In 1954, Australasian Radio produced a radio dramatisation of The Dambusters based on Australian author Paul Brickhill’s best-seller of the same name, in 26 half-hour episodes. The series featured a top-line cast, most of who were ex-airmen, including former members of the “dam-busting’ 617 Squadron and Royal Australian Air Force personnel: Paul Brickhill, author and narrator, flew with No. 92 Squadron RAF attached from the Royal Australian Air Force. Producer, Gordon Grimsdale, was an ex-fighter pilot. Charles Tingwell, who played the role of Guy Gibson, flew Spitfires and Mosquitoes in the Western Desert. David Eadier who played Air Vice-Marshal Cochrane, was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross during WWII and took part in the first raid on the Tirpitz. And, ex-RAAF flight-lieutenant, Max Osbiston played the role of Australian Ace, Mick Martin.
“The wonder of this programme lies in the consistently true characterisation given by each performer.” [Around the Dial – Alexander MacDonald, 1 July 1954]
Author and Narrator: Paul Brickhill
Producer: Gordon Grimsdale
Scriptwriter: Morris West
Cast: Charles ‘Bud’ Tingwell, Allan Trevor, Coralie Neville, David Eadie, Alexander Archdale, Rod Taylor, Mary Jane Windsor.
Around the Dial – Alexander MacDonald
The Daily Telegraph, 1 July 1954 (pg. 8)
MY compliments to Messrs. Taylor, Eadie, Osbiston, Tingwell and Meillon for presenting, at last, a completely adult half-hour radio serial — The Dambusters, heard on Tuesday nights over Station 2UE.
Credit is also due, of course, to author Paul Brickhill and producer Gordon Grimsdale, but, as both these gentlemen are aware, one bad actor alone can make the most thoughtfully written script sound like a parody of itself.
The wonder of this programme lies in the consistently true characterisation given by each performer.
As one who finds it almost impossible to distinguish (in the daily serials) between even two members of the cast, it is a rare pleasure to recognise each individual in a group of six or more. And it’s a rarer pleasure still to be able to believe in their existence.
This conviction is seldom, felt. For example, Dr. Paul, in the soap opera of that name, is a mellifluous ham who, at times, might be pardonably mistaken for a snide politician or a genteel dope-addict.
The same applies to the amorphous creatures in Cross-roads of Life , When a Girl Marries, etc, who all employ a glib and similar technique.
There is no such ambiguity in the cast of The Dambusters. Mr. David Eadie is punctiliously the Group Commander. Messrs. Rodney Taylor and Max Osbiston are the unmistakably Australian pilots, each with his own nicely calculated air of bravado; and Mr. Tingwell is the quite sharply defined Wing Commander.
And so, in their variously curt, and free-and-easy exchanges of conversation, the men of Squadron 617 carry the listener with them, surely, swiftly and easily, on one of the most spectacular air adventures in history— the R.A.F. raids on the Ruhr dams.