Radio 4 re-broadcasts “Eagle” documentary 

Dan Dare Art used for Radio 4 documentary

Available now on BBC iPlayer for about a month is the Radio 4 documentary Eagle: The Space Age Weekly, hosted by Sir Tim Rice and includes author Philip Pullman amongst the guests, as well as the voices of Marcus Morris and Frank Hampson.

The documentary was first broadcast in 2010 and explores the lasting appeal of Eagle and the impact of its flagship character Dan Dare and will be available for about one month.

As regular readers know, Eagle ran in two main incarnations between 1950 and 1994. Dan Dare, often referred to as “Biggles in space”, is regarded in some circles as the greatest British science fiction hero of the 20th century.

The documentary charts the influences behind the comic, and explores the life of its creator Marcus Morris, a fascinating man who began the publication because of his concern over ‘horrific’ US comics which presented ‘disturbing’ storylines which he felt ‘corrupted British youth’.

The programme reveals how Dan Dare was originally envisaged as a space chaplain before becoming the popular astronaut.

It also examines the work of illustrator Frank Hampson who introduced technology years ahead of its time, and how he knew the Space Age was on its way while serving in the Second World War and seeing the German V1 rockets. He made the Dan Dare strips as realistic as possible by dressing his team in spacesuits and uniforms, basing the look of the fictional characters on his colleagues.

Revealing how the stories had educational value and, along with Dan Dare, the documentary also looks at other Eagle offerings.

Also on the show are Sally Morris, the daughter of Eagle co-creator Marcus and Eagle Society member David Britton.

• Listen here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00wqdx6

Thanks to Peter Hampson for the heads up. Check out his site dedicated to his father at frankhampsonartwork.co.uk

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John Freeman

The founder of downthetubes, John works as a comics editor, writer, as Creative Consultant on the Dan Dare audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing for over 30 years, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood for digital comic 100% Biodegradable.

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