The Eternal Actress



Dramatic Reading




Nev Fountain


Jim Pierson & Darren Gross


Nigel Fairs

Sound Design

Nigel Fairs

Cover Art

Lee Binding


6 February 2012


31 May 2012



We have 2 images of Dark Shadows The Eternal Actress
The Eternal Actress is an audio-book produced by Big Finish Productions. It was released in May 2012.

Back coverEdit

"But the most terrible thing of all was the woman's face. She didn't have one."

Helvetica Stanhope is a famous actress with a dark secret. She's afraid to sleep – for in her dreams, she sees the terrible deaths of her friends. Dreams which come horribly true. But that is not her dark secret.

Gideon Wilder is a Hollywood reporter with a dark secret. He knows the truth about Helvetica Stanhope and he's going to tell all. But that is not his dark secret.

Amanda Harris knows both their dark secrets. But she's quite happy standing quietly in the background. Waiting. Because that's what she's always done.



Gideon Wilder writes using a typewriter:

Los Angeles, 1950. The city of angels and broken dreams. Journalist Gideon Wilder is well acquainted with both. Gideon has had a busy two days, he has met his idol and now at his typewriter he is writing his story. He has to tell the story and he has to do it now because he has a deadline. This is how the story starts...

A telephone rings, Gideon answers it. A woman's voice that is seemingly unknown to him. She seems to know who he is and instructs him that a car will be sent to collect him in 20 minutes. She expects him to be ready and tells him he has an hour before they meet.

[Opening Theme]

Gideon deduces that the caller was Helvetica Stanhope, star of the silent screen. He is excited with the prospect of finally meeting her. The car collects him and takes him to an old mansion. Upon entering he is greeted by Amanda Harris who escorts him to Helvetica, she warns him of Helvetica’s erratic behaviour.

After waiting a while Helvetica appears. Gideon informs her how he has admired and followed her career for many years, and that it was her who made him want to become a Hollywood feature writer. She seems to be unimpressed by this. She tells him how she only owns black and white animals as their monochrome patterns please her sensibilities. Preparing to interview Helvetica, a colorful copy of Silver Screen Sirens falls out of Gideon’s bag, the sight of which causes Helvetica to immediately recoil in disgust. She scolds him and recounts her hatred of color, considering this an imposition she instructs him to leave.

Outside as Gideon is about to leave Amanda rushes up to him. She apologies to him for Helvetica’s behaviour. He tells her of his admiration for Helvetica, Amanda is impressed by his continued devotion. She invites him back in for a second chance with Helvetica. As they walk back, Gideon complements Amanda on her beauty. She blushes and confirms that she doesn’t get to see many people any more due to her job of looking after Helvetica. As Gideon continues to speak highly about Helvetica, it triggers a memory of a man that Amanda once met. She brushes this off and explains that Helvetica doesn't get much sleep as she is plagued by nightmares that are causing thoughts of suicide. Gideon declares Helvetica is immortal and that no can kill her legend. Amanda is momentarily wrong-footed by this, thinking he was referring to something else.

Again after waiting a while Helvetica appears. She abruptly informs Gideon that this is not an interview and that a curse is stalking her. A curse that causes her friends to kill themselves. It was ten years ago when she was awakened by a tapping at her window, despite being two stories up. As if compelled to do so, she pulls back the curtains to discover an emaciated version of her friend Lionel Flanagan hovering before her. He tells Helvetica that she is dreaming and he will soon die. The ringing of a telephone awakes her. A police officer notifies her that Lionel is unwell and he is calling for her. Arriving at Lionel’s apartment she finds him in an emaciated state, just as he was in her dream. Lionel had locked himself in for two months with no food and had not eaten anything for that whole time. Gideon is skeptical that it has anything to do with Helvetica and refuses to publish this information out of fear that his idol will become a laughing-stock. She shows him a letter addressed to her containing only one word repeated 823 times:


Helvetica deduces this means goodbye. She recalls another dream, like before a tapping at the window, this time a faceless woman covered in blood. The woman points over the skyline and down to the coast. Helvetica then finds herself getting into her car, which drove in silence. Arriving at a strangely familiar house, but unable to place who lives there, she hears a faint groan. Feeling herself float towards this sound she reaches a bathroom door that is bleeding. Inside a woman is laying face down on the floor in a sea of red. Thinking the woman slipped on a piece of soap Helvetica helps her up. The woman’s face has no nose which caused Helvetica to wake up with terrifying scream. A few days later she receives the letter from her friend Ezra Reed and discovered that Ezra died just as she had saw in her dream. Gideon finds the idea of a curse unlikely and suggests that it could be possible that Helvetica had the dream after, rather than before, the deaths occurred. Helvetica insists she hears a voice urging her to take her own life.

