FEAR ON FOUR
BBC Radio 4, 31 December 1992 .
Tales of the Bizarre
Brian Sibley(dramatist) and Martin Jenkins (director) subsequently teamed up with Hamish Wilson (director) and Catherine Czerkawska (dramatist) to create the BBC Radio 4 series Tales of the Bizarre.
Information on this series is...coming soon!
Fear on Four was a half-hour horror and suspense anthology, hosted by "the Man in Black" - a character originally used in the BBC's 1950s series Appointment with Fear. For a history of this mysterious host, see this site and episode guide.
The Bradbury Episode
Fear on Four producer Martin Jenkins asked the writer Brian Sibley if he had any ideas for stories for the series. At the time, Sibley didn't have any suitable ideas of his own, but he had recently seen a picture book entitled The Mummies of Guanajuato, which contained Ray Bradbury's story "The Next in Line" illustrated with photographs by Archie Lieberman. Sibley thought this chilling Mexican tale - about a man with a curious fascination with mummies - would make an excelent entry in the series, and offered to adapt it for Jenkins.
Sibley's dramatisation is quite straightforwardly faithful to Bradbury's original story, with the exception of the ending, which he found it necessary to adjust. Whereas Bradbury's story ends with a visual image, Sibley had to find a dialogue-based method of concluding it.
Sibley says he wanted to capture the intensity of "the incredibly neurotic woman"at the heart of Bradbury's story. He took part of his inspiration from a recording of Agnes Moorhead in Louise Fletcher's "Sorry, Wrong Number", an episode of Suspense first broadcast in May 1943, and subsequently filmed. The Moorehead recording is available here; to read more about the film and story, click here.
Brian Sibley is a broadcaster and writer, known for his classic BBC Radio 4 dramatisation of Lord of the Rings, for his Disney documentaries, and all sorts of other things. He has his own website, and is an unstoppable blogger.
The success of "The Next in Line" prompted Martin Jenkins and Brian Sibley to create Ray Bradbury's Tales of the Bizarre, an antholgoy series hosted by Bradbury himself, and broadcast on BBC Radio 4 from 1995-97.
[Source: Brian Sibley; photo of mummy: http://www.masters.me.uk/PhotoTravelogue/Mexico.htm]