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    Jeremy Nicholas

    Just by chance, today I alighted on Radio 4 extra to find this 1963 broadcast, available on the BBC website for another 29 days. I was intrigued because there is no Jerome short story called The Dancing Partner. What was the source material? Eventually I found it hidden halfway through Chapter X1 of Novel Notes, imaginatively inflated from Jerome’s few pages into a half hour drama. I was struck most by the fact that the story relies on the recorded voices of mechanical dolls, animals…and a male ballroom dancer. In other words, Jerome uses the very recent invention of the ‘phonograph’ as the basis of this creepy story. Recent? Novel Notes was published in 1893. I wonder if there is an earlier example in fiction of this use of the new entertainment technology?
    Here are the programme details:
    “All I ask of a partner is that he shall hold me firmly, take me round steadily, and not get tired before I do.”
    When a group of young women complain about a lack of dance partners, a toymaker gets creative…
    Jerome K Jerome eerie tale adapted by Michael and Mollie Hardwick.
    Starring James Hayter as Papa Geibel, Rolf Lefebvre as Brendl, Sheila Grant as Trudi, Shirley Cooklin as Olga, Peter Pratt as Colonel Lens, Malcolm Hayes as Hans / Fritz, Patricia Clapton as Irma, Anthony Hall as Hoffmeier, Austin Trevor as Wensel and Allan McClelland as MacShaugnasay.
    Special effects by the BBC Radiophonic Workshop.
    Music arranged and conducted by Denya Barlow.
    Signature tune by Ron Grainer.
    Producer: Charles Lefeaux
    First broadcast on the BBC Home Service in January 1963.


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