Amanda watches Gideon leave. She declares herself to be the eternal actress, she is the curse that stalks the city and she is one that will kill Helvetica tonight. Amanda leaves a note posing as Helvetica and promptly disappears into the night, not stopping until feeling hungry and exhausted. At a Diner, she falls asleep and wakes up in a bed, it's Helvetica’s bed. She hears a tapping at the window and pulling back the curtains she finds the deadly white grinning face of a man with bloody stumps for hands. She recognizes the man to be Gideon. Waking with a scream, Amanda looks around the Diner to see Gideon trapping at the window. She tries to explain her dream to him, but is uninterested in what she has to say. He is amazed to have bumped into her; she explains she’s taking a vacation. He gives her a lift to the airport. On the way she dozes off again, to find herself back in Helvetica’s bed. She can’t understand why she’s back there. Gideon appears leaning against the window with an odd grin of his face. He reveals he’d drugged her and says he found Amanda’s note, he reads it:

To all my loving colleagues and adoring fans. I have lost all of my friends because of a curse. A curse that is stalking me. And now I feel its cold fingers clutching at my very soul. I have sent Amanda and Bryson away so I can put my affairs in order and spend my last moments on this earth alone. Keep watching my movies and perhaps I can achieve some small measure of immortality. Yours ever, Helvetica xxx

Gideon declares that Amanda has pretended to be Helvetica for the past 35 years. He reveals it's his job to know everything about Amanda. He knows about Marie the Singing Gypsy who disappeared during a fire in 1910, Loretta Lemar the stage actress whose car drove off a cliff, and Helvetica Stanhope who ended her life sent mad by superstitious nonsense. Gideon gets his typewriter out, and writes:

Screen Sirens Exclusive: Here is the big whisper around town. It is rumoured that Helvetica Stanhope’s chauffeur Alexis Bryson is developing somewhat of a complex about the mole on his left cheek. Sources close to this journalist have suggested that he’s very shy about the blemish and he may make moves to get rid of it in the near future.

Gideon reveals that when Amanda was created, he was also created by Mr. Best to watch over her, and that it’s his job to get rid of anyone who gets close to discovering Amanda’s secret by creating doubt and paranoia in the target’s mind until they finally destroy themselves. Gideon wants Helvetica back. Amanda starts to talk with voice of Helvetica, but Amanda is reluctant to adopt that persona again and snaps out of it. He decides he should kill off Amanda. Gideon begins to type away.

Gideon reads what he’s typed:

After many rumours that Helvetica Stanhope has deluded herself that she is really an immortal actress called Amanda Harris, I can exclusively reassure our readers that Ms. Stanhope has finally come to her senses and banished those silly superstitions. Amanda Harris is no more.

Gideon threatens to kill Quentin unless Amanda reads it aloud. She begins to read:

Gideon loomed over Amanda brandishing his piece of paper turning the curse on the very woman that it was designed to protect. He returned to his chair with a satisfied smile sitting at his beloved typewriter the instrument of her destruction, or perhaps was it his own. But Gideon found himself unable to move. In all his years of administering the curse, protecting his beloved Amanda, Gideon never once thought that Mr. Best might have considered the possibility of betrayal, or that Gideon’s love for his eternal actress might turn to hate. Gideon cried but Amanda could no long hear him. She was in the grip of the story she was reading, like any movie actress she could not stop reading the words of the showbiz reporter. Ten feet away from her Gideon turned to his typewriter to write more, to his horror each key was now a deadly razor blade suddenly his mind was gripped by a fear that if he stopped typing he wouldn’t be a writer any more. Unable to stop himself he started typing again, causing blood to flow, every stroke lacerates his fingers and every time he presses return and pulls the carriage back the keys surge upwards and cut at his wrists. The black and white of the paper is soon stained with red and the magical properties of the typewriter undo his immortality as they had undone so many immortal stars before him. Helpless to stop himself Gideon carries on typing the story of his last days on earth over and over again. The story of his first and last ever meeting with his idol the legendary Helvetica Stanhope. Amanda does not help him. He does not think she can even hear him. As if in trance she makes her exit still reading the paper as she goes leaving the room and leaving her life as Helvetica Stanhope. Who knows where she will be next and whether she will finally find her one love: Quentin Collins.

Gideon Wilder writes using a typewriter:

Los Angeles, 1950. The city of angels and broken dreams. Journalist Gideon Wilder is well acquainted with both. Gideon has had a busy two days. He has met his idol and he is at his typewriter and even though there is no paper left in typewriter he keeps on typing. He thinks it’s possible he might bleed to death, but he knows he’s going to die long before that. He has noticed there is a raccoon and skunk in the corner of the room staring at him from the shadows. And a snow leopard has joined them. As Bryson is no longer there to feed them any more, they are looking very interested in his bloody fingers. But at least he got his chance to write his story about the eternal actress and now with a bit of luck he’s finally going to meet his deadline. Finally.

[Closing Theme]

Memorable quotesEdit

Dramatis personaeEdit

Background information and notesEdit

  • Included at the end of this release are trailers for The Blind Painter, London's Burning, The Night Whisper & The Crimson Pearl .
  • Silver Screen Sirens is the name of the periodical that Gideon writes for.
  • Lionel Flanagan starred in a film titled, The Shadows of Notre Dame.
  • Ezra Reed starred in The Bold and the Dead. This reference is likely to be an in-joke as actor Andrew Collins, who here plays Gideon Wilder, is best known for starring in the long running soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful.
  • The basic plot involving a fading Hollywood actress from the silent era and her meeting with a hack writer are an homage to the 1950 Oscar-winning movie Sunset Boulevard, co-written and directed by Billy Wilder. The name 'Gideon Wilder' is a part tribute to the maker of that film.

Bloopers and continuity errorsEdit

Official websiteEdit

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