The Mummy (radio)

The Mummy (radio)

“The Mummy” is a radio program from the American radio anthology series Radio Tales. The anthology series adapted classic works of American and world literature for the radio. The series was a recipient of numerous awards, including four Gracie Allen Awards from the Foundation of American Women in Radio and Television (in 2004, [ [ "AWRT Press Release"] Accessed March 21, 2008.] 2003, [ [ "NPR Productions Win Gracie Allen Awards"] Accessed March 21, 2008.] 2001, [ [ "2001 Gracie Allen Award Winners"], as indexed by the Internet Archive at Accessed March 21, 2008.] and 1998), a New York Festivals WorldMedal, [ [ "2004 Winners, Radio Programming and Promotion, New York Festivals"], as indexed by the Internet Archive at Accessed March 21, 2008.] and a Golden Reel Merit Award. [ [ "NFCB Announces 2001 Golden Reel Award Winners"], as indexed by the Internet Archive at Accessed March 21, 2008.] “The Mummy” program from the Radio Tales series was an adaptation of the classic horror novel The Jewel of Seven Stars by Bram Stoker.

Broadcast History

The Radio Tales production of “The Mummy” was first broadcast via NPR on October 5, 1999 [National Public Radio: "NPR Quarterly Edition Fall 1999". NPR Marketing, Vol. V, No. IV] . The program encompassed two half-hour installments that were distributed to NPR member stations as part of the NPR Playhouse cultural series. Since November 28th, 2002, the entire Radio Tales series has aired in reruns on the Sonic Theater channel (163) of the XM Satellite Radio service [ [ "Sonic Theater"] Accessed May 22, 2008.] . “The Mummy” program debuted on XM Satellite Radio on April 5, 2003.

Production Information

The program was produced and script edited by series producer Winnie Waldron, who also served as the on-air host [ [ "Winifred Phillips Official Site: Biography"] Accessed May 19, 2008.] . Composer Winifred Phillips created over fifty-six minutes of music for the program, and also performed as the featured actress [ [ "NPR Playhouse - January - March, 2001"] Accessed March 21, 2008.] . “The Mummy” was part of the fourth year of Radio Tales on NPR Playhouse [National Public Radio: "NPR Quarterly Edition Fall 1999". NPR Marketing, Vol. V, No. IV] .


The Radio Tales production of “The Mummy” has been available in numerous formats and venues, including burn-on-demand CDs manufactured and distributed by [ [ " Radio Tales"], as indexed by the Internet Archive at Accessed July 15, 2008.] and [ [ " Radio Tales"], as indexed by the Internet Archive at Accessed July 15, 2008.] . Beginning in 2005, programs from the series, including “The Mummy” program, have been available for download via the web site [ [ "audioVille | Stor>>Fiction | Radio Tales | Download Audio Books, Podcasts and more in MP3. Comedy, Fiction, sport, news, science, drama."] Accessed May 24, 2008.] .

Opening narration

Plot Summary

A policeman arrives at the door of the narrator with a letter from Abel Trelawny, an archeological colleague who requests immediate help – an attempt has been made on his life. The narrator goes to Trelawny’s residence, and is met by Trelawny’s professional associate Dr. Winchester, and another man named Corbeck who introduces himself as an Egyptologist under the employ of Trelawny. Corbeck proceeds to describe a recent expedition in which he discovered the tomb of an ancient queen of the 11th dynasty ascribed the name ‘Tera’. History reported this queen to be a student of the supernatural arts. She possessed a renowned gemstone – a seven-pointed ‘Jewel of Seven Stars’ – that was eventually placed in her mummified hand and sealed in her tomb. Inside the queen’s final resting place, Corbeck found several items, including an unusually large sarcophagus, a stone coffer, a series of lamps, and a mummified hand in a particularly well-preserved state. He also came upon the bodies of three aspiring grave-robbers who had apparently cut off the hand of the queen to get at the jewel she was holding. Corbeck found their bodies, burnt black and smeared with blood which had burst from their eyes, noses and mouths. Corbeck ascribes their grisly deaths to the “mummy’s curse”.

After finishing this story, Corbeck leads the narrator to the library where the artifacts from the tomb (including the sarcophagus) currently reside. Corbeck leaves, fetches Trelawny from his sick bed and helps him into a chair in the library. The narrator, the doctor and the Egyptologist pull up chairs around him. Trelawny tells of the attack he suffered, says that Queen Tera projected herself from beyond the grave to do him harm, and that he barely escaped. He says that the queen was obsessed with the idea of resurrection and had formulated a magical plan by which she might be restored from death. Then Trelawny shows them the “Jewel of Seven Stars”, which was found in the queen’s hand. The seven “stars” on the jewel are configured in the shape of the plough constellation, Trelawny says, although that constellation would not have existed in that shape at the time the jewel was fashioned. Trelawny tells them that the constellation would align perfectly with the jewel’s ‘seven stars’ in only a few hours, when the clock struck 3am – and it would be then that Trelawny would attempt to carry out the queen’s wishes and bring her back to life.

After this story is completed, Trelawny, Corbeck and Winchester proceed to open the sarcophagus, gingerly move the wrapped mummy to an adjacent table, and remove the many layers of bandages. When her body is revealed to be ‘in the blush of life’ and not a shriveled corpse as was expected, everyone is horrified and amazed. Recovering from their shock, the group begins preparations for the ritual that will resurrect the queen. The narrator takes charge of lighting or extinguishing the electric lights as directed, while Doctor Winchester positions himself to observe the queen’s body as Trelawny and Corbeck prepare to light the lamps that had been taken from the queen’s tomb. A thunderstorm lashes the house and rattles the shutters when, at 3am exactly, Corbeck and Trelawny ignite the lamps, and the narrator extinguishes the electric lights. The lamps reach full brightness, and at this point the stone coffer of the queen begins to glow brightly. The lid of the coffer lifts of its own accord and a vapor begins to drift from within it to the sarcophagus. The body of the queen now glows with blinding brilliance, and the narrator sees a hand rise up from within this light, holding the jewel of seven stars.

But at this moment, the storm rips open the shutters, and wind whips across the room. The flames of the lamps flicker, and the gas from the coffer turns into thick black smoke that obscures everything within the room. In an agony of suspense, the narrator waits for a command to turn on the lights, but from the deepening cloud of black smoke no command comes. Unable to wait any longer, the narrator flips the switch, finds the lights unresponsive, and gropes upstairs to find matches. Returning with a lit candle, the narrator finds that the smoke has dissipated, and the state of the room can now be seen. Corbeck, Trelawny and Winchester lay on the floor, their faces smeared with blood that has burst from their mouths, noses and eyes. The body of the queen has disappeared, and it seems that the narrator is the only survivor.

Critical Reception

“The Mummy” program from the Radio Tales series has received favorable reviews. In her review of the program for Billboard Magazine, Trudi Miller Rosenblum compared the program to “The Blair Witch Project", adding that “Phillips reads in a cultured voice that’s appropriate to Stoker’s formal language but is able to convey the appropriate tone of horror. Subtle and mysterious music adds to the atmosphere.” [Billboard Magazine: “Reviews & Previews". Billboard Music Group, September 25, 1999, page 25.] .


External Links

* [ The Mummy page on]
* [ The Official Radio Tales® Web Site]
* [ Radio Tales® Full Catalog on AudioVille]
* [ XM Satellite Radio's Sonic Theater Channel]

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