Radio / Ectoplasm

Where do mysteries come from? Nobody knows. But they end here. This is England, and this magnificent pile is Bluebell End. It is the ancestral seat of the famous occult investigator Lord Zimbabwe. His is the realm of the unknown, the field of twilight and the tenebral. He is a walker in the ether, a lord of the ectoplasm.
Opening narration

Ectoplasm was a short-lived BBC radio sitcom written by and starring Dan Freedman and Nick Romero. It featured the adventures of Lord Zimbabwe, a paranormal investigator, his colleague Doctor Lilac, and his butler Theremin.

It can be found online here.


This show provides examples of:

  • Adventurer Archaeologist: Mary casually mentions escaping from a cursed tomb down a tunnel with "all darts and a massive stone ball rolling down it".
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: "This bears all the fiendish, terrible and not-nice hallmarks..."
  • Ass Shove: Implied.
    Doctor Lilac: Ja, I agree, Schrodinger. I also did not think a violin would fit up that orifice.
  • Bait and Switch:
    "Where I grew up, there were only two ways a man could go: he could become a priest, or a bandit. I enjoy the freedom to break the law, and to lie, and rob people - so I became a priest."
  • Battle Butler: Theremin, though unlike most examples he'd just as readily kill his master as the enemy.
    Theremin: I shall take my blunderbuss, sir. For a blunderbuss is like a blunderbuss, and I shoot people in the arse with it.
  • Bolivian Army Ending
  • Brick Joke:
    • In episode 1, the car-stealing guinea pig.
    • In episode 2, the murderous wardrobe.
  • British Brevity: Only four episodes were made.
  • Left the Background Music On
  • Flashback Effects: Parodied.
    Mary: Well, it all started a year ago.
    (Harp scale)
    Lord Zimbabwe: Please... don't touch the harp.
  • Herr Doktor / Mad Scientist: Doctor Lilac.
  • Intelligible Unintelligible: Schrodinger. Also Sherlock Holmes, when at the other end of a telephone.
  • Lampshade Hanging: All over the place.
    Abdul: Effendi, the men will not go on. They are afraid!
    Mary: Afraid? Why?
    Abdul: They are foreign and brown — it is their role in this type of thing.
  • Lower-Class Lout: The Pharaoh Tutancommon.
  • Occult Detective: Lord Zimbabwe.
  • Once an Episode: Schrodinger makes a crude innuendo to the Girl of the Week, which Doctor Lilac doesn't understand.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: When Theremin passes up an easy opportunity to call his employer an arsehole, something's very wrong.
  • Psycho Sidekick: Theremin.
  • Running Gag: Several:
    • Doctor Lilac's tendency to go off on megalomaniacal rants (accompanied by the Deutschlandlied).
      • The extreme lengths he goes to to find a scientific explanation for any occult events he's involved in.
      • His long-winded scientific explanations sending everybody listening to sleep.
    • Theremin's implacable refusal to perform any order Lord Zimbabwe gives him.
      Theremin: Certainly, sir. Oh, I am most dreadfully sorry. I mean 'Get stuffed'.
    • Evil shape-changing pixies.
    • Lord Zimbabwe's one-sided telephone conversations with Sherlock Holmes.
  • Schrödinger's Cat: Doctor Lilac's cat is actually called Schrodinger. True to the trope, he is simultaneously alive and dead.
  • Servile Snarker: Theremin varies between this and outright abuse.
  • Shaggy Dog Story: In at least half the episodes, the Girl of the Week ends up no better off for having sought Lord Zimbabwe's assistance.
  • Shout-Out: To the opening of the 1964 film of First Men in the Moon: A Flash Forward shows a 1960s American moon expedition discovering evidence that Lord Zimbabwe's expedition got there decades before. Though in this version, the note they find reads "[static] off, signed Theremin."
  • Similar Squad: In episode 4, the team's transatlantic equivalents show up: General Alberquerque, his loyal butler Hammond, Doctor Cactus, and Pavlov the dog.
  • Something We Forgot: Episode 2 ends with Doctor Lilac sure that they've forgotten something. They never did get round to retrieving the Contessa's lost soul.
  • The Stinger
  • Talks Like a Simile: Lord Zimbabwe.
  • Tarot Troubles: Lord Zimbabwe's Tarot pack contains the Jack of Getting Run Over and the King of Piles. The first one is the one that comes true.
  • Tele-Frag: In episode 1, Lord Zimbabwe and his colleagues travel back in time to Ancient Egypt to lift a Pharaoh's curse. Their time machine materialises inside the Pharaoh, with messy consequences.
  • Tempting Fate: "I'm gonna live forever!" — said by the Pharaoh immediately before the above Tele-Frag.
  • Visual Innuendo: The shape of Dr Lilac's spaceship, the Bismarck.
  • Wacky Americans Have Wacky Names: Mary-Lou Coyotecock and Cletus Q Washingmachine IV.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Radio/Ectoplasm