Program Information

All Program Information: General Details

Specific episodes:
1. “William and Mary” (3/31/61)
2. “The Down Car” (4/7/61)
3. “The Sisters” (4/14/61)
4. “Button, Button” (4/28/61)
5. “I Heard You Calling Me” (5/5/61)
6. “The Croaker” (5/12/61)
7. “False Face” (5/26/61)
8. “Dissolve to Black” (6/2/61)
9. “Death Wish” (6/9/61)
10. “Overnight Case” (6/16/61)
11. “Hush, Hush” (6/23/61)
12. “Side Show” (6/30/61)
13. “Soft Focus” (7/7/61)
14. “20/20” (7/14/61)

General Details

  • First episode: May 31, 1961
  • Runtime: 30 minutes (USA)
  • Production Company: Talent Associates
  • Distributor: CBS Television

Episode 1: “William and Mary”

  • First aired on March 31, 1961
  • Based on “William and Mary”
  • Written by: Roald Dahl
  • Directed by: Marc Daniels
  • Cast:
    • Roald Dahl as Host
    • Mildred Dunnock as Mary Pearl
    • Henry Jones as William Pearl
    • Fritz Weaver as Dr. Landy
    • Barnard Hughes as Dr. Foster
  • Dahl’s introduction: How are you? This is the control room of a CBS television studio and we’re just about to start a new show. Now you may find that this particular play disturbs you just a tiny bit as it goes along. If it does, let me assure you that that’s nothing to what it did to me when I wrote it. I thought it was perfectly beastly. The play is called “William and Mary” and it is not for children. It is not for young lovers either, or for people who have stomach difficulties. It is more perhaps for wicked old women who relish a juicy plot where all sorts of nasty things happen which they can then wish upon their closest friends and their loving husbands. You see, it’s ‘way out.
  • Dahl’s conclusion: I wonder if we ought to put a gold fish in that tank with Professor Pearl to keep him company. Anyway, I believe that the kind of therapy you’ve just witnessed will one day be available to all of us. Then we can have wives and husbands livings snugly together side by side in the same basin, maybe for hundreds of years at a stretch. Won’t that be nice? And she’ll be able to keep her eye upon him every moment of the day and night. If you’re interested, why don’t you consult your doctor? We’ll have another one for you next week at the same time. Goodnight and sleep well.

Episode 2: “The Down Car”

  • First aired on April 7, 1961
  • Written by: Philip H. Reisman Jr.
  • Directed by: Marc Daniels
  • Cast:
    • Roald Dahl as Host
    • Frank Overton
    • George Turner as John Ventry
    • Ray Walston

Episode 3: “The Sisters”

  • First aired on April 14, 1961
  • Written by: Irving Gaynor Neiman
  • Directed by: Tom Donovan
  • Cast:
    • Roald Dahl as Host
    • John Gibson
    • Carmen Matthews as Harriet
    • Lois Smith
    • Paul Stevens Paul Stevens

Episode 4: “Button, Button”

  • First aired on April 28, 1961
  • Written by: Elliott Baker
  • Directed by: Tom Donovan
  • Cast:
    • Roald Dahl as Host
    • Warren Finnerty as Sgt. Gee
    • Conard Fowkes
    • Sean Garrison
    • Richard Morse as Capt. Stone
    • Tim O’Connor
    • Dick O’Neill
    • Lee Richardson
    • William Traylor

Episode 5: “I Heard You Calling Me”

