BBC7: The Scarifyers – The Nazad Conspiracy

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BBC Radio 7 - BBC7The Scarifyers: The Nazad Conspiracy (2006)
3 episodes beginning on Sunday, September 7 at 1800GMT
Starring Nicholas Courtney and Terry Molloy
Written and directed by Simon Barnard
Produced by Cosmic Hobo Productions

Detective Inspector Lionheart, veteran (don’t say old!) crime-fighter based at Whitechapel police station, and Edward Dunning, professor of Ancient History at London University (and prolific writer of ghost stories), become, somewhat unwittingly, paranormal investigators for the “very new” MI-13.

Dunning & LionheartAided by, among others, Aleister Crowley, “the wickedest man in the world,” Lionheart and Dunning must follow enigmatic and often ghastly clues, infiltrate mysterious secret cults and foil the darkest of diabolical plots against England and humanity.

But not without a grand sense of British humor. The Scarifyers, set in the late 1930’s, combines deadpan wit and Lovecraftian themes with the result being nothing short of hilarious. The writing is charming, delicious, surprising and never cornball, and the character performances are superb. Indeed, it’s my favorite audio play series in years.

The Nazad Conspiracy is the first Scarifyers adventure.

Christmas 1936.

Professor Dunning (Terry Molloy) doesn’t believe in the supernatural. So he’s more than surprised when an invisible winged demon appears in his drawing room.

The Metropolitan Police’s longest-serving officer, Inspector Lionheart (Nicholas Courtney), doesn’t believe in the supernatural either, wings or no wings. So he’s less than impressed when Russian emigres begin dying impossible deaths all over London.

Together, Lionheart and Dunning must face quarrelsome Generals, sinister clowns and Russian demons as they unravel THE NAZAD CONSPIRACY.

The first episode of The Nazad Conspiracy will air on Sunday, September 7 at 1800GMT in the 7th Dimension time slots. Episodes 2 and 3 will follow on consecutive Sundays. Listen to the trailer for the show here.

The Scarifyers is produced by Cosmic Hobo Productions and stars Nicholas Courtney as Lionheart and Terry Molloy as Dunning. Many will remember Courtney as Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart (The Brigadier), and Molloy as Davros (creator of the evil Daleks), both from the Doctor Who TV series (and the occasional Big Finish production). Also, David Benson, “man of a thousand voices,” appears as the reoccurring character, Aleister Crowley, always giving a memorable and “spirited” performance.

For more information about The Scarifyers, including actor bios, character and story info, announcements, downloadable content, and series ordering info –3 adventures so far: The Nazad Conspiracy, The Devil of Denge Marsh (2007) & For King and Country (2008)– be sure to stop by the Cosmic Hobo Productions website.

And if you want to hear the best radio show theme song since Dick Barton: Special Agent, check out The Scarifyers theme by Edwin Sykes here!

Posted by RC of RTSF

Torchwood: Lost Souls

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BBC Radio 4Torchwood: Lost Souls
Time: Wednesday 10th September, 2:15PM
Writer: Joseph Lidster
Producer/Director: Kate McAll

As part of BBC 4’s Big Bang Day, celebrating the activation of the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, Lost Souls, a specially-commisioned audio drama spin-off from the Torchwood television series, is being presented on September 10 at 2:15PM GMT.

Here’s the skinny from the Lost Souls webpage:

The Torchwood Institute was founded by Queen Victoria in 1879 to protect the British Empire against the threat of alien invasion. By 2008, all that remains of the organisation is a small team based in Cardiff. And now, following the tragic deaths of two of their colleagues, the remaining three – Captain Jack Harkness, Gwen Cooper and Ianto Jones – have to protect the human race against another unknown force from the darkness.

Martha Jones, ex-time traveller and now working as a doctor for a UN task force, has been called to CERN – the world’s largest particle physics laboratory in Geneva – where they’re about to activate the Large Hadron Collider. The LHC is a particle accelerator, which has been built deep underground in a 27 km tunnel under Switzerland and France. Once activated the Collider will fire beams of protons together recreating conditions a billionth of a second after the Big Bang – and potentially allowing the human race a greater insight into what the Universe is made of. But so much could go wrong – it could open a gateway to a parallel dimension, or create a black hole – and now voices from the past are calling out to people and scientists have started to disappear…

Where have the missing scientists gone? What is the secret of the glowing man? What is lurking in the underground tunnel? And do the dead ever really stay dead?

Intriguing, and since I worry about most of these questions myself every day, I’ll be tuning in. All I wonder is, should we celebrate turning on the LHC? You saw the movie The Mist, right? Yikes!

Posted by RC of RTSF

BBC7 presents: Down and Safe (Blake’s 7)

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BBC Radio 7 - BBC7

Down and Safe: A Celebration of Blake’s 7
Presented by fan Mitch Benn.
Airdate: August 25, 2008 (aired 3 times).

