Harry Nile
Created by Jim French

Not all radio detectives are only available in re-runs; here's one radio detective who is still on the case. HARRY NILE, a fictional private detective in Los Angeles and Seattle during the 1940's and 50's, is the title character of a new-time radio detective series, The Adventures of Harry Nile. This series started on January 1, 1976 and is still going strong - it's now heard internationally. The show is a survivor - not even a 12-year hiatus (1978-1990) could stop it. It has aired on three different radio stations in the Seattle area. Since 1996 it has also been syndicated nationally and now, internationally.

Like many private eyes, Harry started out as a cop. As a rookie on the Chicago police force, Harry was recruited by the department's Internal Affairs. We find out that Harry's real last name is actually Niletti; he changed it before he joined the force to protect his family from potential coercion or retaliation by the Mob.

When his beautiful blues-singer wife is killed in a nightclub shooting, Harry goes into a major tailspin. He resigns from the police force after exposing corruption at a Chicago precinct. After piling up substantial gambling debts, he hits rock-bottom and agrees to travel to L.A. to do a "little favor" for the holder of his markers, a Windy City crime boss. The "little favor" involves the murder of a rival crime boss. He manages not to do the deed and ends up staying on the West Coast, working as a private eye, first in Los Angeles, and later, in Seattle.

Harry is definitely not a hard-boiled P.I. He seldom uses his gun or gets into a fight, but he's no wimp. This guy can be tough when he has to be. Here's a detective who is a real human being. He'll never be rich or have a fancy office; he often is just a step ahead of the bill collectors. Even after years in the business, he's not cynical. He cares about his clients and his greatest strength is his humanity. If you get in a tight spot, you want a guy like Harry in your corner.

Harry started out without a partner. He's now aided in his investigations by his associate Murphy, a red-haired, former librarian, who made her debut in the episode "The Twenty-Dollar Trackdown." Murphy is not the stereotype P.I.'s secretary -- this lady is no dummy. She was initially attracted to the supposed glamour of the P.I. business and sometimes accompanied Harry on cases. For several years, she was Harry's unpaid assistant. Now she's basically Harry's partner and great at finding important information in many of the cases. While she has always been infatuated with Harry, she's smart enough not to push it.

Jim French uses his knowledge of Los Angeles and Seattle as they were in the 1940's and 50's to paint rich period backgrounds that are historically accurate and add interest and flavor to his stories.

In a 1998 interview with this writer, Phil Harper, the actor who plays Harry, mentioned that he used his remembrances of some of the great radio detectives as inspiration for his portrayal. "I drew some of my character's rumbly voice from Howard Duff who played Sam Spade and from an actor who played Johnny Dollar, possibly Edmond O'Brien, on the radio."

Recurring characters are an important part of any long-running series. And The Adventures of Harry Nile is no exception. They include Manny the Tailor - Harry's L.A. landlord, Lieutenant Dutcher - a L.A. and later Seattle Police detective, Marvin Asher - a fast-talking lawyer from Harry's L.A. days, Lou Butterfield - a Seattle police detective, Mr. Osterman - Murphy's Seattle landlord, Bill Barnett - a Seattle beat cop, Vinnie Niletti - Harry's younger brother, and Lieutenant Bartolo - a Columbo-type Seattle Police detective.

Seattle-area actors have the majority of roles on the series, but several nationally-known television stars have appeared, including: Bill Macy of Maude, Peg Wood and Cynthia Geary of Northern Exposure, Harry Anderson of Night Court and Dave's World, Richard Sanders of WKRP In Cincinnati, Russell Johnson of Gilligan's Island, and John Ratzenberger of Cheers. Several actors from "The Golden Age of Radio Drama" have also appeared, including Parley Baer, Hans Conried, Jerry Hausner, Tyler McVey, Douglas Young, Rhoda Williams, Merrill Mael, Ginny Tyler, Richard Beals, and Gil Stratton Jr.

