BBC transfers HP Lovecraft drama to site of Rendlesham UFO incident

By Nic Rigby
BBC News, East

  • Published
The Whisperer in Darkness
Image caption,
The Whisperer in Darkness features actress Jana Carpenter

A podcast based on a 1930 American horror story has been relocated due to fresh inspiration from "rural English mythology" and an alleged UFO sighting.

The BBC Sounds drama The Whisperer in Darkness incorporates reports by US airmen who claimed to have seen a UFO in Rendlesham Forest, Suffolk in 1980.

Writer Julian Simpson visited locations in Suffolk with actress Jana Carpenter before penning the series.

His version is loosely based on the novella set in Vermont by HP Lovecraft.

Image caption,
Writer Julian Simpson and his wife actress Jana Carpenter visited the Rendlesham Forest UFO Trail as part of their research

Lovecraft's story is about strange sightings in the New England area of the USA.

The new BBC drama tells the story of an investigation into witchcraft, the occult and secret government operations - centred on Rendlesham Forest, which was home to the US airbase of RAF Woodbridge when the alleged "Rendlesham Forest incident" occurred in December 1980.

Image source, BBC/Colonel Charles Halt
Image caption,
Col Charles Halt, one of the servicemen who claimed to have witnessed the UFO at Rendlesham, is mentioned in the new drama

Simpson said there were parallels between Lovecraft's story and the UFO incident - which has never been conclusively explained.

"The Lovecraft tale is about a guy who lives in the woods. He's being visited by something - a kind of cosmic horror," he said.

"You never find out what is watching him, but there is an inference it is somehow otherworldly.

"Lovecraft was reading people like Arthur Machen and MR James [who set a number of his ghost stories in East Anglia] and was taking in a lot of their rural English mythology and turning it into his own thing."

Image source, Geograph/Simon Leatherdale
Image caption,
The disappearance of a character in the drama is linked to Rendlesham Forest and dark magic

Jana Carpenter, who plays one of the main characters called Kennedy Fisher, said: "Basically we just got in the car and drove around to all these places that we were thinking of using. We went to Woodbridge, Dunwich, Aldeburgh, Orford.

"You definitely get the sense that you're in a unique environment and it's not surprising that lots of mythologies can build up in this environment.

"It still feels disconnected, especially when you go to Orford, you have to drive through the forest to get to it."

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
One of Lovecraft's tales was turned into the film The Dunwich Horror

HP Lovecraft

  • Howard Phillips Lovecraft was a US horror writer who lived 1890-1937
  • His fiction which included The Call of Cthulhu and The Rats in the Walls, has achieved cult status, but was admired only by a small circle of friends in his lifetime
  • He favoured human contact by letter, rarely left his home, and even then, only at night, delighting to walk streets empty of people
  • Artist HR Giger cited Lovecraft as an influence on his designs for the Alien series of movies
  • Rock band Metallica released the instrumental Call of Ktulu on their second album
  • A Scooby-Doo episode featured a misanthropic horror writer named HP Hatecraft
  • Seven surprising ways HP Lovecraft influenced our pop culture

Source: BBC The Whisperer in Darkness and others

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