Radio drama

Radio drama (or audio drama, audio play, radio play,[1] radio theatre, or audio theatre) is a dramatised, purely acoustic performance. With no visual component, radio drama depends on dialogue, music and sound effects to help the listener imagine the characters and story: "It is auditory in the physical dimension but equally powerful as a visual force in the psychological dimension."[2]

Radio drama achieved widespread popularity within a decade of its initial development in the 1920s. By the 1940s, it was a leading international popular entertainment. With the advent of television in the 1950s, however, radio drama began losing its audience, however, in most countries it remains popular.

Recordings of OTR (old-time radio) survive today in the audio archives of collectors, libraries and museums, as well as several online sites such as Internet Archive.

By the 21st century, radio drama had a minimal presence on terrestrial radio in the United States, with much American radio drama being restricted to rebroadcasts of programmes from previous decades. However, other nations still have thriving traditions of radio drama. In the United Kingdom, for example, the BBC produces and broadcasts hundreds of new radio plays each year on Radio 3, Radio 4, and Radio 4 Extra. Like the USA, Australia ABC has abandoned broadcasting drama but in New Zealand RNZ continues to promote and broadcast a variety of drama over its airwaves.

Thanks to advances in digital recording and Internet distribution, radio drama experienced a revival around 2010.[3] Podcasting offered the means of inexpensively creating new radio dramas, in addition to the distribution of vintage programs.

The terms "audio drama"[4] or "audio theatre" are sometimes used synonymously with "radio drama"; however, audio drama or audio theatre may not necessarily be intended specifically for broadcast on radio. Audio drama can also be found on CDs, cassette tapes, podcasts, webcasts as well as broadcast radio.

Opname van een hoorspel Recording a radio play
Recording a radio play in the Netherlands (1949), Spaarnestad Photo


The Roman playwright "Seneca has been claimed as a forerunner of radio drama because his plays were performed by readers as sound plays, not by actors as stage plays; but in this respect Seneca had no significant successors until 20th-century technology made possible the widespread dissemination of sound plays."[5]

1880–1930: Early years

Radio drama traces its roots back to the 1880s: "In 1881 French engineer Clement Ader had filed a patent for ‘improvements of Telephone Equipment in Theatres’" (Théâtrophone).[6] English-language radio drama seems to have started in the United States.[7] A Rural Line on Education, a brief sketch specifically written for radio, aired on Pittsburgh's KDKA in 1921, according to historian Bill Jaker.[8] Newspaper accounts of the era report on a number of other drama experiments by America's commercial radio stations: KYW broadcast a season of complete operas from Chicago starting in November 1921.[9] In February 1922, entire Broadway musical comedies with the original casts aired from WJZ's Newark studios.[10] Actors Grace George and Herbert Hayes performed an entire play from a San Francisco station in the summer of 1922.[11]

An important turning point in radio drama came when Schenectady, New York's WGY, after a successful tryout on August 3, 1922, began weekly studio broadcasts of full-length stage plays in September 1922,[12] using music, sound effects and a regular troupe of actors, The WGY Players. Aware of this series, the director of Cincinnati's WLW began regularly broadcasting one-acts (as well as excerpts from longer works) in November.[13] The success of these projects led to imitators at other stations. By the spring of 1923, original dramatic pieces written specially for radio were airing on stations in Cincinnati (When Love Wakens by WLW's Fred Smith),[13][14] Philadelphia (The Secret Wave by Clyde A. Criswell)[15] and Los Angeles (At Home over KHJ).[16] That same year, WLW (in May) and WGY (in September) sponsored scripting contests, inviting listeners to create original plays to be performed by those stations' dramatic troupes.[13][17]

Listings in The New York Times[18] and other sources for May 1923 reveal at least 20 dramatic offerings were scheduled (including one-acts, excerpts from longer dramas, complete three- and four-act plays, operettas and a Molière adaptation), either as in-studio productions or by remote broadcast from local theaters and opera houses. An early British drama broadcast was of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream on 2LO on 25 July 1923[19]

Serious study of American radio drama of the 1920s and early 1930s is, at best, very limited. Unsung pioneers of the art include: WLW's Fred Smith; Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll (who popularized the dramatic serial); The Eveready Hour creative team (which began with one-act plays but was soon experimenting with hour-long combinations of drama and music on its weekly variety program); the various acting troupes at stations like WLW, WGY, KGO and a number of others, frequently run by women like Helen Schuster Martin and Wilda Wilson Church; early network continuity writers like Henry Fisk Carlton, William Ford Manley and Don Clark; producers and directors like Clarence Menser and Gerald Stopp; and a long list of others who were credited at the time with any number of innovations but who are largely forgotten or undiscussed today. Elizabeth McLeod's 2005 book on Gosden and Correll's early work[20] is a major exception, as is Richard J. Hand's 2006 study of horror radio, which examines some programs from the late 1920s and early 1930s.[21]

Another notable early radio drama, one of the first specially written for the medium in the UK, was A Comedy of Danger by Richard Hughes, broadcast by the BBC on January 15, 1924, about a group of people trapped in a Welsh coal mine.[22] One of the earliest and most influential French radio plays was the prize-winning "Marémoto" ("Seaquake"), by Gabriel Germinet and Pierre Cusy, which presents a realistic account of a sinking ship before revealing that the characters are actually actors rehearsing for a broadcast. Translated and broadcast in Germany and England by 1925, the play was originally scheduled by Radio-Paris to air on October 23, 1924, but was instead banned from French radio until 1937 because the government feared that the dramatic SOS messages would be mistaken for genuine distress signals.[23]

In 1951, American writer and producer Arch Oboler suggested that Wyllis Cooper's Lights Out (1934–47) was the first true radio drama to make use of the unique qualities of radio:

Radio drama (as distinguished from theatre plays boiled down to kilocycle size) began at midnight, in the middle thirties, on one of the upper floors of Chicago's Merchandise Mart. The pappy was a rotund writer by the name of Wyllis Cooper.[24]

Though the series is often remembered solely for its gruesome stories and sound effects, Cooper's scripts for Lights Out were well written and offered innovations seldom heard in early radio dramas, including multiple first-person narrators, stream of consciousness monologues and scripts that contrasted a duplicitious character's internal monologue and his spoken words.

The question of who was the first to write stream-of-consciousness drama for radio is a difficult one to answer. By 1930, Tyrone Guthrie had written plays for the BBC like Matrimonial News (which consists entirely of the thoughts of a shopgirl awaiting a blind date) and The Flowers Are Not for You to Pick (which takes place inside the mind of a drowning man). After they were published in 1931, Guthrie's plays aired on the American networks. Around the same time, Guthrie himself also worked for the Canadian National Railway radio network, producing plays written by Merrill Denison that used similar techniques. A 1940 article in Variety credited a 1932 NBC play, Drink Deep by Don Johnson, as the first stream-of-consciousness play written for American radio. The climax of Lawrence Holcomb's 1931 NBC play Skyscraper also uses a variation of the technique (so that the listener can hear the final thoughts and relived memories of a man falling to his death from the title building).

