"It may be from another dimension, but it doesn't like the taste of hot steel!"
Professor Edward P. Dunning, Harry "Thumper" Crow and Inspector Lionheart
A series of straight to CD plays by Bafflegab Productions (formerly Cosmic Hobo), created by Simon Barnard and Paul Morris. They are set in the mid-1930s and chronicle the exploits of academic and ghost story author Professor Edward P. Dunning, and old-school policeman Inspector Lionheart as they investigate "the out of the ordinary, the unexplained. The downright weird." The plays are a heady mix of supernatural horror and comedy, recalling a sort of cosy world of 1930s adventure.There have been eight CD releases so far, and three short episodes for free download from the Bafflegab website. They star Doctor Who regulars Terry "Davros" Molloy as Dunning and the late Nicholas Courtney, AKA The Brigadier as Lionheart. In the sixth release, following Courtney's sad death, a new character, Harry "Thumper" Crow was introduced, played by David Warner. Other characters have included an exceptionally camp Aleister Crowley, a Great Old One, and rubbish explorer Sir Basil Champion, whilst guest stars such as Leslie Phillips, Nigel Havers and BRIAN BLESSED have popped up.The eight so far released are:
The Nazad Conspiracy - 2006
The Devil of Denge Marsh - 2007
For King and Country - 2008
The Curse of the Black Comet - 2009
The Secret Weapon of Doom - 2010
The Magic Circle - 2011
The Horror of Loch Ness - 2012
The Thirteen Hallows - 2012
The three "specials" are:
The Curse of the Cult of Thoth - Hallowe'en Special
The Yule Lads - Christmas Special
Mr. Crowley's Christmas - Christmas Special
A comic adaptation of The Nazad Conspiracy is also in the works.
Alma Mater Song: Sir Basil Champion delights in singing the song for his Private School, Bumsworth's. It's to the tune of "Jerusalem", and it's hilarious.
Dunning and his old friend Professor Penfold sing "The Mallard Song", a favourite from their University days, in For King and Country.
Awesome Moment of Crowning: Happens offstage with the coronation of George VI. The Archbishop walks off to it and all that is heard is a door opening and "Zadok the Priest" at full volume.
Badass Grandpa: Lionheart is not a grandfather, but is able to punch out several people considerably younger than himself. He is also a crack shot with a pistol and pretty handy with a gatling gun too.
Berserk Button: Do not call Lionheart an "old man". He will punch you in the face. Very hard.
Trying to kill Lionheart is a bad idea, too. The first time someone tried it, Dunning came after them with a pistol. The second, he came after them with an alien spaceship. That he failed both times doesn't negate the fact that those are the only occasions on which he's wielded a weapon with intent to use it.
Catchphrase: Whenever he gets into bother, Dunning exclaims "Oh crumbs!"
The Character Died with Him: Following Nick Courtney's death, Lionheart is killed off offscreen. It's surprisingly well-handled and incredibly sad.
Dem Bones: The skeletons of long-dead Roundheads are reanimated to lead an attack on the coronation in For King and Country. Later on, an army of Cavaliers is similarly reanimated to defend it from them.
Duel to the Death: Dunning ends up called out on a duel by General Warlock in The Nazad Conspiracy. Lionheart acts as his second.
Lionheart and Matthew Hopkins, in the rafters of Westminster Abbey in For King and Country.
Eagleland: D. D. Denham and Kitty in The Curse of the Black Comet. Denham is a mixture of flavour 1 and 2. He has obscene amounts of money that he spends buying works of art depicting Icarus. He then defaces them by having his own face painted onto the body of Icarus. But he's ultimately on the side of good. Kitty is more flavour 2. She's bubbly, hyperactive and very stupid, spouting incomprehensible American slang of the time period. She's so over the top, that Dunning doesn't realise she's American until it's pointed out to him. Until then, he'd just assumed that she was mentally ill.
