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The Black Door


A 21 year old man is made to stay in an ancient mansion in order to procure his inheritance. The key apparently is behind a strange black door on the topmost floor.



Air Dates

  • First Run - June 23, 1978
  • Repeat - December 21, 1978





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18 Responses to Episode 0854

Based on a story by Sir Aurthur Conan Doyle, this program is an intriguing play of suspense. We learn of a young man who knows of a secret but who cannot explore the secret until his 21st birthday. Though a bit predictable, the story is well acted and well written and is certainly worth the listen. Reply With Quote

otr addict

A Sir Arthur Conan Doyle tale... Set in London, an attorney comes to the aid of a young man who lives alone in a large house. The young man sprained his ankle in the street and the attorney helps him up and into the large mansion. He discovers that the young man appears to live only in one room of the mansion - which he inherited from his father. Upstairs there is a room with a black door that is locked and sealed with a wax seal. The young man tells the attorney that he has no idea what is in the room and that he is forbidden from opening it until his 21st birthday. A little later in our story that day arrives. At midnight, along with his new attorney friend, and his fathers most trusted employee he prepares to open the door.

Joshua Jr.

A young man is forced to live in an old mansion to await his inheritance when he turns 21. The key to his inheritance lies behind a mysterious black door on the top floor.

Lance G.

I must admit that I am not well-read in the works of Conan Doyle, but I would say that this is a good script, well-performed , produced, and directed, with a nice foreboding tone. I appreciate the fact that Mr Brown seems to have directed the actors away from using any kind of bogus British accents, but instead simply suggests England with a gentle, cultivated dialect------Mr. Cartwright (Played by Guy Sorrell? Sorry, I'm not sure.) is especially wonderful--a really fine, well-modulated character performance. The dramatic conceit of this mysterious Black Door, and the thing that lies behind it, seems an especially good choice for audio drama---a vaguely threatening image, described only briefly by the playwright, allowed to grow more and more sinister in the listener's mind as the characters in the play react to it. If there are any shortcomings, I believe they lie not with the script but with the plot of the story from which it was adapted. I mean, it's pretty obvious from the beginning what must lie behind the door. No great mystery there. Then again, perhaps this story is not so much about mystery as it is about the suspense that builds when WE know what's behind the door and the characters don't---Hitchcock's McGuffin. I couldn't help wondering, though, how people could have lived in the house all that time and never noticed the smell of a corpse in the room upstairs. :? That's quite a gaping hole, in my opinion. Does the fault lie with the adaptation or the original story? Any opinions from listeners who've read the story would be most welcome. In the meantime, I'll have to read it for myself and find out.

Meljohn Forbes

Though I've never read the story that this program was based on, I enjoyed it for the mystery. I had guessed what was behind the black door well in advance of the conclusion but I felt the dialogue kept this story entertaining. There were a couple of side issues such as the narrow escape from being hit by the carriage and the cane being found at the scene of one near miss that kept the suspense going.

Tony Mend

Great observations. In addition to the smell, I wonder how the main character would have been able to recognize the body as his father's given that the corpse must not have looked anything like his last memory. I, too, found the story a bit predictable but there were enough things going on that I had to question my prediction well into the third act.


Yeah, I guess I'm being a bit nit-picky about the plot. Despite making the connection between the father's absence and the locked door, I honestly did very much enjoy listening to the show. It was wonderfully moody, and the acting and production values were terrific. AND, as E.G. Marshall points out, it's more than a mystery; it's about honor. I imagine that in England at the time the story was written, the theme of honor had quite a bit more resonance. Here's a rich, respected guy who would rather be locked up in a sealed room and croak himself than be dishonored, abandoning a wife he KNOWS is dying as well as causing his poor son to become orphaned and, eventually, quite neurotic. Looking at the story from that perspective, the black door becomes quite a tidy little metaphor regarding the repressive nature of English society in Sir Arthur's day. That's pretty brilliant. (Now I've really gotta read that story!)


