“Banquo’s Chair”, a radio play, adapted from Rupert Croft-Cooke’s story for the “Suspense” programme by Sigmund Muller, featuring Donald Crisp, John Loder, Hans Conreid and Ian Wolfe, produced by William Spier, and directed by Ted Bliss, was first broadcast on June 1, 1943:
From Chapter Ten, “Freelance”, of The Numbers Came by Rupert Croft-Cooke (London, 1963), pp. 117-18:
Those were the days [in 1926] of the short story. There were scores of monthly magazines on the bookstalls which published nothing else and many writers lived on them. From the grandeur of the Strand, which featured Kipling and Conan Doyle, to little magazines known by their colour, the Blue, the Red, the Violet, the variety was enormous. Most of the serious reviews published short stories, too, and several of the glossies ran one a week. The stories what apt to begin—‘We were sitting on the verandah of Wilkinson’s bungalow in Saharanpur and the bearer had just brought our chhota pegs . . .’ Or, ‘For the first time in fifteen years little Mr. Pincott was late for his morning train . . .’ but within the set framework it was possible to write well.The dangerous influence of O. Henry was very strong; the powerful plot, the snap ending were not quite essentials but for unknown writers they were almost a condition of acceptance. Moody, abusive bits of writing, full of nuance and delicacy were at a discount; a straightforward story with something happening all the time and a surprise in the last line were what every editor required.Now it happened that I had in my head such a story, remarkably eventful, black-and-white in characterization and effect, and with a bang at the end that would sink a battle ship. All I had to do was set it down. The most skilled and sensitive writer could not have made of it more than it was, a plot, a strong pot, and nothing but a plot.I did it first as a short story and sold it to the first paper offered it, the Graphic. Then, with this new-fangled wireless being listened to by every one, I wrote it as a wireless play and hit the target again, not forgetting to sell an article to the Daily Express called ‘Writing a Wireless Play’ which was published on the day of its production. It was produced by Howard Rose from 2LO, as we used to say, with Michael Hogan playing the murderer, on May 21, 1926, and I received five guineas for the performance. Why not, then, a stage play? Soon done, and Banquo’s Chair was published by the Year Book Press the same year and has brought me an annual cheque from amateur performances ever since. As this usually arrives on my birthday in June, and as in its thirty-five years of life I never yet remembered that it is coming, it has the unexpectedness of a birthday present. The play’s attraction for amateurs, I am told, is that it has an all-male cast and so can be done by Scout Troops and Men’s Clubs. Sometimes when these have been doing too much of The Bathroom Door or The Dear Departed my cheque has been as little as £3 but in a good year it has touched forty. The thing has been filmed, it has been presented on Television by Alfred Hitchcock, and broadcast in several languages, while as a short story it has been reprinted and translated countless times. All for a plot.
See also the teleplay of “Banquo’s Chair”.