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Posts Tagged ‘gordon thomson’

Nightfall #33: “Angel’s Kiss”

John EvansThis week we present the last episode of the series to be written by John Graham (with assistance from George R.Robertson) and boy is it a doozy!

John Evans (Earth: Final Conflict, Warehouse 13) plays Chuck, a homophobic, womanizing salesman who works the disco scene to find his conquests. He's the stereotypical love-'em-and-leave-'em type, never wanting to settle for the same thing twice…until he meets Delores ( in an unnerving performance by Elva Mai Hoover). Then he gets a taste of his own medicine—in more ways than one.

Bill Howell once described his production style as "rock 'n roll" radio drama and "Angel's Kiss" may just be the epitome of that description, as much of the soundtrack is pure disco. There's also quite a bit of violence, including a suicide, three murders and a police shooting. In this story, the Devil—and the sound effects team—are very busy.

This is yet another episode with a veritable who's-who cast of NIGHTFALL regulars, including cameos from Mary Pirie, Colin Fox, Sandy Webster, Gerard Parkes and others.

Oh, and the little break in the 4th Wall by Delores at the end of the play is a priceless touch.

NOTE: The voice of the male form of the Devil is not credited, but my ear tells me it is probably John Stocker, with a little post-processing.


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Angel's Kiss

Air Date: 3/20/81
Writer(s): John Graham & George R. Robertson
Production Location: CBC Toronto
Producer: Bill Howell
Featuring: Eva Mai Hoover, John Evans, John Stocker, Gordon Thomson, Neil Dainard, Mary Pirie, Sandy Webster, Gerard Parkes, Budd Knapp, Ken James, Richard Donat
Commercial Synopsis: The downtown disco and singles bar scene provides an ideal locale for the Devil to bargain for souls.


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 #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!

Nightfall #15: “Special Services”

Linda SorensonHere we have another story about the perils of health care, but this time it's about the dangers of private clinics. Private clinics that cater to very wealthy, very important clients. And when one of these needs an organ transplant, the donor could be anyone of us. Whether we're willing or not.

Featuring Linda Sorenson (photo left) as Diane Katten and Colin Fox as Dr. Cornell.

This is the first episode not produced by Bill Howell, but is the first of three to be produced by Paul Mills. These days Paul runs a small recording studio out of his home in an eastern suburb of Toronto.

One of the interesting points in this episode, for me, is the casual way in which the staff of the clinic go about their jobs. Their computer tells them who is a match for their important client. That person is lured to the clinic, in some cases by involving them in an accident, and the requisite organ(s) taken from them. Without their consent. After all, these clients are far more important!

The music is also one of my favorites. The piece that trails off at the end of the play is quite often used to great effect in the series. I would love to get my hands on the stock music albums they used on this show, but I can't imagine there's any way to find out what they were. I have never heard these cues used anywhere else.


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Special Services

Air Date: 10/10/80
Writer(s): Martin Kinch
Production Location: CBC Toronto
Producer: Paul Mills
Featuring: Linda Sorenson, Budd Knapp, Colin Fox, Marian Waldman, Gordon Thomson, Grant Roll
Commercial Synopsis: The premise is an elite hospital which provides organ transplants for its wealthy and powerful patients, and its donors aren't always the willing kind.  (NPR)


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

Nightfall #8: “How Did You Get My Name?”

John Stocker

This is the second outing by the writing team of Don Dickinson and Allan Guttman ("Welcome to Homerville"). It's also the first episode in which John Stocker (photo left) plays a lead role, of which there will be several more. Stocker appeared in more episodes of NIGHTFALL (22) than any other actor and was a favorite of producer Bill Howell throughout several different series.

This episode is one of several without a supernatural or horror element. Instead, it's a tale of psychological suspense. A few decades earlier, and this could easily have been a film by Alfred Hitchcock.


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How Did You Get My Name?

Air Date: 8/22/1980
Writer(s): Don Dickinson & Allan Guttman
Production Location: CBC Toronto
Producer: Bill Howell
Featuring: Gordon Thomson, John Stocker, August Schellenberg, David Hughes, Sandy Webster, Robin McCulloch, Don Mason
Commercial Synopsis: Jim Brent is whiling away his time in a mental hospital in Europe until his old chum, Larry, tracks him down and brings him home to Canada. But when Jim finds out just what Larry has been up to in his absence, he may wish he was back in a straight-jacket.  (TNP)


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

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