I didn't take your critique as nit-picky at all. In fact, I think you picked up on some very interesting points that I hadn't considered and you articulated these points extremely well. Your follow-up message also reveals some terrific analysis and I'm also going to be looking to read the original story. I truly appreciate you comments as they are the essence of why we have the show of the week - to learn from others. One point I didn't make in my first post has to do with E.G. Marshall's opening comments. I think this could have been one of the best introductions I've heard: "Today's tale is a story of a secret. Who among us doesn't have some skeleton in the closet....unwanted, unwished for. As an ancient proverb tells us, a secret is your slave, if you keep it...your master, if you lose it."

A. Lambert

I, too, thought I had it figured out, but had to question my prediction as the story unfolded. The tension built nicely although the denoumont may have been a little overlong. I would have prefered a few more clues frontloaded and the opening of the door later in the episode. I really enjoyed this story although I think it falls short of some of the Sherlock Holmes stories. I gave it a 4.


This was a very enjoyable tale of suspense. I found myself thinking I knew what was in the closet but changing my mind throughout the tale along with second guessing myself. At first, I thought it was a pile of money that perhaps the father thought would best be given when the son was 21 (like many inheritances are set up if a parent dies so the child doesn't squander the money before being of an age where they can make more sound decisions). Then I gravitated towards thinking it was the father up there and trying to figure out how the family advisor fit in with the whole secret. I was guessing that he had some sinister involvement and trapped the father up there, writing the letters to the wife and son himself as a forgery. In the end it was a surprise to me that the family advisor had no role in the trapping of the father in that room.


Hi Everyone! Just an FYI for anyone who, like me, is not a Conan Doyle officianado but wants to read the story and is having some trouble finding it. After a bit of searching online, I discovered that the title of the original story is \"The Sealed Room\".


i enjoyed this show and was wrong with my guess of what was behind the door. i thought the father was still alive and watching the son. i think i liked it also because it was set at the turn of the century. if they are done well they can be very full and rich to me. QUESTION; does a show appeal to you more or less if it's set in another place or time? i guess it's more of an escape for me. i also have a new respect for Kevin MaCarthy. i can only say i've seen him in Invasion of the Body Snatchers. i liked him in that too. the actor who played the servant did a great job.

Ms. Elep

I actually dislike those set in other places and times. Sometimes they break through anyway, but generally I don't an urge not to listen. Give me a crazy suburban 70s plot in Ohio any day...


Interesting question. I'm not sure if I can give a general statement that I always like stories from a different time setting but I sure thought this one was very well done. As Steve noted, I thought the proper English was perfect for the setting and as I was listening, I noted that the lamp falling in the room left me with a perfect image of a time without electric lights - another nice effect that put this play in the 1800's for me.

Lorrie Jane A.

I just got done posting about The Secret Chamber ... as I said with that show, these gothic horror tales could be predictable but when they are done on RMT they still have the full effect. Listening to these shows since last spring has prompted me to go to the bookstore and delve into the works of Conan Doyle, Guy de Maupassant and others. Another show I really enjoyed is Once Upon An Island (800121), which was written by a more obscure gothic horror writer of Conan Doyle's era, I can't remember the name so anyone interested will have to listen to the show! I think The Black Door was especially good because of the fragile nature of the young man, and the fact that it was a "period" piece and you could picture a foggy London. Good show!


I just listened to this one on the way home from work. Fair-to-middling outing, I'd say. One thing confused me, though. :? To whom did that first walking stick belong? And were both of the "near-miss" carriage encounters just random accidents? Actually, looking back, I guess the father's letter was rather poignant. Thanks again for this website. What a treat!


I like "The Black Door" very much.


Several spoilers in above posts without the cautionary, ‘spoiler alert’. How about a little more thougtfulness toward those who read comments to aid in their decision to listen or skip an episode.


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