. .. and now, it's time to scare you half to death.
October 27, 2012 7:50 AM   Subscribe

Nightfall was a popular and controversial horror and sci-fi series that aired on CBC Radio between 1980 and 1983.

Producer and poet Bill Howell had recently wrapped up cult favorite "Johnny Chase, Secret Agent of Space" when he approached newly-hired Radio Drama head Susan Douglas Rubes with the concept for a program to push the staid boundaries of Canadian radio.

They pushed: episodes featured the sound of a man tearing out his heart and a graphic aural portrait of a serial child murderer. The gore - and genuinely frightening episodes like "The Porch Light" - resulted in hundreds of complaints during the show's 100-episode run, with some affiliate stations dropping it as a result.

In addition to many original productions, Nightfall included adaptions of stories by Robert Aickman* and other important but neglected writers. Some highlights:

Safely in the Arms of Jesus
Angel of Death
Baby Doll
Brides of Olivera
The Body Snatchers
Child's Play

Sources for episodes: My Old Radio, archive.org, Nightfall Project

Wikipedia has an episode list and production details.

* Recommended enthusiastically on the Blue recently.
posted by ryanshepard (18 comments total) 118 users marked this as a favorite
[this is awesome]
posted by fleetmouse at 7:59 AM on October 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

This sounds absolutely terrific.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 8:10 AM on October 27, 2012

I had no idea this sort of thing existed.
posted by Mezentian at 8:13 AM on October 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

posted by Sticherbeast at 8:32 AM on October 27, 2012

hundreds of complaints during the show's 100-episode run, with some affiliate stations dropping it as a result.

For better or worse, when I read this sentence, listening to this show goes to the top of the mental to-do list.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:37 AM on October 27, 2012 [7 favorites]

Never heard of this, sounds terrific!
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:55 AM on October 27, 2012

All these Robert Aickman posts are making really wish I had an extra $50 to drop on a collection of his work.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 9:12 AM on October 27, 2012

Sweet, thanks! You've just provided me with my commute-listening for the next week or two!
posted by pla at 9:18 AM on October 27, 2012

Wait, "affiliate stations"? I didn't even know the CBC had affiliate stations. But apparently such a thing existed.
posted by bicyclefish at 9:40 AM on October 27, 2012

I've been obsessed with X-Minus one for several years now, and radio dramas in general, but I didn't know this existed. I'm now filling my house with the sound of "The Porch Light". Thanks!
posted by littlerobothead at 9:42 AM on October 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

Does 1983 count as old-time radio?
posted by lkc at 10:50 AM on October 27, 2012

CBC Radio is so cool, one of the things I really miss about living in Canada. Thanks for sharing this.
posted by Doleful Creature at 10:57 AM on October 27, 2012

Thanks so much for posting this. I remember my Grade 8 teacher playing the episode "Where Do We Go from Here?" for my class. What a horrifying plot twist at the end - revealed in the last few lines of dialogue. Rod Serling would've been proud.
posted by New Frontier at 11:13 AM on October 27, 2012

I have listened to X Minus One, all in order.
I listen to old time radio way too much.
I think 1983 counts as old time radio. That's almost 30 years now!
As a kid we used to listen to Doc Savage serials on the radio. Replays. This was sometime around 1983.

I love this post. Thank you.
posted by Seamus at 11:57 AM on October 27, 2012

1983? Old Time?


I haven't even gotten used to James Arness yet.

Conrad IS Dillon.
posted by mule98J at 12:56 PM on October 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

I got to listen to these first-run, thanks to WCBU in Peoria. At the time, Frank Thomas was the station manager, and he was a huge radio drama fan, so Sunday evenings were a mix of old radio from the 30s to the 50s and new productions from the BBC, CBC, NPR playhouse (back before NPR became all news all the time), and independent production houses like ZBS, Seeing Ear, and the National Radio Theater. The Hitchhiker's Guide had just made its way to the US and the Star Wars radio adaptations were a big thing; this was also the time of the Canticle for Leibowitz production. Nightfall ran late in the evening—I think it was around 10, and I would fall asleep listening on my walkman. I remember especially All-Nighter and The Book of Hell, which terrified me. Most of the episodes have been available online as dodgy MP3s for years, but it would be nice to actually buy them. Also, if anyone can find me a copy of Yuri Rasovsky's production of The Dark Tower (the Louis MacNeice play, not that Stephen King shit), please let me know. I actually made contact with Mr. Rasovsky back in the days of Usenet and he said he'd look for a recording for me but then he never did.
posted by Trace McJoy at 3:13 PM on October 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

I just listened to All-nighter...
it was definitely creepy.
posted by quazichimp at 7:15 PM on October 27, 2012

Excellent. Looking forward to listening to these as I drove New England roads alone, at night.

I wonder if the "Devil's Backbone" episode played a role in the film's genesis.
posted by doctornemo at 4:54 PM on October 30, 2012

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