|Radio drama in the United States - as a national entity - died on September 30, 1962, when the final episodes of Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar and Suspense aired. It had taken 19 years (since 1949) for television to complete its victory over the ?theater of the mind.? From then on, national radio in the States would be devoted to music, sports and talk shows.
Such was not the case in England, however. Radio drama continued unabated even with the rise of television, and even today new productions of science fiction, mystery, romance and comedy programs can be heard on a daily basis...not only in England but all over the world to people who have access to the internet.
BBC Radio?s 7 webpage, Listen Again, allows people around the world to listen to classic British radio programs. In other words, we?re not hearing new programs, but programs that aired in the 50s through the 90s. But it?s all good stuff.
What you'll see when you go to the BBC Radio 7 web page is 6 days worth of radio programs. You don?t have to wait for a particular time to click on a title to have it play - all of the shows, regardless of the time they are listed, will play right away. At the end of a 24-hour period one day will drop off the schedule as another day at the other end of the week is added.
Charles Chiltern and "Operation Luna"
Currently, we're listening to a 13-episode serial called 'Operation Luna,' written by Charles Chiltern and first broadcast in the 1950s. We get an episode every Saturday. This is a classic series - when it first aired it actually drew better ratings than television programs! By the time June 1 rolls around the serial will be half-way, but check out the plotline at BBC 7s "7th Dimension" page, or at The Thunder Child's Daily Space blog.
shedA 4-part show called Routemasters has just ended. It was sort of an adult version of Doctor Who. A double decker London bus turns out to be a time machine, and its 'conductor' travels from time to time tracking down the criminals Raymond, a being that exists in a bottle until he takes over someone's body...for example Sigmund Freud, or Ludwig von Beethoven...and the woman who makes the plans to steal all the world's treasures, Hildegaard.
The sixth book in the great Terry Pratchett's Discworld series comes to BBC 7. This dramatization is scheduled to start in May...but it should still be going when June rolls around. Give it a listen, and you'll get hooked to this and lots of other British radio drama.
Be sure to read each day's schedule carefully. You never know when you might not see Tom Baker's name crop up in an episode of Sherlock Holmes, or Jon Pertwee show up as guest-star on a comedy program.
When you click on one program, it always starts with the last few seconds of the previous show. I lucked out because of this, a few months ago, when I clicked on some program - the name of which now escapes me - and heard the last few seconds of a program called Dead Ringers that I had had no interest in. And there, just like that...Tom Baker was talking to Tom Baker! Turns out Dead Ringers is an impersonation show, and they often call up a mundane business out of the blue and pretend to be the prime minister, or something similar. On this occasion, a Tom Baker impersonator called up Tom Baker himself, identified himself as The Doctor and asked for help. It was hilarious. You couldn't tell the two voices apart, and the real Baker's comic timing and improvisation were hilarious. Unfortunately it only lasted a couple of minutes.
So don't just go to the Listen Again page for science fiction. Check out the mystery programs, the comedies, and the quiz programs - Just A Minute and The News Quiz are loads of fun.