Old Time Radio Review

Review By George Fleeton The OTR (Old Time Radio) Mystery Plays could be picked up in Maginn’s of Castlewellan on March 22 but very few people tuned in. This was the third of four Liquid Lunches offered by Down Arts Centre at one of its satellite venues and the re-imagining of the old CBS Suspense programmes of the 1940s – when the wireless was  broadcasting’s king (and television was still a pup)  – deserved a wider audience. [caption id="attachment_22073" align="alignleft" width="271" caption="An old wireless where many families may have huddled round listening. "][/caption] The 1943 piece with Agnes Moorehead (one of the original Mercury Players, and unforgettable in The Magnificent Ambersons and in Rebecca), about a lonely woman intercepting a wrong number, needed some deft editing, more sound effects and less than nine actors on the stage. The second piece, much more effective, featured Joseph Cotten, the actor from Citizen Kane and Duel in the Sun. This was Rear Window for radio buffs (1946) as he unravels the mystery of the thing in the window across the street. Talk radio is intensely script dependent, and this performance underlined that but without quite succeeding in recreating the feel and texture of the radio studios of the time, in spite of the thoughtfully designed dress, hairstyles, accents, and props and some smashing jingly ‘words from our sponsor’ in between. But surely the real mystery with radio was, and still is, we don’t have a seat at the production in the studio, there is no visual access, and our imagination has to kick in to complete the circuit of contact between performance and audience. Down Community Radio’s licence to broadcast was renewed recently by OFCOM, the Office of Communications, with leave to transmit on 105.0fm in and around Downpatrick only, at present. A pilot programme was aired on March 17th. This venture will build slowly as a cadre of new producer/presenters comes on board. For example, Classicsclub is now on air, Sundays 9pm to midnight. The studio is housed in the new SERC campus on Market Street and information is available there at Reception or on 028 4461 5815. Shortly the station will be streamed on the internet and be available worldwide. The tribute to Sam Hanna Bell’s novel December Bride (1951) takes place in Down County Museum on April 06 from 11am to 3pm, an event organised by Downe Independent Promotions. Admission is £10 and includes morning coffee, lunch, a visit to the museum, a screening of the film December Bride (1991) and afternoon tea. Special guests, with connections to both the novel and the film, are expected to attend this half-day seminar. Details from Linda McKenna on 028 4461 5218.]]>