  • First aired on May 5, 1961
  • Written by: Sumner Locke Elliott
  • Directed by: Daniel Petrie
  • Cast:
    • Roald Dahl as Host
    • Jean Cameron as Phone Operator
    • Anthony Dawson as George Frobisher
    • Neil Fitzgerald as Doctor
    • Constance Ford as Freda Mansfield
    • Angela Thornton as Rose Thorn
    • George Turner as Mr. Burnly
  • Dahl’s introduction: How are you? Now whether you know it or not, the female spider is a half-blind savage carnivore who will eat any insect she can get ahold of including the male of her own species. Quite obviously this makes life a rather perilous business for the male spider, especially if he happens to have licentious tendencies. And in order to effect a mating and escape with his life, he has to be both ingenious and exceedingly agile. Well, what about the male human? Our graveyards are filled with men who were neither agile nor ingenious enough to get away with it. The play you’re about to see is titled “I Heard You Calling Me,” and here for a happy change, two females concentrate entirely upon getting rid of each other and the male gets away without a scratch – which is of course, the way it always should be. It’s ‘way out.
  • Dahl’s conclusion: I have a maiden aunt in Norway who was actually rolled out of bed onto the floor three nights running by a ghost. But then she lives in what was once a very old trysting place. And about 400 years ago, they bricked up a naughty girl in the wall of that room. That sort of thing always produces a ghost. If your wife is extremely delicate and you tickle her to death, that will produce a ghost too – so you have to be careful. We’ll have another one for you next week at the same time. Good night and sleep well.

Episode 6: “The Croaker”

  • First aired on May 12, 1961
  • Written by: Philip H. Reisman Jr.
  • Directed by: Paul Bogart
  • Cast:
    • Roald Dahl as Host
    • John McGiver as Mr. Rana
    • Madeleine Sherwood as Cora Tench
    • Rex Everhart as Fred Tench
    • Paul E. Richards as Police Sgt. McGoogin
    • Richard Thomas as Jeremy Keeler
  • Dahl’s introduction: How are you? And how is your love life these days, you ladies? Because whatever happens, you should always try to remember that men are not nearly so preoccupied with the opposite sex as most women would like to think. Above all, you see, man is a colossal egotist, far more concerned with his own self than he is with females. And that, quite obviously, is why women are always having to doll themselves up to attract his attention. To me, the behavior of the male human is very much like that of the male frog. The frog whenever he feels a trifle amorous, calls to his female by blowing out his dewlap and letting it go with a burp. The female comes hoppity hop hop over to his side and waits eagerly, but by then the male has become so engrossed with the business of blowing his horn that he’s forgotten all about her and she actually has to nudge him several times before he turns to embrace her. That’s what happens with frogs but you see what I mean, don’t you. Our play, strangely enough, is called “The Croaker” by Phil Reisman Jr., and it is of course ‘way out.
  • Dahl’s conclusion: Are frogs happier than people? This is the question posed by the play you’ve just seen, and it’s a difficult one to answer. But several good friends of mine – all of them frogs – have told me that the price of people’s legs in the better frog restaurants is ridiculously high at the moment. And this, for one thing, is causing much unhappiness. We’ll have another story for you next week at the same time. Good night and sleep well.

Episode 7: “False Face”

  • First aired on May 26, 1961
  • Written by: Larry Cohen
  • Directed by: Paul Bogart
  • Cast:
    • Roald Dahl as Host
    • Martin E. Brooks as The Face
    • Dana Elcar as Flop House Proprietor
    • Gerry Jedd as Rita Singer
    • Lester Rawlins
    • Alfred Ryder as Michael Drake
  • Dahl’s introduction: How are you? Tonight’s play is about a gentleman who tried to alter his looks. And this brings us of course straight to the subject of hair styles for men. Take the crew cut for example – do you know why so many males have crew cuts nowadays? They all try to tell you it’s to save hair brushing but that’s bunkum. The real reason is that someone has spread the word that a short bristly crew cut imparts a powerful aura of virility to the male wearer. Well, maybe it does, but that’s not going to help him very much when the chips are down, is it? A lot of women, of course, are absolutely dotty about bald men – the balder the better. And then again, a lot of men are crazy about bald women, but these are rather hard to come by. The play you are about to see is called “False Face” by Larry Cohen, and naturally it’s ‘way out.
  • Dahl’s conclusion: Do you know any men who wear toupees? Because lots of them do and you will be astonished at the lengths to which these people will go to prevent detection. I know one toupee wearer who invariably sprinkles Epsom salts onto the shoulders of his jacket before attending a cocktail party. And then he goes around asking people if they can give him the name of a good hair tonic. Incredible, isn’t it? We’ll have another one for you next week at the same time. Good night and sleep well.

