Written by Tony Lang


Back in what many regard as the golden age of radio, before TV and films had started to produce the spine-chilling programmes for which they are now well known, BBC Radio produced one of its most famous horror series, Appointment With Fear. A weekly half hour show introduced by Valentine Dyall, Old Harrovian actor who had made his radio debut in 1936, as The Man In Black, a sinister character who has been recently described by Edward de Souza as "a sort of darker Somerset Maughham, a creepy raconteur who picks up news of the spooky bits of life". He introduced the story, made comments afterwards and sometimes provided short narrative links.

Many of the plays were originally written for American radio by John Dickson Carr, but the series also dramatised stories by such authors as Edgar Allan Poe, Robert Louis Stevenson and W. W. Jacobs.

Appointment With Fear ran for a total of ten series between 1943 and 1955, with Valentine Dyall introducing nine of them. He was unavailable for the second series, and was replaced by his Father, Franklin Dyall.

In 1949 The Man In Black was awarded a series of his own, called The Man In Black, with a very similar format to Appointment With Fear.

The man came out of retirement in 1988 for a series of twelve shows under the title Fear on Four. Valentine Dyall had died in 1985, aged 77, so his role was taken over by Edward de Souza. The programme returned for a second series in January 1989, a third series in December 1990 and a fourth series in December 1992.

Unfortunately very few shows of Appointment With Fear have survived. Only four shows are known to exist, namely 1/2, 3/1, 3/6 and 6/4. No shows from The Man In Black series have survived. However all of Fear On Four still exists.

All of the stories from the first two series of Fear On Four have been published in: The Man In Black, BBC Books, 1990


The first four series were broadcast on the Home Service. The other series were broadcast on the Light Programme.

Series 1

EpTitle, B/cast date
1/1Cabin B13, 11/9/43
1/2The Pit and the Pendulum, 18/9/43

Series 2

EpTitle, B/cast date
2/1Vex Not His Ghost, 6/1/44
2/2The Tell Tale Heart, 13/1/44
2/3The Room of the Suicides, 27/1/44
2/4The Sire de Maletroit's Door, 27/1/44
2/5Dragon in the Pool, 3/2/44
2/6The Man Who Was Affraid of Dentists, 10/2/44


EpTitle, B/cast date
3/1The Speaking Clock, 13/4/44
3/2Death Flies Blind, 20/4/44
3/3A Watcher by the Dead, 27/4/44
3/4The Pit and the Pendulum, 4/5/44
3/5Vampire Tower, 11/5/44
3/6The Clock Strikes Eight, 18/5/44

Series 4

EpTitle, B/cast date
4/1I Never Suspected, 5/10/44
4/2The Devil's Manuscript, 12/10/44
4/3Death Has Four Faces, 19/10/44
4/4The Purple Wig, 26/10/44
4/5He Who Whispers, 2/11/44
4/6The Curse of the Bronze Lamp, 9/11/44
4/7The Great Cipher, 16/11/44
4/8Vex Not His Ghost, 14/12/44
4/9The Curse of the Bronze Lamp, 7/12/44
4/10The Gong Cried Murder, 14/12/44
4/11Lair of the Devil Fish, 21/12/44
4/12The Oath of Rolling Thunder, 28/12/44

Series 5

EpTitle, B/cast date
5/1Into Thin Air, 11/9/45
5/2Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble, 18/9/45
5/3The Man Who Died Twice, 25/9/45
5/4The Clock Strikes Eight, 2/10/45
5/5Cabin B13, 9/10/45
5/6Will You Make a Bet With Death, 16/10/45

Series 6

EpTitle, B/cast date
6/1He Wasn't Superstitious, 23/10/45
6/2The Man With Two Heads, 6/11/45
6/3The Case of the Five Canaries, 13/11/45
6/4And The Deep Shuddered, 20/11/45
6/5The Case, 27/11/45
6/6Death at Midnight, 4/12/45