The series is produced in Bellevue, WA by Harry's creator, Jim French, and currently airs as part of Imagination Theatre on KNWX in Seattle, and is syndicated internationally under the same Imagination Theatre on about 150 radio stations in the United States, Canada, and Australia; via satellite to South Africa, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. Previously, it was heard locally in the Seattle area on The PEMCO Imagination Theatre on KNWX, KIRO Mystery Playhouse, and Theater of the Mind on KVI.

While most new Jim French shows are recorded at his Bellevue studio, Jim currently records at least 2 new radio dramas every three months before a live audience at the Kirkland Performance Center in Kirkland, WA. One of these shows is normally an episode of The Adventures of Harry Nile. In June, 2000, the first Imagination Theatre recording session was held there and was sold out two weeks in advance. And this sell-out was without advertising. The next recording date was Monday, September 18, 2000 - another sellout. Information about upcoming recording sessions can be found at the Kirkland Performance Center web site.

French is also the creator of several other early 1970's series: the anthology series, Tower Playhouse, the early seventies P.I. radio drama, Dameron, featuring a globe trotting trouble-shooter, and Crisis, the series on which Harry Nile got its start. In the 1990's, French has also created three new series, Kincaid, The Strange Seeker, about an investigative reporter; new adventures of the world's first consulting detective, The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes; and his newest detective series, Call Simon Walker.


    (1977 to present, Transmedia Syndicate)
    143 episodes (and counting)
    Created by Jim French
    Written by Jim French, except as follows: Gordy Donnell wrote "Dooms Day Book." Jim French and Larry Buck wrote " The Case Of The Feline Fee" and "Find Ben Stagg." Jim French and Larry Albert wrote episodes "The Two Freddies," "Murder By The Book," and "Who Killed Harry Nile?"
    Directors: Pat French and Jim French
    Producer: Jim French
    Theme: "Farewell, My Lovely" written by David Shire from the 1975 Raymond Chandler movie of the same name.
    Incidental music by Michael Lynch
    Sound Effects: Stew Conway, Cheryl Jacobs, Scott Anderson, Sean O'Meara, David Fried, David Persson, Ben Peterson, and others.
    Engineers: Karney Barton, Bob Schoy, Ed Gately, Peggy Stokes and Jason Chevy
    Announcers: Jack Spencer, Jay Green, Terry Rose, and Jim French
    Starring Phil Harper as HARRY NILE
    and Pat French as Murphy
    Recurring Characters include:

