Posts Tagged ‘adaptations’

Nightfall #18: “Ringing the Changes”

Douglas CampbellAs this was going to be NIGHTFALL's first Halloween episode, Bill Howell wanted to do it up right. So they produced, as Luther Kranst puts it in the introduction, "a special love story, for lovers of all ages": Robert Aickman's "Ringing the Changes". Apparently, it's a cult classic among fans of the horror genre – I had never heard of it prior to encountering this production – and is pretty faithful to the original story.

Gerald and Phrynne Halstead (Banstead in the original short story) – played by the late Douglas Campbell (photo left) and Nicky Guadagni, respectively – arrive at the quiet seaside town of Holyhaven, where they have rooms reserved at the Bell Hotel. Unfortunately, everyone in the town – from the stationmaster to the manager of the hotel – seems to think they've arrived at the wrong place. Surely no one would visit Holyhaven on October 31st. It just doesn't happen. It shouldn't happen. But it has, and the Halsteads are about to find out what it is the town is so desperate to keep secret.

Incidentally, playwright Jeremy Dyson – with Doctor Who writer Mark Gatiss – adapted "Ringing the Changes" into a BBC Radio Four radio play that aired exactly twenty years after Cherrie's, on Halloween, 2000.


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Ringing the Changes

Air Date: 10/31/80
Writer(s): P. Norman Cherrie (based on the short story by Robert Aickman)
Production Location: CBC Toronto
Producer: Bill Howell
Featuring: Douglas Campbell, Nicky Guadagni, Ruth Springford, Sandy Webster, Graham Haley, Eric House
Commercial Synopsis: An older man with a beautiful young wife is honeymooning in a seaside town on the very night when the dead are annually raised from their graves by the ringing of the town's church bells.  (NPR)


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

Nightfall #14: “The Stone Ship”

The Stone ShipAnother one of my favorite adaptations, again by the late Len Peterson: William Hope Hodgson's "The Stone Ship".

This one is a very faithful adaptation of the original short story and the cast are all first season veterans, led by Chris Wiggins.

Ghost stories are one thing. Sea stories are another. Combine them and you have Hodgson. Since hearing this episode, I have read most of his stories and they're all pretty creepy. Many of them would make excellent radio adaptations. There's just something about the loneliness of the sea – whether it be on a three-masted schooner or a steam freighter – that lends itself to tales of the unusual and supernatural.

It happens that my radio drama troupe, The Post-Meridian Radio Players, performed this story in 2007 and it remains one of our most-remembered productions. After you listen to the original, feel free to download and listen to our live production.


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The Stone Ship

Air Date: 10/3/80
Writer(s): Len Peterson (based on the short story by William Hope Hodgson)
Production Location: CBC Toronto
Producer: Bill Howell
Featuring: Chris Wiggins, Arch McDonnell, Eric House, Graham Haley
Commercial Synopsis: Twenty days out of London, and well into the tropics, the crew of an old windjammer, the Alfred Jessop, sails in to the last resting place of a ghostly ship of solid stone. A story about the rocky graveyard of the sea and its petrifying effect on a tough old captain and crew.  (NPR)


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

Nightfall #9: “The Body Snatchers”

Graham Haley

This is one of my favorite adaptations. It's creepy, it's shocking and it's one of the show's best period pieces.

This episode features Graham Haley (photo left), who appears in many episodes, but who also penned two of the series' more interesting adaptations: "The Room" and "Mkara", both originally written by South African radio drama personality, Michael McCabe. (Haley might be better known to the geek crowd as the voice of Pyro in the 1990s animated X-Men series.)

McEnaney's adaptation is very true to the original Stevenson story, with a couple of exceptions. The episode tells Fettes' tale of the original events, but leaves off the prologue where Fettes has an unpleasant encounter with MacFarlane decades later at an inn, which triggers Fettes' telling of the tale to one of his friends. Also different is a scene added by McEnaney which introduces the character of Jane Galbraith, the barmaid whose suspiciously-fresh body is later brought to the school by Burke and Hare.