Episode 8: “Dissolve to Black”

  • First aired on June 2, 1961
  • Written by: Irving Gaynor Neiman
  • Directed by: William Corrigan
  • Cast:
    • Roald Dahl as Host
    • Leonardo Cimino as Nightime Murderer
    • Michael Conrad as Nightime Paul
    • Frank Daly as Victim
    • Mark Lenard as Daytime Paul
    • Dan Morgan as Daytime Murderer
    • Richard Morse as Daytime Harry
    • Moultrie Patten as George Carver
    • James Patterson as Nightime Harry
    • Kathleen Widdoes as Bonnie Draco
  • Dahl’s introduction: How are you? A lot of really heart-rending letters have come in recently from ladies across the country, and they’re all begging for a really good recipe. So let me tell you about Lady Winifred Rutle the famous female explorer. You’ve heard of her, haven’t you? I met her first just after she’d come back from India where she’d been staying with some old maharaja out there who just married his seventy-ninth wife. “But how on earth did you get rid of the others?” Lady Rutle had asked. “Very simple,” the maharaja answered. “I take the whiskers from a fully grown tiger and I chop them up into tiny bits. then I sprinkle them onto her food like pepper. It’s far neater than glass. It perforates the whole system and she’s gone in a few days. What’s more, the whiskers – being animal matter – dissolve completely soon afterwards.” “Pepper, my darling?” Lady Rutle said as soon as she got home, and since then she’s been happily married three more times. I’m not joking – this really does work, but where would we go to get tigers’ whiskers, I ask you? All this has nothing whatsoever to do with our play which is called “Dissolve to Black” by Irving Gaynor Neiman, and which is, of course, ‘way out.
  • Dahl’s conclusion: Well, I’m glad that’s over. We used up four actresses during rehearsals of that last scene where the girl disappears. And now we’re having trouble with their agents who want us to give each one of them screen credit as having starred in the show but we can’t possibly do that until their next of kin have been notified by the producer. We’ll have another one for you next week at the same time. Good night and sleep well.

Episode 9: “Death Wish”

  • First aired on June 9, 1961
  • Written by: Irving Gaynor Neiman
  • Directed by: Boris Sagal
  • Cast:
    • Roald Dahl as Host
    • Don Keefer as George Atterbury
    • Charlotte Rae as Hazel Atterbury
    • Heywood Hale Broun as Mr. Petard
    • Chuck Morgan as Charon
  • Dahl’s introduction: How are you? We have an idyllic little story tonight for your entertainment. It has to do with an undertaker and his friends. Now I’ve often wondered – haven’t you? – what sort of a man the average undertaker really is. Is he a gentle, sensitive, generous person who undercharges madly because he cannot bear to profit from misfortune? Or is he a rapacious and sinister individual, who reads the obituary columns in bed at night and broods all day upon the price of caskets. One doesn’t know. And none of us are in any hurry to find out either because we all figure, quite rightly, we’re bound to meet up with him in the end – just once anyway. But funnily enough I did find myself the other day being introduced to one of these gentlemen in someone’s house, and as I shook hands with him I saw his gaze traveling slowly down my body from head to toe and then back again, his eye measuring my exact length to the nearest inch. Apparently it was just a habit, but it shook me rigid. Our play is called “The Death Wish” by Irving Gaynor Neiman who wrote it originally as a thesis for his PhE – his Doctorate of Embalming. And you may be quite sure that it’s ‘way out.
  • Dahl’s conclusion: I don’t think anyone would dispute the fact that the funeral parlor is a peculiarly American institution. There’s nothing quite like it anywhere else in the world, I’m quite sure of that. And where my family comes from far up in the north of Norway they simply wouldn’t believe that such things could go on. You see, up there it’s terrifically cold the whole time and everything’s frozen solid all the year round. So when somebody pops off they simply sharpen his legs and hammer him into the ground like an enormous nail. We’ll have another one for you next week at the same time. Goodnight and sleep well.

