Carter Brown Mystery Theatre: Curves for a Coroner
Carter Brown Mysteries was a crime detection thriller series produced by Grace Gibson Radio Production and first broadcast in 1957. This episode is an adaptation of the Carter Brown detective novel Curves For A Coroner, published in 1955.
Author Carter Brown introduces and concludes this story where a group of entertainers are stuck in the English countryside in the middle of a snowstorm, a common thriller set-up where travellers seeking shelter get entangled in a mystery and in this case discover the secret in the cellar.
The story was either presented over four episodes as Carter Brown Mysteries or as a complete story over an hour as Carter Brown Mystery Theatre.
The Carter Brown radio series, as with many Grace Gibson Productions, successfully sold to other territories such as New Zealand, South Africa, Canada and the British West Indies.
Image: detail from Carter Brown Mystery Theatre publicity. NFSA title: 356337. Courtesy: Grace Gibson Productions.
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Curves for a Coroner was dramatised by Maurice Travers, whose multiple skills of acting, direction and writing were utilised across his career working for Harry Dearth’s Playhouse, AWA, Fidelity Radio and the BBC World Radio Service.
This production stars the English actor Anthony Wager playing the part of Terry Tomlin. Wager who portrayed young Pip in the 1947 film version of Great Expectations came to Australia in late 1955 to star in the stage show Sailor Beware at the Comedy Theatre in Melbourne. As well as this role, Wager performed in the Caltex Theatre radio drama The Red Pullover and appeared on TV in The Pantomime Quiz in 1957. He moved to Sydney in the 1960s and appeared in television productions.
Other cast members include Myrna Dodd, Max Osbiston, Laurel Mather, Walter Sullivan, Ruth Cracknell, Richard Ashley and John Gray.
Myrna Dodd was part of the cast of the long-running ABC serial Blue Hills with fellow actor Max Osbiston, whose television roles included Homicide, Division 4 and Matlock Police.
Laurel Mather spent some time working on the English stage in the 1930s but returned to Australia for radio work and, together with husband Maurice Travers, moved to England in the 1960s.
Walter Sullivan played the role of Bertie in the Air Adventures of Biggles and later worked in television on such shows as Cop Shop and Motel.
Celebrated actor Ruth Cracknell, best known for her role as Maggie Beare in the ABC television program Mother and Son, began her radio career during the 1940s. Her first radio booking was for the AWA series Ask Anne Carter in which problems sent in by listeners were dramatised.
Richard Ashley was a radio and stage actor who performed in several productions for Grace Gibson as well as for other production houses including the ABC.
New Zealand-born actor John Gray was associated with productions at the New Theatre in Sydney and had been married to the playwright Oriel Gray. Gray performed in the British film Seven Days From Now and various television series in the 1960s such as Whiplash, Homicide and Riptide.
Carter Brown was the pseudonym for English-born Australian author Alan Geoffrey Yates. His pulp detective novels published under this moniker became wildly successful. Newspaper advertisements for the radio series claimed that his novels were selling a million copies a year.
Another Carter Brown novel, The Stripper, was adapted into a musical by Richard O’Brien and Richard Hartley, the team that created The Rocky Horror Picture Show. It was first staged by the Sydney Theatre Company in 1982 and an original cast recording of this production, released in the same year, is held in the NFSA collection.
In 2007 Dr Toni Johnson-Woods researched the NFSA collection of Carter Brown Mysteries and Carter Brown Mystery Theatre and her findings were published in Johnson-Woods, T (2014), 'Crime on the Airwaves: The Carter Brown Mystery Theatre', Australasian Journal of Popular Culture, Volume 3, Number 1, 1 March 2014.