More Grace Gibson radio gold on CD

Fans of classic Australian radio drama will be delighted to learn that another batch of riveting Grace Gibson serials have been made available on CD.

Pictured: Grace Gibson brought the world into listeners lounge rooms with a diverse range of radio serials covering virtually every genre known to man. Logo: Grace Gibson Productions have been bringing you radio gold for over 70 years, many of their classic serials are now on CD. Copyright IRS Grace Gibson Productions.

Several titles will be of particular interest to any Francophiles out there. All This and Heaven Too is based on real-life events, it was adapted from Rachel Field’s novel and stars Margo Lee and John Ewart. We find ourselves in 19th century France where a shocking scandal brought down a king. The young and innocent Henriette De Luzy has secured employment as a governess to the children of the Duc and Duchesse de Praslin but events will spiral out of control when she falls in love with the Duc. The man’s enraged wife will set in motion a chain of events which will lead to murder, kidnap and imprisonment.

Meanwhile the thriller From Paris with Love revolves around a shady drug smuggling cartel which is bringing drugs into the West from behind the Iron Curtain. These big time hoods are using the glamorous world of the fashion industry as a front for their sinister activities.

Hilary Lawford (Alistair Duncan) finds himself embroiled in this cess pit of intrigue. He has been dumped by his beautiful French fiancée Martine (Wendy Playfair), and later discovers that he has been framed for murder, unfortunately this is just the beginning of his woes! It appears that a conniving couturier called Armand has every intention of bringing him down to his very knees. Other well-known actors cropping up in the action include James Condon who starred in television serials such as Neighbours, The Young Doctors and Sons & Daughters.

Promo: Francophiles will love All This and Heaven Too. Copyright IRS Grace Gibson Productions. Pictured: John Ewart stars in All This and Heaven Too. He appeared on television in The Restless Years, The Young Doctors, and on the big screen in The Picture Show Man.

Staying in France we have Desiree which is a drama of epic historical proportions without the usual dry narrative. We meet Desiree Clay (Amber Mae Cecil), the daughter of a Marseilles silk merchant, who falls in love with Napoleon Bonaparte (Alistair Duncan). The pair become engaged but she is soon jilted in favour of the influential Josephine de Beauharnais who will prove useful to Napoleon’s plans.

Desiree will end up marrying the future King of Sweden (Ron Haddrick), but she will never forget her teenage love and will encounter Napoleon again when he must decide what to do following the Hundred Days War. This 104 episode serial is a true radio classic; it’s a tour de force for Amber Mae Cecil who ages from a teenage girl to a wise but very elderly woman.

Promo Left: From Paris with Love involves the dirty dealings of drug smugglers. Copyright IRS Grace Gibson Productions. Pictured Left: RADA graduate Alistair Duncan stars in From Paris with Love and Desiree. He had played the title role in the iconic radio serial Dr Paul, and also appeared on television in Home & Away. Promo Right: Desiree transports us back to the Napoleonic period. Copyright IRS Grace Gibson Productions. Pictured Right: Amber Mae Cecil stars in Desiree and I, Christopher Macaulay. She enjoyed an extensive radio career appearing in Life with Dexter, Life Can Be Beautiful, Dr Paul, and Blue Hills.

We head across the English Channel next for Coral Lansbury’s adaptation of Becket, which dramatises the relationship between King Henry II and his archbishop Thomas Becket.

Henry (Richard Meikle) was a Norman King ruling over Saxon England, he was a lonely embittered young man who knew that he had many flatterers but no friends. He was envied by all, feared by many and loved by none. Whilst boar hunting one day he would encounter a laughing figure on a black mare, that figure was a Saxon cleric called Thomas Becket (John Unicomb), and a devoted friendship would be formed filled with women and wine. Unfortunately this friendship would ultimately end in tragedy with it culminating in the most infamous and sacrilegious killing in history. This boisterous and highly entertaining presentation of the story also stars Dinah Shearing (from The Sullivans) as Queen Eleanor.

Promo: Becket provides us with a boisterous interpretation of a legendary true life story. Copyright IRS Grace Gibson Productions. Pictured: Richard Meikle will be remembered by television viewers for his roles in Home & Away, The Young Doctors and Sons & Daughters. His fans can now hear him in Becket and I, Christopher Macaulay.

