Spaceship Away! The science fiction action hero Dan Dare – Pilot of the Future, is set to return as an audio drama series.
Independent production company B7 Media, in association with the Dan Dare Corporation, has announced that BAFTA nominees Richard Kurti and Bev Doyle will be the lead writers on a new Dan Dare audio drama series, with former Marvel UK and Doctor Who Magazine editor John Freeman attached to the project as creative consultant.
B7 Media, who have yet to announce the show’s cast, say the new Dan Dare series will adapt core concepts from the character’s original appearance in the 1950s and ’60s comic Eagle, delivering exciting adventure, explore the wonders of space and bring us involving, memorable characters. While doing so it will remain true to the vision of Eagle creator, Reverend Marcus Morris, and to Dan Dare’s original illustrators, most notably the work of Frank Hampson.
B7 Media’s numerous audio productions include the recent award-winning BBC Radio 4 adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles; acclaimed Syrian drama The Boy from Aleppo Who Painted the War and the popular Blake’s 7 audio adventures.
Announcing the acquisition of audio rights from the Dan Dare Corporation, and the commissioning of Kurti and Doyle as lead writers, audio producer/director Andrew Mark Sewell confirmed the production company’s Dan Dare adventures will stay true to the spirit of the original, expanding and developing the characters, and taking them deeper into the universe than ever before.
“Dan Dare will again defend the Earth against the Mekon, their battle beginning anew in the hearts and minds of a modern audience. Our creative team has a strong track record of beautifully blending fact and fiction, with bold storytelling.”
Dan Dare is no stranger to audio adaptation. Almost as soon as the character first featured in Eagle comic in the 1950s, a comic that sold in the millions every week, Radio Luxembourg broadcast his adventures for five years. This series launched with an adaptation of Dare’s first encounter with the villainous alien, the Mekon, on Venus.
Drawn from the original Eagle comic strips illustrated by Frank Hampson and others – the first ‘Venus’ series onwards – and inspired by the 1951 Radio Luxembourg series, B7 Media’s incarnation will be a new Dan Dare for today, serialised in 15-minute episodes, as all good radio space opera should be.
“The history of Dan Dare on radio goes back to the days of Radio Luxembourg when it was a highly successful weekly show,” notes Colin Frewin – Chief Executive of the Dan Dare Corporation Limited. “The time is now perfect for Dan Dare to return to the radio waves as one of Britain’s greatest space heroes, the ‘James Bond of Space’, and a true British superhero.”
The Team So Far
Richard Kurti and Bev Doyle (Lead Writers) are a British scriptwriting team whose shows have earned numerous awards and nominations, who broke into the business by writing and selling a spec feature script, which led to 14 further movie commissions from US studios such as Warner Bros, Universal, Laika and Intermedia; and UK companies such as Working Title, Pathé and BBC Films.
Following a two-year writing deal with Miramax, Richard and Bev diversified into TV drama, first with the mini series Kidnapped for the BBC, quickly followed by an original Sherlock Holmes miniseries, The Baker Street Irregulars. They consolidated their position in the primetime market by writing for several flagship network shows: two episodes of Primeval for ITV; three episodes of Robin Hood for the BBC; and an episode of SkyOne’s 2012 flagship drama, Sinbad.
Their adaptation of Terry Pratchett’s novel Going Postal premiered to glowing reviews on SkyOne and was followed by work on TV movies for SyFy and Tandem, and in 2013 they wrote three episodes of the hit BBC show Wolfblood.
Currently in development are Newton’s Law, a TV series for Miramax and The Weinstein Company; The Force, a returnable police show; and a movie for Fox Searchlight, The Royal Chef.
They have recently moved into radio drama with adaptations for BBC Radio 4 of The Martian Chronicles, starring Derek Jacobi and Hayley Atwell; and The Boy From Aleppo Who Painted The War, both produced by B7 Media.
Richard is also the author of Monkey Wars, a gripping and original thriller for teens published by Walker Books exploring the dangers of power, nominated for the CILIP Carnegie Medal and the UKLA Book Award. A new novel, a thriller titled Maladapted will be released next year.
Andrew Mark Sewell (Director) is a respected independent filmmaker and radio drama director. His numerous credits include the long-running Blake’s 7 audio series for BBC Radio 4 Extra, along with the recent BBC Radio 4 dramatisations of Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles (winner of ‘Best Drama Special’ 2015 New York Festivals International Radio Program Awards), starring Derek Jacobi and Hayley Atwell; and Sumia Sukkar’s The Boy From Aleppo Who Painted The War, set against the background of the Syrian conflict.
