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This story was published in Radio Recall, the journal of the Metropolitan Washington Old-Time Radio Club, published six times per year.

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(From Radio Recall, October 2005)

The cast of regulars on "Imagination Theatre" (Harry Nile, Kincaid the Strangeseeker, Sherlock Holmes, Raffles the Gentleman Thief) recently got some company.

Making her debut on Sunday nights was Hilary Caine, a cross between Sherlock Holmes and Ellery Queen whose cases are set in 1930s England. Karen Heaven, who was born in Britain, lived in Australia and now resides in the Seattle area, plays the title role.

"Imagination Theatre" is the drama series heard on about 140 stations around the country. It's also now carried on XM satellite radio.

Coming soon will be another intermittent series featuring Freddie Darnborough, a detective similar to literary character Lord Peter Wimsey. If those additions seem to give "Imagination Theatre" a distinctly British flavor, there's a reason: That's where most of the radio drama writers are these days.

Larry Albert, who performs multiple roles on the dramas, including taking over the part of Harry Nile when Phil Harper died last year, says "Imagination Theatre" now has six British writers regularly producing scripts for it.

"The problem is finding American writers," Albert adds. The show has put out calls for writers before, but they produced few responses and those who did respond either weren't adept with the genre or didn't like the pay, he says.

Radio drama has long been an endangered genre in the United States. But writing for radio is still seen as a viable occupation in Britain, Albert says, with many of the writers contributing to "Imagination Theatre" hoping to make the jump to the BBC.

"Imagination Theatre" is the creation of Jim French, who retired from KIRO in 1994. Does he miss daily radio? "Not one bit," he says decidedly. With the writing (he does the Harry Nile scripts), producing (including live shows at Kirkland Performance Center and a business of selling "Imagination Theatre" series on CD sets, "This is the happiest work I've ever gotten to do."

For more info, go to their web site at: http://jimfrenchproductions.com/itheater.php