If you thought gardening, real ale and Morris dancing was harmless, think again!
The Scarifyers is a comedy audio series created by writing duo Simon Barnard and Paul Morris. Each story follows the work of Professor Dunning and Harry Crow, bewildered investigators for the secretive MI:13. Terry Molloy and David Warner star as Dunning and Crow respectively. When the series began back in 2006, Nicholas Courtney co-starred as Inspector Lionheart alongside Molloy. Following Courtney’s death in 2011, Warner stepped in as Harry Crow.
“MI:13? I thought that said Mib!”
Each episode takes on a different supernatural horror that falls into the “so weird we don’t want to deal with it” category. The bumbling Professor Dunning and exasperated Crow make for an unlikely but endearing team. Warner puts his dry voice to good use in his performance as Crow. Meanwhile, Molloy – who Doctor Who fans will know best as Davros – puts his incredible range to good use. Professor Dunning’s attempts to fit in with people is both hilarious and adorable, making him an incredibly likeable character.
Wellies and Bras
In this outing, a bunch of wellies show up at MI:13 headquarters. The only problem? They’ve still got feet in them. Some ankle-biter has a thing against gardeners. A similar death at Crow’s favourite pub leads the duo to the terrifying contents of the Six Bells’ loo. While Dunning hunts down the origins of a strange gnome, Crow must contend with magic Morris dancers and the contents of a BRA (Beer and Real Ale Association). You may already be able to tell that this story doesn’t stand still for very long.
Since I don’t want to spoil anything, it’s hard to go into much more detail. Suffice to say it’s a bizarre and very funny story that pulls jokes in rapid succession. It’s so fast paced that the few jokes which don’t quite land barely have time to fall flat before something else funny comes along. It’s a style that seems characteristic of Morris and Barnard and it works really well for these actors.
Early Christmas Present
Keep listening after the closing theme for a special short ‘Mr Crowley’s Christmas’ featuring Nicholas Courtney. This was one of three Christmas-themed minisodes broadcast on BBC Radio 4 Extra in 2010. A nice little vignette that pays tribute to the late, great Courtney.
The Scarifyers is a certain type of Radio 4 humour that won’t be to everyone’s taste, since comedy is very subjective. But I found it a hilarious, Douglas Adams-y knockabout that’s certainly worth a listen.
Blogtor Rating – 7/10
When MI:13’s mortuary begins filling up with the disembodied feet of gardening enthusiasts, Harry Crow (David Warner) and Professor Dunning (Terry Molloy) are plunged into a sinister world of garden allotments, topiary fowl and gaudy garden ornaments.
When the landlord of Harry’s local, the Six Bells, is also found minus his snakeskin brothel creepers (and their contents), Crow and Dunning are plunged into a more sinister world still – of Morris dancers, exceptionally strong ale and all-powerful ancient Indian deities.
What is the dark secret of the Six Bells privy? Are the Beer and Real Ale Association merely hirsute eccentrics, or something else? And what is the real purpose of Morris dancing? Crow and Dunning discover that horticulture can be a dangerous business, as they find themselves pitted against their shortest foes yet… THE GNOMES OF DEATH
Written By: Simon Barnard & Paul Morris
Directed By: Simon Barnard
David Warner (Harry Crow), Terry Molloy (Professor Dunning), Matthew Holness(Thomas Kelley), David Benson (Alexander Caulfield-Browne/ Captain Hawkins), Ewan Bailey (Arachius Fitch/ Albert the gardener), Lizzie Roper (Ettie the Barmaid/ Mrs Crevice), Phil Rose (Bunny Cheesewright), Stuart Silver (Doctor Slither/ barman), Lucy Scott (Ethel/ Miss Crevice)