The Sound of Fear

The Sound of Fear


What is the scariest sound in the world? Thunder? Children’s laughter in a deserted house? A breath behind your shoulder when you know you’re alone? Sean Street investigates the techniques used to instil fear in audiences, starting with the wireless in the 1920s, when the arrival of a disembodied voice in the living room was strange enough in itself, right the way up to modern film- and television-making.

We hear from the producer of BBC1’s Planet Dinosaur, who has no qualms in admitting the imagined roars of the super-sized beasts are there to terrify children, and all of the contributors are asked to name the most frightening sound they’ve heard. The score from Psycho is in there, as is the most infamous Doctor Who monster, but for the one that offers the most blood-chilling, pulse-pounding moment, you’ll have to wait to the very end.


Sean Street investigates the relationship between sound and fear. Louis Niebur, author of a book examining the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, explains how the advent of electronic sounds gave programme makers access to a terrifying library of abstract noises, and the presenter visits an anechoic chamber for a sample of absolute silence - perhaps the most frightening sound of all. Includes contributions by David Toop, Chu-Li Shrewing and Sophie Scott.