ND comment...Levene was a prolific writer of radio plays from 1956 to 1967 but not many recordings of his plays have been found. He wrote 3 series of Destination Fire; I've yet to come across any recorded here in the UK by collectors. He's perhaps best known for the many TV scripts he produced for "The Avengers".

RB comment - his radio work was quite extensive, the earliest play I can trace being "Light Fingers", Tx 24.1.1956, the last (before some new productions/repeats late in 1973 as tributes to him) being "The Companion", Tx 25.9.1967. He wrote no fewer than 13 for the two series "Just Before Midnight". Not all his output was of the thriller genre. He died aged 48, in 1973.


15.12.1973 Murder Beyond [David Mahlowe/Geoffrey Banks/Graham Roberts]
08.12.1973 A Question of Guilt [Anthony Hall/Godfrey Kenton/Manning Wilson]
01.12.1973 Murder Is My Subject[ Timothy Bateson/Manning Wilson/Margot Boyd/Diana Olsson]
07.06.1967 Suspicious Mind [ Betty Hardy/Peter Howell/Sheila Houston]
14.05.1966 Luck of the Draw [ Jane Wenham/Lewis Stringer/Mary O'Farrell]
22.08.1964 Murder Beyond [ Peter Coke/Moira MannionWilliam Fox/Rolf Lefebvre]
01.07.1963 Trump Card [ Joan Sanderson/Peter Pratt/Valerie Kirkbright/Peter Claughton]
24.06.1963 Weather For Murder [ Marie Ney/Barbara Couper/Julian Somers]
15.09.1962 The Weather For Murder [Marie Ney/Barbara Couper/Julian Somers]
27.01.1962 Untimely End [ Jon Rollason/Joan Newell/Ronald Baddiley]

22.11.1962 Untimely End [ Jon Rollason/Joan Newell/Ronald Baddiley]
18.04.1962 Weather for Murder[ Marie Ney/Barbara Couper]
17.10.1962 False Witness [ Timothy West/Michael Deacon]
09.01.1963 Trump Card [ Peter Pratt/Valerie Kirkbright/Peter Claughton]
01.01.1964 Question of Guilt [ Leonard Cracknell/Malcolm Hayes/Bruce Condell/Peter Claughton]
04.03.1964 Murder Beyond [ Peter Coke/Rolf Lefebvre/William Fox]
13.05.1964 Luck of the Draw [ Jane Wenham/Lewis Stringer]
25.11.1964 Suspicious Mind [ Betty Hardy/Peter Howell/Sheila Houston]
27.10.1965 Murder is my Subject[ Nigel Graham/Frank Partington]
28.12.1966 The Weather for Murder[ Marie Ney/Barbara Couper]
17.10.1973 The Velvet Carpet [ Frederick Treves/Betty Huntley-Wright]
17.10.1973 The Birthday Present[ Frederick Treves/Nigel Graham]
17.10.1973 Needle Match [ Diana Sharp/Frederick Treves]

05.05.1962 Torment [ Barry Foster/Derek Bond]
05.11.1960 The Violent Road [ Jon Rollason/Simon Lack/Baliol Holloway]
08.10.1960 Murder When Necessary [ Colchester Repertory Company]
21.02.1959 The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse[ (Barry Lyndon)Valentine Dyall/Arthur Young/Philip Levene(in cast)]
07.12.1957 Sound Alibi [ James Thomason/Manning Wilson/Joan Sanderson]
24.08.1957 Murder When Necessary [ Brian Haines/Mary Wimbush]
29.06.1957 Sound Alibi [ James Thomason/Manning Wilson/Joan Sanderson]

SERIALS...with no. of episodes
03.07.56 Crime Report, by Michael Gilbert, 4, Hugh Burden/Gerald Campion/Stephen Jack/Philip Levene
29.09.57 Ambrose In London, 8, Nigel Patrick/Janette Richer/Colin Gordon
27.07.58 Ambrose In Paris, 8, Nigel Patrick/Janette Richer/Colin Gordon/Heron Carvic/Olaf Pooley
27.04.59 City Of The Hidden Eyes, 8, Robert Urquhart/Gwen Cherrell/John Dearth/Arnold Marlé

