Cecil Parker as Dr Morelle

During lockdown and even before, I had got fed up with the constant stream of gloomy news from the media peddling the same old gloom and doom whether it be Brexit of Coronovirus. So I took to buying CDs of old radio plays such as Lord Peter Wimsey and Sexton Blake.

Then more recently I came across another interesting programme and quite by accident at that. It was Dr Morelle which was on BBC Radio 4 Extra

In 1957 a new Radio series began featuring sleuth Dr Morelle played by Cecil Parker

Cecil Parker with Sheila Sim

Dr. Morelle is referred to as a Harley Street Doctor of Psychiatry, specialising in criminal psychology. He is also possessed of an unshakable confidence in his opinions, conclusions and psychological impressions of virtually everyone he meets.

He his also not without his own eccentricities for instance we learn that he is afraid of going up stairs – which he admitted was a throwback to his childhood.

He was introduced 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 an inspired choice, having portrayed several Film characters with many of Dr. Morelle’s traits and aloofness.

The programme was an instant hit. Dr. Morelle is reintroduced in the first episode by way of a chance meeting with his ‘former’ assistant Miss Frayle.

Miss Frayle comes to Dr. Morelle hoping to enlist his interest in the problem of an acquaintance of hers. Dr. Morelle, has just lost his assistant of many years and spends as much in the first episode solving a murder as trying to win Miss Frayle back as his assistant.

This first episode, Alarm Call, also gives Cecil Parker an opportunity to establish his characterisation of Dr. Morelle. 

Cecil Parker was a gifted international character actor, who was as at ease playing straight dramatic roles as light comedy which suited this role well.

As is the case in more recent Radio and Television shows , we get a compelling preview portion of the story before the theme music and announcement of the episode’s title.

Robert Beatty – Another Radio drama character

In very recent times, again on BBC Radio 4 Extra I came across  Destination – Fire! Stories of a Fire Investigator which had been originally on the BBC Light Programme (1962-1966)

This starred Robert Beatty in the lead role here in these half hour episodes which cleverly manage to set the scene, establish the possible crime and solve it by the end – as well as introducing all the characters

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