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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Dick Barton Special Agent


Dick Barton Special Agent was a popular radio program on the BBC Light Programme from 1946 to 1951. Dick Barton was the BBC’s first daily serial, airing at 6.45 each weekday evening. It featured ex-Commando Captain Richard Barton (Noel Johnson, later Duncan Carse and Gordon Davies) who, with his mates Jock Anderson (Alex McCrindle) and Snowy White (John Mann) solved all sorts of crimes, escaped from dangerous situations and saved the nation from disaster time and again. At its peak it had an audience of 15 million.

The series was devised by producer Norman Collins. The scripts were written by Edward J. Mason and Geoffrey Webb and, listened to today in the 21st century can seem very hackneyed and clichéd, almost to the point of parody. It gave rise to a popular catchphrase of the late forties "With one bound Dick was free!" which made light of the fact that no matter how dangerous the cliffhanging situation Dick found himself in every evening, he would always escape by the easiest - and usually most contrived - method.

The BBC, conscious that the biggest audience for the program was schoolboys, wrote a strict code of what Dick and chums could and couldn't do, one clause famously stating "Sex plays no part in his adventures."

In 1972 as part of the BBC's Golden Jubilee, the BBC broadcast a new, abridged, 10 episode version of the very first Barton serial - "The Secret Weapon". The cast included many members of the original cast, including Noel Johnson as Dick Barton, John Mann as Snowey White, William Fox as Colonel Gardiner, Alex McCrindle as Jock Anderson and Margaret Robertson as Jean Hunter.

Here is the 1972 re-make of the very first adventure of the radio legend.

Ten episodes of approx 15 minutes each in high quality MP3.


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References: Old Time Radio Researchers Group, Wikipedia, Frank Passage & Others OTR Logs, Archive.org, Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio by John Dunning, Australian Old Time Radio Group