Dick Barton - Special Agent! Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

Dick Barton - Special Agent!

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Dick Barton was an adventure serial on BBC radio which ran daily between 1946 and 1951 for a total of 711 episodes. It featured Dick Barton, an ex-army officer, and his chums Snowy White and Jock Anderson. Together with Colonel Gardener, head of MI-13, and his assistant Jean Hunter, they pitted their wits against all manner of villainous rogues and saved Britain and the world from many a despicable plot.

Each episode lasted 15 minutes and the furious theme tune, The Devil's Gallop, is still widely recognised by older people today.

Playing Dick Barton was the actor Noel Johnson, who some dubbed 'the fastest man on radio' due to his ability to deliver dialogue accurately at a phenomenal speed. He was later replaced after requesting an increase in wages.

At its height, Dick Barton secured regular listening audiences of 15 million people in the UK. There was some concern, however, about the effect the programme might have on its large child audience. With this, and declining ratings in the early 1950s, the decision was eventually taken to cancel the show.

A new daily serial took its place, The Archers, a radio soap opera which continues to this day.

Dick Barton returned briefly in 1972, to help celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the BBC. Noel Johnson once again took the lead and for a brief period The Devil's Gallop was heard once more across the land.

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