Fear on 4

is the continuation of a 50-year tradition on BBC radio of broadcasting tales of suspense and dread, beginning in 1943 with Appointment with Fear and continuing through Fear on 4 in 1988. Fear on 4 spanned six separate series over 11 years, becoming shorter by the series, with twelve episodes in the first series and only one (plus some repeats) in the last. The episodes were introduced by Edward De Souza as 'The Man in Black'—a host-character created for Suspense in the United States, but almost immediately borrowed for the BBC series Appointment with Fear which featured Valentine Dyall. Throughout the series, the BBC set very high standards for production quality. Pacing, acting, direction, and incidental music were all excellent. But perhaps what the BBC excel at is in choosing which stories to dramatize.

Orson Scott Card once identified Dread as the most powerful of the three types of fear (dread, terror, and horror). Dread 'is that tension, that waiting that comes when you know there is something to fear but you have not yet identified what it is. The fear that comes when you first realize that your spouse should have been home an hour ago; when you hear a strange sound in the baby's bedroom; when you realize that a window you are sure you closed is now open, the curtains billowing, and you're alone in the house.' Blood and gore don't work well on radio. Dread does. And the BBC know this.

Sources used to create my own log and double-check titles, dates and cast members: BBC Genome Project, BBC Radio Listings, and Alison and Nigel Deacon's Diversity Website.

Currently this archive contains 16 of 47 plotlines and 11 reviews

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Beast with Five Fingers, The

Year: 1988
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Horror / Creatures
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: William Fryer Harvey

Upon the death his uncle, a hard-headed scientist receives a small wooden box in the post—a box that rattles and moves as if it contained a small animal eager to escape. He thinks it might be that 4-toed albino he's been expecting. He's wrong.

See also "Crimson Hand, The" (The Hermit's Cave), "Dead Hand, The" (Murder at Midnight), "Death by Whose Hands?" (CBS Radio Mystery Theater), "Gipsy's Hand, The" (The Witch's Tale), "Hand, The" (CBS Radio Mystery Theater), and "Hand of Botar" (Hall of Fantasy).

Reviews:

Blood of Eva Bergen, The

Year: 1999
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Horror
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Paul Sirett

Reviews:

By the River, Fontainbleau

Year: 1988
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Horror
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Steve Gallagher

There's a difference between drawing, sketching, painting... and being an Artist. This is a tale about the price for success—a tale of two art students, Marcel and Antoine, who, while tramping the French countryside testing their skill, discover a remote farm epitomizing human degradation... and the most amazing woman whose beauty cries out to be captured on canvas. Marcel has had enough and returns to Paris, but Antoine... feels compelled to stay.

Reviews:

Child Crying, A

Year: 1989
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Horror
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: James Saunders

Reviews:

Chimes of Midnight, The

Year: 1997
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Occult
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Nick Fisher

A professor of cosmology purchases a very unusual clock which confirms his theories about the anthropic nature of Time in a most unfortunate manner.

Reviews:

Dance in the Underworld

Year: 1991
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Horror
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Stuart Kerr

Reviews:

Dark Feathers

Year: 1993
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Horror
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Denise Simms

Reviews:

Day at the Dentist's, A

Year: 1988
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Horror
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: James Saunders

A man with a detached filling pays an emergency visit to a dentist whom he hasn't seen in 10 years. He is terrified of dentists, you see, but this particular dentist has a very successful technique for relaxing his patients and enticing them into his chair.

Based on an idea by Arch Oboler.

Reviews:
This is one of those tales of dread the BBC are so good at. Story starts off nice and easy with a little irony that might make you smile and then builds in some tension. Very shortly, however, you suspect you're hearing only one-half of a conversation... as if everything being said had a double meaning. You grasp wildly for possible explanations, discarding each as improbable, but you keep probing one explanation that seems particularly worrisome... the way you might probe a sore tooth. And when you finally realize what's happening, you sit there with your mouth open and your brain stuck in a groove, saying, "No... no... no..." [9/10] --- zM

Dead Drummer, The

Year: 1989
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Horror
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: David Buck

Reviews:

Dead Man's Boots

Year: 1991
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Horror
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: William Ingram

Reviews:

Dispossessed Daughter, The

Year: 1989
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Horror
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Catharine Nicholas

Reviews:

Dreaming of Thee

Year: 1989
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Horror
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Gwen Cherrell

Reviews:

Edge, The

Year: 1991
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Horror
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: John Pirrito

Reviews:

Every Detail but One

Year: 1988
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Horror / Supernatural
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Bert Coules

An expectant single woman, living alone, receives troubling messages on her answering machine from a hoarse, whispering sort of voice calling her by name and urgently pleading for help. She thinks it must be some deranged crank caller... until she starts hearing that same voice at other times: while she's watching television... and while she's sleeping...