1980s Cold Storage, 30m

Radio plays/serials log (approx. length in minutes after title).
24.10.1956 'Light Fingers' 45
4.8.1956 'False Witness' (Saturday Matinée) 40
22.9.1956 'Thirty Minutes To Kill' (Saturday Matinée) 30
9.3.1957 'No Reply From One-Four-Five' (Saturday Matinée) 45
29.6.1957 'Sound Alibi' (Saturday Night Theatre - rpt. 07.12.1957) 90
14.7.1957 'The Man In The Corner Seat' 30
28.7.1957 The Cocktail' 30
24.8.1957 'Murder When Necessary' (billed in RT as 'a comedy-thriller adapted from his play of the same name by the author') 90
15.9.1957 'Suspicious Mind' 30
29.9 - 17.11.1957 'Ambrose in London' (serial in 8 x.30 minute parts)
24.12.1957 'Christmas Errand' 30
27.7 - 14.9.1958 'Ambrose in Paris' (serial in 8 x. 30 minute parts)
4.11.1958 'The Time & The Place' 30
23.12.1958 'Christmas Tour' 30
28.4 - 15.6.1959 'City of Hidden Eyes' (serial in 8 x. 30 minute parts)
2.3.1960 'The Beneficiary' 30
15.3.1960 'The Lady in Seat 5A' (co-author George Gracie) 30
8.6.1960 'Ear For Detail' (rpt. 23.08.1960) 30
21.7.1960 'Cold Storage' (rpt. 10.10.1973 and 14.2.1976) 30
5.11.1960 'The Violent Road' (Saturday Night Theatre - rpt. 26.02.1967) 90
21.12.1960 'Christmas Call' 30
22.11.1961 'Untimely End' (Midweek Theatre - rpt 27.1.1962) 60
18.4.1962 'The Weather For Murder' (Midweek Theatre - rpt. 15.09.1962, 24.06.1963 and 28.12.1966) 60
5.5.1962 'Torment' (Saturday Night Theatre) 90
17.10.1962 'False Witness (new production, Midweek Theatre) 60
9.1.1963 'Trump Card' (Midweek Theatre - rpt. 1.7.1963) 60
1.1.1964 'A Question of Guilt' (Midweek Theatre) 60
3.1.1964 'The Birthday Present' (Just Before Midnight) 15
14.1.1964 'The Velvet Carpet' (JBM - new prod'n JBM 14.1.1979)
20.1.1964 'Death Sentence' (JBM) 15
31.1.1964 'Murder In Mind' (JBM) 15
4.2.1964 'Killer at Large' (JBM) 15
18.2.1964 'Ear Witness' (JBM) 15
25.2.1964 'The Disposal of Digby' (JBM - rpt. 9.8.1964) 15
4.3.1964 'Murder Beyond' (Midweek Theatre - rpt. 22.8.1964) 60
6.3.1964 'Hold-Up' (JBM) 15
12.3.1964 'The Nightwatchman' (JBM) 15
24.3.1964 'The Ears of Dr. Jeremy' (JBM) 15
31.3.1964 'The Test' (JBM) 15
14.4.1964 'The Invader' (JBM) 15
21.4.1964 'Needle Match' (JBM) 15
13.5.1964 'The Luck of the Draw' (Midweek Theatre - rpt. 14.05.1966) 60
27.10.1965 'Murder Is My Subject' (Midweek Theatre) 60
20.3.1967 'Findings Keepings' (Personal Column) 30
25.9.1967 'The Companion' (Personal Column) 30
17.10.1973 'Trio' : new productions of 3 plays 'The Velvet Carpet', 'The Birthday Present' and 'Needle Match' to mark Levene's death.
1.12.1973 'Murder Is My Subject (new prodution) 55
8.12.1973 'A Question of Guilt (new production) 55
15.12.1973 'Murder Beyond' (new production) 55.


