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Original A Case for Dr. Morelle header art

The A Case for Dr. Morelle Radio Program

Dee-Scription: Home >> D D Too Home >> Radio Logs >> A Case for Dr. Morelle
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Dr. Morelle: The Case of The Missing Heiress from 1949
Dr. Morelle: The Case of The Missing Heiress from 1949

A Case for Dr. Morelle publicity photo wth Cecil Parker and Sheila Sim circa 1957
A Case for Dr. Morelle publicity photo wth Cecil Parker and Sheila Sim circa 1957

Background

"Monday Night At 8" was a popular series developed by Harry Pepper and Ronnie Waldman and broadcast over the BBC during World War II and eventually airing for eight seasons. During the third season of Monday Night At 8, Ernest Dudley, an actor and writer, introduced his aloof, imperious criminologist, Dr. Morelle to the worldwide audience of the BBC. The Monday Night At 8 segments featuring Dudley's character were called "Meet Dr. Morelle", starring Dennis Arundell as Dr. Morelle and Morelle's assistant, Miss Frayle, was portrayed by Jane Grahame. Jane Grahame was also the wife of Ernest Dudley. Arundell and Grahame continued in the recurring roles between 1942 and 1946.

During the 1947-1948 season appearances of Meet Dr. Morelle, Morelle was portrayed by Heron Carvic. Ernest Dudley went on to write five novels centered around his 'detective you love to hate,' and teamed with Arthur Watkyn to write a stage play, Dr. Morelle based on the character. Dudley reportedly conceived the character of Dr. Morelle while sitting in the coal cellar of his Bristol flat during Luftwaffe raids during the 1940s. He fully intended his character and his stories to have a light-hearted, humorous flavor.

Dr. Morelle reappears as a BBC Light Programme feature

Fast forward to 1957 and Dudley's admittedly irritating sleuth was reintroduced in a thirteen-week comedy-detective drama, A Case for Dr. Morelle, featuring successful Film actor Cecil Parker as Dr. Morelle and Sheila Sim as Miss Frayle. Cecil Parker was a truly inspired choice, having portrayed several Film characters with many of Dr. Morelle's irritating traits and studied aloofness.

The programme was an instant hit in a perfect mating of actor to material. Dr. Morelle is reintroduced in the premiere episode by way of a chance meeting with his 'former' assistant Miss Frayle. Somewhat reminiscent of how Agatha Christie's character, Hercule Poirot, first met his Miss Lemon, Miss Frayle comes to Dr. Morelle hoping to enlist his interest in the problem of an acquaintance of hers. Dr. Morelle, as it transpires, is at loose ends having just lost his assistant of some years and spends as much in the first episode solving a murder as trying to woo Miss Frayle back as his assistant.

The premiere episode, Alarm Call, also gives Cecil Parker an opportunity to establish his characterization of Dr. Morelle. Parker, a gifted international character actor, was as at ease playing straight dramatic roles as light comedy and his light comedy background suits the characterization of Dr. Morelle to a tee.

The format of the series follows the 'teaser' fashion by then popularized for some years over both Radio and Television, with a compelling preview portion of the script, followed by the theme music and announcement of the episode's title. Dr. Morelle is referred to as a Harley Street Doctor of Psychiatry, specializing in criminal psychology. Dr. Morelle is also possessed of an unshakeable confidence in his opinions, conclusions and psychological impressions of virtually everyone he meets. But he's not without eccentricities. By his own admission he's, for example, afraid of ascending stairs--a self-described throwback to his childhood.