Reviews:
Horrifying and heartbreaking. A very intense, hard-hitting story full of dread. You know something awful is going to happen and you know it's going to be bad. You're disturbed... but you don't know why! The tension builds. The back-story—a radio anchor interviewing an expert on the paranormal—provides a degree of emotional stability so the tension remains bearable (mostly). But eventually all that tension comes crashing down around you in cathartic release. Brilliant acting by Helena Breck (Jenny) with a solid supporting cast all around. If you have a high degree of empathy, though, you might want to give this one a miss. [9/10] --- zM

Face, The

Year: 1988
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Ghosts
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: E.F. Benson

A husband, feeling the crush of his working life intruding into his private, pays little regard for his wife's recurring nightmares and urges her to see their family doctor. The doctor, in turn, urges her to visit the seashore where she can breath some fresh air and perhaps take a nice brisk dip in the ocean... Yep. That did the trick. No more nightmares...

Reviews:
Standard, predictable, ghost story. I'm a bit like the husband in that I couldn't really take the nightmares seriously, so they never seemed real or particularly scary. Well acted, though, with fine sounds effects. [5/10] --- zM

Fat Andy

Year: 1988
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Supernatural
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Stephen Dunstone

A man obsesses about losing the church where he has been a patron since a small boy... for if the Bishop signs the papers, then God will leave and Bad will be allowed to enter.

Reviews:

Gobble, Gobble

Year: 1992
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Horror
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Paul Burns

Reviews:

Green and Pleasant

Year: 1991
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Horror
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Bert Coules

Reviews:

Hand in Glove

Year: 1989
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Horror
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Elizabeth Bowen

Reviews:

Hearing Is Believing

Year: 1993
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Horror
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Aubrey Woods

Reviews:

Hellhound On My Trail

Year: 1993
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Horror
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Paul Sirett

Reviews:

His Last Card

Year: 1989
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Horror
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Nick Warburton

Reviews:

Horn, The

Year: 1989
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Horror
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Steve Gallagher

Reviews:

Invitation to the Vaults

Year: 1991
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Horror
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Basil Copper

Reviews:

Journey Home, The

Year: 1989
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Horror
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Bert Coules

Reviews:

Judge's House, The

Year: 1989
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Horror
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Bram Stoker

Reviews:

Life Line

Year: 1993
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Horror
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Steve Gallagher

Reviews:

Making Sacrifices

Year: 1997
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Horror
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Nick Warburton

Reviews:

Mind Well the Tree

Year: 1988
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Horror
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: William Ingram

A husband and wife in an awkward, somewhat fractious relationship inherit a mansion called Elm Cottage from a distant aunt with the instruction to "mind well, the tree". But there is only one elm tree on the property... and it's been dead for many years. Dead and rotten.

Reviews:
One gets the sense early on that not all is as it seems. Eerie with a satisfying end. 8/10 -- Noelle 

Monkey's Paw, The

Year: 1988
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Horror / Occult
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: W.W. Jacobs

On a Dark and Stormy Night, an old friend from 20 years ago visits a man and his family and shows them a desiccated monkey's paw: a paw which he obtained from a Fakir in India and which has the power to grant 3 wishes...

Reviews:
A dark tale about how fate rules our lives... and how those who try to interfere with fate do so to their sorrow. [7/10] --- zM.

Monkey's Revenge, The

Year: 1991
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Horror
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Guy Jenkin

Reviews:

Music Lovers

Year: 1988
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Horror
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Nick Warburton

Two music lovers meet for an evening of recorded music so they can really hear the music without being disturbed by the rabble.