Series 7

EpTitle, B/cast date
7/1The Nutcracker Suite, 26/3/46
7/2Black Mamba, 2/4/46
7/3The Cask of Amontillado, 9/4/46
7/4A Watcher by the Dead, 16/4/46
7/5The Man Who Knew How, 23/4/46
7/6Dead Mans Teeth, 30/4/46
7/7Experiment With Death, 7/5/46
7/8Death Takes a Honeymoon, 14/5/46
7/9Renovations at Merrets, 21/5/46
7/10The Monkey's Paw, 28/5/46
7/11Cottage For Sale, 4/6/46
7/12A Mind in Shadow, 11/6/46

Series 8

EpTitle, B/cast date
8/1Mrs. Amworth, 25/2/47
8/2Sink Or Swim Together, 4/3/47
8/3The Last Pilgrimage, 11/3/47
8/4The Bell Room, 25/3/47
8/5The Diary of William Carpenter, 1/4/47
8/6The Treasures, 8/4/47
8/7The Hands of Nekamen, 22/4/47
8/8All Cats May Snarl, 29/4/47

Series 9

EpTitle, B/cast date
9/1The Clock Strikes Eight, 14/1/48

Series 10

EpTitle, B/cast date
10/1The Man Who Couldn't Be Photographed, 26/7/55
10/2White Tiger Passage, 2/8/55
10/3The Dead Man's Knock, 9/8/55
10/4The Slueth of Seven Dials, 16/8/55
10/5The Villa of the Damned, 23/8/55
10/6Till the Great Armados Come, 30/8/55


Broadcast on the Light Programme.

Series 1

EpTitle, B/cast date
1/1Markheim , 31/1/49
1/2Oh Whistle, And I'll Come To You, My Lad, 7/2/49
1/3The Middle Toe Of The Right Foot, 14/2/49
1/4Our Feathered Friends / Thus I Refute Beelzy, 21/2/49
1/5The Judge's House, 28/2/49
1/6The Yellow Wallpaper, 7/3/49
1/7The Beast With Five Fingers, 14/3/49
1/8The Little House, 21/3/49


All series broadcast on Radio Four.

Series 1

EpTitle, B/cast date
1/1The Snowman Killing, 3/1/88
1/2William and Mary, 10/1/88
1/3The Monkey's Paw, 17/1/88
1/4Music Lovers, 24/1/88
1/5The Beast With Five Fingers, 31/1/88
1/6Every Detail But One, 7/2/88
1/7By The River, Fontainebleau, 14/2/88
1/8The Face, 21/2/88
1/9Mind Well The Tree, 28/2/88
1/10Fat Andy, 6/3/88
1/11A Day At The Dentist's, 13/3/88
1/12The Speciality Of The House, 20/3/88

Series 2

EpTitle, B/cast date
2/1Snipe 3909, 15/1/89
2/2The Dead Drummer, 22/1/89
2/3The Dispossessed Daughter, 29/1/89
2/4St. Austin Friars, 5/2/89
2/5Dreaming Of Thee, 12/2/89
2/6The Horn, 19/2/89
2/7The Journey Home, 26/2/89
2/8Hand In Glove, 5/3/89
2/9His Last Card, 12/3/89
2/10Survival, 19/3/89
2/11Soul Searching, 26/3/89
2/12A Child Crying, 2/4/89
2/13The Judge' House, 9/4/89

Series 3

EpTitle, B/cast date
3/1The Yellow Wallpaper, 27/12/90
3/2Green And Pleasant, 3/1/91
3/3The Monkey's Revenge, 10/1/91
3/4Invitation To The Vaults, 21/2/91
3/5The Edge, 24/1/91
3/6Dead Man's Boots, 31/1/91
3/7A Routine Operation?, 7/2/91
3/8Dance In The Underworld, 14/2/91

Series 4

EpTitle, B/cast date
4/1Gobble, Gobble, 24/12/92
4/2The Next In Line, 31/12/92
4/3Dark Feathers, 7/1/93
4/4Playing God, 14/1/93
4/5Vicious Fish, 21/1/93
4/6Hellhound On My Trail, 28/1/93
4/7Hearing Is Believing, 4/2/93
4/8Life Line, 11/2/93

Series 5

5/1Net Suicide, 4/9/97
5/2Tapping, 24/9/97
5/3The Chimes Of Midnight, 2/3/97
5/4Making Sacrifices, 9/10/97
5/5Tissue memory, 16/10/9