Philip Odell
First Uploaded 11 February 2001 updated 8 April 2002
Robert Beatty
Lester Powell

corrections or additions??
Robbert Beatty - BBC photo circa 1951
Philip Odell, the Irish detective created by Lester Powell and played by Canadian Robert Beatty debuted on BBC radio in the original radio serial Lady in the Fog during October 1947. He was assisted by Brenda Bruce as Heather McMara, and the producer was Martin C. Webster.  The serial was adapted into a film in 1952 with Cesar Romero as Odell.
Robert Beatty in 1947 Robert Beatty & Kathleen Ryan in a scene from the 1947 film Odd Man Out.    The character returned to radio in June 1948 in The Odd Story of Simon Ode; this time with Joy Shelton as Heather. The 3rd serial Spot the Lady debuted in April 1949. It was followed by the 4th, Love from Leyton Buzzard in April 1950, Heather in both this and the 5th story Lady on the Screen (which began in February 1952) was Joyce Heron.
    A remake of Lady in the Fog commenced in April 1958, and a new story Test Room Eight in December 1958, Heather was played by Sheila Manahan and the producer was David H. Godfrey. The Next Story was Tea on the Island with Diana Olsson as Heather which started in June 1961.

The series was made available to overseas broadcasters by the BBC Transcription Service.
2 small articles from the New Zealand Listener about contemporary broadcasts.
November 23, 1951 Issue.
    Any listener whose heart has missed a beat or two while listening to the adventures of Philip Odell is unlikely to be deterred by that from tuning in to the new Odell thriller from the BBC, The Lady on the Screen, which starts from 4YA this Friday (November 23) at 7:30 p.m. It tells how Odell, on the trail of a silver acorn, is involved in more beatings-up than he'd bargained for, while Heather, his assistant, discovers (to her annoyance) that he also becomes involved with the exotic and temperamental film star, Marchesa. Robert Beatty plays Odell, (for Lester Powell, who writes the Odell stories, finds it hard to think of the two apart), Joyce Heron is Heather and Patricia Laffan is Marchesa.

June 26, 1959 Issue.
Odell and Friend.
Sheila Manahan and Robert BeattyUnlike the common, or master-mind type of private detective, Philip Odell of the BBC's mystery serial Lady in the Fog is often quite frankly out of his depth. Odell is a humanitarian, interested and concerned in people. He has an instinctive understanding of their foibles and motives, and neither condemns nor approves. The opposition is tough, the men and women involved are hard, unprincipled, sophisticated and intelligent. It is small wonder, then, that Lester Powell admits, "Odell makes mistakes in a human way and puzzles out the solution of a problem much as you or I would."
    This may account for this perennial attraction for audiences: there are no hidden clues, no over-ripe red herrings, nothing kept for the denouement. Our picture shows  the detective played by Robert Beatty, together with Heather McMara - a red-head with large eyes "in which a man might lose his bank balance" - trying to give the slip to an unwanted follower in Piccadilly. Nothing unusual about this, you might think, until you learn that Odell's shadow is a man. The red-headed Heather, by the way, is played by Sheila Manahan.
Lady in the Fog: First of eight episodes, ZBs and 1YC, 8:00 p.m., Sunday, July 5, Later from other
commercial stations. Top . Top
Film produced by Hammer/Lippert
`Lady in the Fog' (UK) aka Scotland Yard Inspector (US) (1952) 73 minutes.
 Cesar Romero (Odell), Lois Maxwell (Peggy), Bernadette O'Farrell (Heather), Geoffrey Keen (Hampden), Campbell Singer (Inspector Rigby), Lloyd Lamble (Sorroway), Mary McKenzie (Marilyn), Alistair Hunter (Sgt. Reilly), Frank Birch (Boswell), Lila Lee (Donna Devore).

When her brother is killed in what appears to be a freak car accident, Heather  believes he's actually been murdered. This proves to be correct when the murderer is uncovered by reporter, Odell.
Producer - Anthony Hinds
Directed by Sam Newfield
Writer - Orville H. Hampton (based on the radio serial by Lester Powell)

Robert Beatty (1909 - 1992)
In addition to being "Philip Odell", The Canadian born actor was very active in both film and television through most of his career. He was a well know face and voice particularly in the UK.
Some of the projects he was involved in were:
As Mike Maguire in Dial 999 - 1958Dial 999 - an ITV series produced by Towers of London. In 39 x 30 minute episodes he starred as Det. Insp. Mike Maguire, a Canadian Mountie assigned to Scotland Yard, broadcast in 1958-9.

Beatty as General Cutler in Doctor WhoBeatty - The Tenth Planet 1966Doctor Who - The Tenth Planet (October 1966), This was William Hartnell's final story in the role, Beatty's role was that of General Cutler, the base commander trying to deal with the threat of "The Cybermen", who were making their debut in this story.

As Bran Foster in Blakes 7 1978Blake's 7 - The Way Back (January 1978), He played Bran Foster, a resistance leader who tries to persuade Blake (Gareth Thomas) that he has been brainwashed, and that he was also a friend and fellow resistance member. While not a big part, It tends to be one that is remembered in this important series opening episode.

Also - The Gathering Storm (1974), The New Avengers - Target (1976), Jesus of Nazareth (1977), The Martian Chronicles (1979), and Minder on the Orient Express (1985).