Series Derivatives:

Australian Syndication; New Zealand Syndication; Meet Dr. Morelle
Genre: Anthology of Golden Age BBC Radio Detective Dramas
Network(s): BBC Light Programme; ABC's 3L0 [Melbourne], 1YA, 2YA, 3YA and 4YA
Audition Date(s) and Title(s): None
Premiere Date(s) and Title(s): 57-04-23 01 Alarm Call
Run Dates(s)/ Time(s): 57-04-23 to 57-07-16; BBC Light Programme and ABC [3L0, 1YA, 2YA, 3YA and 4YA]; Thirteen, 30-minute programs;
Syndication: The BBC
Sponsors: Sustaining
Director(s): Leslie Bridgemont [Producer]
Principal Actors: Cecil Parker, Sheila Sim, Molly Rankin, Tonya Berne, Kathleen Helm, Sydney Taffler, Hugh Manning, Philip Ray, Mary Law, Maurice Sweeden, Norman Wynn, Betty Minton, Rosalind Knight, Cecile Chevereaux, Annette Kelly, John Sharpley, Moira Lyster, Hugh Burton, Douglas Young, Madeline Christy, Heyden Jones, Humphrey Morton, Beryl Foulter, Ian Sadlow,
Recurring Character(s): Dr. Morelle [Cecil Parker]; Miss Frayle [Sheila Sim]; Inspector Hood [Philip Ray]
Protagonist(s): None
Author(s): Ernest Dudley
Writer(s)
Music Direction:
Musical Theme(s): Unknown
Announcer(s):
Estimated Scripts or
Broadcasts:
13
Episodes in Circulation: 13
Total Episodes in Collection: 13
Provenances:

RadioGOLDINdex, Hickerson Guide. The NZ Listener [March 14 1958], Greg Marshall's Dr. Morelle page, The Radio Times.

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Notes on Provenances:

The most helpful provenances were the log of the radioGOLDINdex and newspaper listings.


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The A Case for Dr. Morelle Program Log

Date Episode Title Avail. Notes
57-04-23
1
Alarm Call
Y
57-04-30
2
Confession of Guilt
Y
57-05-07
3
Threat To Kill
Y
57-05-14
4
The Sleepwalker
Y
57-05-21
5
The Blackmailer
Y
57-05-28
6
Voice in the Night
Y
57-06-04
7
The Will
Y
57-06-11
8
Act of Violence
Y
57-06-18
9
The Black Ruby
Y
57-06-25
10
The Wedding Dress
Y
57-07-02
11
The Gambler
Y
57-07-09
12
Poisoned Air
Y
57-07-16
13
Mr. X
Y






The A Case for Dr. Morelle Radio Program Biographies




Cecil Parker [Cecil Schwabe]
(Dr. Morelle)
Stage, Radio, Television and Film Actor
(1897-1971)

Birthplace:
Brighton, East Sussex, England, U.K.

Education:
Xavier College; Bruges

Military Service:
Served with London Scottish during World War I; decorated Mons Medal

Radiography:
1939 The Circle
1939 Lux Radio Theatre
1957 A Case for Dr. Morelle
Cecil Parker circa 1931
Cecil Parker circa 1931
As popular with British audiences as American audiences, dour, imperious, gritty-voiced Cecil Parker entertained international audiences for over fifty years. Equally at home with 'heavy' roles as light comedy and slapstick roles, Cecil Parker's droll delivery was highly prized as a perfect counterpoint to comedies, mysteries and powerful dramatic presentations alike.

Born in East Sussex, England, Parker undertook his first Stage appearances in 1922 following his World War I service in His Majestie's Scottish Guard and receiving the Mons Medal with his unit. Honing his skills over the next three years of journeyman acting 1925 found him appearing regularly at Stage venues in London's West End.

A succession of supporting roles in early sound Film soon found him a highly sought after character actor in increasingly prominent roles, culminating in a series of hits on both sides of the Atlantic between 1945 and 1955.

Parker is most fondly remembered amoung Radio fans for his role as the quixotic, imperious Dr. Morelle in the BBC Light Programme classic, A Case for Dr. Morelle, one of the era's more perfect marriages of performer to character. Cecil Parker perfectly embodied the character, long after becoming the only actor to remain inexorably associated with Ernest Dudley's fictional sleuth.



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