There were probably earlier examples of stream-of-consciousness drama on the radio. For example, in December 1924, actor Paul Robeson, then appearing in a revival of Eugene O'Neill's The Emperor Jones, performed a scene from the play over New York's WGBS to critical acclaim. Some of the many storytellers and monologists on early 1920s American radio might be able to claim even earlier dates.

1930–1960s: Widespread popularity

Perhaps America's most famous radio drama broadcast is Orson Welles' The War of the Worlds (a 1938 version of H. G. Wells' novel), which convinced large numbers of listeners that an actual invasion from Mars was taking place.[25] By the late 1930s, radio drama was widely popular in the United States (and also in other parts of the world). There were dozens of programs in many different genres, from mysteries and thrillers, to soap operas and comedies. Among American playwrights, screenwriters and novelists who got their start in radio drama are Rod Serling and Irwin Shaw.

FAP radio show
Radio program written and performed in Phoenix, Arizona by children of Junior Artists Club (Federal Arts Program, 1935).

In Britain, however, during the 1930s BBC programming, tended to be more high brow, including the works of Shakespeare, Classical Greek drama, as well as the works of major modern playwrights, such as Chekhov, Ibsen, Strindberg, and so forth. Novels and short stories were also frequently dramatised.[26] In addition the plays of contemporary writers and original plays were produced, with, for example, a broadcast of T. S. Eliot's famous verse play Murder in the Cathedral in 1936.[27] By 1930, the BBC was producing "twice as many plays as London's West End" and were producing over 400 plays a year by the mid-1940s.[28]

Producers of radio drama soon became aware that adapting stage plays for radio did not always work, and that there was a need for plays specifically written for radio, which recognized its potential as a distinct and different medium from the theatre. George Bernard Shaw's plays, for example, were seen as readily adaptable.[29] However, in a lead article in the BBC literary journal The Listener, of 14 August 1929, which discussed the broadcasting of 12 great plays, it was suggested that while the theatrical literature of the past should not be neglected the future lay mainly with plays written specifically for the microphone.

In 1939–40, the BBC founded its own Drama Repertory Company which made a stock of actors readily available. After the war, the number was around 50. They performed in the great number of plays broadcast in the heyday of BBC radio drama of the 40s-60s.[30]

Initially the BBC resisted American-style 'soap opera', but eventually highly popular serials, like Dick Barton, Special Agent (1946–51), Mrs Dale's Diary (1948–69) and The Archers (1950- ), were produced. The Archers is still running (October 2017) and is the world's longest-running soap opera with a total of over 18,400 episodes.[31] There had been some earlier serialized drama including, the six episode The Shadow of the Swastika (1939), Dorothy L. Sayers's The Man Born To Be King, in twelve episodes (1941), and Front Line Family (1941–48), which was broadcast to America as part of the effort to encourage the USA to enter the war. The show's storylines depicted the trials and tribulations of a British family, the Robinsons, living through the war. This featured plots about rationing, family members missing in action and the Blitz. After the war in 1946 it was moved to the BBC Light Programme.[32]

The BBC continued producing various kinds of drama, including docu-drama, throughout World War II; amongst the writers they employed were the novelist James Hanley[33] and poet Louis MacNeice, who in 1941 became an employee of the BBC's. MacNeice's work for the BBC initially involved writing and producing radio programmes intended to build support for the USA, and later Russia, through cultural programmes emphasising links between the countries rather than outright propaganda. By the end of the war MacNeice had written well over 60 scripts for the BBC, including Christopher Columbus (1942), which starred Laurence Olivier, The Dark Tower (1946), and a six-part radio adaptation of Goethe's Faust (1949).[34]

Following World War II the BBC reorganized its radio provision, introducing two new channels to supplement the BBC Home Service (itself the result of the fusion in September 1939 of the pre-war National and regional Programmes). These were the BBC Light Programme (dating from 29 July 1945 and a direct successor to the wartime General Forces Programme) and the BBC Third Programme (launched on 29 September 1946).

The BBC Light Programme, while principally devoted to light entertainment and music, carried a fair share of drama, both single plays (generally, as the name of the station indicated, of a lighter nature) and serials. In contrast, the BBC Third Programme, destined to become one of the leading cultural and intellectual forces in post-war Britain, specialized in heavier drama (as well as the serious music, talks, and other features which made up its content): long-form productions of both classical and modern/experimental dramatic works sometimes occupied the major part of its output on any given evening. The Home Service, meanwhile, continued to broadcast more "middle-brow" drama (one-off plays and serializations) daily.

The high-water mark for BBC radio drama was the 1950s and 1960s, and during this period many major British playwrights either effectively began their careers with the BBC, or had works adapted for radio. Most of playwright Caryl Churchill's early experiences with professional drama production were as a radio playwright and, starting in 1962 with The Ants, she wrote nine productions with BBC radio drama up until 1973, when her stage work began to be recognised at the Royal Court Theatre.[35] Joe Orton's dramatic debut in 1963 was the radio play The Ruffian on the Stair, which was broadcast on 31 August 1964.[36]

Tom Stoppard's "first professional production was in the 15-minute Just Before Midnight programme on BBC Radio, which showcased new dramatists".[36] John Mortimer made his radio debut as a dramatist in 1955, with his adaptation of his own novel Like Men Betrayed for the BBC Light Programme. However, he made his debut as an original playwright with The Dock Brief, starring Michael Hordern as a hapless barrister, first broadcast in 1957 on BBC Third Programme, later televised with the same cast and subsequently presented in a double bill with What Shall We Tell Caroline? at the Lyric Hammersmith in April 1958, before transferring to the Garrick Theatre. Mortimer is most famous for Rumpole of the Bailey, a British television series which starred Leo McKern as Horace Rumpole, an aging London barrister who defends any and all clients. It has been spun off into a series of short stories, novels, and radio programmes.[37]

Giles Cooper was a pioneer in writing for radio, becoming prolific in both radio and television drama. His early successes included radio dramatisations of Charles Dickens's Oliver Twist, William Golding's Lord of the Flies,[38] and John Wyndham's classic science fiction novel Day of the Triffids.[39] He was also successful in the theatre. The first of his radio plays to make his reputation was Mathry Beacon (1956), about a small detachment of men and women still guarding a Top Secret "missile deflector" somewhere in Wales, years after the war has ended.[40] Bill Naughton's radio play Alfie Elkins and his Little Life (1962) was first broadcast on the BBC Third Programme on 7 January 1962. In it Alfie, "[w]ith sublime amorality... swaggers and philosophises his way through" life.[41] The action spans about two decades, from the beginning of World War II to the late 1950s. In 1964, Bill Naughton turned it into a stage play which was put on at London's Mermaid Theatre. Later, he wrote the screenplay for a film version, "Alfie" (1966), starring Michael Caine.

