Posts Tagged ‘arch mcdonnell’

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 #3: “Welcome to Homerville”

Neil DainardArguably the best episode of the entire series, "Welcome to Homerville" was nominated for a 1980 ACTRA Award for best writing. On more than one occasion during my research, I ran into someone who remembered hearing this episode when it originally aired, or during one its runs on NPR Playhouse, and being scared to death by it. The secret is: don't listen to it while driving at night!

"Welcome to Homerville" was the first episode of the series to be recorded (in the studio March 20th & 21st, 1980) and was probably used as a demo for Susan Rubes and the other higher-ups at CBC Radio, though I don't know this for certain.

For the cast, producer Bill Howell turned to some of the actors he worked with frequently, including Neil Dainard (photo left), Elva Mai Hoover and John Stocker, all of whom appeared in Howell's highly-successful sci-fi series, Johnny Chase: Secret Agent of Space, among his other projects. (There's another show that the world is sadly missing out on while the recordings languish in the CBC Archive).

The thing that first set me on edge when I first heard this episode was the flute. Just before the voice's first appearance on the radio, there comes a low flute motif. It's job is to telegraph to the listener that something ominous is about to happen, and oh yeah, it does that very well. But even then, you're just not expecting what comes next. As someone who is not fond of driving at night as it is, this episode just amplified my fear ten times. I'm serious when I say don't listen to it while driving at night. Especially on a lonely stretch of road or highway!

("Welcome to Homerville" was the inspiration for my radio drama troupe's (The Post-Meridian Radio Players) 2010 Halloween play "The Sirens of War", in which the crew of a barge transporting Naval munitions along the Missouri River during WWII is haunted by a voice on their radio.).


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Welcome to Homerville

Air Date: 7/18/1980
Writer(s): Don Dickinson & Allan Guttman
Production Location: CBC Toronto
Producer: Bill Howell
Featuring: Neil Dainard, James D. (Jimmy) Morris, John Stocker, Frank Perry, Robert Christie, Corinne Langston, Marian Waldman, Elva Mai Hoover, Ron Hartman, Arch McDonnell, Budd Knapp, Gordon Thomson, Lynne Deragon
Commercial Synopsis: A trucker, traveling a lonely highway, hears a mysterious female on his radio who says she is waiting for him in Homerville. Unnerved, he tells his CB buddies who warn him not to go there because danger lies ahead. But the seductive voice keeps luring him on.  (NPR)


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

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