Professor Dunning himself seems to be inspired by ghost story author MR James. Albeit it less talented than James. He's even named after the main character in James' story Casting the Runes.
Dunning creates his own for Lionheart in one of his stories in the form of a character called "Braveheart".
While Dunning's friends "The Fantatsists", a group of fantasy authors who meet one a month, seem to be inspired by "The Inklings", a literary group in Oxford in the 1930s who included C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien among their number. One member, who writes an interminably long series of High Fantasy novels, having created an entire world and language for them, is based on Tolkien. When he is killed in The Secret Weapon of Doom, his son takes on the task of finishing his work, very much in the manner of Christopher Tolkien.
In The Horror of Loch Ness, Aleister CrowleyExpy Oliver Haddo from W. Somerset Maugham's novel The Magician appears. Crowley is familiar with him and does not like him.
Eye Scream: The ghost of Matthew Hopkins encounters a couple in a cinema and puts out their eyes for "looking on the profane".
Fake American: In The Curse of the Black Comet D. D. Denham and his girlfriend Kitty are played by English actors. Also works in character as Kitty was just a Nazi agent pretending to be American.
Fake Russian: Averted in The Nazad Conspiracy, where all the Russian characters are played by Russian actors.
Hilarious Outtakes: There was a Behind-the-Scenes documentary for The Curse of the Black Comet (currently offline) on the download page of the website featuring outtakes of BRIAN BLESSED trying to sing the Bumsworth's School Song. It also has him describing his apparent sexual attraction for Nicholas Courtney in rather graphic terms. The warning on the website actually read "Warning: Contains language that might offend. Particularly from Mr Blessed."
"I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: In For King and Country, Lionheart tries this when he is swordfighting with the Witchfinder General Matthew Hopkins, who has possessed the body of his rival, Inspector Natterjack. It doesn't work, as Natterjack briefly surfaces to inform Lionheart that he "doesn't like you either".
I'm a Humanitarian: In a flashback to one of Sir Basil Champion's expeditions, the party play cards to decide who's going to go outside and shoot themselves so the others can cook and eat him. Sir Basil is surprisingly keen on eating the deceased, insisting on a slice of rump because he "always had a nice juicy arse!"
By the end of The Curse of the Black Comet, Sir Basil, Dunning, Lionheart and D. D. Denham are marooned in a dinghy in the middle of the ocean. Within a few hours, Sir Basil, feeling hungry, wants to start eating someone.
In Memoriam: The Magic Circle is an extended tribute to Nicholas Courtney, while The Horror of Loch Ness is dedicated to Philip Madoc, who died shortly after recording.
Insistent Terminology / It's Pronounced Tro-PAY : In The Curse of the Black Comet, Dunning constantly corrects D. D. Denham's American proncunciation of "Nazi". Every time Denham says "Nazzee", Dunning insistently replies "Nart-see".
Meanwhile, Sir Basil mispronounces it as "Nasty". But since he also mispronounces "Submarine" as "Sub-Maureen", and since he's utterly insane, noone bothers to correct him.
Knight Fever: Dunning is awarded the Empire Gallantry Medal for saving the coronation in For King and Country. Lionheart is offered a knighthood, but he declines it, because of his Embarrassing First Name. Apparently it would be even more embarassing if it were preceded by "Sir".
In For King and Country, Harry Price titles himself Sir Harry Price, despite his not actually having been knighted.
Dunning and Lionheart masquerade as Viscount Dunning and Lord Lionheart in The Nazad Conspiracy.
Sir Glewlwyd Gafaelfawr and the other Knights of the Round Table in The Thirteen Hallows.
Minor Insult Meltdown: In The Nazad Conspiracy, General Warlock asks Dunning if he likes Spanish women. Dunning replies that he believes a woman's mind to be more attractive than physical beauty. The General is insulted that Dunning apparently thinks he is frivolous for preferring loveliness, and that he must be married to a "moron". He works himself up into a fury, culminating in:
General Warlock: You stand there, bold as brass, and declare my wife to be a chimpanzee!