Other notable radio dramatists included Henry Reed, Brendan Behan, Rhys Adrian, Alan Plater; Anthony Minghella, Alan Bleasdale, and novelist Angela Carter. Novelist Susan Hill also wrote for BBC Radio, from the early 1970s.[39] Henry Reed was especially successful with the Hilda Tablet plays. Irish playwright Brendan Behan, author of The Quare Fellow (1954), was commissioned by the BBC to write a radio play The Big House (1956); prior to this he had written two plays for Irish radio: Moving Out and A Garden Party.[42]

Among the most famous works created for radio, are Dylan Thomas's Under Milk Wood (1954), Samuel Beckett's All That Fall (1957), Harold Pinter's A Slight Ache (1959), and Robert Bolt's A Man for All Seasons (1954).[43] Beckett wrote a number of short radio plays in the 1950s and 1960s, and later for television; his radio play Embers was first broadcast on the BBC Third Programme on 24 June 1959 and won the RAI prize at the Prix Italia awards later that year.[44]

Robert Bolt's writing career began with scripts for Children's Hour.[45] A Man for All Seasons was subsequently produced on television in 1957. Then in 1960, there was a highly successful stage production in London's West End and on New York's Broadway from late 1961. In addition there have been two film versions: in 1966 starring Paul Scofield and 1988 for television, starring Charlton Heston.[46]

While Alan Ayckbourn did not write for radio many of his stage plays were subsequently adapted for radio. Other significant adaptations included, dramatised readings of poet David Jones's In Parenthesis in 1946 and The Anathemata in 1953, for the BBC Third Programme,[47] and novelist Wyndham Lewis's The Human Age (1955).[48] Among contemporary novels that were dramatised were the 1964 radio adaptation of Stan Barstow's A Kind of Loving (1960); there had also been a 1962 film adaption.[49]

In Australia, as in most other developed countries, from the early years of the medium almost every radio network and station featured drama, serials, and soap operas as staples of their programming; during the so-called "Golden Years" of radio these were hugely popular. Many Australian serials and "soapies" were copies of American originals (e.g., the popular soap Portia Faces Life or the adventure series Superman, which featured future Australian TV star Leonard Teale in the title role), although these were typically locally produced and performed live to air, since the technology of the time did not permit high-quality pre-recording or duplication of programs for import or export.

In this period radio drama, serials and soap operas provided a fertile training ground and a steady source of employment for many actors, and this was particularly important because at this time the Australian theatre scene was in its infancy and opportunities were very limited. Many who trained in this medium (such as Peter Finch) subsequently became prominent both in Australia and overseas.

It has been noted that the producers of the popular 1960s Gerry Anderson TV series Thunderbirds were greatly impressed by the versatility of UK-based Australian actor Ray Barrett, who voiced many roles in Anderson's TV productions. Thanks to his early experience on Australian live radio (where he often played English and American roles), Barrett was considered better than his English counterparts at providing a convincing Mid-Atlantic English ("transatlantic") accent, and he could perform a wide range of character voices; he also impressed the Anderson team with his ability to quickly and easily switch from one voice/accent to another without the sound engineers' having to stop the recording.[50]

The effect of the introduction of television there in the late 1950s had the same devastating effect as it did in the USA and many other markets, and by the early 1960s Australian commercial radio had totally abandoned radio drama and related programming (including comedy, soapies, and variety) in favour of music-based formats (such as Top 40) or talk radio ("talkback"), and the once-flourishing Australia radio production industry vanished within a few years. One of the few companies to survive was the Melbourne-based Crawford Productions, which was able to make the successful transition into TV production.

Despite the complete abandonment of drama and related programming by the commercial radio sector, the government-funded Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) maintained a long history of producing radio drama. One of its most famous and popular series was the daily 15-minute afternoon soap opera Blue Hills, which was written for its entire production history by dramatist Gwen Meredith. It featured many well-known Australian actresses and actors, ran continuously for 27 years, from 28 February 1949 to 30 September 1976, with a total of 5,795 episodes broadcast, and was at one time the world's longest-running radio serial. It was preceded by an earlier Meredith serial The Lawsons, which featured many of the same themes and characters and itself ran for 1299 episodes.

In the 1960s and later, the ABC continued to produce many original Australian radio dramas as well as works adapted from other media. In recent years original radio dramas and adapted works were commissioned from local dramatists and produced for the ABC's Radio National network program Airplay, which ran from the late 1990s until early 2013. In late 2012 ABC management imposed budget cuts and axed a number of long-running arts programs, thereby ending the national broadcaster's decades-long history of producing radio drama (as well as its equally long history of providing daily serialised book readings).

1960–2000: Decline in the United States

After the advent of television, radio drama never recovered its popularity in the United States. Most remaining CBS and NBC radio dramas were cancelled in 1960.[51] The last network radio dramas to originate during American radio′s "Golden Age", Suspense and Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar, ended on September 30, 1962.[52]

There have been some efforts at radio drama since then. In the 1960s, Dick Orkin created the popular syndicated comic adventure series Chicken Man. ABC Radio aired a daily dramatic anthology program, Theater Five, in 1964–65. Inspired by The Goon Show, "the four or five crazy guys" of the Firesign Theatre built a large following with their satirical plays on recordings exploring the dramatic possibilities inherent in stereo. A brief resurgence of production beginning in the early 1970s yielded Rod Serling's The Zero Hour for Mutual, National Public Radio's Earplay, and veteran Himan Brown's CBS Radio Mystery Theater and General Mills Radio Adventure Theater. These productions were later followed by the Sears/Mutual Radio Theater, The National Radio Theater of Chicago, NPR Playhouse, and a newly produced episode of the former 1950s series X Minus One. Works by a new generation of dramatists also emerged at this time, notably Yuri Rasovsky, Thomas Lopez of ZBS and the dramatic sketches heard on humorist Garrison Keillor's A Prairie Home Companion. Brian Daley's 1981 adaptation of the blockbuster space opera film Star Wars for NPR Playhouse was a notable success. Production costs on this serial were mitigated by the support of Lucasfilm, who sold the rights to NPR for a nominal $1 fee, and by the participation of the BBC in an international co-production deal. Star Wars was credited with generating a 40% rise in NPR's ratings and quadrupling the network's youth audience overnight. Radio adaptations of the sequels followed with The Empire Strikes Back in 1983 and Return of the Jedi in 1996.[53][54]

Thanks in large part to the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities, public radio continued to air a smattering of audio drama until the mid-1980s. From 1986 to 2002, NPR's most consistent producer of radio drama was the idiosyncratic Joe Frank, working out of KCRW in Santa Monica. The Sci Fi Channel presented an audio drama series, Seeing Ear Theatre, on its website from 1997 to 2001. Also, the dramatic serial It's Your World aired twice daily on the nationally syndicated Tom Joyner Morning Show from 1994 to 2008, continuing online through 2010.

2000–present: Radio drama's "New Media" revival

Radio drama remains popular in much of the world, though most material is now available through internet download rather than heard over terrestrial or satellite radio.[55] Stations producing radio drama often commission a large number of scripts. The relatively low cost of producing a radio play enables them to take chances with works by unknown writers. Radio can be a good training ground for beginning drama writers as the words written form a much greater part of the finished product; bad lines cannot be obscured with stage business.