R4, afternoon theatre. 1 Dec 73. A Detective Inspector has been called down to his former Police Training College to investigate the murder of an unpopular lecturer. When he arrives, the Head of the College is surprised to see him as a Detective Inspector, since it was only a few years earlier that he had trouble passing the course.

The College had few staff members about when the murder occurred. They are all associated with the police in some way and might be expected to be good witnesses. However, each is a suspect, because each has a motive.

With Nigel Graham [Detective Inspector Tom Duffy], Manning Wilson [Chief Constable Robert White, Head of the College], Diana Olsson [Miss Gwen Regan], Alan Dudley [Superintendent Bates, a Lecturer], Bruce Beeby [Dr. Maddox, a Lecturer], Timothy Bateson [Inspector Ted Harris, a Lecturer], Margot Boyd [Mrs. Vincent], Julie Hallam [Mary Collins, the Chief Constable's Secretary], and David Timson [Detective Sergeant Lucas]. Produced by Betty Davies.

This was a new production in a series of plays by Philip Levene (who died in 1973 - aged 48), presented as a tribute. The original production of this play was by Martyn C. Webster and was broadcast on The Light Programme on Wed 27 Oct 65, 8:40 p.m. (.....thanks to "Jim", radiofans group - ND )

BBC Home Service: Saturday Night Theatre. % May 62; 8.30pm. Ralph Ellinger, a tormented 22-year-old Cambridge law student, walks into the local police station in the small town of Wintersleigh, confessing to Inspector Hadley of CID that he murdered a girl.

Ralph tells the Inspector the murder happened the previous June, on the 27th, almost a year ago. He had come down to Wintersleigh from Cambridge for the summer vac and when he got home, the house was empty as his father was abroad on holiday with his stepmother. He was a bit depressed so he drove into Norwich for the evening, took in a film then, on the way back, picked up this girl who waved him down just after 10 pm. She was a young Irish girl in her early 20s with red hair and green eyes by the name of Peggy. She had been hitchhiking from Liverpool, after coming over from Northern Ireland, to work for the summer at the Queens Hotel in Yarmouth. Though Yarmouth was a little out of his way, he told her he'd give her a lift. They stopped off for a drink at a pub called the Three Crowns and got quite friendly. After they left the pub, they chatted a bit and when they were a few miles from Yarmouth, he stopped the car and she let him kiss her. Then, though he couldn't explain it, he had his arms around her and couldn't let her go. She became frightened and started to struggle and the next thing he remembered was his hands around her throat and his fingers tightening. He knew what he was doing but for some reason he couldn't stop. Suddenly, she was quite still and he knew she was dead.

He must have sat there for about an hour before he drove up to the other side of Wintersleigh and threw her body over the cliffs. He read the newspapers like a hawk the following days but there wasn't a word about her. At first, he tried to push it to the back of his mind and pretend it didn't happen - that it was a bad dream, but there's no doubt in his mind, he killed that girl. For a time he thought he could live with it but now he can't sleep or work and it has become unbearable - the girl's face never leaves him.

An open and shut case? The police soon become skeptical of Ralph's story thinking it's some sort of practical joke when Ralph can't corroborate any of his story with evidence. After an exhaustive search, the police find no trace of the girl and have no reason to believe she ever existed.....

