What Noise Productions, November 2011
British horror films of the 1970s seem much in vogue now as subjects
for radio drama. Maybe it's due to their sheer love of excess: blood, guts, violence, Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, and
Ralph Bates. Or maybe it's due to their proximity to another downmarket genre of the period - the British sex film, which
enjoyed a brief period of popularity in the declining years of the studios.
The Devil Take Your Stereo is part of this genre. Narrated by Sir Desmond
Sterling, it is a tale of a descent into an horrific world of devils, bad guys and sheer mayhem. Anthony Keetch's script is
rife with innuendo: although cultivating a facade of being a fine upstanding gentleman, Desmond turns out to be a closet homosexual
(shades of Ronald Allen in the 80s Comic Strip television series based on Enid Blyton's Famous Five novels). Sometimes
it's difficult to identify just how many innuendoes there are in Keech's script: Talbot Rothwell - the long-time writer of
the Carry On series - would have been proud of it.
At the same time the series owes a lot to a lesser-known source: the novels of Dennis
Wheatley. Once a best-selling author fromn the 1930s to the 1960s (my parents' bookshelves were full of copies of his
works in cheap Reprint Society volumes dating from the late Fifties), he is practically forgotten now. He largely wrote thrillers,
many of them with occult themes: The Devil Rides Out (1934) was filmed in 1968 in a style familiar to British horror
films of that period.
Keetch's serial - which can be download complete from What Noise Productions'
website - contains several passages combining satanic themes, an adventure story and innuendo. This heady thematic combination might
perhaps be a little too lengthy for its own good: it does become a little wearing. But it nonetheless represents
a spirited attempt to recreate the work of a long-forgotten popular author.