The BBC's sole surviving radio soap is The Archers on BBC Radio 4: it is, with over 18,700 episodes to date,[56] the world's longest-running such programme. Other radio soaps ("ongoing serials") produced by the BBC but no longer on air include:

In September, 2010 Radio New Zealand began airing its first ongoing soap opera, You Me Now, which won the Best New Drama Award in the 2011 New Zealand Radio Awards.

On KDVS radio in Davis, California there are two radio theater shows, Evening Shadows, a horror/fantasy show paying tribute to classic old-time radio horror, and KDVS Radio Theater which commonly features dramas about social and political themes.

The audio drama format exists side-by-side with books presented on radio, read by actors or by the author. In Britain and other countries there is also a quite a bit of radio comedy (both stand-up and sitcom). Together, these programs provide entertainment where television is either not wanted or would be distracting (such as while driving or operating machinery). Selected Shorts, a long-running NPR program broadcast in front of a live audience at Symphony Space in New York, originated the driveway moment for over 300,000 people listeners each week during readings of contemporary and classic short stories by well-known professional actors.[58]

The lack of visuals also enable fantastical settings and effects to be used in radio plays where the cost would be prohibitive for movies or television. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy was first produced as radio drama, and was not adapted for television until much later, when its popularity would ensure an appropriate return for the high cost of the futuristic setting.

On occasion television series can be revived as radio series. For example, a long-running but no longer popular television series can be continued as a radio series because the reduced production costs make it cost-effective with a much smaller audience. When an organization owns both television and radio channels, such as the BBC, the fact that no royalties have to be paid makes this even more attractive. Radio revivals can also use actors reprising their television roles even after decades as they still sound roughly the same. Series that have had this treatment include Doctor Who, Dad's Army, Thunderbirds and The Tomorrow People. In 2013 BBC Radio 4 released a radio adaptation of Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, featuring a cast of well known television and film actors.[59] Neil Gaiman has said he was excited about the radio drama adaptation as it allowed the work to be presented with a greater deal of special effects than was possible on television.[60] In the United States, an adaptation of The Twilight Zone aired to modest success in the 2000s (decade) as a syndicated program.

Regular broadcasts of radio drama in English can be heard on the BBC's Radio 3, Radio 4 and Radio 4 Extra (formerly Radio 7), on RTÉ Radio 1 in Ireland, and RNZ National in New Zealand. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation produced notable radio plays in Calgary and Toronto in the postwar decades, from which many actors and directors proceeded to international careers, but abolished its radio drama department in the 1970s (and in 2012 amalgamated its TV drama and comedy departments into the "scripted prime time department.")[61] BBC Radio 4 in today noted for its radio drama, broadcasting hundreds of new, one-off plays each year in such strands as The Afternoon Play, as well as serials and soap operas. Radio 4 Extra broadcasts a variety of radio plays from the BBC's vast archives and a few extended versions of Radio 4 programmes. The British commercial station Oneword, though broadcasting mostly book readings, also transmitted a number of radio plays in instalments before it closed in 2008.

In the United States, contemporary radio drama can be found on broadcasters including ACB radio, produced by the American Council of the Blind; on the Sirius XM Book Radio channel from Sirius XM Satellite Radio (previously Sonic Theater on XM); and occasionally in syndication, as with Jim French's production Imagination Theater. Several community radio stations carry weekly radio drama programs including KBOO, KFAI, WMPG, WLPP and WFHB.

A growing number of religious radio stations air daily or weekly programs usually geared to younger audiences, such as Adventures in Odyssey (1,700+ syndicated stations), or Unshackled! (1,800 syndicated stations – a long-running radio drama), which is geared to adults. The networks sometime sell transcripts of their shows on cassette tapes or CDs or make the shows available for listening or downloading over the Internet. Transcription recordings of many pre-television shows have been preserved. They are collected, re-recorded onto audio CDs and/or MP3 files and traded by hobbyists today as old-time radio programs. Meanwhile, veterans such as the late Yuri Rasovsky (The National Radio Theater of Chicago) and Thomas Lopez (ZBS Foundation) have gained new listeners on cassettes, CDs and downloads. In the mid-1980s, the nonprofit L.A. Theatre Works launched its radio series recorded before live audiences. Productions have been broadcast via public radio, while also being marketed on compact discs and via download.[62] Carl Amari's nationally syndicated radio series "Hollywood 360" features 4 old-time radio shows during his 4-hour weekly broadcasts. Amari also broadcasts old-time radio shows on "The WGN Radio Theatre" heard every Sunday on 720-WGN in Chicago.

In addition to traditional radio broadcasters, modern radio drama (also known as audio theater, or audio drama), has experienced a revival, with a growing number of independent producers who are able to build an audience through internet distribution.[3] While there are few academic programs in the United States that offer training in radio drama production, organizations such as the National Audio Theatre Festival teach the craft to new producers.

The digital age has also resulted in recording styles that differ from the studio recordings of radio drama's Golden Age. Not from Space (2003) on XM Satellite Radio was the first national radio play recorded exclusively through the Internet in which the voice actors were all in separate locations. Other producers use portable recording equipment to record actors on location rather than in studios.[3]

Podcasts are a growing distribution format for independent radio drama producers. Podcasts provides a good alternative to mainstream television and radio because they have no restrictions regarding program length or content.[55]

Radio drama around the world


Since around the early sixties the Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation (RIK) features radio plays in the Cypriot Greek dialect. They are called Cypriot (radio drama) sketches and they are mainly about Cyprus's rural life, traditions and customs, its history and its culture. The works are written by established writers, but also from new writers through the Writing Contest of Cypriot Sketches issued annually by CyBC (RIK) [63]


The first German radio drama was produced in 1923. Because of the external circumstances in postwar Germany in which most of the theaters were destroyed, radio drama boomed. Between 1945 and 1960 there were more than 500 radio plays every year. The German word for radio drama or audio play is 'Hörspiel'. Today Germany is a major market for radio plays worldwide.[64] In particular, audio plays on CD are very popular. A popular audio play serial of Germany and of the world is "Die drei ???" (Three Investigators).

Berlin's Prix Europa includes a Radio Fiction category.


Vividh Bharati, a service of All India Radio, has a long running Hindi radio-drama program: Hawa Mahal.


Audio dramas are popular in Japan. They began as radio dramas with the first radio broadcasts in 1925, and continue to be relevant as a medium in which storylines from TV series, comics, novels or video games are continued or expanded.

Before the advent of videocassette recorders, drama recordings were the only way to revisit an animated television series. Recordings often featured recapitulations of plotlines along with theme songs from anime series. Audio dramas are often used to expand or detail the plotlines of videogames. Before the advent of disc-based and mass-media games and the internet, the "universes" in certain video games were fully developed and explained within such CD audio dramas, especially during the era of arcade games. One notable example is TwinBee Paradise, a radio drama spinoff of Detana!! TwinBee that lasted for three seasons and established the names of the game's protagonists.


