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Posts Tagged ‘michael wincott’

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 #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 #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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