Next up we travel north of the border for The Strange Life of Deacon Brodie which is based on the true life story which inspired Robert Louis Stevenson to write his novel Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

We meet Deacon William Brodie (Bruce Stewart) who led a double life for over 20 years. By day he was a respected member of the community and a deacon of the Council of Edinburgh. But by night he was a totally different character who robbed and murdered, he ran up huge gambling debts and frequented low taverns. When he began trifling with the affections of a common waitress called Jean Watt (Lyndall Barbour) his life would become even further complicated. He was a man living a double life and way beyond his means, when the balloon finally went up his final adventure would be to try and cheat the gallows. Rod Taylor who went on to star in over fifty Hollywood movies can be heard in this serial playing the role of Patterson, this is a must have for all of his fans out there.

Promo: A double life would lead to ruin in The Strange Life of Deacon Brodie. Copyright IRS Grace Gibson Productions. Newspaper Promo: Listeners of 7LA in Launceston were hooked on the outrageous happenings in The Strange Life of Deacon Brodie.

I, Christopher Macaulay transports us from dear old Mother England to Australia. This is a saga of passionate love and violent hatred. Christopher Macaulay is a young cadet who is thrown out of Sandhurst Military Academy after entertaining a young woman called Rose in his quarters. The queer thing is that he can’t recall how the woman ever came to be there.

Christopher’s fiancée forgives his infidelity, but three days before their wedding he is informed by his best friend Drew that his one night stand is up the duff. Understandably his fiancée calls off the wedding, but shortly afterwards she becomes engaged to Drew.

A confused Christopher has no choice but to accept the situation, he decides to do the right thing by the pregnant Rose and they leave for Australia where he becomes a wealthy grazier and a force to be reckoned with in the political arena. Meanwhile Drew and his family have also settled in Australia, but old wounds will soon be re-opened when Christopher realises that he has been done down by those he trusted. He will come to learn that revenge can leave a very sour taste indeed. The cast includes Richard Meikle in the title role, James Condon, Amber Mae Cecil, Max Osbiston, and Lew Luton who appeared in ATV’s ‘soap opera’ Crossroads.

There are plenty of epic Australian stories available from the Grace Gibson website. Sara Dane is a classic colonial saga adapted from the novel by Catherine Gaskin, a book which sold over 40 million copies worldwide during her lifetime. We meet Sara Dane (Margo Lee) who is sentenced to be transported for life after being found guilty of a trumped-up charge. Sara is an unconventional woman who faces a remarkable struggle against overwhelming odds in the penal colony of New South Wales. She is determined to meet the demands of this untamed land, to find a place for herself in colonial society and will endure convict outbreaks, armed rebellion, hostile natives and terrifying floods. This strong lady has one Achilles heel, the man she has loved since childhood, and who will not yield to her advances. The cast includes Anne Haddy (from Neighbours), Max Meldrum, and Owen Weingott.

Promo Left: I, Christopher Macaulay teaches us that revenge isn’t always a dish best served cold. Copyright IRS Grace Gibson Productions. Pictured Left: Lew Luton appeared on British television in Crossroads and Compact, he can now be heard in I, Christopher Macaulay. Promo Right: Sara Dane transports the listener to the penal colony of New South Wales. Copyright IRS Grace Gibson Productions. Pictured Right: The award winning radio star Margo Lee can be heard in Sara Dane and All This and Heaven Too. She also appeared in the movie Starstruck, and on television in The Young Doctors and Class of ‘74.

Anne Haddy also appears in I Know My Love which was adapted from another novel by Catherine Gaskin. This adventure transports us back to the heady days of colonial Melbourne and the boisterous era of the Ballarat Gold Rush during the 1850s.

Young Emma finds herself in a real pickle, her invalid father has taken the whole family from England to Australia to make their fortune but he is in no state to work, and she must find a way to make ends meet. She is a girl with a dark secret and finds herself stranded on the road to Ballarat where she is picked up by the wealthy and successful Maguire family who are on their way to the goldfields.

When a handsome young adventurer called Adam Langley appears, the practical Emma and the beautiful Rose Maguire will compete for his affections. A bitter struggle ensues, both girls will marry a Langley, but this is just the beginning of the story. Others in the cast include James Condon, John Unicomb and Wendy Playfair.

The Far Country, adapted from the celebrated novel by Nevil Shute involves a young English girl called Jennifer Morton who is visiting relatives in Victoria. She will fall for the charms of a New Australian, a Czech man called Carl who is working as a labourer in a lumber camp as a condition of his free passage.

