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Posts Tagged ‘graham haley’

Nightfall #35: “Mkara”

Michael McCabeThis week we present the second of two adaptations by Graham Haley of a story by South African actor/playwright Michael McCabe (photo left).

It is 1943 and Dr. Ray Park has come to eastern Africa at the behest of his friend Sylvia to help her husband, famous hunter and naturalist Charles Woodley (Chris Wiggins), who fervently believes he is dying as the result of a curse. The curse was put on him in Tanganyika five years earlier by Mkara, the brother of a local witch doctor, after Woodley shot and killed the Great Bull of El Haza, an elephant worshiped by the regions tribes as the God of all Elephants. Woodley is convinced he is going to die and nothing will make him think otherwise, until Ray offers to take the curse upon himself.

The introductions of Luther Kranst throughout the first two seasons of NIGHTFALL range from dark and tongue-in-cheek to pithy and profound. The one for this episode is pretty typical of the rest of them, but it tends to stick with me for some reason: "Tonight's story takes us to the interior of Ethiopia, where nowadays they have bounties on virtually all wildlife…except for the human soul." Ah, Luther, I miss you.


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Mkara

Air Date: 4/3/81
Writer(s): Graham Haley (adapted from a production by Michael McCabe)
Production Location: CBC Toronto
Producer: Mkara
Featuring: Chris Wiggins, Maya Anderson, Eric House, David Hendlin, Graham Haley, Henry Ramer (Narrating as Luther Kranst)
Commercial Synopsis: Mkara, an Ethiopian native, hunts down two British ivory hunters warning them of dire consequences should they harm the God of All Elephants, the Great Bull of El Haza.


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

Nightfall #32: “The Room”

DHPA cassette sleeveThis week's episode may have the most extensive lineage of any in the series. It was adapted by NIGHTFALL actor Graham Haley from an episode of the South African radio series Beyond Midnight, which was originally written by Michael McCabe, which was, in turn, based loosely on the 1894 H.G. Wells short story, The Red Room. Phew.

Graham Haley's two adaptations of Michael McCabe's work (the other being episode #35: "Mkara") are something of a mystery. I have found very little background on them and I have yet to make contact with Mr. Haley. He's something of a TV personality these days—known for his Haley's Hints household tips series on PBS and related books and DVDs—which makes him harder to track down. I've found contradicting evidence as to where he lives these days, but it's either somewhere in California or in Toronto. I do know he's from South Africa, which makes his interest in Beyond Midnight understandable. I will keep plugging away at trying to find him.

In the story, a widow (Moya Fenwick) offers a substantial sum of money to anyone willing to spend the night in the Yellow Room—the room where her husband (Chris Wiggins) died without receiving absolution years before. Several men have made the attempt, but none succeeded. They either went mad…or died of fright. Despite this, skeptical young Ronald Todd (Haley) is determined to try.

NOTES:

  • It's interesting to note that in Henry Ramer's intro to the episode, he refers to it as being an adaptation of "a Michael McCabe short story". It makes me wonder if it was just simpler to say that or if it was for legal reasons? I suppose it's possible McCabe did originally write it as a short story, but the dialog is nearly identical to the Beyond Midnight episode.
  • This is one of three episodes where Henry Ramer actually appears in the episode itself, in this instance as narrator.
  • The cast list reads like a NIGHTFALL who's who. Everyone involved has appeared in the series before.

Beyond Midnight is a series well worth tracking down. Only about half of the 1968-1970 series can be found on-line as recordings, but they are comparable to NIGHTFALL in style and quality. If you're interested in hearing the original Beyond Midnight episode, "The Yellow Room", you need look no further than here:

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The Room

Air Date: 3/6/1981
Writer(s): Graham Haley (adapted from the Beyond Midnight episode "The Yellow Room" by Michael McCabe, and inspired by the H.G. Wells short story The Red Room)
Production Location: CBC Toronto
Producer: Bill Howell
Featuring: Graham Haley, Moya Fenwick, Colin Fox, Chris Wiggins, John Stocker, Henry Ramer (Narrating as Luther Kranst)
Commercial Synopsis: Since Amanda Watts' husband Alfred died in the Chanceford mansion without the last rites twenty-two years ago, seven men have stayed in the Yellow Room alone overnight. All went mad – or died. Nevertheless, for an offer of 1000 English pounds, down-on-his-luck Ronald Todd is willing to give it a try.


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

Nightfall #27: “Guest of Honor”

Nicky GuadagniThis week we feature another excellent adaptation by Len Peterson: the Peter S. Beagle short story, Come, Lady Death (dramatized under the title "Guest of Honor").

In this tale, Moya Fenwick portrays the elderly Lady Flora Neville, a woman renowned for her elaborate parties and balls. After decades of such events, Lady Neville has become bored. Guests such as King George and the Archbishop of Canterbury—even the famous composer George Fredrick Handle—no longer thrill her. Now she longs to invite the one guest that would rouse even her own jaded nature: Death himself.

Despite their initial reactions, her close friends agree that such an eminent guest as Death attending one of her balls would be the talk of London for years to come. Indeed, even the Lady herself comments that "those who were not invited will be publicly shamed!" They are all further intrigued when Death sends a letter agreeing to attend.

However, when Death does arrive at the ball, he is not what any of them expected. For just after midnight, the doors open and in walks…Lady Death.

The episode features Nicky Guadagni (photo left) as the Guest of Honor, as well as series regulars Graham Haley, Eric House, Mary Pirie and Neil Dainard. And, in honor of her birthday this year, I am pleased to single out Lynne Deragon in the role of the Contessa della Candini.

(NOTE: Some sources cite the title of this episode as "The Guest of Honor")


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Guest of Honor

Air Date: 1/2/81
Writer(s): Len Peterson (based on the 1963 Peter S. Beagle short story "Come, Lady Death")
Production Location: CBC Toronto
Producer: Bill Howell
Featuring: Moya Fenwick, Graham Haley, Nicky Guadagni, Tony van Bridge, Lynne Deragon, Mary Pirie, Neil Dainard, Eric House
Commercial Synopsis: In England, circa 1765, Lady Neville decides to invite the Ultimate Guest–Lady Death–to her Grand Ball.


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

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 #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!

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