Morelle (1947-8) [No
Morelle was revived again in a series of 13 half hour adventures Produced
by Leslie Bridgmont.
A Case for Dr Morelle (1957) [There are surviving episodes for this series]
Cecil Parker & Sheila Sim
Gifford's book "The
Golden Age of Radio". and BBC Radio 4 documentary
Radio Detectives - A Case for Dr Morelle"
& pictures scanned by Greg Marshall. 13
corrections or additions??
An article transcribed from Page 3 of the NZ Listener (March 14 1958).
right Dr. Morelle."
"I make a practice of it, Miss Frayle."
Sheila Sim & Cecil Parker
That eminent criminologist, Dr. Morelle, has just solved another crime and incidentally administered a crushing rebuke to his pretty secretary Miss Frayle. This is his usual reaction to his somewhat scatterbrained amanuensis, but it does not seem to have put the smallest dent in her devotion to the psychiatrist whose infallibility is the despair of criminals and the delight of his friend Inspector Hood of Scotland Yard. Listeners of A Case for Dr. Morelle, a new series of 30 minute mysteries which begins next week will discover him complacently noting how criminals always behave exactly in accordance with his theories on criminal psychology.
Dr. Morelle has had some time to form these theories, having started his career as a sleuth in the early years of the war. "He was dreamed up in a coal cellar in Bristol, said his creator Ernest Dudley. It was 1940, and the coal cellar underneath my flat provided a comforting place during the Luftwaffe’s attacks on Bristol, where I was with the BBC Variety Department. I wrote the original series called Meet Dr. Morelle for Harry Pepper and Ronnie Waldman’s famous show, Monday Night at Eight. I was briefed to get right away from the Scotland Yard detective idea; and also to provide a comedy role in the series for Jane Grahame, who had made a success in several radio shows. Since Miss Grahame was in private life my wife, I was quite happy about this."
He felt less happy about the other part of the assignment, since thinking up a new detective was a real headache. He already knew the foreign sleuths - Europeans like Inspector Hanaud and Hercule Poirot and Orientals like Charlie Chan and Mr Moto, and the English investigators already ranged from the peerage to their retired nannies: Lord Peter Wimsey to Miss Silver.
"The character of Dr. Morelle," said Mr Dudley, "was finally evolved from my memories of the silent film star Erich von Stroheim - who incidentally nearly played the part years later in a film version - and whom Hollywood used to bill as "The Man You Love to Hate." In order to point up the self-opinionated biting sarcasm of Dr Morelle (I first named him Dr Corelli, only Ronnie Waldman was afraid he might be confused with the famous authoress) I gave him as a foil a pretty feather brained secretary, Miss Frayle.
"And so, seventeen years ago Dr Morelle was let loose on millions of unsuspecting listeners, the first fictional character, I think, whom people hated so much they simply had to tune in and listen to him."
In the original show Dr Morelle was played by Dennis Arundell, who had just scored a triumph as the murderously overbearing husband in the stage play Gaslight. In the film version Dr Morelle was played by Valentine Dyall of the silky sinister voice. Now in the latest series Cecil Parker plays Dr Morelle, and Sheila Sim is Miss Frayle, while such well known people as Moira Lister, Lana Morris, Molly Rankin, Ralph Truman, Norman Wooland, and Fred Yule [also pictured are Hugh Burden and Sydney Tafler] take part in the various cases investigated by Dr Morelle.
Cecil Parker’s role in British comedy will be familiar to most listeners. His drooping eye and petulant expression coupled with a smile have made him a natural for the pompous but well-meaning superior who almost invariably has to admit defeat, and even his incursions into crime, as one of the Ladykillers or the usurping king in The Court Jester, were duly punished. When even his wife couldn’t get away with it, on the good yacht Turtle, Cecil Parker must have thought happily of Dr Morelle’s cloak of infallibility.
Perhaps it is time, or perhaps Mr Parker, or Dr Morelle has mellowed a little since he first began his practice at 221B Harley St. He certainly seems less deliberately offensive, although still completely without consideration for other people’s feelings - in particular the feelings of Miss Frayle, who nurses a secret affection for the doctor. When the new series begins, Miss Frayle has left him and his new secretary, her "umpteenth successor," is walking out, indignant at being expected to work morning to midnight every day. Fortunately Miss Frayle, like the criminals Dr Morelle studies, is under a compulsion to return to the scene of the crime. Her excuse is a murder in the hotel where she is working, and she is soon happily helping Dr Morelle as he disguises the truth to unmask a criminal.
Next Week listeners to A Case for Dr Morelle from the YAs can join in the search for the answer, confident that Dr Morelle will always have seen it first.
(2YA, March 18, 3YA, 4YA, March 20, 1YA, March 21.)
by email@example.com [Aug
for any corrections.