Ghostwriter (radio) is a BBC schools radio series from the 1990s and 2000s, covering English for primary and secondary school pupils.
A series of puzzle-solving mystery serials based on the Ghostwriter TV series. This radio series adapts four of the Ghostwriter novels and invites listeners to gather the signposted clues in the story to solve mysteries with the team.
The Ghostwriter TV series was a co-production with the US company the Children's Television Workshop and made mostly in New York. The radio series was made by the BBC in London, but used the original sound effects and music including the theme music, sung by TV series star Blaze Berdahl. New actors play the original characters from the TV series.
The programmes are structured interactively around listeners compiling their own Ghostwriter casebook with clues to the solution of the mystery. Whenever a pertinent piece of information is about to be given in the story, a sound effect representing the 'Ghostwriter' character is played before and after this 'clue', prompting listeners to write it down. The clues are reviewed at the end of each story to reveal the solution.
Like the TV series on which it is based, the purpose of this radio series to to encourage its audience with reading and writing, with the motivation of an exciting story laced with the importance of reading to prompt imaginations, and the interactive clue element to promote the importance of writing skills.
The first production in 1993, A Match of Wills adapted from the book by Eric Weiner, is narrated entirely by Rico Ross, providing the voices for all of the Ghostwriter team - Jamal, Lenni, Alex, Gaby and Tina. The story involves a treasure hunt for an inheritance left to Jamal by an old woman he meets at a chess club, and is a curious choice for a solve-your-own puzzle for UK listeners since the solution involves
The first series also adapted Steer Clear of Haunted Hill, also by Eric Weiner. The original book is told in two completely separate halves, diary entries kept by Alex and Gaby with clues emerging from differences in their experiences of a camping trip during which Lenni's dad Max goes missing. The radio version intertwines the two narratives, but uses two child actors to play the roles of Alex and Gaby.
A second series of adventures followed two years later in 1995. There were again two serialised adaptations starting with The Clinton Street Crime Wave by Laban Carrick Hill, an investigation into a series of robberies near Alex and Gaby's family bodega. The final story is adapted from Digging for Clues by Amy & Elizabeth Keyishian, about archaeological finds on a site designated for a new supermarket.
The second series continues to use child actors playing the characters, with The Clinton Street Crime Wave including Hector and Lenni, then Digging for Clues featuring Hector and Tina from the Ghostwriter gang plus their mysterious correspondent Maartje.
|A Match of Wills|
|1.||A Match of Wills Part 1||26 Apr 1993|
|2.||A Match of Wills Part 2||10 May 1993|
|3.||A Match of Wills Part 3||17 May 1993|
|4.||A Match of Wills Part 4||24 May 1993|
|Steer Clear of Haunted Hill|
|5.||Steer Clear of Haunted Hill Part 1||14 Jun 1993|
|6.||Steer Clear of Haunted Hill Part 2||21 Jun 1993|
|7.||Steer Clear of Haunted Hill Part 3||28 Jun 1993|
|8.||Steer Clear of Haunted Hill Part 4||5 Jul 1993|
|9.||Steer Clear of Haunted Hill Part 5||12 Jul 1993|
|The Clinton Street Crime Wave|
|10.||Two Robberies||25 Apr 1995|
|11.||The Red Glove||2 May 1995|
|12.||Through the Skylight||9 May 1995|
|13.||The Abandoned Building||16 May 1995|
|14.||Helping Out||23 May 1995|
|Digging for Clues|
|15.||The Pendant||6 Jun 1995|
|16.||Who is Maartje?||13 Jun 1995|
|17.||Treasure Hunt||20 Jun 1995|
First a summary of the stories and when they were broadcast:
|1992-93||-||-||A Match of Wills||Steer Clear of Haunted Hill|
|1993-94||-||-||Match of Wills||Steer Clear...|
|1994-95||-||Match of Wills||Steer Clear...||The Clinton Street Crime Wave||Digging for Clues|
|1995-96||-||-||Clinton Street...||Digging for Clues|
|1996-97||-||-||Clinton Street...||Digging for Clues|
|1999-2000||-||-||Clinton Street...||Digging for Clues|
|2000-01||-||Match of Wills||Steer Clear...||Clinton Street...||Digging for Clues|
|2005-06||-||-||Clinton Street...||Digging for Clues|
And details of the transmissions:
- Summer 1993 - Mondays 10:15am on BBC Radio 5, repeated Tuesdays 2:15am on BBC Radio 3
- Summer 1994 - Saturdays 2:00am on BBC Radio 3
- The original plans were for Ghostwriter to be broadcast in exactly the same slots as the previous year, Mondays at 10:15am on BBC Radio 5 repeated later on Tuesday morning at 2:15am on BBC Radio 3. As BBC Radio 5 was closed at the end of the spring term and all school radio broadcasts moved to BBC Radio 3 the schedule was re-jigged.
- Spring 1995 - Fridays 2:00am on BBC Radio 3 (double bills in the first half of term)
- Summer 1995 - Tuesdays 2:35pm on BBC Radio 3
- The original plans previewed in the annual programme guide for schools would see the new, second series this year split between autumn and spring terms, with a repeat of Steer Clear of Haunted Hill in the autumn followed by one new story, and a repeat of A Match of Wills in the spring followed by the other new story. Timeslots for these broadcasts were never announced, and what actually transpired was a repeat of the first series in the spring, and the new second series in the summer as shown in the grid above.
- Summer 1996 - Wednesdays 1:00am on BBC Radio 3 (double bills)
- Summer 1997 - Fridays 4:30am on BBC Radio 3
- Summer 2000 - Thursdays 4:20am on BBC Radio 3
- Spring 2001 - Thursdays 4:10am on BBC Radio 3
- Summer 2001 - Thursdays 3:20am on BBC Radio 3
- Summer 2006 - Thursdays 4:20am on BBC Radio 4 Digital
|A Match of Wills narrated by||Rico Ross|
|Steer Clear of Haunted Hill with||Andrea Way as Gaby|
Jason Costa as Alex
|The Clinton Street Crime Wave and Digging for Clues with||Children from The American School in London as Hector, Lenni, Tina & Maartje|
These few credits are transcribed by ear. If you can help fill any gaps please get in touch by email!
A booklet of teacher's notes was available every term, covering both stories for the term combined. These were initially printed and available to order for £2.50. For the final repeat run in summer 2006, a PDF version of the series 2 notes, without professional layout & design, was made available freely on the BBC School Radio website.
The notes include worksheets with spaces to write down the clues from each episode and questions about the characters.
Each series was also available to schools as a double audio cassette pack in the year when it was broadcast from 1995 onwards, initially costing £2.00 and rising to £2.30 (including VAT) by 2001. For the final repeat in summer 2006 the cassette had risen to £4.00 +VAT and this series was also distributed on CD for £4.50 +VAT.
In the 1990s the BBC also distributed copies of a small number of the Ghostwriter paperback books to schools, specifically including the novel A Match of Wills from the radio series, plus the titles Courting Danger and Other Stories, The Ghostwriter Detective Guide and The Big Book of Kids' Puzzles
Sources & References
- BBC Schools Annual Programme Guides and Resource Catalogues, 1992-2006
- BBC Schools Order Forms, 1992-2001
- BBC Schools Termly Timetables, 1993-2001
- Radio Times radio listings, 1993-2001 including via the BBC Genome Programme Index
- Times Educational Supplement radio listings, 1993-1997
And recordings of all 17 programmes
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