Holy moly, I was busy and away and almost missed this excellent radio retrospective of Blake’s 7. (Fortunately for all of us, it is still available to listen to -see below.) Clocking in at three hours, Down and Safe covers the whole shebang, from the groundbreaking and influential late 70’s television series to the latest version reimagined and presented as audio drama, with clips and snippets and informed commentary and…

…And, speaking of audio drama, well, check out the BBC7 blurb: The BBC 7 bank holiday rebellion starts with the history and rebirth of a sci-fi classic, with episodes including The Syndleton Experiment (1999), Liberator (2007) and When Vila Met Gan (2008).

Yep, you heard right. Three complete full cast audio plays -they form the bulk of the show; three different and very entertaining takes on the Blake’s 7 universe that you shouldn’t miss (unless you have a very good excuse like, say, hives). So, space science fiction luvvers everywhere, be sure to check out Down and Safe here, here, here (RealPlayer required) or here (webpage – RealPlayer required) through Sunday, August 31!

Posted by RC of RTSF

BBC 7: Brightonomicon by Robert Rankin

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BBC Radio 7 - BBC7 The Brightonomicon
By Robert Rankin; Performed by a full cast
Broadcast: BBC7 / The 7th Dimension
Dates: August 23 – November 15th, 2008
Production: Hokus Bloke & Ladbroke Radio

The Brightonomicon, the much-acclaimed novel by British fantasy author Robert Rankin, involves the grand high magus Hugo Rune, and Rizla his amnesiac assistant, in a strange quest to solve the mystery of the Brighton zodiac (twelve ancient hidden constellations) and thereby thwart the evil Count Otto Black’s mad scheme to dominate the world.

The book was adapted into a full-cast audio drama and released earlier this year (CD box & downloadable) and features a terrific cast of notables: David Warner (Hugo Rune), Rupert Degas (Rizla), Andy Serkis (Count Otto Black), Jason Isaacs, Martin Jarvis, Mark Wing-Davey, Sarah Douglas, Ben Miller and Michael Fenton-Stevens, among others. In short, the very best of the UK’s acting and comedic talent.

For the broadcast version, 12 adventures are spread across 13 half hour episodes which will be aired on the 7th Dimension program beginning this Saturday, August 23, at 6:30PM GMT (repeated at 12:30AM GMT), and then on consecutive Saturdays for 13 weeks through November 15th. As always, for online listeners, the BBC7 Listen Again service will keep each episode available for 6 days after it airs so you won’t miss a single one.

Note this disclaimer from The Brightonomicon website: The episodes are edited for radio…but no, that doesn’t mean we’ve removed naughty words or some of the more bizarre elements that make Robert’s work so fantastic…it means a few trims here and there to get the length down to 28mins30secs. Can you spot the bits that have gone? Missing the missing bits? Well fear not. You can always buy the full version as a beautiful box-set or as a delightful download…

Hey, that’s not so much a disclaimer as it is a come-on. I think they did it on porpoise! Seriously though, if I like what I hear on the 7th Dimension broadcasts, I may well take them up on it.

Posted by RC of RTSF

Five Free Favourites #5

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Hi! I’m Rich, a videogame maker, musician and composer. I’ve done audio work of one kind or another for more years than I care to count (I’m actually over 400 years old -it’s a rare condition). In 2001, I co-founded Digital Eel, an indie game development group (Seattle, WA area). These days, I do design and create sfx and strange music for our games. My interest in audio drama (radio-tinged) began in the 60’s listening to Lights Out and Inner Sanctum on scratchy LP’s, but I primarily blame the Firesign Theatre and Douglas Adams for my abiding appreciation of the medium. Okay, anyhow, I picked out five SF and horror favorites from radio’s glory days for your audio perusal.  In other words, unlike things smaller than your elbow, they are safe to stick in your ears. Mostly. Enjoy!

Five Free Favourites

Oh, be sure to check out my website, Radio Tales Of The Strange & Fantastic, for more radio drama goodness…

X Minus 1X Minus One: Mars is Heaven
Story by Ray Bradbury; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 28 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: NBC Radio
Broadcast: May 8, 1955
“Mars is Heaven!”, a short story by Ray Bradbury, was first published in 1948 but remains one of the most popular science fiction stories to this day. Many will recall it from the Martian Chronicles set released two years later; a classic Bradbury collection that has never gone out of print. What will the first men on Mars find when they land there? An unwelcome alien environment? A dead lifeless place or…a place of the dead? If you like The Twilight Zone, you’ll dig this story, and the X Minus One version is one of the best.

