Opening in 1875, the Crime Museum at Scotland Yard is the oldest museum in the world purely for recording crime. The name "Black Museum" was coined in 1877 by a reporter from "The Observer", a London newspaper, although the museum is still referred to as the Crime Museum. It is this museum that inspired The Black Museum radio series, produced in London by Harry Alan Towers.
From Jay Hickerson's "The Ultimate History of Network Radio Programming and Guide To All Circulating Shows", the earliest US broadcast date was January 1, 1952. Thirty nine shows, from the full syndication of fifty two shows, aired over Mutual stations from January 1, 1952 through June 24, 1952 and September 30, 1952 through December 30, 1952.
This may be the earliest broadcast of the series worldwide. It was later broadcast over Radio Luxembourg starting May 7, 1953. Radio Luxembourg broadcast sponsored programs at night to England (the BBC was state-owned and had no commercials). The shows were sponsored by Dreft and Mirro (cleaning products).
The series continued to be offered in syndication and was heard on AFRTS broadcasts and in the US on NPR stations through the 1960's, 70's and 80's. Some shows were broadcast by the BBC in England in 1994.
This murder mystery series was based on true life cases from Scotland Yard's files. Each episode was based on an item or items of evidence in the museum.
Orsen Welles hosted and narrated the shows. Mr. Welles opened each show slightly differently but followed a standard format. For example, the show, "The Bathtub", open as follows:
"This is Orson Welles speaking from London." (Big Ben starts himing in the background). "The Black Museum, repository of death... Here, in this grim stone structure on the Thames which houses Scotland Yard, is a warehouse of homicide, where everyday objects, a piece of wire, a chemist's flask, a silver shilling, all are touched by murder." (dramatic music)
Following the opening, Mr. Welles would introduce the museum's item or items of evidence that was central to the case, leading into the dramatization. He also provided narration during the show and ended each show with his characteristic closing from the days of his Mercury Theater of the Air, remaining "obediently yours".
Harry Alan Towers produced the series from scripts written by Ira Marion. Music was composed and conducted by Sidney Torch.
The museum was not open to the general public. It's purpose was then, and still is, for police training, although it did receive a considerable number of famous people, including Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It is currently used as a lecture theater for the police and like bodies in various subjects of Criminology. But, thanks to Mr. Towers and Mr. Welles, we can still get a glimpse of what secrets are housed in The Black Museum.
From the Old Time Radio Researchers Group. See "Notes" Section below for more information on the OTRR.
It contains the most complete and accurate version of this series in the best sound possible at the time of creation. An updated version will be issued if more episodes or better sounding ones become available.
This is the Single Episodes Page. The Certified Set includes extras not found here. It is located at OTRR Certified Set. This Single Episodes page is provided in case you want to sample the shows.Note that in many cases, file names have been modified from the original OTRR names to conform to archive.org naming requirements.
If you are interested in preserving Old Time Radio (OTR), you may wish to join the Old Time Radio Researchers Group at Facebook and Groups.io.
Relax, listen, and enjoy!
OTRR Maintained Set -- This set contains all known episodes in the best available audio condition with the most accurate dates and titles known to be in general circulation and based on current research at the time of release. Replaces OTRR Certified Accurate and OTRR Certified Complete.
OTRR Non-Maintained Set -- A collection of shows that has not gone through the OTRR Maintenance process.
Pre-2019 OTRR Definitions:
OTRR Certified Accurate -- A series that was "Certified Accurate" indicated that all the episodes were properly identified and labeled based on current information but that the series did not contain all known extant episodes.
OTRR Certified Complete -- A series that was "Certified Complete" achieved the highest level of certification available under the OTRR Certified Standards. This certification level implied that all the files in the series were "Certified Accurate" and also indicated that the series was as complete as possible and included all circulating episodes.
OTRR Non-Certified -- A collection of shows that has not gone through the OTRR Certification process.