With Barry Foster [Ralph Ellinger, a 22-year-old Law Student], Derek Bond [Dr. Rooney, a Psychiatrist], Rolf Lefebvre [Frank Ellinger, Ralph's Father], Barbara Bolton [Ruth Ellinger, Ralph's Step-Mother], Philip Morant [Inspector Hadley of CID], Peter Claughton [Sergeant Lumsden / Joseph Preedy of the Preedy Investigation Bureau], Priscilla Benson [Flora, the Ellinger's Housekeeper], Arthur Gomez [The Publican at the Three Crowns], Will Leighton [Bill Ryder, Editor of the Gazette / Mr. Carstairs, the Queens Hotel Manager in Yarmouth], Godfrey Kenton [Mr. Denton, the Ellinger's Solicitor], Dorit Welles [Carol Sanford, Ralph's Ex-Girlfriend], Michael Spice [Constable Barclay], Patricia Bendall [Brenda, a Teenage Hiker], Patricia Cree [Daphne, a Teenage Hiker], Terry Raven [David, a Young Boy in the Marsh], and Jeremy Ranchev [Pete, a Young Boy in the Marsh].

Other parts played by members of the cast. Produced by Robin Midgley. Re-broadcast on BBC Home Service: Afternoon Theatre on Monday 7th May 1962, 3:00 p.m.

.... Jim

BBC Light Programme: Midweek Theatre; Wednesday 18th April 1962 @ 8:30 p.m.

The spinster Pierce sisters, Elsie and Sarah, want to expand their Tea Shop and are looking to purchase the lot next door which is owned by Nora Everitt, the second wife of one of their most popular customers, Victor Everitt. When Sarah finally has a chance to sit down with Nora, she offers her £300 for the lot but Nora wants £1200, a sum way beyond what the sisters could afford.

The following day, while Victor is away at a Board meeting in London, Hillside Cottage, the Everitt's home, goes up in flames. When the fire is put out, Nora's body is found in the remains. After the Coroner's Inquest rules the fire an accident, Elsie, an aspiring thriller writer, begins to investigate the fire as research for her first book. She wants to see what facts she would need to change to make it look like a crime has been committed and use that scenario in her book. But Elsie soon finds she won't need to change a thing....

With Marie Ney [Elsie Pierce], Barbara Couper [Sarah Pierce, Elsie's Sister], Derek Blomfield [Mr. Wrayton], Peggy Butt [Milly, Tea Shop Employee], Julian Somers [Sergeant Foster], Vivienne Chatterton [Mrs. Clarke of the Post Office], Derek Birch [Victor Everitt], Stella Tanner [Nora Everitt, Victor's Wife], Zibba Mayes [Miss Brown], John Bryning [The Coroner], William Eedle [Ronald Arthur Jenkins, the County Fire Officer], Lewis Stringer [Mr. Potter, Drapery Shop Owner], Angela Piper [Connie, Drapery Shop Employee], and Donald McKillop [The Costumiér at Harrington's].

Other parts played by members of the cast.

Produced by Robin Midgley

Re-broadcast on Saturday 15th September 1962 on Afternoon Theatre, Monday 24th June 1963, and Wednesday 28th December 1966 on Midweek Theatre @ 8:40 p.m.

DESTINATION - FIRE!....date nk
With Robert Beatty. Stories of a Fire Investigator. Series written by Philip Levene.

"The Guilty Ghost"

Captain Clarke.........................Leslie Perrins
Hayward (Chief Steward)...........Lewis Stringer
Freeman (Customs Officer).......Godfrey Kenton
Mrs. Morreau...........................Vivienne Chatterton
Fred (Gatekeeper)....................Frank Partington
Valerie Chrane.........................Gudrun Ure
"Q" Barnaby............................Robert Beatty
Taylor (Engineer).....................Anthony Viccars
Jan (Cook)..............................Malcolm Hayes
Inspector Hackett....................Duncan McIntyre

Produced by Martyn C. Webster.


Philip Levene: "........I have always been fascinated by fire. Listeners may recall two thrillers I wrote earlier this year: "Untimely End" and "Weather for Murder". While writing these plays, I was struck by the wide variety of intriguing ideas in a field which seemed (except for the obvious Insurance fraud) comparatively untouched to date. Personally, I have had my fill of Court Room dramas, endless bodies and Private Eyes, but the puzzle of the charred remains of a burnt out building intrigues me.

