The Complete Smiley

BBC Radio 4 Extra is now repeating the Complete Smiley series they ran last year. Though more spy that detective thriller, this is a very well done set of productions of John LeCarre’s novels of his spymaster George Smiley. They recently began the first of the novels – Call For the Dead.

The series stars Simon Russell Beale as Smiley and I recommend them if you are a fan of the genre. As of this day’s post, there are six days left to hear the first one.

You can find it at


Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 172 – Pearls Are a Nuisance

William Bendix

William Bendix

An unusual Raymond Chandler story this time as heard over Suspense. “Pearls Are a Nuisance” was a Chandlerian spoof on the detective genre. Sounding almost Damon Runyon in structure, the story starred William Bendix and Alan Joslyn. This version is very faithful to the original fictional story. It is definitely not what you might expect from Chandler, yet it has all the elements of much of his detective fiction including the seedy bars and hotels, some violence, and even elements of noir despite how light this story is.

Music under is “Dickie’s Dream” by Dick Hyman.

Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 171 – Philip Marlowe

Raymond Chandler

Raymond Chandler

A more indepth look at Raymond Chandler’s iconic private detective, Philip Marlowe. Rising from the pulps of miscellaneous detectives, Chandler hewed his image of his private detective into a Knight Errant, who remained tough, but intelligent. The author’s writings adapted very well to radio as in this radio drama, “The Persian Slippers.”

Music under is Night Town from Joni Janak’s album, The Wind.


Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 170 – Suspense: Nightmare

Eddie Bracken

Eddie Bracken

This episode presents what I think is one of the best audio noir productions ever produced. Adapted from the Cornell Woolrich (as William Irish) short story – “And So to Death” – it is one of Woolrich’s best – pure noir. The adaptation preserves much of that aurally through the fabulous performances of Eddie Bracken and veteran radio actor William Conrad. Under the direction of Anton M. Leader and adapted by Alfred Palker, it oozes with noirish detail. From March 13, 1948.


Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 169 – The Purloined Letter

Adolph Menjou

Adolph Menjou

This time a re-visit to the father of detective story – Edgar Allan Poe in perhaps his greatest detective story. Poe was the creator of the intuitive approach to detection through his character C. Auguste Dupin. His stories influenced Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie and other early detective writers. The Purloined Letter was probably his best example of pure detection.

Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 168 – Espionage Radio pt. 4

Budd Knapp

Budd Knapp

This podcast will conclude my look at spy-detective genre radio with a one-episode adaptation of John Buchan’s The Thirty Nine Steps. This book represented one of the best examples of the theme of the generally everyday person getting involved in solving a crime involving some element of espionage. It was Buchan who helped establish the genre so well that later set the stage for the likes of Eric Ambler and Graham Greene as well as in film with Alfred Hitchcock, who directed an adaptation of the book for his movie. It also later emerged in the second iteration of Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much.

This version comes from the CBC radio Stage Series in 1947 and starred Budd Knapp in the Hannay role.

Music under is Dick Hyman playing “Dickie’s Dream.”

Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 167 – Espionage Radio pt. 3

George Coulouris

George Coulouris

Continuing a look at spy-detective series, a look at Bulldog Drummond, one of the earlier ones from 1941. In the beginning it starred George Coulouris, then later Ned Wever as this decidedly British spy-detective moved to America for radio adventures.

A look at how it fits into the spy-detective genre on radio and a bit about the history of the series as I present an episode called “Highjacker.”

Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 166 – Espionage Radio pt. 2

Ben Wright as Graham

Ben Wright

Part 2 of my look at spy-detective radio dramas, aka Espionage stories. This time I am focused on the character who finds himself in the middle of a mystery surrounded by a plot involving espionage. Eric Ambler was the master of the spy-detective genre and one of his stories, Journey into Fear, was adapted for radio on the series Escape. I look at that and some of the motifs found in the Ambler story and judge how well it translated into a half-hour radio episode.

Music under is “Catch of the Day” sung by Clare Fader and the Vaudevillians.

Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 165 – Espionage Radio pt. 1

John Stanley/Alfred Shirley

Stanley - Shirley

For the next few podcasts, I am going to feature espionage radio drama or what I call spy detective stories. There was a plethora of espionage stories on radio going back to 1931 and perhaps earlier.  The genre developed from thinly disguised detective stories into adventures with foreign intrigue. Some were series, some stood alone as part of bigger series. I begin this week with the old standby – Arthur Conan-Doyle and his ubiquitous detective, Sherlock Holmes. It was probably an example of the more thinly disguised detective thriller. This podcast is The Adventure of the Stolen Naval Treaty.

Music under is All I Need from Over the Rhine (of which I am a big fan!)

Philip Marlowe on BBC Radio 4

BBC Radio 4 will begin presenting a series of new dramas of the major novels of Philip Marlowe by Raymond Chandler starting Saturdayat 9:30 AM EST. You will be able to hear them stream via the Internet if you go to and selecting the appropriate play. I would recommend checking it out briefly before the time to make sure all works fine.

This run stars English actor Toby Stephens playing Philip Marlowe throughout. First up is the novel “The Big Sleep.”

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