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The Body Snatchers

Air Date: 8/29/1980
Writer(s): Frank W. McEnaney (based on the short story The Body-Snatcher by Robert Louis Stevenson)
Production Location: CBC Toronto
Producer: Bill Howell
Featuring: Neil Munro, Graham Haley, Robert Christie, Richard Donat, Sean Mulcahy, Wendy Thatcher, Michael Wincott, Eric House
Commercial Synopsis: An adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson's classic by Frank W . McEnaney, set in Edinburgh, 1828, where the infamous Burke and Hare are providing suspiciously fresh corpses to the local medical school.  (NPR)


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

Nightfall #5: “The Telltale Heart”

Richard MonetteThe second adaptation of the series, this one also by Len Peterson (from his 1965 script for CBC Mystery Theatre), is one of the all-time classic horror stories: Poe's Telltale Heart, featuring actor Richard Monette (photo left).

The original story is quite short and gives no real details. No names. No locations. Just the thoughts of the killer as he is driven to his crime by the Old Man's blue eye, and his attempt to cover it up.

Peterson takes those few details and weaves an expanded story that Poe himself might have written. Set circa the 1840s (in the last years of Poe's lifetime), we are told the story of how Old Man Weatherby, a widowed New England farmer, hires the wandering Alfred Bane to help him around the stead. Bane and the Old Man get along well and Bane certainly comes to love him, though Weatherby's social beliefs prevent him from doing more that treating him as a greatly-appreciated hired hand. But this isn't what comes to bother Bane. No, what comes between them is the Old Man's eye. A wandering orb with a blue film over it. Bane becomes obsessed with this eye and, believing that it it a sign of evil that has possessed his employer, decides to kill him in order to save him from it's evil influence.

From there, the we follow Poe's original story of murdering the Old Man by suffocating him with his mattress, then dismembering the body and placing the pieces between the slats under the floorboards. Only when confronted by two local police officers who inform Bane that Weatherby's eye was like it was because he had lost sight in it several years earlier, does the guilt of his crime come to haunt him in the form of hearing the Old Man's beating heart coming from under the floor, driving him so mad that he freely confesses his crime to the lawmen.

I had never read the original story and this was my first exposure to it in any form other than the very basic premise. So when I actually read the story after hearing this episode, I was surprised at how little detail there was. Because of that, Peterson's adaptation feels more like the definitive story because its setting and characters just seem to me like elements Poe would have used.

(This was the third Len Peterson NIGHTFALL script my radio drama troupe, The Post-Meridian Radio Players, performed live.)


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The Telltale Heart

Air Date: 8/01/1980
Writer(s): Len Peterson (based on the short story by Edgar Allen Poe)
Production Location: CBC Toronto
Producer: Bill Howell
Featuring: Richard Monette, Frank Perry, Sean Mulcahy, Sandy Webster
Commercial Synopsis: There's more than poetic justice when a New England farmer mistakenly hires a psychotic killer out of the goodness of his heart.  (NPR)


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

Nightfall #2: “The Monkey’s Paw”

Len PetersonOf NIGHTFALL's 100 episodes, almost 1/3 were adaptations of both popular and obscure short stories. This week's offering is arguably the best of these, penned by one of Canada's foremost playwrights, the late Len Peterson (photo left). It's the definitive example of the old adage "be careful what you wish for."

This was the first of five adaptations written for NIGHTFALL by Mr. Peterson (not including the elusive "Dreamy", which wasn't a NIGHTFALL episode at all, but which included many of the show's regulars and aired in its time slot). I had a chance to meet and interview Mr. Peterson in 2004 and I hope to write up that interview at a future date. (I'm also pleased to say that this was one of the first NIGHTFALL plays my radio drama troupe, The Post-Meridian Radio Players, performed live).

So now, sit back and enjoy the first of NIGHTFALL's  many adaptations.


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The Monkey's Paw

Air Date: 7/11/1980
Writer(s): Len Peterson (based on the short story by W.W. Jacobs)
Production Location: CBC Toronto
Producer: Bill Howell
Featuring: Ruth Springford, Eric House, Chris Wiggins, Michael Wincott, Graham Haley
Commercial Synopsis: A British Army Sergeant-Major returns from years of service in India with more than just the usual military yarns.  (NPR)


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

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