Also, beginning in 2019, the version numbers of our OTRR releases changed format -- instead of v1.0 or v2.1, we are now using a version number that reflects the year and month the set was released. The format used is a two-digit year followed by a two-digit month. For example, "v1906" indicates a set that was released in June 2019, or "v1910" indicates a set released in October 2019.
NOTE: There are no passwords for any of our ZIP files. If you are prompted for a password, before downloading the file again, try unzipping the file into a shorter full folder path name -- for example, unzip to "C:\" instead of "C:\Documents and Settings\your_Windows_ID\some_other_folder\". Sorry, some of our releases contain long folder and file names, which sometimes manifests itself on the Windows platform as prompting for a password for the ZIP file. Or try renaming the ZIP file itself to a shorter name before unzipping.
June 30, 2020 Subject:
Private or Public
The BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) is a British public service broadcaster. Its main responsibility is to provide impartial public service broadcasting in the UK, Channel Islands and Isle of Man.
BBC is a public corporation of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport.
DCMS is a ministerial department, supported by 45 government agencies and public bodies.
In other words although the BBC is not a State Broadcaster it is wholly owed Broadcaster of the State which is charged with impartial broadcasting of news, entertainment and education without fear or favour.
Unfortunately in recent years that impartiality has been subject to question with its heavy left wing bias and promotion of social, woke and politically correct issues which have alienated a large section of the licence paying public.
The Black Museum recording are excellent and hark back to the great days of the BBC. Unfortunately that is no longer the case.
January 24, 2018 Subject:
BBC is not state-owned
Thank you for this wonderful series. It is always great to hear Orson Welles.
However, there is an incorrect sentence in the introductory episode: "Radio Luxembourg broadcast sponsored programs at night to England (the BBC was state-owned and had no commercials)."
It is true that Radio Luxembourg was a commercial radio station and that its programmes were supported by advertising. It is also true that the BBC (which at that time included the Home Service, the Light Programme and the Third Programme) had no adverts whatsoever.
It is NOT true that the BBC is, or has ever been, "state-owned", despite frequent allegations in US media that it is a "government broadcaster", "government-owned", "state broadcaster", etc.. The BBC is a public corporation, independent of the state, and supported by a licence fee paid by listeners. (That fee is now only paid by people with televisions, no longer for radio, which would now be impossible to enforce.) The only state involvement is support from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (what in other countries is called the Foreign Ministry) for the BBC World Service, which is nevertheless run independently and is relied upon worldwide by billions of people for verifiable up-to-date information, as opposed to the propaganda and "fake news" or "alternative facts" supplied by some other national radio and TV broadcasters.
September 27, 2016 Subject:
The Black Museum - Single Episodes
It is a good show,except for one thing,that music that never seems to end.
October 1, 2015 Subject:
This radio was just as good today as it was at the time of being on the air. I enjoyed it years ago and even more, I love the whole idea of old radio programs as as ever Orsen Wells was wonderful.
February 5, 2013 Subject:
The Black Museum for Young and Old
This is such a joy to listen to these original episodes. Really, it's like the first time all over again, as the last time I heard these I was a young boy with a home-built AM radio staying up too late on school nights. That was over 40 years ago. I also listened back then to the Lives of Harry Lime, which I noticed is also here on the archives.
December 5, 2009 Subject:
When I first encountered this series on an OTR web site, the sound was poor and I didn't listen to the full show. My mistake. The episodes are not necessarily mysteries - often more just crime stories gradually laid out. It's Orson Welles' role as the narrator that makes the show. It's like going to your local coffee shop to listen to some music and having Bob Dylan doing an acoustic set. These aren't convoluted whodunits, but they are classic "theatre of the mind" shows.
May 10, 2007 Subject:
This is one of my favorites. Welles acts as a catalyst for the stories. The story lines, acting, and writing are very good, and Welles just adds to the fun.
September 15, 2006 Subject:
The English capacity for strange, bizarre crimes
has produced plots far more original than
any concocted by mere writer's invention. Coupled
with Orson Welles narration, a really enjoyable