Monday, 24 October 2016


ON JULY 12TH 1973, Peter Cushing's agent John Redway wrote to  BBC producer Anthony Cornish about a radio script by Brian Hayes called 'LORD DRACULA'. Hayes had worked in the realm of fantasy themed projects for many years. Including being the writer behind several BBC DOCTOR WHO episodes, principally The Celestrial Toy Maker in 1966, The Ice Warriors in 1967 and 69. He was also one of the writers behind the tv series, DOOMWATCH from 1970 until 1972.  

Brian Hayles was born in Portsmouth, UK in 1930. His early aim in life was to be a sculptor, although this dream subsided after a brief trip to Canada. When he returned to the UK, he started to write for BBC Radio's "The Archers". He then began writing for TV and worked on "Doctor Who" on several occasions starting with 'The Celestial Toymaker' and 'The Ice Warriors. On  aged just 48, Brian Hayes died while working on the  "Arabian Adventure". Keith Miles's novelisation for Mirror Books, was dedicated to his memory.  

'PETER CUSHING THOUGHT IT, very good and even talks about it as the basis for 'A splendid definitive DRACULA epic film! He would be interested to take it further as a radio series.' Later, it was suggested the script and treatment be reworked as a 'one-off' BBC 'Saturday Night Theatre' production, but by this time in the events, Peter Cushing was no longer attached to the idea. However, the play DID finally make it to the radio  and was broadcast on APRIL 4t h 1974:

'Revolting drama about Vlad the Impaler. Made me feel sick listening to it. Impaling people on stakes'.- Review Daily Mirror.  Script Brian Hayles, Broadcast : 27.4.74. Kenneth Haigh, Nigel Stock.

'When Father Benedict was young and filled with pride for truth, he had travelled the villages of the land with Father Emmanuel, preaching their faith boldly. One day, word reached them to attend Lord Dracula at his court at Tirgoviste. They came bravely, for they knew the horrifying reputation of the man but he greeted them most courteously. When Lord Dracula asked them what his people think of him, Father Emmanuel replied that they say all manners of good things. All men hold him in honour and affection and that there is no man that does not call him noble. He then asks Father Benedict who told him the truth: that they call him tyrant and that he is renowned only for his violent cruelty. Vlad rewarded the honest monk for his integrity and courage and impaled the sycophant for his dishonesty. 

Now, Father Benedict begins to write a chronicle of the year 1476, at the command of the King of Hungary and his ecclesiastical superiors, who resolve him of the evils that he has witnessed. The story begins at the mighty castle of Tirgoviste, where Father Benedict served as chaplin and chancellor to the Prince of Wallachia and Transylvania - the most cruel of men yet once the most just of rulers. Known now and to the future of his more legendary names: Vlad Tepes,The Impaler, and of a more darker meaning still, Lord Dracula. 

Kenneth Haigh [Vlad Tepes,The Impaler], Nigel Stock [Father Benedict Estagen], Diane Orkin [Melitsa, a Witch], John Rowe [Lord István, Vlad's son from his first marriage], Gareth Armstrong [Brother Jakob], Heddy Nicholas [The Lady Ilonia, King of Hungary's sister and Vlad's Second Wife], and Don Henderson [Captain Ferenc].

Also in the cast were George Woolley, Betty Malet, Patricia Green, Graham Rigby, and Philip Barber. Directed by Anthony Cornish at BBC Birmingham


However, it did not stop there, Hammer films, Michael Carreras bought up the film rights after receiving calls from Hammer producer Anthony Keys and his son James Carreras, both raving about the play, when it finally reached radio without Peter Cushing! Hammer had great plans and aimed high, with a film that was planned to be directed by Ken Russell (Tommy, The Lair of the White Worm). Richard Burton, Richard Harris and . . . Christopher Lee, were all rumored to have been attached to the film's selling pitch at some point, but the project as with many Hammer projects at this time, failed to find funding and was eventually shelved.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...