    Jay Green as Marvin Asher
    Larry Buck and Doug Young as Lieutenant Dutcher
    Sheldon Jacobs as Lou Butterfield
    Wayne Shannon, Norm Bobrow, and Lee Corrigan as Manny the Tailor
    Bill Brooks as Bill Barnett
    Terry Rose as Mr. Osterman
    Derek Turner as Vinnie Nilleti
    and Larry Albert as Lieutenant Bartolo and Det. Nick Bolano
    Guest Stars: Larry Albert, John Amandola, Harry Anderson, Richard Arnold, Parley Baer, Katrina Baxter Hodiak (daughter of motion picture actors John Hodiak and Anne Baxter), Richard Beals, Norm Bobrow, Bill Brooks, Larry Buck, Frank Buxton, Charles Canada, Karen Kay Cody, Art Conn, Hans Conried, Lee Corrigan, Ray Cort, Mary Ann Dorward, Michael Morgan Dunne, Diane Felty, David Freed, Cynthia Geary, John Gilbert, Jay Green, Demene Hall, Jerry Hausner, Andy Hellman, Ilona Herlinger, Paul Herlinger, Steve Hillyard, Susan Hutchinson, Sheldon Jacobs, Russell Johnson, Peggy Jordan (granddaughter of radio's "Fibber McGee & Molly"), Gil Stratton Jr., Bill Macy, Merrill Mael, Valerie Mamches, Terry McManus, Tyler McVey, Catherine Odegaard, Sean O'Meara, Lee Paache, Brad Perkins, Marlene Phillips, John Ratzenberger, Joy Rinaldi, Marv Rosand, Terry Rose, Richard Sanders, Wayne Shannon, Katherine Shield, Dean Smith, Derek Turner, Ginny Tyler, Paul Walsh, Veronica Weikel, Stephen Weyte, Rhoda Williams, Peg Wood and Douglas Young.
  • Note: The first four episodes first aired on Crisis.
  • "West For My Health" (January 1, 1976)
  • "Seattle Blues" (December 2, 1976)
  • "The Neptune Trading Company" (February 17, 1977)
  • "Malibu" (May 19, 1977)
  • "The Case of the Dead Ringer" (December 27, 1977)
  • "For This I Bought A New Suit?" (January 3, 1978)
  • "The Eddy Mayhew Matter" (January 10, 1978)
  • "Avalon" (January 17, 1978)
  • "A Vacation With Bullets" (January 24, 1978; AKA "And What Did You Do on Your Vacation, Officer?" and "How Was Your Vacation, Officer?")
  • "The Case of The Nasty Niece" (January 31, 1978; AKA "The Case of The Not So Nice Niece")
  • "Photo Finish" (February 7, 1978)
  • "Harry Dabbles in Oil" (February 14, 1978; AKA "Tale of the Two Texans")
  • "Dooms Day Book" (February 21, 1978)
  • "Figueroa Street" (February 28, 1978)
  • "A Little Out-of-Town Job" (March 7, 1978)
  • "The Case of The Matinee Murder" (March 14, 1978)
  • "The Lonely Ghost Matter" (March 21, 1978)
  • "The Twenty-Three Pound Clue" (March 28, 1978)
  • "Stand-In for Murder" (April 4, 1978)
  • "Calendar Girl" (May 9, 1978)
  • "The Twenty Dollar Trackdown" (May 16, 1978)
  • "The Wandering Wife Matter" (May 30, 1978)
  • "Angel's Flight" (June 6, 1978)
  • "The Case of The Lisping Lover" (June 13, 1978)
  • "Favor For A Friend" (December 16, 1990)
  • "Black Widow (Short Version)" (June 23, 1991)
  • "Black Widow (Long Version)" (June 23, 1991?)
  • "Heat Goes to Cold" (July 14, 1991)
  • "Maybe There Is A Santa Claus" (December 22, 1991)
  • "Hair of the Dog" (January 5, 1992)
  • "S.L.O.B." (February 2, 1992)
  • "The Case of The Fatal Fall" (March 1, 1992)
  • "The Case of The Puzzling Puzzler" (April 5, 1992)
  • "Blood Ties" (June 7, 1992)
  • "The Case of The Midnight Caller" (July 5, 1992)
  • "The Lady in the Green Hat" (August 2, 1992)
  • "It Pays To Advertise" (September 6, 1992)
  • "Mister Fixer" (October 11, 1992)
  • "Floater" (November 1, 1992)
  • "Sob Sisters" (November 29, 1992)
  • "Sticky Fingers" (December 20, 1992)
  • "Unhappy Birthday" (January 3, 1993)
  • "The Trianon Kid" (February 7, 1993)
  • "Crime In A Bottle" (April 4, 1993)
  • "The Key" (May 2, 1993)
  • "The Case of The Hot Yacht" (June 6, 1993)
  • "The Case of The Exeter Audition" (July 4, 1993)
  • "Deadline For Murder" (August 1, 1993)
  • "Aloha Means Goodbye" (September 5, 1993)
  • "The Case of The Sinister Scavengers" (October 3, 1993)
  • "Almost As Good As New" (November 7, 1993)
  • "Murphy: Wanted For Murder" (January 9, 1994)
  • "The Case of The Ten-Story Tombstone" (February 6, 1994)
  • "The McLaughlin Matter" (March 6, 1994)
  • "Hour of My Death" (April 10, 1994)
  • "Funeral At Midnight" (May 8, 1994)
  • "Solitaire Sam" (June 5, 1994)
  • "The Case of The Fisheye Murders" (July 31, 1994)
  • "The Case of The Sinister Minister" (August 7, 1994)
  • "The Case of The Sands of Time" (October 9, 1994)
  • "The Meatloaf Matter" (November 6, 1994)
  • "The Case of The Baffled Ballerina" (December 4, 1994)
  • "The Case of The Dominant Seventh" (January 1, 1995)
