The popularity of audiobooks is booming but many people have yet to rediscover the joy of radio serials which truly bring to life the written word.
Audiobooks rely on a single voice telling a story but with radio serials, you are treated to an ensemble cast of world-class performers who bring the theatre of the air into your lounge room. Fortunately, Grace Gibson Productions in Australia are continuing to restore their vast archive of radio serials and are gradually making these shows available on CD and as digital downloads for listeners in the 21st century.
Fans of enthralling legal drama will want to hear Before the Court, each self-contained episode deals with a different case and transports us from the scene of the alleged crime into the courtroom. We are taken into the minds of the accuser and the accused, and soon find out if the members of the jury are capable of sorting the guilty from the innocent.
Left: There are plenty of legal wrangling’s in Before the Court, Middle: The political satire rolls on in How Green Was My Cactus, Right: The belly laughs keep coming with Life with Dexter Volume 6.
There are laughs aplenty in the latest release of the political satire How Green Was My Cactus featuring brand new episodes which were broadcast during February of this year. We head to the Plumbers Oscars, have a climate summit, and listen in as Leigh nails Barnaby.
Heading back in time we have a vintage comedy with volume 6 of Life with Dexter starring Willie Fennell as the suburban Aussie battler Dexter Dutton. In these episodes Dexter’s family have Buckley’s Chance of convincing him to take them on a world cruise, the Dutton youngsters catch the acting bug when a famous Broadway actress comes to stay, and the family are determined to talk Dexter into buying a television set. Dexter begins to fear that another man is after his wife Jessie, and he starts work on a detective novel with hilarious results.
The cast of Life with Dexter in 1953. From left are Kevin Brennan, Ray Hartley, Pat Martin, Harp McGuire, Margaret ‘Peg’ Christensen, producer Harry Harper, Willie Fennell and Amber Mae Cecil.
In another exciting development several Grace Gibson collections which have previously been issued on CD are now available to enjoy on USB flash drives meaning that you can continue to enjoy your favourite shows in your car or on your laptop even if you no longer have access to a CD player.
You can revisit all 910 episodes of the radio soap The Castlereagh Line on one bumper USB drive. The serial follows the adventures of the folk who run a stagecoach line in rural New South Wales during the 1880s. We meet a ruthless drunkard called Jack Seager (Ric Hutton) and the downtrodden Lottie Long (Wynne Nelson) who is desperate to escape his evil clutches. The characters are soon involved in murder, rape, arson, robbery and dirty business dealings. If you’ve enjoyed the television soapies which have come out of Australia I can guarantee that you’ll enjoy The Castlereagh Line just as much.
Left: All 910 episodes of the radio soap The Castlereagh Line are now available on one bumper USB drive. Right: Wynne Nelson stars as the long-suffering Lottie Long in The Castlereagh Line.
Also available on the USB drive are all of the surviving episodes of the rollicking schoolroom farce Yes What?, episodes of the political satire How Green Was My Cactus, and the entire series of The Adventures of Major Gregory Keen in which the MI5 agent pursues enemy spies and criminals to the ends of the earth. Although the classic Grace Gibson soap opera Portia Faces Life hasn’t been released, Portia’s fans haven’t been forgotten. There were four spin-off series which followed the exploits of this crusading female lawyer and all of these standalone adventures are now available on one epic USB drive which has been called The Portia Manning Series.
Catherine Gaskin was a hugely successful novelist and The Catherine Gaskin USB Collection features three Grace Gibson radio serials which were adapted from her books. Sara Dane stars Margo Lee as a female convict who is transported to Australia and ends up as a powerful figure in the colony. Romance is on the cards in I Know My Love which transports us to the heady days of the Ballarat Gold Rush, and in The Tilsit Inheritance a young heiress comes up against the wrath of her domineering aunt.
Left: All of the surviving editions of Yes, What? are now on USB drive. Next: All of Major Gregory Keen’s thrilling adventures are now on USB drive. Catch him in Dossier on Dumetrius, Deadly Nightshade, Twenty Six Hours, Two Roads To Samarra, and The Smell of Terror. Then: Portia Manning fans can now revisit her adventures The Haverlock Affair, Partners in Jeopardy, The Silent Witness and The Seed of Evil on USB drive. Right: The Catherine Gaskin Collection features three radio serials on USB drive which were adapted from her best-selling novels.
All of these USB drives are available to listeners worldwide but those of you who are located in Australia, New Zealand or the South Pacific can also order the comedy spoofs Chickenman and The Secret Adventures of the Tooth Fairy on USB.
Incidentally, Bruce Ferrier, who now owns Grace Gibson Productions, was the voice of the Seven Television Network in Australia from the mid-1980s until the mid-1990s. During his time working at Channel 7 he voiced on-air promotions for all of the top rating shows including A Country Practice, Home & Away and the sitcom Hey Dad. In fact, those of you who are based in the UK can head over to Amazon Prime Video who are now repeating the first 400 episodes of Home & Away, and at the end of quite a few of those episodes, you’ll hear Bruce announcing what’s in store for the next instalment.
Bruce Ferrier, formerly the Voice of Seven, now runs Grace Gibson Productions. UK based Home & Away fans can hear him on Amazon Prime Video
A plethora of classic Grace Gibson radio serials are now available to listeners worldwide on CD, USB drive and as digital downloads. As I say, if you enjoy audiobooks, you’ll love radio serials even more.