the News Come From?

Air Date: 12/05/80
Writer(s): James D. Morris
Production Location: CBC Toronto
Producer: Bill Howell
Featuring: August Schellenberg, Peggy Mahon, David Calderisi, John Stocker, Elva Mai Hoover, Frank Perry, Trish Allen
Commercial Synopsis: A foreign correspondent returns home to take the national TV news anchorman's slot, and discovers some mysterious events which somehow never end up on the air.


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

Nightfall #22: “Deadly Developments”

Gordon ThomsonAh, another one of my favorite episodes! It joins the ranks of several other episodes about "cursed objects" and was the first to be written by a woman.

John Stocker and Gordon Thomson (photo left) – starring together on NIGHTFALL for the first time since "How Did You Get My Name?" (#8) – respectively play professional photographer André Phillipe and his assistant, Steve Balfourt, who are preparing a photo shoot for the cover of an upcoming horror novel. During the session, André decides to try out his newly-acquired Von Hensdorf, an extremely rare camera made in pre-war Germany, known for the stark quality of its photos. Very quickly, the shoot turns into a terrifying experience for the three women sent by the modeling agency, who are overwhelmed by the sense of a malevolent presence in the studio. The next day, two police officers arrive at the studio and begin asking questions about three separate incidents that occurred the afternoon before. At roughly the same time, André realizes, that the Von Hensdorf photos were being developed…

The playwright on this episode is something of a mystery. Arlene Ezrin is one of the few writers I haven't been able to track down or to account for as deceased. The only Arlene Ezrin I can find any reference to on-line is the wife of Canadian music producer Bob Ezrin (known for his work with such talents as Alice Cooper, Kiss and Pink Floyd), but so little is to be found about her as to be non-existent. They did, however, live in Toronto, so it's quite possible this is the same person.

Historical Note: The original CBC Radio broadcast of this episode (as well as the version you are listening to here) has an opening scene in Paul Gemmel's pawn shop, in which André purchases the Von Hensdorf camera. However, the oft-circulated copy of this episode is from its run on NPR Playhouse  in 1981, which did not include the scene. Correspondence between the producer of NPR Playhouse and Bill Howell indicates that, due to time constraints, episodes had to be limited to 29 minutes or less in length, so it is likely that Bill Howell excised the scene from the version he sent to NPR to keep it under time. This is only a theory, though, and has not been confirmed.


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Deadly Developments

Air Date: 11/28/8
Writer(s): Arlene Ezrin
Production Location: CBC Toronto
Producer: Bill Howell
Featuring: John Stocker, Gordon Thomson, Budd Knapp, Sandy Webster, Linda Sorenson, Elva Mai Hoover, Nicky Guadagni, Colin Fox, Arch McDonnell
Commercial Synopsis: The discovery of a mysterious old German camera starts a bizarre series of events in this contemporary story focusing on the world of fashion photography.


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

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