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Posts Tagged ‘nicky guadagni’

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 #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 #21: “The Blood Countess, Pt. 2: Blood Blue”

The Blood Countess - Durkin-Hayes Paperback Audio cover(This is my blog entry about the second episode of "The Blood Countess". You may read about, and listen to, Part 1 here.)

This is our continuation of the story – based on historical records and legends – of Countess Elizabeth Báthory de Ecsed (Báthory Erzsébet), the so-called Blood Countess of Hungary. The episode was written by playwright Raymond Canale (his only one for NIGHTFALL) and featured veteran stage and screen actress Kate Reid as Countess Báthory.

The additional cast for the episode reads like a Who's Who of NIGHTFALL actors: Ruth Springford as Dorattya Semtész, Elizabeth's life-long housekeeper, who unwillingly assists in her Lady's madness. Elva Mai Hoover as Darvulia, a local witch who serves the Countess with her efforts to make contact with her dead husband's spirit. Neil Munro as Paul Báthory, Elizabeth's cousin and First Minister to the King of Hungary. And many more.

In the second half of the story, the Countess and Darvulia have been trying for several years now to contact the spirit of the deceased Count Báthory using horrific rituals involving the sacrifice of young peasant girls. But after the dramatic and terrifying failure of a particularly promising ritual, the Countess finally snaps and comes to the realization that they've been making the wrong sacrifices and that only the blood of noble girls will be enough to induce her husband's spirit to break through the veil between this life and the life beyond. Dorattya is horrified at her mistress' plan to start by sacrificing her youngest Lady-in-Waiting, a daughter of a prominent Duke. Eventually, disturbing rumors spread throughout the country, to the point where the Countess' cousin Paul, a minister to the King, visits the village to discover the truth for himself and is given orders – approved by the Royal Parliament and signed by the King – to arrest Elizabeth and everyone involved in these horrible acts. The resolution to the trial – and to the story – I will leave for you to discover.

One interesting side note to these episodes: former Head of CBC Radio, Susan Rubes, told me in a phone interview in 2004 that she felt the experiment with doing a two-part story was a failure. She didn't give me any details as to why, however, though I'd love to see the inter-office memos regarding that!

A word of warning: this episode is very disturbing. Listener discretion is advised!


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The Blood Countess, Pt. 2: Blood Blue

Air Date: 11/21/80
Writer(s): Ray Canale (based on the life and legend of Countess Elizabeth Bathory)
Production Location: CBC Toronto
Producer: Bill Howell
Featuring: Kate Reid, Neil Munro, Douglas Campbell, Ruth Springford, Elva Mai Hoover, Colin Fox, John Stocker, Nicky Guadagni
Commercial Synopsis: The most horrifying vampire of all. The most depraved ritual ever. A Transylvanian countess who bathed in the blood of virgins to keep herself young. She lived… and her name was Elizabeth Bathory.  (DHPA)


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

Nightfall #20: “The Blood Countess, Pt. 1: Blood Red”

Kate ReidWell, what can I say about this episode? It's the only two-parter in the entire run of the series and boy does it take advantage of the extra length!

This is the story – based on historical records and legends – of Countess Elizabeth Báthory de Ecsed (Báthory Erzsébet), the so-called Blood Countess of Hungary. The episode was written by playwright Ray Canale (his only one for NIGHTFALL) and featured veteran stage and screen actress Kate Reid (photo left) as Countess Báthory.

Canale said to me, in a 2004 telephone interview, that he had written the story with Kate Reid in mind, but was told that it would be impossible to get her. Undaunted, he drove to her Toronto home one night and left the script on her doorstep. After reading it, she contacted Bill Howell and asked to play the part. Apparently she loved the script and the opportunity to play such an infamous character.

The cast for the episode reads like a Who's Who of NIGHTFALL actors: Alan Scarfe as the husband, Count Ferencz Báthory, whose death is the impetus for his wife's heinous crimes. Ruth Springford as Dorattya Semtész, Elizabeth's life-long housekeeper, who unwillingly assists in her Lady's madness. Elva Mai Hoover as Darvulia, a local witch who serves the Countess with her efforts to make contact with her dead husband's spirit. And many more.

In this, the first part of the story, we see the Countess' madness begin to take shape after her husband is killed in battle. She has young girls brought to the castle as servants, only to have them slaughtered and their blood used in rituals designed to break the barrier between this world and the next and allow the Countess to speak with her husband. After which, she bathes in their blood to soften her skin and retain her youth. Suspicion in the village below the castle grows as more and more young women disappear from the countryside. But the local Magistrate turns a deaf ear to the peasantry, aware of his position and his duty to the Countess.

Probably the most disturbing sequence in the story – and whether this is based on fact or legend I don't know – is a mechanical girl created by a clockmaker friend of Dorattya's. On the surface, the device seems merely like an amusement for her Highness: a life-like young woman that can stand and move her arms, as if to embrace a person. But when a servant girl thought dead is returned to the castle by the Magistrate's order, she has Dorattya demonstrate the device's true purpose…

A word of warning: this episode, while not as gruesome as "The Repossession", is still very disturbing. Listener discretion is advised!


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The Blood Countess, Pt. 1: Blood Red

Air Date: 11/14/80
Writer(s): Ray Canale (based on the life and legend of Countess Elizabeth Bathory)
Production Location: CBC Toronto
Producer: Bill Howell
Featuring: Kate Reid, Ruth Springford, Elva Mai Hoover, Alan Scarfe, Robert Christie, John Stocker, Frank Perry, Hugh Webster, Mary Pirie, Nicky Guadagni
Commercial Synopsis: The most horrifying vampire of all. The most depraved ritual ever. A Transylvanian countess who bathed in the blood of virgins to keep herself young. She lived… and her name was Elizabeth Bathory.  (DHPA)


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

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