This groundbreaking book is the first full-length study of British horror radio from the pioneering days of recording and broadcasting right through to the digital audio cultures of our own time. The book offers an historical, critical and theoretical exploration of horror radio and audio performance examining key areas such as writing, narrative, adaptation, performance practice and reception throughout the history of that most unjustly neglected of popular art forms: radio drama and “spoken word” auditory cultures. The volume draws on extensive archival research as well as insightful interviews with significant writers and actors. The book offers detailed analysis of major radio series such as Appointment with Fear, The Man in Black, The Price of Fear and Fear on Four as well as one-off horror plays, comedy-horror and experimental uses of binaural and digital technology in producing uncanny audio.
Horror acting in the 1970s British television drama
Richard J. Hand
This chapter analyses the role of the performer and the practice of 'horror acting' in 1970s British television drama. British television drama in the 1970s had a special interest in the genre of horror. Examples of horror television included works with a supernatural theme, such as the BBC's A Ghost Story for Christmas series, most familiarly featuring adaptations of the short stories of M. R. James. Example also includes works by Nigel Kneale for both the BBC and ITV. Of equal significance was horror drama in a somewhat different mould, namely the generally 'real life', more Grand-Guignol terrors of Brian Clemens's Thriller. The chapter shows that Thriller and some examples of 1970s horror plays create a similar mood and function to their suspenseful drama, but target a socioeconomic place rather than a domestic space.
Thomas Edison’s Frankenstein and John Barrymore’s Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde
Richard J. Hand
Two great works of fiction at opposite ends of the nineteenth century continue to be paradigms of horror with the concept of 'adaptation' at their heart. They are Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus and Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Both present mad scientists who experiment with adaptation in the sense of metamorphosis and transmutation. This chapter looks at the Thomas Edison Company's Frankenstein and John S. Robertson's Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, two intrinsically 'melodramatic' adaptations that nonetheless resonate profoundly over the subsequent legacy of popular horror culture. Film adaptations of Frankenstein would remain as the Edison studios pioneered: a monstrous adaptation reliant upon special effects for an explicit creation sequence with an actor beneath extreme make-up at its conclusion. John Barrymore was already a legendary stage actor by the time he appeared in Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.
A detailed analysis of BBC Radio's most famous horror radio show in the 1940s onwards. The most significant and long-running horror series in the history of British radio is Appointment with Fear (1943-55). This series was established following the phenomenal success of the CBS radio series Suspense in the US. The writer John Dickson Carr had played a central role in establishing Suspense and it was his idea to transfer the formula to the UK. Dickson Carr contributed numerous of his own Suspense scripts for Appointment with Fear, but the series also featured some excellent examples of adaptation including dramatizations of fiction by Edgar Allan Poe and others.
An exploration of the Man in Black, the legendary BBC host of Appointment with Fear and other shows. The chapter looks at the place of framed narrative and examples of hosting strategies. The writer-producer John Keir Cross is also explored.