The Adventures of Harry Lime

The Adventures of Harry Lime (broadcast in the United States as The Lives of Harry Lime) is an old-time radio programme produced in the United Kingdom during the 1951 to 1952 season. Orson Welles reprises his role of Harry Lime from the celebrated 1949 film The Third Man. The radio series is a prequel to the film, and depicts the many misadventures of con-artist Lime in a somewhat lighter tone than that of the film.


The Adventures of Harry Lime is one of the most successful series created by prolific British radio producer Harry Alan Towers and his company Towers of London. Towers and Graham Greene, author of The Third Man, had the same literary agent, and Towers learned that Greene had not sold the rights to the character of Harry Lime to Alexander Korda when he sold Korda The Third Man. Towers quickly bought the rights to the character and in 1951 he put a syndicated radio series into production. Orson Welles reprised the role of Harry Lime in a series of adventures that preceded the story told in The Third Man.[1]

Several episodes would begin with "The Third Man Theme" being played, abruptly cut off by an echoing gunshot. Then Welles would speak: "That was the shot that killed Harry Lime. He died in a sewer beneath Vienna, as those of you know who saw the movie The Third Man. Yes, that was the end of Harry Lime ... but it was not the beginning. Harry Lime had many lives ... and I can recount all of them. How do I know? Very simple. Because my name is Harry Lime."

Although often cited as a BBC production, the series was one of a number produced and distributed independently by Towers of London and syndicated internationally.


Only sixteen of the episodes were acquired and broadcast by the BBC in the UK. It was the first time that the BBC broadcast episodes of a dramatic series that it did not produce. The full series was syndicated to radio stations in the U.S.

Original air date#Episode title
3 August 19511"Too Many Crooks"
10 August 19512"See Naples and Live"
17 August 19513"Clay Pigeon"
24 August 19514"A Ticket to Tangiers"
31 August 19515"Voodoo"
7 September 19516"The Bohemian Star"
14 September 19517"Love Affair"
21 September 19518"Rogue's Holiday"
28 September 19519"Work of Art"
5 October 195110"Operation Music Box"
12 October 195111"Golden Fleece"
19 October 195112"Blue Bride"
26 October 195113"Every Frame Has a Silver Lining"
2 November 195114"Mexican Hat Trick"
9 November 195115"Art Is Long and Lime Is Fleeting"
16 November 195116"In Pursuit of a Ghost" (aka "El Zorro")
23 November 195117"Horse Play" (aka "The Racetrack")
30 November 195118"Three Farthings for Your Thoughts"
7 December 195119"The Third Woman"
14 December 195120"An Old Moorish Custom"
21 December 195121"It's a Knockout"
28 December 195122"Two Is Company"
4 January 195223"Cherchez La Gem"
11 January 195224"Hands of Glory"
18 January 195225"Double Double Trouble" (aka "The Double Double Cross")
25 January 195226"Five Thousand Pengoes and a Kiss"
1 February 195227"Dark Enchantress"
8 February 195228"Earl on Troubled Waters"
15 February 195229"The Dead Candidate"
22 February 195230"It's in the Bag"
29 February 195231"Hyacinth Patrol"
7 March 195232"Turnabout is Foul Play"
14 March 195233"Violets, Sweet Violets"
21 March 195234"Faith, Lime and Charity"
28 March 195235"Pleasure Before Business"
4 April 195236"Fool's Gold"
11 April 195237"Man of Mystery"
18 April 195238"The Painted Smile"
25 April 195239"Harry Lime Joins The Circus"
2 May 195240"Suzie's Cue"
9 May 195241"Viva La Chance"
16 May 195242"The Elusive Vermeer"
23 May 195243"Murder on the Riviera"
30 May 195244"Pearls of Bohemia"
6 June 195245"A Night in a Harem"
13 June 195246"Blackmail Is a Nasty Word"
20 June 195247"The Professor Regrets"
27 June 195248"The Hard Way"
4 July 195249"Paris Is Not the Same"
11 July 195250"Honeymoon"
18 July 195251"The Blue Caribou"
25 July 195252"Greek Meets Greek"

The con orchestrated by Welles' character in the episode "Horse Play" closely resembles that of the 1973 Robert Redford and Paul Newman film "The Sting." Both are based on the book "The Big Con" written by David W. Maurer which was published in 1940.

The episode "Man of Mystery", written by Welles, was later expanded by him and served as the basic plot for his film Mr. Arkadin.

A recording of the 1951 "A Ticket to Tangiers" episode of The Lives of Harry Lime series is available on the Criterion Collection DVD edition of The Third Man. In addition, recordings of the 1952 episodes Man of Mystery, Murder on the Riviera and Blackmail is a Nasty Word are included on the Criterion Collection DVD The Complete Mr. Arkadin.


The Lives of Harry Lime

Fifteen episodes were adapted into a short story collection, The Lives of Harry Lime, published in the United Kingdom by Pocket Books in 1952. The book was credited to "Orson Welles and others", and Welles had been credited with writing the scripts of several episodes, but it is unclear whether or not he wrote the adaptations.

Additionally, Harry Alan Towers has cast doubt on whether Welles even wrote the episodes he was credited with. He describes how the series started being written by a team of experienced American radio scriptwriters. When Welles discovered they were being paid $1,000 per script, he offered to write 6 scripts himself. The scripts were delivered and Towers duly paid Welles $6,000. Then one day, a man walked into Towers' office, demanding to be paid for the scripts which he had ghostwritten for Welles. When Welles was asked about it later, he smiled: "Don't pay him. They weren't very good scripts."[2]

The episodes which were adapted into short stories were:

  1. It's in the Bag by Orson Welles (Episode 30)
  2. The Golden Fleece by Orson Welles (Episode 11)
  3. Art is Long and Lime is Fleeting by Sigmund Miller (Episode 15)
  4. Love Affair by Sigmund Miller (Episode 7)
  5. See Naples and Live by Sigmund Miller (Episode 2)
  6. Every Frame Has a Silver Lining by Robert Cenedella (Episode 13)
  7. Paris is Not the Same by Joseph Cochran (Episode 49)
  8. Five Thousand Pengoes and a Kiss by Carl Jampel (Episode 26)
  9. The Hand of Glory by Jonquil Anthony (Episode 24)
  10. The Hyacinth Patrol by Virginia Cooke (Episode 31)
  11. Horseplay by Peter Lyon (Episode 17)
  12. Work of Art by Bud Lesser (Episode 9)
  13. Rogue's Holiday by Peter Lyon (Episode 8)
  14. A Ticket to Tangier [sic] by Orson Welles (Episode 4)
  15. An Old Moorish Custom by Irvan Ashkinazy (Episode 20)[3]

Une Grosse Légume

Welles also tried to convert one episode script into a film script for producer Alexander Korda. When that fell through, the story was adapted into a novel and published in France as Une Grosse Légume in 1953. The novel was ghostwritten by Maurice Bessy and published under Welles's name. It has never been published in English.[4]

Listen to

See also


  1. "Harry Alan Towers: Film, TV and radio producer and scriptwriter who rose from adapting the Fu Manchu novels to making Cry, the Beloved Country". The Times, August 5, 2009
  2. Harry Alan Towers interview, Man of Mystery bonus featurette on Criterion DVD of Mr. Arkadin(2006)
  3. Orson Welles and Others, The Lives of Harry Lime (Pocket Books, London, 1952) contents page
  4. Robert Arden interview, Men of Mystery, Documentary on the making of Mr. Arkadin (2006) - DVD extra on the Criterion edition
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