Lady Walsingham's resigned reaction when the General demands satisfaction and challenges Dunning to a duel makes it clear that this kind of thing happens quite often.
Naked People Are Funny: Aleister Crowley is an occasional nudist. When he is first re-introduced in The Horror of Loch Ness he is capering around a restaurant naked in the mistaken belief that he has made himself invisible. He keeps moving things around so that people think the objects are floating. Everyone can see him, however. They don't want to disappoint him though, so they pretend that they can't.
New Technology Is Evil: Quite literally how it is seen by the ghost of Matthew Hopkins in For King and Country. He believes television sets to be "spirit boxes", thus magical and the work of Satan. So he kills the people who use them.
Inspector Lionheart: So, we're looking for someone who thinks that twentieth century know-how is the work of the Devil. Well that doesn't narrow it down much. I've often felt that way myself...
Old Fashioned Copper: Lionheart. He's been mixing with villains for so long, that he knows how to beat them all at cards. He's also pretty handy with his fists.
Old Soldier: Harry Crow was in the Sudan prior to becoming a policeman.
General Warlock in The Nazad Conspiracy.
Paper-Thin Disguise: Professor Dunning tries to bluff his way into Westminster Abbey during George VI's coronation by claiming to be a milkman. He's dressed normally, but holding a bottle of milk. He succeeds.
Phony Psychic: Madam Damnation in For King and Country. She tries to convince Inspector Natterjack that she's been posessed by The Duke Of Wellington by putting on a funny voice and saying that she's the Duke of Wellington.
Harry Price is also pretty much a fraud. At least to begin with.
Running Gag: Whenever anyone buys a newspaper, the seller always says "Gawd bless yer, guv".
Much of The Devil of Denge Marsh is a shout out to The Wicker Man, including Britt Ekland's famous nude dance scene. However, this time around it's performed by an overweight, middle-aged and rather ugly landlord's wife. She's even called Mrs. Willow.
Professor Dunning: Aargh! The hideous mermaid!
Entire lines of dialogue from the film are quoted in places. Then subverted. There's nothing quite as funny as hearing Willow's seductive song sung by an aging lady with a country accent who can't carry a tune.
People constantly misreading "MI-13" as "MIB" (pronounced as the word "mib") may be a shout out to the Men In Black. Especially as Dunning, Crow and Lionheart could be seen as a 1930s equivalent to that organisation.
Spot of Tea: As Dunning says in The Nazad Conspiracy, "Murder, Black magic, I don't know. Still, nothing that can't be solved with a nice cup of tea!" Later on, when Lionheart is kidnapped, the first thing he is asked by his interrogators is whether he will take milk or lemon with his tea.
Dunning: The noise seemed to last an eternity. But at last it faded, only to be replaced by a terrible sucking sound. Like a blancmange swirling down a plughole
Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Averted when Harry Crow replaces Inspector Lionheart in The Magic Circle. While Lionheart was a gruff and grumpy copper who liked playing cards and refused to retire, Crow is retired, somewhat henpecked and trying out a variety of new hobbies. While Lionheart didn't hesitate to punch someone in the face, Crow prefers to shout at them. And swear. And occasionally thump people.
That's No Moon: "That's no dish. That's Shub-Niggurath, the Great Old One!"
Those Wacky Nazis: Joachim von Ribbentrop appears in The Thirteen Hallows. Playing crazy golf.
Nazis also turn out to be the top villains in The Curse of the Black Comet.
What Could Have Been: Now that Nicholas Courtney has died, we'll sadly never get a story in which Lionheart gets to punch Hitler in the face.
Wholesome Crossdresser: Sir Basil Champion is revealed to be one of these. It comes in surprisingly useful when our heroes are looking for a way to fling an explosive over a large distance and need a sling or catapult of some kind.
Sir Basil: How about a ladies' brassiere?
Lionheart: A ladies' brassiere? Where the hell are we going to get a ladies' brassiere?