Dan Dare’s Holy Grail: Radio Luxembourg’s Dan Dare Radio Show

Dan Dare on Radio Luxembourg - Horlicks Ad
Dan Dare on Radio Luxembourg – Horlicks Ad

First broadcast in the 1950s, Radio Luxembourg’s Dan Dare Radio Show has become something of a ‘Holy Grail’ for fans, some still believing copies of the series may yet be found.

Aired on Radio Luxembourg between July 1951 and May 1956, the series, based on the first Dan Dare comic story from Eagle, was made on wax discs that were then sent to Luxembourg to be broadcast.

The Dan Dare Info site notes Bob Danvers-Walker announced the show. Noel Johnson played Dan (who died in 1999), Digby was played by John Sharpe, Professor Peabody by Anne Cullen. Other parts were played by Kenneth Williams and Ralph Richardson. The series was produced in London by John Glyn-Jones.

The site says the Mekon was voiced by Francis De Wolfe, who went on to play numerous villains on TV and on film, who died in 1984, but one downthetubes reader says the actor playing the deadly Treen leader was Geoffrey Wincott, who played Mr Carter in the Jennings radio series by Anthony Buckeridge. Wincott also appeared in one of the Dick Barton films inspired by the eponymous radio shows. He died in 1973.

The Dan Dare Radio Show was sponsored by drinks company Horlicks, who encouraged young listeners to enroll in the Horlicks Spaceman’s Club, and then marketed a series of related items that could be bought – usually for six pence and a label from a Horlicks jar.

The Spaceman Club items included The Spacemans Club Handbook, a Dan Dare Tie, Spacefleet Service Identity Card, The Spacemans Club Badge, the Dan Dare Spaceship Cup (for drinking one’s Horlicks, of course), and a Periscope.

A listing for the Dan Dare radio show on Radio Luxembourg
A listing for the Dan Dare radio show on Radio Luxembourg

RTL, the former Radio Luxembourg have been kind enough to search their archives for one fan, but copies of the show have never been found there and it is believed they were either destroyed after the broadcast, or when their “sell by date” expired.

However, like Doctor Who fans tracking missing TV episodes, there is a remote possibility copies of the show may exist elsewhere. Eagle, and many of its strips, was republished in many countries including Australia, France, Potugal and Croatia (to name but a few) and the radio show was also broadcast in Australia. The original scripts were also sent to Spain where they were translated into Spanish and broadcast by Spanish actors. (The name Dan Dare was quickly changed to Diego Valor).

In Australia, 4AK QLD and 4BK QLD Radio broadcast the show each Monday and Tuesday but so far, no-one has had any luck tracking copies down under. Unlike the Biggles radio show, the Australian National Film and Sound Archives does not appear to hold copies, but now fans are trying to find out of the series was ever broadcast or elsewhere.

It seems unlikely the show was broadcast in South Africa – as yet, no-one seems to have tracked down South African versions of Eagle comic – but New Zealand is a strong possibility.

The BBC’s Radio 4 produced a four part Dan Dare radio serial in 1990 – Dan Dare, Pilot Of The Future, again, based on the first comics story. This time Dan was played by Mick Ford, with Terrance Alexander as Sir Hubert.

• If anyone has further information they think might help tracking down these elusive recordings, please get in touch

John Freeman

The founder of downthetubes, John describes himself as is a “freelance comics operative”, currently working as a freelance editor for TITAN COMICS, as Creative Consultant on the new DAN DARE audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the LAKES INTERNATIONAL COMIC ART FESTIVAL and LANCASTER COMICS DAY.

John has worked in British comics publishing for over 30 years, starting out at Marvel UK, where he edited a number of the Genesis 1992 books with Paul Neary. His numerous credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine at Marvel and Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine at Titan Magazines, where he was Managing Editor.

He also edited STRIP Magazine and worked as an editor on several audio comics for ROK Comics, including TEAM M.O.B.I.L.E. and THE BEATLES STORY.

Most recently he is writing CRUCIBLE as a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and DEATH DUTY and SKOW DOGS with Dave Hailwood for the digital comic 100% Biodegradable.

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