The Dark Ages: A study in pictures of a radio production
THE DARK AGES
THIRD PROGRAMME — 1 MAY 
A study in pictures of a radio production
THE DARK AGES take place in the womb.
It is a nightmare vision of the future in the
mind of a baby waiting to be born. It is the
last leg of a trilogy by Bernard Kops (Home Sweet Honeycomb,
The Lemmings) and there are times
when I feel I have never worked with any other writer.
Bernard believes in the art of total radio—sound can do anything, say anything. A typical direction reads:
There are quiet sounds denoting the fact that everyone and everything is turning or has turned to gold.
When the music starts we think it is about to be Verdi's Requiem but instead it is a very slow rendering of the Hokey-Kokey.
There can be no half measures in putting his work on air. You simply have to give him exactly what he asks for and hope that it will work. It is a matter of continual astonishment to me that it always does. However, this time he had presented us with an even more difficult problem than usual since nearly every scene had to have a special electronic background. We decided that [continued on DD135343]
this could only be added at a later stage at the
radiophonic workshop and that we should confine
our time in studio B.10 to recording the words and
some of the simpler sound effects sequences:
A child cries. A horse cries from fear. A woman screams. And men march, march, march. Sirens. And through this Bing Crosby sings ‘Love in Bloom’. Missiles scream down.
Sounds of machine-gun fire and people cheering and community singing and then the moving pavement and singing ‘For He's a Jolly Good Fellow’.
For six days the cast sang, danced, screamed, and cheered their way through the script. Anyone who believed that radio was a quiet remote affair where actors stood round the mike and read their scripts was rapidly disillusioned. There were wild ecstasies of excitement in the betting shops, surplus people were shot by thousands in the brain room, and over and over again—or so it seems now—the Hokey-Kokey was danced by an unflagging cast. Later in the year I have to produce the play for German radio in Baden Baden. I shall be very curious to see how the Germans take to this kind of treatment.
Photographs by ‘Radio Times’