Radioteatret (Radio drama in Norway) has existed since 1926.[65]

See also


  1. ^ LC subject heading.
  2. ^ Tim Crook: Radio drama. Theory and practice Archived 2014-07-01 at the Wayback Machine. London; New York: Routledge, 1999, p. 8.
  3. ^ a b c Wall Street Journal; Newman, Barry (2010-02-25). "Return With Us to the Thrilling Days Of Yesteryear — Via the Internet". Wall Street Journal.
  4. ^ Compare the entry to Hörspiel e.g. in: – Deutsch-Englisch-Wörterbuch
  5. ^ Martin Banham (ed.). The Cambridge Guide to Theatre. Cambridge, NY: Cambridge University Press, 1995, "Radio drama", p. 896.
  6. ^ Tim Crook: Radio drama. Theory and practice. London; New York: Routledge, 1999, p. 15.
  7. ^ Historian Alan Beck reports in The Invisible Play: B.B.C. Radio Drama 1922–1928 that "The first English experiment in radio drama" took place October 17, 1922, in Great Britain. But U.S. stations were broadcasting drama prior to this. See following.
  8. ^ Bill Jaker, March 27, 1998, email post to the OTR Digest
  9. ^ "OPERA CARRIES 1,500 MILES BY RADIO PHONES," November 12, 1921 Chicago Tribune; "Radi-Opera" November 17, 1921 Chicago Tribune
  10. ^ "TWO PLAYS BY WIRELESS," February 4, 1922, New York Times; "MILLION TO HEAR MUSICAL COMEDY," February 12, 1922 Los Angeles Times; "YOU CAN HEAR ENTIRE SHOW BY RADIO PHONE," February 19, 1922 Mansfield (OH) News.
  11. ^ July 1922 wire service story which appeared in the July 19, 1922 Lima (OH) News (under headline: "ACTING BY RADIO IS A WEIRD SENSATION") and the July 23, 1922 Charleston (SC) Daily Mail (under headline: "PRESENTING A PLAY OVER THE WIRELESS IN NEWEST WRINKLE")
  12. ^ New York Times and Hartford (CT) Courant radio listings, August 3, 1922; New York Times radio listings, September 11, 19, and 25, 1922; "Will Give Dramatic Productions By Radio" September 2, 1922 The (Fort Wayne, IN) News-Sentinel; LOCAL RADIO FANS TO HEAR "OFFICER 666" November 3, 1922 Fayetteville (AK) Democrat; "MADAME X" FROM WGY THURSDAY NIGHT, November 21, 1922 Fayetteville (AK) Democrat.
  13. ^ a b c Lawrence Lichty, "Radio Drama: The Early Years" in Lawrence Lichty and Malachi Topping (eds): American Broadcasting (New York, Hastings House, 1975).
  14. ^ April 2, 1923 Hamilton (OH) Evening Journal radio listing.
  15. ^ "WRITING RADIO PLAYS IS LATEST," May 27, 1923 Oakland (CA) Tribune.
  16. ^ April 22, 1923 Los Angeles Times radio listings; "KHJ TRAVELS IN PRETENSE LAND," April 23, 1923 Los Angeles Times.
  17. ^ "Contest for Prize Radio Drama Opens September 1," August 19, 1923 Washington Post; "G. E. COMPANY HAS PRIZE FOR RADIO DRAMA," September 7, 1923 Waukesha (WI) Daily Freeman.
  18. ^ Compare The New York Times – Archive 1851–1980
  19. ^ "SHAKESPEARE".
  20. ^ Elizabeth McLeod, The Original Amos 'n Andy: Freeman Gosden, Charles Correll, and the 1928–1943 Radio Serial. McFarland & Co, 2005.
  21. ^ Richard J. Hand, Terror on the Air!: Horror Radio in America, 1931–1952 McFarland, 2006.
  22. ^ Richard Hughes, 'A Comedy of Danger' in 'The Invisible Play': B.B.C. Radio Drama 1922–1928 by Alan Beck.
  23. ^ "Maremoto, a radio play (1924)," Réseaux, 1994, Volume 2, Numéro 2 p. 251 – 265
  24. ^ "Theatre Arts (July 1951):"Windy Kilocycles" by Arch Oboler".
  25. ^ Koch, Howard, The Panic Broadcast: The Whole Story of Orson Welles' Legendary Radio Show Invasion From Mars, Avon Books, 1971.
  26. ^ See reviews in The Listener
  27. ^ "The Poetic Quality", Grace Wyndham Goldie. The Listener (London, England), Wednesday, January 8, 1936; pg. 78; Issue 365.
  28. ^ "Radio broadcast recordings". The British Library.
  29. ^ See, for example, "A Listener's Commentary", R. D. Charques. The Listener (London, England), Wednesday, October 23, 1929; pg. 553; Issue 41.
  30. ^ "Soundstart – The Radio Drama Company". BBC.
  31. ^ The Archers airs 15,000th episode, BBC News, 2006-11-07
  32. ^ [1] "British Radio Drama – A Cultural Case History" by Tim Crook.
  33. ^ Linnea Gibbs, James Hanley: A Bibliography. (Vancouver: William Hoffer, 1980), p.165.
  34. ^
  35. ^ "Caryl Churchill".
  36. ^ a b "International radio drama".
  37. ^ "John Mortimer Radio Plays": [ John Mortimer Biography (1923–2009)
  38. ^ The Listener (London, England), Thursday, September 1, 1955; pg. 349; Issue 1383.
  39. ^ a b Deacon, Alison Deacon, Nigel. "RADIO DRAMA, APPLES, EKEGUSII, POTATOES, EARLY MUSIC, Mandy Giltjes".
  40. ^ "Critic on the Hearth", J. C. Trewin. The Listener (London, England), Thursday, June 28, 1956; pg. 903; Issue 1422.
  41. ^ Deacon, Alison Deacon, Nigel. "Bill Naughton radio drama – DIVERSITY WEBSITE".
  42. ^ The Columbia encyclopedia of modern drama, by Gabrielle H. Cody; "Brendan Behan" - RTÉ Archives [2]
  43. ^ J. C. Trewin, "Critic on the Hearth." Listener [London, England] 5 Aug. 1954: 224.
  44. ^ Prix Italia "PAST EDITIONS — WINNERS 1949 – 2007" Archived 2012-03-03 at the Wayback Machine
  45. ^ British Radio Drama--A Cultural Case History by Tim Crook
  46. ^ A Man for All Seasons (1966) – IMDb [3]; A Man for All Seasons (TV 1988) – IMDb [4]
  47. ^ "Critic on the Hearth", Philip Hope-Wallace. The Listener (London, England), Thursday, November 28, 1946; pg. 767; Issue 933; "Critic on the Hearth", Martin Armstrong. The Listener (London, England), Thursday, May 14, 1953; pg. 815; Issue 1263.
  48. ^ "The Human Age"", Wyndham Lewis. The Listener (London, England), Thursday, June 2, 1955; pg. 976
  49. ^ "A Kind of Loving – The Literature of Stan Barstow":[5]; A Kind of Loving (1962) – IMDb [6]
  50. ^ Bergan, Ronald (September 9, 2009). "Ray Barrett". The Guardian. London.
  51. ^ Jim Cox, Say Goodnight, Gracie: The Last Years of Network Radio, p. 145–148.
  52. ^ John Dunning, On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio, Oxford University Press, 1998, p. 742. ISBN 978-0-19-507678-3.
  53. ^ Robb, Brian J. (2012). A Brief Guide to Star Wars. London: Hachette. ISBN 978-1-78033-583-4. Retrieved 21 July 2016.
  54. ^ John, Derek. "That Time NPR Turned 'Star Wars' Into A Radio Drama — And It Actually Worked". All Things Considered, National Public Radio. Archived from the original on 20 June 2016. Retrieved 22 July 2016.
  55. ^ a b Lichtig, Toby (24 April 2007). "The podcast's the thing to revive radio drama". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2010-04-12.
  56. ^ "The Archers – Frequently Asked Questions – BBC Radio 4". BBC.
  57. ^ "Eight years of Westway end". BBC News. 2005-10-28. Retrieved 2010-04-12.
  58. ^ "Listen – Selected Shorts".
  59. ^ Mellor, Louise (6 March 2013). "Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere BBC Radio 4 launch report". London: Den of Geek. Retrieved 2013-06-18.
  60. ^ LicHatfullhtig, Jonathan (4 March 2013). "Neil Gaiman, Natalie Dormer and More Talk Neverwhere". London: SciFiNow. Retrieved 2013-06-13.
  61. ^
  62. ^ Maughan, Shannon. "L.A. Theatre Works at 40". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 6 February 2018.
  63. ^ "Cypriot Sketch". 2015. Retrieved 2015-05-29.
  64. ^ Torsten Wissmann, Geographies of Urban Sound, 2016, Routledge (publisher; in the year 2014 published by Ashgate Publishing), page 204. Cite: "Germany is the most important market for audio plays"
  65. ^ "Radioteatret" (in Norwegian). Store norske leksikon. Retrieved 23 September 2016.

