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hosting Scotland Yard (1953-1961)
3 May 1907|
Manchester, Lancashire, England
|Died||15 December 1978
|Pen name||Brent Wood|
|Occupation||Novelist and journalist|
|Genre||Detective fiction, crime fiction, mystery fiction|
Born in the Broughton Park area of Manchester, he was the son of Joseph and Sara (née Finklestein) Lustgarten. His father was a Latvian-Jewish barrister. Lustgarten was educated at Manchester Grammar School and St John's College Oxford. He was President of the Oxford Union in 1930. His years at the bar - he was a practising barrister, 1930-40 - provided the background to his crime novels and his studies in true crime.
During the Second World War he was medically unfit for active service but worked in Radio Counter-Propaganda, 1940–45, under the name of 'Brent Wood' to deflect from Jewish associations. He was a BBC staff producer, 1945–48, and organiser of the BBC television programme, 'In the News', 1950–54, and of the ATV programme, 'Free Speech', 1955-61.
His books included crime fiction, but most were accounts of true-life criminal cases. The legal justice system and courtroom procedures were his main interests and his writings reflect this. He also wrote numerous articles for newspapers and presented the radio series Advocate Extraordinary. He used to say that he had no schedules, writing everywhere any time, on bars, on cars and while walking by the streets.
He is most widely remembered for hosting the filmed crime series Scotland Yard and The Scales of Justice in the 1950s and 1960s, filmed at Merton Park Studios, London, SW19. One of those programmes, Scotland Yard was broadcast beginning on 17 November 1957, on the American Broadcasting Company in the United States. In addition his novel Game For Three Losers was filmed as an episode of Merton Park's Edgar Wallace Mysteries.
Lustgarten died at the Marylebone Library while reading The Spectator. In the decade following his death, Lustgarten briefly ascended into the realm of pop culture when his inimitable voice was heard in dance music. Samples of him reading from "Death on the Crumbles" were used in the Australian band Severed Heads' 1984 hit song "Dead Eyes Opened". His works are still used as introductory readings in several law schools in different countries because of their accuracy on the atmosphere of trials and attorneys' behaviour. He was famously mimicked as the Narrator in the Rocky Horror Picture Show.
In October 2012 his film work made its debut on DVD when Network DVD released the complete series of The Scales of Justice as a two-disc set. Scotland Yard was released by Network DVD in 2014 as a seven-disc set.
- A Case to Answer (1947)
- Blondie Iscariot (1948)
- Game for Three Losers (1952)
- I'll Never Leave You (1971)
- Turn the Light Out as You Go (1978)
- Verdict in Dispute (1949)
- Defender's Triumph (1951)
- The Woman in the Case (1955)
- The Murder and the Trial (1958)
- The Business of Murder (1968)
- The Chalk Pit Murder (1975)
- A Century of Murderers (1975)
- The Illustrated Story of Crime (1976)
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- "Scotland Yard episodes on ABC". tvguide.com. Retrieved 14 December 2010.
- "Game for Three Losers (1965)". BFI.
- Bathurst, Bella. Bathurst, Bella (1 May 2011). "The Secret Life of Libraries.". The Guardian (London). The Observer. 1 May 2011. Retrieved 11 June 2011.
- "Network ON AIR > Scales of Justice (The): The Complete Collection:". networkonair.com.
- "Network ON AIR > Scotland Yard: The Complete Series". networkonair.com.
- Who Was Who, vol. 7, 1971–80, London : A. & C. Black, 1981.