top of page

Christmas on the radio: "Smee" from Beyond Midnight

Monday 12/18/23

This time we have quite the rarity: an adaptation of A.M. Burrage's Christmas ghost story from the South African radio program, Beyond Midnight, which ran from 1968 to 1970. There wasn't a lot of dramatic radio after the whole enterprise basically shut down in the early 1960s when Suspense, Gunsmoke, and Your Truly, Johnny Dollar all came to an end. TV, which had already asserted itself, really took over. We had these plucky little radio ventures--which tended to be horror programs--that popped up every now and again--The Black Mass out in California was one, and Beyond Midnight was another. Both used a number of fine ghost stories that wouldn't have been well-known to someone who wasn't an afficionado, with Beyond Midnight having a penchant for changing the titles of a number of them, for whatever reason.

Burrage--who died on this day, aged sixty-seven, in 1956--is a ghost story writer who, like Richard Middleton, I'd prefer was better known today. He actually wrote a good deal more than ghost stories (as Middleton might have, had he not taken his own life so young). Burrage wrote boys fiction (1925's Poor Dear Esme is about a boy who dresses up as a girl so he can go to a girls' school), in addition to the anti-war memoir, War is War, after serving in WWI.

He was consistent. You won't find many duff Burrage tales. "Smee" has been anthologized the most, and you'd think there would be all of these radio adaptations, but this is it, and even when you find corners of the internet where episodes of Beyond Midnight are stored away, you rarely encounter "Smee," which aired December 27, 1968. Thankfully, this guy who runs the Relic Radio podcast has it, and you can download the episode, which I recommend doing, because I'm not aware of anywhere else where you can get it.

"Smee," which I've touched on before, is about a group of adults playing a variant on hide-and-seek. The story is simple, clever, and efficient, and altogether cozy, creepy, and Christmas-y.


Commenting has been turned off.
bottom of page