Further reading

  • Tim Crook, Radio Drama: Theory and Practice. London; New York: Routledge, 1999.
  • Armin Paul Frank, Das englische und amerikanische Hörspiel. München: Fink, 1981.
  • Walter K. Kingson and Rome Cowgill, Radio Drama Acting and Production: A Handbook. New York: Rinehart, 1950.
  • Karl Ladle,: Hörspielforschung. Schnittpunkt zwischen Literatur, Medien und Ästhetik. Wiesbaden: Deutscher Universitäts-Verlag, 2001.
  • Sherman Paxton Lawton, Radio Drama. Boston: Expression Company, 1938.
  • Peter Lewis (ed.), Radio Drama. London; New York: Longman, 1981.
  • Dermot Rattigan, Theatre of Sound: Radio and the Dramatic Imagination. 2nd edition. Carysfort Press, 2003.
  • Neil Verma, Theater of the Mind: Imagination, Aesthetics, and American Radio Drama. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012.

External links

BBC sources

  • The BBC Story – The Written Archives: [7]
  • Radio Plays & Radio Drama webpage (England): [8]
  • British Radio Drama- A Cultural Case History by Tim Crook: [9]

An actor is a person who portrays a character in a performance (also actress; see below). The actor performs "in the flesh" in the traditional medium of the theatre or in modern media such as film, radio, and television. The analogous Greek term is ὑποκριτής (hupokritḗs), literally "one who answers". The actor's interpretation of their role—the art of acting—pertains to the role played, whether based on a real person or fictional character. Interpretation occurs even when the actor is "playing themselves", as in some forms of experimental performance art.

Formerly, in ancient Greece and Rome, the medieval world, and the time of William Shakespeare, only men could become actors, and women's roles were generally played by men or boys. After the English Restoration of 1660, women began to appear on stage in England. In modern times, particularly in pantomime and some operas, women occasionally play the roles of boys or young men.

Afternoon Drama

The Afternoon Drama (formerly Afternoon Play) is a BBC Radio 4 radio drama, broadcast every weekday at 2.15pm. Generally each play is 45 minutes in duration and approximately 190 new plays are broadcast each year. More or less three-quarters are self-contained dramas. The remainder are short series of 2 to 6 episodes. As well as original drama series, the Afternoon Play has included a number of adaptations of popular works such as The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency.

Bert Coules

Bert Coules is an English writer, mainly for the BBC, who has produced a number of adaptations and original works. He works mainly in radio drama but also writes for TV and the stage.

Christian radio

Christian radio is a category of radio formats that focus on transmitting programming with a Christian message. In the United States, where it is most established, many such broadcasters play contemporary Christian music, though many programs include talk or news programming covering economic, political or religious topics.

Dracula (1975 radio program)

Dracula was a radio drama, originally aired by the British radio station BBC Radio 4 FM in the United Kingdom on 1 January 1975. It was a modernized version of the original radio drama aired by CBS in the United States in 1938.

Dracula (radio drama)

"Dracula" is an episode of the American radio drama anthology series The Mercury Theatre on the Air. It was performed as an episode of the series on Monday, July 11, 1938, and aired over the Columbia Broadcasting System radio network. Directed and narrated by actor and future filmmaker Orson Welles, the episode was an adaptation of Bram Stoker's novel Dracula (1897).

Drama (film and television)

In film and television, drama is a genre of narrative fiction (or semi-fiction) intended to be more serious than humorous in tone. Drama of this kind is usually qualified with additional terms that specify its particular subgenre, such as "police crime drama", "political drama", "legal drama", "historical period drama", "domestic drama", or "comedy-drama". These terms tend to indicate a particular setting or subject-matter, or else they qualify the otherwise serious tone of a drama with elements that encourage a broader range of moods.

All forms of cinema or television that involve fictional stories are forms of drama in the broader sense if their storytelling is achieved by means of actors who represent (mimesis) characters. In this broader sense, drama is a mode distinct from novels, short stories, and narrative poetry or songs. In the modern era before the birth of cinema or television, "drama" within theatre was a type of play that was neither a comedy nor a tragedy. It is this narrower sense that the film and television industries, along with film studies, adopted. "Radio drama" has been used in both senses—originally transmitted in a live performance, it has also been used to describe the more high-brow and serious end of the dramatic output of radio.


Earplay was the longest-running of the formal series of radio drama anthologies on National Public Radio, produced by WHA in Madison, Wisconsin and heard from 1972 into the 1990s. It approached radio drama as an art form with scripts written by such leading playwrights as Edward Albee, Arthur Kopit, Archibald MacLeish and David Mamet.

Airing in stereo, Earplay provided a showcase for original and adapted work. Eventually, the less-sustained successor series NPR Playhouse drew episodes from the Earplay run. Often presented by NPR member stations on a weekly basis, Earplay episodes were produced with much attention to recording technique and sound-effects.

In 1975, it scored a triumph with Listening, an original play written by Edward Albee for stereo radio, employing one speaker for one character and another speaker for another character. Since both characters are seated in a room, the illusion is created that they are in the same room as the listener. After its premiere on radio, Listening was later performed on stage.

