It’s Hammer Time!: The Man In Black (1949)

Although it might not seem like it these days, BBC Radio was once a haven for horror. Back between 1943 and 1955, ‘The Man in Black’ introduced a series of horror tales to scare the nation, first in Appointment With Fear and then in his own show The Man In Black. Comprising plays originally written for American radio by John Dickson Carr, as well as adaptations of stories by the likes of Robert Louis Stevenson and Edgar Allan Poe, the show ran for ten series in all, four on the Home Service, the rest on the Light Programme, with the Man In Black being played for nine of them by Valentine Dyall, the part being taken his the second series by his father Franklin Dyall when he was unavailable. Who’s Valentine Dyall? Well, if you’re a Doctor Who fan, you’ll know who Valentine Dyall was:

In the late 40s, Hammer was looking for radio properties to turn into movies and The Man in Black seemed a shoo-in. Starring Sid James, Anthony Forwood, Sheila Burrell, Hazel Penwarden, Betty Ann Davies and, of course, Valentine Dyall, the film sees a step-daughter return home following the death of her father, only to discover that someone is trying to drive her insane…

Here’s the whole movie for you to enjoy, and it’s introduced by Robert JE Simpson:

The Man in Black took an extended leave after the end of the radio series, but Radio 4 resurrected him in 1988 for Fear On Four, with Edward de Souza taking on the role. In 2009, Mark Gatiss took over for a series of BBC7 radio plays. The De Souza episodes are all on YouTube so turn the lights down and make an appointment with fear…


  • Natalia Romanova

    The Gloria Steinem of the jumpsuit set. Russian ballerina-assassin. Redheaded Scarlett Johansson look-alike (yes, really. No, I won't send you photos). TMINE's publisher and Official Movie Reviewer in Residence. I've written for numerous magazines, including Death Ray and Filmstar, and I've been a contributor to TMINE since I was at university and first discovered I really wanted to write about movies, oh so many years ago. Sob.