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~~~~~What is this?~~~~~
Well, here is the official description provided by Amazon:
Douglas Kelly stars as 'Dick Barton - Special Agent' in another thrilling adventure for radio's greatest hero. Heralded by an instantly memorable signature tune, the adventures of special agent Dick Barton and his friends Jock and Snowey, were essential listening for an entire generation. Originally starring Noel Johnson, Duncan Carse and Gordon Davies, in an exciting world of criminal masterminds, espionage and adventure, it ran on the BBC Light Programme between 1946 and 1951. Sadly very few original recordings still survive. However, in 1949 a number of early Barton tales were re-recorded for transmission overseas. Starring Douglas Kelly, these re-stagings found new audiences in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. These recordings were rediscovered in the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia in 2009 and allow listeners to finally relive the escapades of the great Dick Barton. In this recording from Spring 1949, Dick's plans for a Mediterranean cruise are cancelled, when the Home Office ask him to help them crack a gang of international diamond smugglers. Can Dick thwart the evil Henri De Flambeau, before it's too late? Find out in "Dick Barton - Special Agent!" Guidance: as this contains archive material the sound quality may vary. The language reflects the era of the first broadcast.
~~~~Ohhhhhhhhh! So how was it?!~~~~~
I love old radio dramas, and this one certainly did not disappoint. It was filled with plenty of action, intrigue, and snappy dialogue rendered by more than competent voice actors. Being recorded in the 1940's, this is no slick production affair: we hear faint echoes from a sound stage being used instead of of a state of the art soundproofed booth, and the special effects can sound a bit off to modern audiences used to sound bites from the real thing (for example, the gun shots sound more like balloons popping). it's not a criticism, just something to be aware of, and it certainly does not detract.
Story wise, what we have is rather simple. There is a terrible plot afoot! Someone is manufacturing synthetic diamonds! OH NO! To save us from tacky jewelry and a floundering world market due to fake diamonds being passed off as genuine, Special Agent Dick Barton and his cohorts must discover who the dastardly mastermind is and stop them! This is no safe venture; the villains have guns, crossbows, and great cunning, so our boys better have their wits about them or it's curtains for them and tacky bling for the rest of us!
The sound quality was quite good; I played this on my PC using Media Player and wearing a set of Philip's wireless headphones and it was crystal clear. Due to age and the variables with the quality of the remaining recordings used as masters for this set, there was a faint hissing and faint crackle to be heard from time to time, but this added to the sense that I was listening to a broadcast on an actual vacuum tube radio, which just added to the fun. Hubby then took this to work with him, and played it over his lorry's sound system. He too was able to hear just fine. In fact, he said it made his long journey rather exciting, delivering him from tedium and making him look forward to what came next.
Some of the comments made by various characters do date this a bit, in particular when speaking about foreigners, but then, it WAS the 40's, and that's the way it was. I would not hesitate to let my children listen to the programme because of it, believing that discussions on changing attitudes and differences between how people thought about things in the past vs. now to be a valuable lesson to be taught. It's more than a pleasant enough way to spend several evenings, listening to the individual episodes in manageable bites; an easy enough task as the episodes are left intact with beginning and ending theme music so one knows where one epsiode starts and ends without any trouble. With plenty of excitement, intrigue and derring do, Dick Barton is sure to please fans of the detective and spy thriller genre.