Along with the CBS Radio Mystery Theater, Sears Radio Theater, The General Mills Radio Adventure Theater, Christian radio's Unshackled and Public Radio's The National Radio Theater of Chicago, Earplay was among the most ambitious nationwide projects in the medium in the U.S. during the 1970s and 1980s.


G-Saviour (ジーセイバー, Jī-Seibā) is a radio drama, video game and Canadian live-action television film created as part of the Gundam franchise. The film was produced as part of the "Gundam Big Bang Project", which was a series of works made to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the franchise. Taking place in the Universal Century timeline, G-Saviour was produced as a joint effort between the animation studio and creator of Gundam, Sunrise, and an independent film production company, Polestar Entertainment. The film was broadcast in Japan on December 29, 2000 from 16:00 to 17:25 on TV Asahi and its affiliate ANN stations.


Haikyu!! (ハイキュー!!, Haikyū!!, from the kanji 排球 "volleyball") is a Japanese shōnen manga series written and illustrated by Haruichi Furudate. Individual chapters have been serialized in Weekly Shōnen Jump since February 2012, with bound volumes published by Shueisha. The series was initially published as a one-shot in Shueisha's seasonal Jump NEXT! magazine prior to serialization. As of December 2018, thirty-five volumes have been released in Japan. The manga has been licensed in North America by Viz Media. As of January 2018, Haikyu!! has sold over 28 million copies.

An anime television series adaptation by Production I.G aired from April 2014 to September 2014, which has been licensed for digital and home release in North America by Sentai Filmworks. The second season of the anime aired from October 2015 to March 2016. A third season aired from October 2016 to December 2016. A fourth season was announced at Jump Festa 2019.

Iczer Girl Iczelion

Iczelion (戦ー少女 イクセリオン, Ikuzā Gāru Ikuzerion) is a 2-episode sci-fi anime OVA series with a female cast, released in 1995. It was created by Toshihiro Hirano, director of the original Fight! Iczer One and Iczer Reborn series. AIC and KSS were the animation production companies in charge of Iczelion. The series was licensed by in North America in August 1995 by ADV Films.

Unlike its predecessor, Iczelion did not feature female-female intimacy. Although the series hinted at a possible continuation, none was ever written or created. The story seems to take place in an alternate timeline from Iczer-One and Iczer Reborn because of its placement in modern-day and with a seemingly different Nagisa.

Iczelion was also made into a radio drama series, released as three drama CDs. The radio drama served as a bridge between Iczer-3 and Iczelion, as characters from the Iczer-3 OVA series were featured in it, including Nagisa Kasumi, who became the title Iczelion instead of the OVA's Nagisa Kai. Iczel was also sent to earth by Iczer-3 in the radio drama.

Serial (radio and television)

In television and radio programming, a serial has a continuing plot that unfolds in a sequential episode-by-episode fashion. Serials typically follow main story arcs that span entire television seasons or even the full run of the series, which distinguishes them from traditional episodic television that relies on more stand-alone episodes. Worldwide, the soap opera is the most prominent form of serial dramatic programming.

Serials rely on keeping the full nature of the story hidden and revealing elements episode by episode to keep viewers tuning in to learn more. Often these shows employ recapping segments at the beginning and cliffhangers at the end of each episode. Such shows also place a demand on viewers to tune into every episode to follow the plot. The invention of recording devices such as VCRs and DVRs has made following these type of shows easier, which has resulted in increased success and popularity. Prior to the advent of DVRs, television networks shunned serials in prime time as they made broadcast programming reruns more difficult and television producers shunned them because they were tougher to go into broadcast syndication years down the road.

Serials contrast with episodic television, with plots relying on a more independent stand-alone format. Procedural drama television programs are commonly episodic.In British television, the term serial is also synonymous with the American term miniseries – a short-run series with one title and plot. The finale of the serial sometimes concludes the program as a whole, for sequel serials are rarely made.

Shorter serial programs known as telenovelas (and earlier, radionovelas), originating and often produced in Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking Latin America, have become popular worldwide.

Star Wars (radio series)

An expanded radio dramatization of the original Star Wars trilogy was produced in 1981, 1983, and 1996. The first two radio series, based on Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back, were produced and broadcast by National Public Radio (NPR) as part of NPR Playhouse. A dramatization of Return of the Jedi was produced by most of the same team and also broadcast on NPR.

The radio serials were made with the full cooperation of George Lucas, who, in exchange for a dollar each, sold the rights to KUSC-FM, the public radio affiliate at his alma mater, the University of Southern California (USC). Lucas also permitted the use of original sound effects and music from the films.

Suspense (radio drama)

Suspense is a radio drama series broadcast on CBS Radio from 1942 through 1962.

The Day of the Triffids

The Day of the Triffids is a 1951 post-apocalyptic novel by the English science fiction author John Wyndham. After most people in the world are blinded by an apparent meteor shower, an aggressive species of plant starts killing people. Although Wyndham had already published other novels using other pen name combinations drawn from his real name, this was the first novel published as "John Wyndham". It established him as an important writer and remains his best-known novel.

The story has been made into the 1962 feature film of the same name, three radio drama series (in 1957, 1968 and 2008), and two TV series (in 1981 and 2009). It was nominated for the International Fantasy Award in 1952, and in 2003 the novel was listed on the BBC's survey The Big Read.

The Shadow

The Shadow is the name of a collection of serialized dramas, originally in 1930s pulp novels, and then in a wide variety of Shadow media. One of the most famous adventure heroes of 20th century North America, the Shadow has been featured on the radio, in a long-running pulp magazine series, in American comic books, comic strips, television, serials, video games, and at least five feature films. The radio drama included episodes voiced by Orson Welles.

Originally a mysterious radio show narrator, The Shadow was developed into a distinctive literary character in 1931, later to become a pop culture icon, by writer Walter B. Gibson. The character has been cited as a major influence on the subsequent evolution of comic book superheroes, particularly Batman.The Shadow debuted on July 31, 1930, as the mysterious narrator of the radio program Detective Story Hour, which was developed to boost sales of Street and Smith's monthly pulp Detective Story Magazine. When listeners of the program began asking at newsstands for copies of "That Shadow detective magazine", Street & Smith decided to create a magazine based on The Shadow and hired Gibson to create a character concept to fit the name and voice and write a story featuring him. The first issue of The Shadow Magazine went on sale on April 1, 1931, a pulp series.

On September 26, 1937, The Shadow radio drama, a new radio series based on the character as created by Gibson for the pulp magazine, premiered with the story "The Death House Rescue", in which The Shadow was characterized as having "the power to cloud men's minds so they cannot see him". As in the magazine stories, The Shadow was not given the literal ability to become invisible.