In the world of film he was the UK Producer on Dan Ireland’s award-winning Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont, starring Dame Joan Plowright and Rupert Friend. More recently Sewell produced the independent films of Canadian filmmaker Paul Kimball, The Cuckoo in the Clock and Roundabout. Their latest collaboration, the neon soaked thriller, Exit Thread, recently completed principal photography in Nova Scotia.
Simon Moorhead (Producer) is an award-winning film and television producer. Most notably, Simon produced the children’s film MirrorMask for the Jim Henson Company and Sony Pictures which received its World Premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in 2005. His second feature film Luna, received its World Premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2014 and also won Best British Independent Film at the Raindance Independent film awards in that year.
Through a career in theatre, film, television and radio some of the many award-winning productions Simon has been involved with include: Jigsaw, The Forgotten Voyage, Edge of the Sand, The Life and Loves of a She-Devil, WidowMaker, BT Global Challenge, The Bill and the ITV mini-series Chimera. For B7 Media, Simon also produced, co-directed and co-wrote the UKTV simulcast event Haunted (shortlisted for the Montreux e-Rose) and Echoes of the Past and was Executive Producer on the epic audio reboot of cult TV classic Blake’s 7, featuring Derek Riddell, Colin Salmon and Daniela Nardini (for BBC Radio 4 Extra).
John Freeman (Creative Consultant) has worked for several companies involved in British comics and magazine publishing including Marvel UK, where he was editor of Doctor Who Magazine, and at Titan Magazines, where he edited officially licensed magazines devoted to series such as Star Trek, Star Wars and Babylon 5. He also edited a number of the later Dan Dare collections for Titan Books, working with Rod Barzilay and Des Shaw from Spaceship Away on image sourcing for the project.
More recently, as editor and writer, he has been working on the development of audio comics for ROK Comics and was commissioned to reinvent the DC Thomson hero King Cobra for STRIP Magazine and develop concepts for other British comic character reboots, as well as writing his own, ongoing comics series Crucible, now published online, co-created with former 2000AD artist Smuzz.
Dan Dare’s Audio Past
Aired on Radio Luxembourg between July 1951 and May 1956, the first Dan Dare radio series, based on the first comic story from Eagle, was made on wax discs in London that were then sent to Luxembourg to be broadcast, but very few are known to have survived.
The British Library now holds copies of both the episodes – “The Lost World On Mars” (Episode 53, in a poor state) and “Under Sentence of Death” (Episode 76) which, as we reported back in 2012, were recovered during an appeal for the return of lost or missing TV and audio shows in 2011 co-organised by the Kaleidoscope’s website (www.lostshows.com).
The long running Dan Dare drama series that was broadcast at 7.15pm Monday to Friday, with each episode beginning with the phrase “Spaceship Away!”
The Dan Dare Info site notes Bob Danvers-Walker announced the show. Noel Johnson played Dan, Digby was played by John Sharpe, Professor Peabody by Anne Cullen, and the Mekon by Francis De Wolfe, who went on to play numerous villains on TV and on film. Other parts were played by Kenneth Williams and Ralph Richardson. The series was produced in London by John Glyn-Jones.
As we reported last year, The Queen’s Hall Light Orchestra Volume 3, released by Vocalion in 2003 features the . Listed as “bonus tracks” on the album are three pieces of music used in the radio show; the opening theme for the show, “Commandos”, plus “Radio Location” (an early name for Radar) and “Searchlight” – the latter used frequently as links in Dan Dare’s fights with the Mekon and other miscreants.
Charles Williams (who had also written the “Dick Barton” theme “Devil’s Gallop”) was the composer of two of the numbers, with Clive Richardson’s atmospheric “Radio Location” providing the ethereal balance.
The Adventures of Dan Dare 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.
Spanish-language adventures – based on the Radio Luxembourg scripts – were broadcast by Radio Madrid from 1954 featuring “Diego Valor”, Dan’s Spanish incarnation, and in 1990 the BBC also adapted the much-loved hero for a short lived radio series starring Mick Ford.
More Dan Dare Spin-Off Items
• Dan Dare Spin-Offs (Merchandise, radio and abandoned TV shows)
• Dan Dare’s Holy Grail – More information on the radio show
The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. He is currently editor of Star Trek Explorer, published by Titan – his third tour of duty on the title originally titled Star Trek Magazine.
Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Babylon 5 Magazine, and more. 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 “Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies” for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.