Reviews:

Net Suicide

Year: 1997
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Horror
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Stephen Wyatt

Reviews:

Next in Line, The

Year: 1992
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Horror
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Ray Bradbury

Reviews:

Playing God

Year: 1993
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Horror
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: John Graham

Reviews:

Routine Operation, A

Year: 1991
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Horror
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Martyn Wade

Reviews:

St. Austin Friars

Year: 1989
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Horror
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Robert Westall

Reviews:

Snipe 3909

Year: 1989
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Horror
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Hannah Gordon

Reviews:

Snowman Killing, The

Year: 1988
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Horror / Supernatural
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: J.C.W. Brook

A mother becomes increasingly paranoid for the safety of her two sons when they obsess over a snowman in the yard that only they see.

Reviews:
I laughed when I read this title. I mean, how scary could a snowman be? I'm not laughing now. A stunning performance by Imelda Staunton (as Anne) backed by the eerily repetitious jabbering of Altheas Constanturos (as Alex). I couldn't help feeling cold—so very cold—as I listened. [8/10] --- zM

Soul Searching

Year: 1989
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Horror
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Martyn Wade

Reviews:

Speciality of the House, The

Year: 1988
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Horror
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Stanley Ellin

Dinner at Spiro's is an occasion to be both anticipated and remembered as the finest dining experience in the world—but why is the chef so fanatically adamant that no one be allowed in his kitchen? From the series Fear on Four.

Reviews:
This is about the best of the short series of outstandingly good programs produced by Vincent Price for the BBC, called The Price of Fear. In each, Price himself is caught up in an unexpected adventure. In Speciality of the House a friend in London introduces Price to a little-known restaurant, Spiro's, with a small but dedicated clientele who wait eagerly for the occasional appearance on the menu of Lamb Armistan, literally food to die for. --- Anonymous

Survival

Year: 1989
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Sci-Fi
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: John Wyndham

A spacecraft en route to Mars suffers a catastrophic malfunction. Adrift in space and with no communications grim decisions must be made. When a rescue party finally arrives they don’t find what they where expecting. (or... when an interplanetary liner is cast adrift in the depths of space, the passengers are faced with a limited food supply, and the looming threat of cannibalism?)

Another version of this story aired on SF 68. See also 'A Fall of Moondust' (Nightfall), and 'Space Wreck' (2000 Plus); also 'The Map Makers' and 'Death Wish' (X Minus One)

Reviews:

Tapping

Year: 1997
Duration: 25 min
Genre: Ghosts
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Colin Hayden Evans

A couple living alone on the Scottish coast must deal with the husband's suppressed trauma over having heard a supposedly dead young girl tapping from within a coffin when he was young. Little do they realize the dangers of dredging up the past...

Reviews:
The ending wasn't quite what I expected; definitely worth listening to. 7/10 --- Noelle

Tissue Memory

Year: 1997
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Horror
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Judy Upton

Reviews:

Vicious Fish

Year: 1993
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Horror
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: John Duchmin and Gregor Gryce

Reviews:

William and Mary

Year: 1988
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Horror, Sci-Fi
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Roald Dahl

A woman receives a letter left by her recently deceased husband, an Oxford don, explaining that he has participated in a medical experiment. Just after his cancer kills him, his doctor will remove his brain and sustain it artificially. The letter tells the wife to contact the doctor, to find out whether the operation was a success.

Reviews:
Excellent show. The step-by-step description of the surgical process, complete with sound effects, lulls you into a false sense of security. Then the plot twists come out of left field and you start saying 'Oh &*$#' to yourself. --- Derek Upham

The details of the pending operation left me a little queasy, but the conclusion evoked a totally different kind of horror. [6/10] --- zM

Yellow Wallpaper, The

Year: 1990
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Horror
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Charlotte Perkins Gillman

Thinking a move to the countryside will aid in his wife's recovery after the birth of their child, a rational forward-thinking husband does just that. The doctor's orders include no socialization, nothing to excite the patient's nerves. Confined to her bed, the wife is at first repulsed then fascinated with the horrid yellow wallpaper covering the walls of her bedroom. 

Reviews:
I was never a fan of Charlotte Perkins Gillman, but this version is adequate at conveying the sense of horror wrapped into the very core of the story. 6/10 --Noelle