  • "Osterman's Dreams" (February 5, 1995)
  • "Third Floor Rear" (March 5, 1995)
  • "Harry Goes Underground" (April 2, 1995)
  • "The Sam Navolla Matter" (May 5, 1995)
  • "Blues for Maggie Brown" (June 4, 1995)
  • "My Kid The Cop" (July 2, 1995)
  • "The Case Of The Missing Matisse" (August 6, 1995)
  • "The Dollar Value of Death" (September 3, 1995)
  • "Field of Screams" (October 1, 1995)
  • "Harry and The Homework" (October 15, 1995)
  • "West Bay Road" (November 5, 1995)
  • "The Mary Christmas Caper" (December 24, 1995)
  • "The Case Of The Blue Leather Chair" (December 31, 1995)
    The only show (so far) to be broadcast live.
  • "The Case Of The Ruptured Duck" (January 7, 1996)
  • "The Russian Cut" (February 4, 1996)
  • "Target: Harry Nile" (March 3, 1996)
  • "Hush Money" (April 7, 1996)
  • "Murder on a Rainy Night" (May 5, 1996)
  • "The Case Of The Flattened Fifth" (June 2, 1996)
  • "The Counter-Balance Case" (July 7, 1996)
  • "Don't Be A Stranger" (August 4, 1996)
  • "The Case Of The Feline Fee" (September 1, 1996)
  • "The Verdict on Hannah Bayliss" (October 6, 1996)
  • "What's In A Name" (November 3, 1996)
  • "Metaphor For Murder" (December 8, 1996)
  • "The Jake Burley Matter" (January 12, 1997)
  • "Murphy's Outlaw" (February 2, 1997)
  • "Find Ben Stagg" (March 2, 1997)
  • "Body of Work" (April 6, 1997)
  • "Slant City" (May 4, 1997)
  • "Family Secret" (June 1, 1997)
  • "Comeback" (June 22, 1997)
  • "The Case of The Spectral Wife" (August 3, 1997)
  • "The Case of The Mauritius Orange" (September 7, 1997)
  • "The Borsendorfer Matter" (October 5, 1997)
  • "Murder At Hidden Lake" (November 1, 1997)
  • "Finding Portland" (November 9, 1997)
  • "The Case of The Bitter Banker" (December 21, 1997)
  • "The Case of The Sleeping Witness" (January 4, 1998)
  • "The No More No-Mo Matter" (February 22, 1998)
  • "Ten Percent of Nothing" (March 22, 1998?)
  • "Always Leave 'Em Wanting More" (April 5, 1998)
  • "The Two Freddies" (May 3, 1998)
  • "Voice From the Lake" (June 7, 1998)
  • "Toni Parsons Story" (August 16, 1998)
  • "The John Doe Murders" (September 16, 1998)
  • "Rich Little Poor Girl" (October 4, 1998)
  • "The Case Of The Compromised Cop" (November 1, 1998)
  • "Murder By The Book" (December 6, 1998)
  • "Model 386-A" (January 17, 1999)
  • "Bullet-Proof" (February 7, 1999)
  • "Rachel's Dream" (April 4, 1999)
  • "The Fighter And The Phantom" (April 25, 1999)
  • "Cold Reading" (June 6, 1999)
  • "The Case Of The Desperate Dealer" (July 8, 1999)
  • "Who Killed Harry Nile?" (August 1, 1999)
  • "The Ivor Lindman Matter" (September 5, 1999)
  • "The Case of the Desperate Dealer" (Septrmber 18, 1999)
  • "The Suitcase" (September 19, 1999)
  • "Keys Louise" (October 3, 1999)
  • "The Value of Details" (November 7, 1999)
  • "The Lady in the Hudson" (December 26, 1999)
  • "Little Boy Lost" (January 2, 2000)A new production with slightly changed plot line, different location, and new cast of "The Case of the Midnight Caller," originally aired July 5, 1992.
  • "Elsa's Pool" (February 13, 2000)
  • "The Set-up" (May 7, 2000)
  • "The Old Masters Murder Case" (August 13, 2000)
  • "Seeking Sarah Banks" (July 30, 2000)
  • "Murder in Miniature" (September 24, 2000)
  • "Rachel's Dream" (January 14, 2001)
  • "The Friends of Jules Riskin" (February 25, 2001)
  • "Submarine Warfare" (June 10, 2001)
  • "The Case of the Feline Fee" (August 12, 2001)
    A new production with a new cast of the episode that originally aired September 1, 1996. The first production, with the exception of Harry and Murphy, was done with amateurs who'd won their parts at a society auction.
  • "The Southern Double Cross" (November 11, 2001)
  • "The Pete Lambert Case" (January 20, 2002)
    A new production of the Dameron episode, "Why Would Anyone Want to Kill a Nice Guy Like Pete?," which was originally broadcast on 12/05/1972.
  • "The Skip Trace" (May 12, 2002)
  • "Dutcher's Beat" (July 21, 2002)
  • "Miracle Mile" (August 11, 2002)
  • "A Key To Murder" (September 8, 2002)
  • "Harry And The Lost Art" (October 20, 2002)
  • "Beacon Hill" (December 08, 2002)
  • "Backfire" (December 22, 2002)
  • The Case of the Bogus Bettor" (January 15, 2006)
  • "Is Anyone There" (March 21, 2010)
  • "The Case of the Mad Millionaire" (May 9, 2010)
    As many of the episodes of this series have aired more than once, only the first air date is listed.


