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Posts Tagged ‘robert christie’

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 #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!

Nightfall #11: “No Admittance/No Exit”

Don Bailey

This week we present another classic episode, and one that Sarah Palin would probably love: a tale of socialized medicine gone too far! A new clinic where computers diagnose your illness and treat you according to your value to society (OMG, a death panel!).

But the more interesting thing about this episode are the writers. Don Bailey (photo left) came to be one of Canada's most respected writers, not through the usual channels you'd expect, but by way of bank robbery. Bailey was incarcerated in Collins Bay Penitentiary in the 1960s for armed robbery and it was there he turned to writing. By the time he was released, Bailey had written and published numerous poems and stories and had a community of big name authors who had supported his work waiting for him. He went on to be prolific in many areas of literature, including radio and TV script writing.

At various times Bailey teamed up with writer/actress Milo Ringham. Together they wrote this episode for Nightfall and one for Midnight Cab ("The Mystery of the Friendless Man"). There is a script rumored to be floating around for a Nightfall episode called "The Prize", but so far nothing has turned up. It isn't listed in the archive of Don Bailey's papers at the University of Toronto, though some data about it supposedly exists at Concordia University in Montréal, where there's an archive of CBC Radio documents.

Sadly there is very little information available about this partnership. In fact, there is virtually no information about Milo Ringham anywhere on the Net, except that she was member of the Toronto Free Theatre and went to the University of New Brunswick. (I have, however, recently received a note from someone who has information about her, I just haven't had time to follow it up.)

Don Bailey passed away in the early 2000's (2003 or 2004, I believe – it's hard to confirm) and Milo Ringham passed shortly afterward.

This is one of 30 or so episodes that made their way into the Durkin-Hayes Paperback Audio cassette series back in the 90s.


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No Admittance/No Exit

Air Date: 9/12/1980
Writer(s): Don Bailey & Milo Ringham
Production Location: CBC Toronto
Producer: Bill Howell
Featuring: Hugh Webster, Deirdre Flannigan, Robert Christie, Robert Haley, Mary Pirie
Commercial Synopsis: Welcome to the brave new world of the Future Clinic, where computers decide patients' treatment options on the basis of their contribution to society.   (NPR)


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 #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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