Episode 10: “The Overnight Case”

  • First aired on June 16, 1961
  • Written by: Nicholas Pryor
  • Directed by: Boris Sagal
  • Cast:
    • Roald Dahl as Host
    • Martin Balsam as Bill Clayton
    • Barbara Baxley as Norma
    • Kevin McCarthy as Dr. Paul Sandham
    • Helen Stenborg
  • Dahl’s introduction: How are you? I had a letter this week from a Mrs. M in Topeka, Kansas and it simply said, “Dear Sir. How do I get rid of him? Please help me. He never watches television so you can say it out loud if you want to. I enclose fifty dollars.” Thank you for the money, Mrs. M, and this is what you do. Go out to a restaurant and order six oysters. Eat five of them and slip the last one into your handkerchief and take it home. Then bury it secretly in the soil of a potted plant in your living room. Got that? Twenty four hours later, go out to a fish market and buy a dozen oysters on the half shell and bring them home as a special supper treat for him and you. Then dig up the one that was buried and squeeze one drop of its juice – just one drop, mind you – on to each of the six oysters that you are serving to him. That’s all. It’s deadly, I promise you, and the beauty of this particular recipe is that after he’s gone you can collect a packet of dough by suing the fish shop for sending you a bad oyster. Our play tonight is about a woman who unfortunately did not know this simple little remedy, and it’s called “The Overnight Case” by Nicholas Pryor. This one is way, ‘way out.
  • Dahl’s conclusion: I’m told that during the last half hour the studio has been flooded with calls from women wanting to know where they can buy oysters out of season. I’m afraid they can’t but don’t lose heart, you girls. I shall have other recipes for you in due course, all equally efficacious. And there’ll be another play next week at the same time. Good night and sleep well.

Episode 11: “Hush-Hush”

  • First aired on June 23, 1961
  • Written by: Robert Van Scoyk
  • Directed by: Mel Ferber
  • Cast:
    • Roald Dahl as Host
    • Philip Coolidge as Professor Ernest Lydecker
    • Mary Cushman as Margaret Ainsley
    • John F. Hamilton as Janitor
    • Rosemary Murphy as Bernice Lydecker
    • Barry Newman as Police Officer
    • Woodrow Parfrey as William Rogers
  • Dahl’s introduction: How are you? Are you feeling tired and rundown? Are your eyeballs muddy? Is your breath not quite so sweet as usual, and do you sometimes lack the pep to go out dancing all evening with your wife after a hard day at the office? If so, you should try my grandmother’s famous tonic beverage which she always referred to as “Snake Water.” She made it simply by disconnecting the rubber pipe from the gas ring in the kitchen, and then bubbling the gas through a quart of beer for half an hour. Mind you, she never drank it herself. She gave it to my grandfather and the effect was astonishing. The old man would at once become extremely exhilarated, singing songs and leaping over the furniture everywhere – but it killed him in a month. Some of you, of course, may not have gas in your home. You can, however, achieve roughly the same results by picking the wadding out of one of those Benzedrine inhalers and soaking it for 12 hours in a tumbler of brandy. Your man will dance all night on that, but he’ll be a wreck in the morning and a goner within the week. I’ve purposely refrained from talking about tonight’s play for fear of giving away the plot. It’s called “Hush Hush” by Bob Van Scoyk and it’s ‘way out.
  • Dahl’s conclusion: The ease with which the average person can be hypnotized – providing he cooperates, of course – was well demonstrated last year in a certain European country. There a famous hypnotist appeared on television and invited his audience to let itself be put to sleep. Within five minutes about 20 million people were in a deep trance, and the hypnotist went on to say to them “I forbid you to wake up unless I personally give you the order.” The bounder then walked off the set and demanded a huge sum of money from the network to bring them ‘round. The network was panic-stricken and paid up, but since then nobody has ever been allowed to use hypnotism upon the television audience. Except of course, the producers. We’ll have another one for you next week at the same time. Good night and sleep well.