Odd Man Out (1947), Captain Horatio Hornblower (1951), 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Where Eagles Dare (1969), The Pink Panther Strikes Again (1976), Golden Rendezvous (1977), Superman III (1983), Superman IV - The Quest for Peace (1987).

Lester Powell
As well as creating and writing Philip Odell, Powell's name turned up with an occasional television and film contribution. A film - The Black Widow (1951), is based on a radio serial of his, Return From Darkness (no details known by me). He also contributed to Stryker of the Yard (1953), and two early episodes to The Avengers. The Deadly Air (Broadcast December 1961), and Mission to Montreal (Broadcast October 1962). These were episodes from before the Steed/Mrs. Gale era.
April 24 2001 - Additional TV credits
The Inch Man (BBC 1951-2), an adventure drama series about a "house detective" working in a busy London hotel. The series switched between behind the scenes activity at the hotel  - and sleuthing of the detective - Stephen Inch.
The Man Who was Two (ABC - ITV Network 1957), a 6 part serial about a man who walks into the Western Zone checkpoint from East Berlin with no memory of who he is or how he got there. On return to the UK he must determine which of two possibilities as to his true identity may be true. An antiques dealer or a thief and murderer?
The Big M (BBC2 1967), a mans seeks to save himself from his involvement in a protection racket.

An article from the New Zealand Listener about the broadcast of a "Powell" serial in 1952.
November 21, 1952
£10,000 For A Motive.

Lester Powell circa 1952When the wife of a great Shakespearean actor died in her bath and an insurance company found she had been insured for £10,000 only six months before her death, their chief claims investigator thought he smelt a rat. This is the starting point for The Hidden Motive , a new BBC serial by Lester Powell which is to start from 1XN at 9:30pm on Thursday, November 27. Lester Powell's name should be sufficient to attract a big listening audience. For the radio detective Philip Odell, who will be remembered from such serials as Love from Leyton Buzzard and The Lady on the Screen, is among his creations. In eight half hour episodes this new mystery serial tells of the efforts of `Doc' Job, the eccentric investigator, to discover what kind of motive could have prompted Sir Henry Sloan, an extremely successful and prosperous actor, to dispose of his wife and claim the insurance money. `Doc' Job directs operations in a Canadian accent from his book strewn sick-bed, chewing raw Spanish onions - which he loathes - to counter an attack of influenza. His young assistant, Robert Damer, carries out the Doc's assignments, though not to his complete satisfaction. In the first episode A Claim for Ten Thousand, Damer sets out to interview a number of "possibles", and collects much convincing evidence. But there are also in the haul some interesting facts which convince his onion chewing chief that the trail will lead to proof of fraud, connivance and murder - and most important of all, of course, that his firm will not have to pay out the insurance money.
  The Hidden Motive is the sixteenth radio serial Lester Powell has written since 1946. Before settling down to right for radio in a big way he was a draughtsman, poultry farmer, film scenario writer and journalist. In this new serial `Doc' Job is played by Tommy Duggan, an Irish-born actor who has made a specialty of Transatlantic, Irish and Jewish roles. Sir Henry Sloan is played by Carl Bernard, who was the second actor to play the part of Paul Temple. Listeners may also remember him as Heathcliffe in the BBC production of Wuthering Heights. Robert Bailey plays the part of Robert Damer. The production is by William Hughes. The Hidden Motive will be heard later from other stations.

Powell also wrote Novels featuring Odell,
these all seem to have been out of print for a very long time.

A Count Of Six (Collins 1948) [Powell's first novel] Odell???
Shadow Play (Collins 1949) Odell???
Spot the Lady (Collins 1950) Odell
Still Of Night (Collins 1952) Odell
The Black Casket (Collins 1953)

I am unaware of any existing episodes. If you have any, or know of the existence of any recordings, I would be very keen to know. Professor Jeffrey Richards, presenter of BBC Radio 4's series The Radio Detectives, stated in an article in The Sherlock Holmes Magazine, Issue 33, 1999 - that the BBC had preserved no episodes of this series. Any information or correction to any errors I may have made, are most welcome.

1/ Joy Shelton (1922 - 2000) featured as Heather in The Odd Story of Simon Ode, she has a connection with two of the great classic radio detective series. PC. 49. As Joan Carr, she featured as Archibald Berkeley - Willoughby's girlfriend from 1947 to 1953. She and Brian Reece (PC 49) also starred in a film A Case for PC 49 in 1951. Adding to this, she played Steve Trent (later Temple) in the first movie based on Francis Durbridge's character, Send for Paul Temple in 1946.

2/ Robert Beatty's "Durbridge" connection. Not to Paul Temple, but two films based on Television serials.
The Broken Horseshoe (1953) [based on a 6 x 30 minute BBC serial from 1952 produced by Martin C. Webster]. Beatty played Dr. Mark Fenton [a character played on television by John Robinson star of the BBC's later Quatermass II]. Martin C. Webster is credited as director of the film, and also noteworthy in the cast is Peter Coke, this being the year before he became Paul Temple on radio.

3/  Robert Beatty's "Durbridge" connection 2. He starred as Tim Forrester in Portrait of Alison (1955). [based on the 6 x 30 minute BBC serial from February 1955 - Patrick Barr played the part in the original].

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'The Golden Age of Radio - An Illustrated Companion" by Denis Gifford published by the Batsford Ltd. 1985.
"The Complete Avengers" by Dave Rogers published by Boxtree, 1989.
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The Internet Movie Database 1