Carl is actually a doctor but does not hold a licence to work in the medical profession in Australia. He is only permitted to carry out basic first aid but when tragedy strikes he feels compelled to perform emergency surgery on several of his workmates, one patient dies and the police are called in. Is this the end of the line for Carl?

Things go from bad to worse when Jennifer is called back to England, despite the tyranny of distance it appears that this is a love affair which refuses to die. Incidentally this serial was adapted for radio by Peter Yeldham who would spend almost twenty years working for British television. He created the daytime serial Harriet’s Back in Town for Thames Television, and wrote for ATV/ITC productions including Emergency – Ward 10, Probation Officer, and The Adventures of Robin Hood.

Pictured: Anne Haddy played Helen Daniels in Neighbours and also appeared in Sons & Daughters but years before she had been a very successful radio actress. You can now hear her in Sara Dane and I Know My Love. Promo top: I Know My Love involves romance and treachery on the Ballarat goldfields. Promo bottom: The Far Country is a gripping saga about a woman’s love for a New Australian. Copyright IRS Grace Gibson Productions.

This Time Forever is a 208 episode mega saga which takes us to the expansive wool farming property owned by the Windon family. 20 year old Kitty (Dinah Shearing) will one day inherit this lucrative estate but the status quo will be thrown into turmoil when she becomes infatuated with a penniless itinerant worker. The object of her affections is a New Australian labourer called Bruno (Owen Weingott), but her mother certainly doesn’t want a foreigner in the family, she has a more suitable beau in mind for her daughter. This is a cracking story of clashes between families, neighbours and cultures. To make matters more complicated it appears that death follows in Bruno’s path. The cast includes Ruth Cracknell, Ben Gabriel, Fifi Banvard, Lola Brookes, Walter Sullivan, Alan Tobin and Jane Coglan.

If you enjoy reading biographies then a couple of factual releases from the Grace Gibson archives will be just your cup of tea. Each episode of Exciting Lives relates the story of a different historical life through a combination of narration and dramatised segments. We learn of the famous, the infamous, the obscure and even the renegade living. The broad canvas of lives featured included Al Capone, Genghis Khan, Jack London and Wyatt Earp.

Grace Gibson had been on a visit to the USA during the 1960s when she heard The Passing Parade on radio. Announcer John Doremus would hold listeners spellbound with real-life tales of the events and people that have shaped our world. Some of the stories were well known, others were more obscure, but all were enthralling thanks to John’s campfire yarn style of delivery. Grace was so impressed that she acquired the Australasian distribution rights.

Promo left: Passions run high when a penniless New Australian blows into the district in This Time Forever. Copyright IRS Grace Gibson Productions. Pictured right: Owen Weingott stars in Sara Dane and This Time Forever. Television viewers will remember him from Autumn Affair, The Box, Phoenix Five and Home & Away. Promo right: Three CD volumes of Exciting Lives are now available. Copyright IRS Grace Gibson productions.

Unfortunately the programme had been a flop in America and was axed after 130 episodes but Grace had already pre-sold 260 episodes to 2GB in Sydney. The programme was a runaway hit in Australia and orders were flooding in from stations across the continent. Not to be deterred, she commissioned local Australian writers to work on new scripts; these were sent to the USA where John would record them and send them back. The programme continued to be a hit, 1350 episodes written in Australia were produced covering people and events as diverse as Sir Joseph Banks, Nevil Shute, Pitt the Younger, Jack the Ripper, and the Manchester United Plane Crash.

If you like to end your day with a spooky tale then you might like to know that the first CD volume of The Uninvited is now available. Adapted from the original American scripts for Australian audiences, this series gave many listeners sleepless nights when it hit the airwaves and also put the wind up a loyal band of devoted fans in South Africa. We hear of strange nocturnal happenings, supernatural occurrences and are presented with the return of the long dead. This serial will bring you those fearful sounds from the dead of night, the shuffling steps of a ghostly figure, and the eerie voice of the uninvited. This is certainly not one for the faint hearted, but is essential listening for those who are fascinated by ghosts, horror and the occult.

All of these classic radio serials and a host of others can be ordered by listeners worldwide exclusively from the Grace Gibson Productions website.

Left: Sixteen volumes of The Passing Parade have been released telling tales of the people and events that have shaped our world. Right: Sinister spirits are lurking in the shadows in The Uninvited. Copyright IRS Grace Gibson Productions.