Episode 12: “Side Show”

  • First aired on June 30, 1961
  • Written by: Elliott Baker
  • Directed by: Seymour Robbie
  • Cast:
    • Roald Dahl as Host
    • Carolyn Groves as Betty
    • Murray Hamilton as Harold Potter
    • Martin Huston as Ronnie
    • Myron McCormick as Barker
    • Margaret Phillips as Cassandra
    • Doris Roberts as Edna Potter
  • Dahl’s introduction: How are you? Our play tonight is called “Side Show,” and it’s a rather curious coincidence that only two days ago, when I was in London, I cut something out of the newspaper on this very subject. Here it is. “William George Dobson, aged 54, a bank manager living in Pimlico, was brought before the magistrate yesterday charged with having broken into one of the sideshows of Lonegan circus on Monday night. Mr. Lonegan himself was in court to give evidence. “When I apprehended the culprit,” he said, “he was actually inside the cage where I keep my highly dangerous king cobra, and the silly ass was trying to coax the snake into a large suitcase with his umbrella.” The magistrate then asked the accused what he had intended to do with a cobra after he’d gotten it into the suitcase. “I was going to take it home as a surprise for my wife,” Mr. Dobson answered. He was released with a Caution. I can’t help wondering – can you? – exactly how Mrs. Dobson is going to make out in the days to come. Anyway, here is our play “Side Show” by Elliott Baker, and it’s ‘way out.
  • Dahl’s conclusion: For two days every summer, the Fair with all its roundabouts and sideshows comes to our village at home. And its chief attraction is unquestionably the Bearded Lady. The public queues up all evening around the tent just to get a quick look at her. And yet I happen to know that this particular bearded lady is nothing but a terrific fraud. She’s not a lady at all. She’s not even a woman. She’s a billy goat and they shave him all over every week except for his face but the customers don’t spot it. They’re all convinced that it’s a human female, which is really rather curious when you stop to think about it. Don’t you agree? We’ll have another one for you next week at the same time. Goodnight and sleep well.

Episode 13: “Soft Focus”

  • First aired on July 7, 1961
  • Written by: Philip H. Reisman Jr.
  • Directed by: Ron Winston
  • Cast:
    • Roald Dahl as Host
    • Dortha Duckworth as Mrs. Bickell
    • Joan Hotchkis as Louise Pell
    • Anne Meacham as Dolly Granger
    • Barry Morse as Peter Pell
    • Mitchell Ryan as Bill Fontaine

Episode 14: “20/20”

  • First aired on July 14, 1961
  • Written by: Jerome Ross
  • Directed by: Paul Bosner
  • Cast:
    • Roald Dahl as Host
    • Sudie Bond as Mrs. Jellifer
    • Frederick Rolf as Jellifer
    • Milton Selzer as Harvey Cartwright
    • Tom Shirley as Huddleston
    • Ruth White as Stephanie Cartwright
  • Dahl’s introduction: How are you? I have here a letter from Mrs. B of Long Island, which will be of great interest to all members of the Married Woman’s Union. “Dear Sir,” it says. “Some time ago in order to get rid of the rats on my premises I concocted a rat poison in my own kitchen. So as to make quite sure that it was effective, I decided to try it on my husband first. If it’ll work on him, I thought, it’ll sure as heck work on the rats. Well Sir, it worked on both and I should now like to pass on the recipe for the benefit of any lady in your audience who may have a rat in the house: Half a pound of chicken livers; quarter of a pound of mushrooms; the juice of a porcupine; and one-third stool of the species Amanita phalloides or the Death Cap. Cook well mash into a delicious paté. Yours truly, etc. PS – the Death Cap is very pretty little toadstool with a greenish-yellow top and there are plenty of them in the woods.” Thank you so much, Mrs. B of Long Island, and now before you all go running up to the woods with your baskets I strongly recommend that you watch tonight’s play by Jerome Ross. It’s called 20/20, and it’s ‘way out.
  • Dahl’s conclusion: Did you know that eyeglasses were originally invented by a man called Cornelius Romberg as far back as 1424? And that the lenses in Romberg’s glasses were made out of the bottoms of wine bottles? When he looked through them everything became tremendously blurred, and because of this he always made a point of putting them on when Mrs. Romberg came into the room. In the end, of course, the good wife evened things up by pouring a little carbolic acid into Mr. Romberg’s eyedrops. The whole story is fraught with romance. Good night and sleep well.

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