CBS Radio’s SUSPENSESuspense: Donovan’s Brain
By Curt Siodmak; Performed by a full cast
Broadcaster: CBS Radio
Broadcast: May 19 & 25, 1944
Part 1 |MP3|, Part 2 |MP3|
Donovan’s Brain, the classic “brain kept alive in a jar” tale, was first published in 1942 as a novel by Curt Siodmak (whose story and screenplay for Universal’s classic monster movie, The Wolf Man, scarifyed moviegoing audiences a year before). Today, the 1953 film version is more well known but Suspense nailed it on CBS radio nine years earlier with an unforgettable one hour version directed by, and starring (not surprisingly), the formidable Orson Welles. Is it good, you ask? Does it deliver…suspense? Sure, sure, sure…

Dimension XDimension X: The Roads Must Roll
By Robert A. Heinlein; Performed by
Broadcaster: NBC Radio
Broadcast: September 1, 1950
In the future depicted in The Roads Must Roll, the 1940 Nebula award-winning short story by Robert A. Heinlein, automobile, truck and train traffic had become impossibly congested and unmanageable, so the engineers have taken over and have converted roads and highways into rolling roads -similar to conveyor belts but on a massive scale- that move people and goods from place to place at speeds of up to 100 miles per hour. Hang on to your potatoes! Problem is, the technicians who keep the roads rolling are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with their status. They believe that because rolling roads are of prime importance to the nation’s infrastructure, they should be rewarded more highly than other workers. And when such issues of technological change, politics, unions and class come together, serious conflict is bound to occur…

Mystery In The AirMystery In The Air: The Horla
By Guy de Maupassant; Performed by a full cast
Broadcaster: NBC Radio
Broadcast: August 21, 1947
The Horla, written in 1887 by Guy de Maupassant, is an unusual horror tale about an invisible alien entity that seeks to inhabit and control human beings. It was cited by Lovecraft as being the inspiration for his classic story, The Call of Cthulhu, and as an important forerunner to the weird
horror genre pioneered by himself, August Derleth, Clark Ashton Smith, and others, in the early-mid 20th century. This version, from Mystery in the Air (oddly, a summer replacement for the Abbott and Costello Show), benefits from a brisk script and a wonderful live performance by Peter Lorre as your weekly raging psychopath.

EscapeEscape: Three Skeleton Key
Story by George Toudouze; Performed by a full cast
Broadcaster: CBS Radio
Broadcast: March 17, 1950

“Three Skeleton Key, the small rock on which the (lighthouse) stood, bore a bad reputation. It earned its name from the story of the three convicts who, escaping from Cayenne in a stolen dugout canoe, were wrecked on the rock during the night, managed to escape the sea but eventually died of hunger and thirst. When they were discovered, nothing remained but three heaps of bones, picked clean by birds. The story was that the three skeletons, gleaming with phosphorescent light, danced over the small rock, screaming…”
– from Three Skeleton Key by George Toudouze, Esquire magazine, January 1937

Creepy stuff to be sure, so what happens on they key? Terrifying events which I won’t spoil except to say that if you are afraid of a certain creature, as Indiana Jones dislikes snakes, you may find this story unsettling. But don’t fret. Vincent Price is there to hold your hand….until they come. Escape presented Three Skeleton Key many times due to audience requests. Price played the lead role at least twice. This version is generally considered to be his best performance of this play.

Posted by RC of Radio Tales of the Strange and Fantastic

Five Children and It on BBC7

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BBC Radio 7 - BBC7 Good stuff is happening on BBC7 lately, like Mike Walker’s remarkable 6-part historical drama series, Caesar!, that aired over the last two weeks. This Saturday, 7 Drama will present the full cast dramatization of Edith Nesbit’s Five Children and It (which certainly ranks as one of the best ever titles for a kids novel), a story about a magical sand fairy (that) grants five children a series of wishes

A little background, quoting here from Wikipedia, Edith Nesbit popularized an innovative style of children’s fantasy that combined realistic, contemporary children in real-world settings with magical objects and adventures. In doing so, she was a direct or indirect influence on many subsequent writers, including P. L. Travers (author of Mary Poppins), Edward Eager, Diana Wynne Jones and J. K. Rowling -as well as C. S. Lewis and Michael Moorcock. Yow!

Some will recall Nesbit for her memorable novel, The Railway Children, and the film and BBC television series based on the book (presented wayyy back in the 1960’s). I said some will -if they’re willing to admit that they’re old enough to have watched Star Trek: TOS in prime time.

Now, I have to admit that I haven’t heard this production before but given the Beeb’s track record, the play should be good. At an hour and a half long, there should be enough time to cover the story while keeping things moving at a brisk pace. Also, BBC dramatizations tend to feature excellent child actors. This should be a big plus here. -A lot of “shoulds”, I know, but being a fan of Edith Nesbit’s books to begin with, of course I’m looking forward to this.

Check out Five Children and It with me on Saturday, August 16 from 12:00- 13:30 GMT. Teleport to 7 Drama here to do so. Or you can use the Listen Again feature to hear the show for six days after it airs.

Lastly, you can read and download Edith Nesbit’s novels online at Project Gutenberg. All are in the public domain. Yay!

Posted by RC of Radio Tales of the Strange and Fantastic