The motivations of arson are numerous: greed, financial reverses, destruction of evidence, revenge, jealousy and pyromania. . Fires may be precipitated by the careless, the ignorant, the desperate or the professional arsonist. Each industry has its own hazards and there is not a section of the community that is not vulnerable.

Arson itself is a crime of secrecy and copremeditation. It presents more difficulties to the trained investigator than any other major crime, for physical evidence is prone to be destroyed by the very nature of the act. In this new series, Robert Beatty will be playing Quenten Barnaby, Fire Investigator, and although his designation is fictitious, the methods of detection he uses (including many scientific aids) are authentic.

In the UK alone, there were 130,000 fires last year, and the bills were in the region of £40 million. Only a small percentage of these fires were deliberate, but the vast majority could have been avoided if we had all been more fire-conscious. Are you? I hope these stores will make you so."

Series 1 - Light Programme, Fridays, 2000-2030 hrs.
21.09.1962 no. 1 - "The Reluctant Fire-Raiser"
28.09.1962 no. 2 - "The House of Many Treasures"
05.10.1962 no. 3 - "Chance in a Million"
12.10.1962 no. 4 - "Smoke Screen"
19.10.1962 no. 5 - "Flash-Point"
26.10.1962 no. 6 - "Fire Brand"
02.11.1962 no. 7 - "The Guilty Ghost"
09.11.1962 no. 8 - "Cause for Alarm"
16.11.1962 no. 9 - "Double Blaze"
23.11.1962 no. 10 - "Frozen Alibi"

Series 2 - Light Programme, Sundays, 1900-1930 hrs.
09.02.1964 no. 1 - "Triple Motive"
16.02.1964 no. 2 - "Fire on the M1"
23.02.1964 no. 3 - "Money to Burn"
01.03.1964 no. 4 - "Fire-Trap"
08.03.1964 no. 5 - "Suspect"
15.03.1964 no. 6 - "Fire in Hand"
22.03.1964 no. 7 - "Old Flame"
29.03.1964 no. 8 - "Playing with Fire"
05.04.1964 no. 9 - "Remedy by Fire"
12.04.1964 no. 10 - "Burning Intent"

The openings of all 10 of these 2nd series stories were adapted by the author from the scripts, and appeared in a 2-page section of that week’s “Radio Times”.

Series 3 - Light Programme, Mondays, 2000-2030 hrs.
20.12.1965 no. 1 - "Charred Remains"
27.12.1965 no. 2 - "Outbreak"
03.01.1966 no. 3 - "Innocent Party"
10.01.1966 no. 4 - "Blind Spot"
17.01.1966 no. 5 - "Burnt Offering"
24.01.1966 no. 6 - "Iron in the Fire"
31.01.1966 no. 7 - "Burning Question"
07.02.1966 no. 8 - "Deadly Spark"
14.02.1966 no. 9 - "Fire-Proof"
21.02.1966 no. 10 - "Fire in the Family"
28.02.1966 no. 11 - "The Sound of Fire"
07.03.1966 no. 12 - "Flash in the Pan"
14.03.1966 no. 13 - "A Fire In Time"

All 3 series produced by Martyn C. Webster.

Of 14 stories known to be in BBC TS archives, the following were broadcast in New Zealand weekly from 24 January to 28 March, 1970 in this order: 1/7, 1/8, 1/10, 1/1, 1/3, 1/4, 3/1, 3/3, 3/4, 3/13. It seems that none of series 2 were archived.

Nigel Deacon, Diversity Website, compiled from information supplied by Barry Pike and Roger Bickerton, with added notes by Jim.

The last section above (on 'Destination Fire') originally appeared in the VRPCC newsletter, and I am grateful to Roger Bickerton and Steve Arnold for permission to reproduce it - ND.

Updated Jan 10

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