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.”

Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 164 – Hands of Mr. Ottermole

Claude Rains

Claude Rains

“The Hands of Mr. Ottermole” was short story by early 20th century writer, Thomas Burke, a British writer. Anthony Boucher, the great mystery fiction critic, said of the story that it is “a sheerly, terrifying story…which imparts to the reader a quality of horror and shock usually associated with tales of supernatural or pure sensation, while staying in the bounds of the strict detective story.”

This version (there were several on radio) is from Suspense and stars a great duo of Claude Rains and Vincent Price. Adapted by Ken Crossen, who wrote the Milo March stories under the pseudonym of M.E. Chaber.

Music under is the Nocturne in C Minor, Op 48, No. 1 by Frederic Chopin.

Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 163 – Police Blotter

Bill ZuckertThis podcast – a look at the police procedural Police Blotter. The series was little known and only two copies exist. It wasn’t a very good series and definitely not a procedural along the lines of Dragnet from which it was probably created to copy. It starred character actor Bill Zuckert who is heard over many radio dramas in the fifties, but who never really handled a starring role well. He was just too typecast with his husky, tough guy sounding voice.

Music under is November Moon sung by Lindsay Wynn.

Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 162 – A Merry Christmas

Dick Powell

Dick Powell

A Merry Christmas gift – I am repeating an episode I did of Richard Diamond, Private Detective back in 2006. This one is a wonderful Christmas variation on Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.


Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 161 – Box 13

Alan Ladd

Alan Ladd

The newspaperman as detective has been a part of many radio series. I revisit one of them in Box 13 which starred Alan Ladd. Leroy Panek says “If many of the writers of the period were journalists, the newspaper person is also a favorite character in their detective and crime stories.” The same is true of radio since many of its detective series were born out of pulp characters and naturally some involved the newspaperman-detective.

Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 160 – Banquo’s Chair

Donald Crisp

Donald Crisp

Rupert Croft-Cooke is a little known British writer who wrote a short story based upon a play called Banquo’s Chair in 1930. His mystery writings were never on the level of Dorothy Sayers, Agatha Christie or G.K Chesterton, all of whom he spoofed in a detective story he wrote. But his story Banquo’s Chair did achieve some success starting with the play, then radio drama, then film. The radio version was heard over Suspense and was broadcast three times and starred the character actor Donal Crisp as the Inspector.

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