The introduction from The Shadow radio program "Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!", spoken by actor Frank Readick Jr, has earned a place in the American idiom. These words were accompanied by an ominous laugh and a musical theme, Camille Saint-Saëns' Le Rouet d'Omphale ("Omphale's Spinning Wheel", composed in 1872). At the end of each episode The Shadow reminded listeners that, "The weed of crime bears bitter fruit! Crime does not pay... The Shadow knows!" (Some early episodes, however, used the alternate statement, "As you sow evil, so shall you reap evil! Crime does not pay... The Shadow knows!")

The War of the Worlds (radio drama)

"The War of the Worlds" is an episode of the American radio drama anthology series The Mercury Theatre on the Air directed and narrated by actor and future filmmaker Orson Welles as an adaptation of H. G. Wells's novel The War of the Worlds (1898). It was performed and broadcast live as a Halloween episode at 8 p.m. on Sunday, October 30, 1938 over the Columbia Broadcasting System radio network. The episode became famous for causing panic among its listening audience, though the scale of that panic is disputed, as the program had relatively few listeners.The one-hour program began with the theme music for the Mercury Theatre on the Air and an announcement that the evening's show was an adaption of The War of the Worlds. Orson Welles then read a prologue which was closely based on the opening of H.G. Wells' novel but modified to place the story's setting in 1939. The next half hour of the broadcast was presented as typical evening of radio programming being interrupted by a series of news bulletins. The first few bulletins cut into a program of dance music and describe a series of odd explosions observed on Mars. This is followed by a seemingly unrelated report of an unusual object falling on a farm in Grover's Mill, New Jersey. Another brief musical interlude is interrupted by a live report from Grover's Mill, where police officials and a crowd of curious onlookers have surrounded the strange cylindrical object which has fallen from the sky. The situation quickly escalates when Martians emerge from the cylinder and attack using a heat-ray, abruptly cutting off the shouting of the panicked reporter at the scene. This is followed by a rapid series of increasingly alarming news updates detailing a devastating alien invasion taking place around the world and the futile efforts of the U.S. military to stop it. The first portion of the show climaxes with another live report describing giant Martian war machines releasing clouds of poisonous smoke across New York City, after which the program took its first break. During the second half of the show, the style shifts to a more conventional radio drama format and follows a survivor dealing with the aftermath of the invasion and the ongoing Martian occupation of Earth. As in the original novel, the story ends with the discovery that the Martians have been defeated by microbes rather than by humans.

The program has become famous for supposedly tricking some of its listeners into believing that a Martian invasion was actually taking place. The illusion of realism was furthered because the Mercury Theatre on the Air was a sustaining show without commercial interruptions, and the first break in the program came almost 30 minutes after the introduction. Popular legend holds that some of the radio audience may have been listening to The Chase and Sanborn Hour with Edgar Bergen and tuned in to "The War of the Worlds" during a musical interlude, thereby missing the clear introduction that the show was a drama; however, contemporary research suggests that this happened only in rare instances.In the days after the adaptation, widespread outrage was expressed in the media. The program's news-bulletin format was described as deceptive by some newspapers and public figures, leading to an outcry against the broadcasters and calls for regulation by the Federal Communications Commission. Nevertheless, the episode secured Welles's fame as a dramatist.

The Yellow Iris (radio drama)

The Yellow Iris is a radio play written by Agatha Christie and broadcast on the BBC National Programme on Tuesday 2 November 1937 at 8.00pm. The one-hour program was broadcast again two days later, this time on the BBC Regional Programme at 9.00pm.

The script was based on the short story, Yellow Iris, which had been published in issue 559 of the Strand Magazine in July of the same year. The main part of the story takes place in a London restaurant and the play was unusual in that the producer, Douglas Moodie, interspersed the action with the performances of the cabaret artistes who were supposedly on the bill at the restaurant.

The cabaret artistes were compered by Cyril Fletcher, later famous for his appearances on the television consumer programme That's Life!. The artistes were Hugh French, the singer Janet Lind, "The Three Admirals" vocal group and Inga Anderson.

The lyrics to the songs featured were written by Christopher Hassall while the music was composed by Michael Sayer and arranged by Jack Beaver and played by his orchestra (Beaver is better known as the soundtrack composer to several of Alfred Hitchcock's 1930 films).

Poirot was played by Anthony Holles and The Yellow Iris marked the debut of the character on radio (he had already been portrayed on stage, film and television).

This unusual experiment was not deemed a success by some of the critics. Joyce Grenfell reviewed the play in The Observer's edition of 7 November 1937 when she said, "I had hoped to say such nice things about Agatha Christie's Yellow Iris" but found that Holles was, "the only happy thing in the broadcast". Overall she said that, "The play itself turned out to be a ten-minute sketch padded with cabaret and dance music, and made to spread over forty minutes. When the sketch was playing my interest was sustained. But the sequences were so brief and the intervening music – though good in its proper place – so prolonged that my attention wandered. Much better to have treated the piece as the short sketch it really was."The Guardian's unnamed radio critic reviewed the first performance of the play in the edition of 3 November 1937 when he said, "Since the play took place in a cabaret and the cabaret was given a full and overflowing part with lyrics and music, and more lyrics and more music, it must be confessed that there was not much of a detective thrill left. Poirot had a nice French accent; but the course of the plot was much entangled with music and so was most of the conversation; whenever things got going they were held up for a while, and altogether this musical version of The Yellow Iris lacked the clarity which distinguishes Agatha Christie's writing in her books. Let the drama department as a general rule keep crime and cabaret apart; the mixture is apt to curdle."Cast:Anthony Holles as Hercule PoirotSydney Keith as Barton RussellEvelyn Neilson as Pauline WeatherbyDino Galvani as Luigi, Maitre d'HotelFrank Drew as Anthony ChappellMartita Hunt as Senora Lola ValdezPeter Scott as Stephen CarterAudrey Cameron as The Cloak Room AttendantBernard Jukes as The Waiter

The script of the play remains unpublished. The short story on which it is based was first published in book form in the US in The Regatta Mystery and Other Short Stories in July 1939 and in the UK in Problem at Pollensa Bay and Other Stories in 1991. It was adapted for television by Anthony Horowitz and directed by Peter Barber-Fleming as part of the ITV series Agatha Christie's Poirot in 1993, starring David Suchet. The short story was later expanded by Christie into the 1945 full-length novel Sparkling Cyanide.

Voice acting in Japan

Voice acting in Japan is acting as a narrator or as an actor in radio plays or as a character actor in anime and video games. It also involves performing voice-overs for non-Japanese movies and television programs. Because Japan's large animation industry produces 60% of the animated series in the world, voice acting in Japan has a far greater prominence than voice acting in most other countries.

Some voice actors—especially certain voice actresses—often have devoted international fan-clubs. Some fans may watch a show merely to hear a particular voice actor. Some Japanese voice actors have capitalized on their fame to become singers and many others have become live movie or television actors.

There are around 130 voice acting schools in Japan. Broadcast companies and talent agencies often have its own troupes of vocal actors. Magazines focusing specifically on voice acting are published in Japan, with Voice Animage being the longest running.

The term character voice (abbreviated CV), has been commonly used since the 1980s by such Japanese anime magazines as Animec and Newtype to describe a voice actor associated with a particular anime or game character.

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