  • To find out if a station in your area broadcasts Imagination Theater, call the syndicator, Transmedia toll-free at 1-800-229-7234. You can also listen to Imagination Theatre at their web site, broadcast in Real Audio. Their site also provides background information, a listing of affiliate stations, a current episode guide, and ordering information for tapes and CDs.


  • As this series is still in production, most clubs and commercial tape dealers do not have episodes of The Adventures of Harry Nile in their libraries or inventories. However, a total of 60 episodes are available in eight, two-cassette tape volumes marketed by Countertop Video; the first 7 volumes have eight episodes each and the 8th volume has four double-length episodes. These cassettes are available through some commercial outlets such as The University Book Store (4326 University Way NE, Seattle, WA 98105; Tel: 1-800-335-READ.) and from Jim French Productions. As well, the syndicator of Imagination Theatre, Transmedia, has approximately 100 episodes available on compact disc and tape.
  • A set of sixteen episodes of The Adventures of Harry Nile were released for sale on cassette tapes by Topics Entertainment in 2001. This set may be available through Costco and Sam's Club membership warehouses, Barnes and Noble Bookstores, and some mystery book stores. For more information on this tape set, go to the Topics Entertainment web site or go to the Jim French Productions web site.
    Jim French Productions has released two audio CD sets of THE ADVENTURES OF HARRY NILE shows in case chronological order - in the order that the cases happened, not in the order they were written and broadcast. The shows are without commercials. There are five or six episodes in each two CD Set. Two volumes are currently available.
    Volume 1 - "The History of Harry Nile 1939 - 1940"
    Volume 2 - "The History of Harry Nile Winter/Spring 1941"
    More volumes are planned. You can get on a mailing list and Jim French Productions will let you know when new volumes are released and their contents.

    War Comes to Harry Nile (Jim French Productions, $12.95)


Thanks to Stewart Wright for this one, and special tip of the fedora to Larry Albert of Jim French Productions who provided radio log information and the information on the recurring characters.

Copyrighted by Stewart Wright and Kevin Burton Smith (January 2003).

| Home | Detectives A-L M-Z | Film | Radio | Television | Web Comics | Comics | FAQs |
| Trivia | Authors | Hall of Fame | Mystery Links | Bibliography | Glossary | Search |
| This Just In... | Word on the Street | Non-Fiction
| Fiction | Staff | The P.I. Poll |

Drop a dime. Your comments, suggestions, corrections and contributions are always welcome.
"...and I'll tell you right out that I'm a man who likes talking to a man who likes to talk."

Advertise on this site