Fish Tales is adapted by Susan Geason from stories published in her books Shaved Fish and Dog Fish (Allen & Unwin.)

Dumped from his job as a politician’s minder, Syd Fish finds a new career as a private detective. Cynical, sardonic and infinitely flexible, he soon discovers detecting is not all that different from politics. Syd cuts a swathe through Sydney’s underworld deflating pomposity, falling in love, making enemies, getting in too deep, cutting deals and sometimes even solving a case. His friend Lizzie Darcy, a well respected journalist with reasoning powers as well as access to information, is on hand to help him out.

With Dennis Miller as Syd and Pamela Rabe as Lizzie

Sound engineer Peter Jackson
Sound effects Sarah Mogridge and Justine Lees
Associate producer Justine Lees
Producer Anne McInerney

Pamela Rabe and Dennis Miller | Fish TalesDennis Miller who plays sleuth Sid Fish and Pamela Rabe as his sidekick Lizzie Darcy in ‘Fish Tales’
Photo by The Age

Jan 3
Fish Tales: The Pornographer’s Son Syd is hired by Bernie Coogan to investigate the kidnapping of his son. The solution is surprisingly simple.

With Dennis Miller, Pamela Rabe, Roger Oakley, Abbe Holmes, Stanley McGeagh, Monica Maughan, Rowena Mohr, David Paterson and Anne Phelan.
Download: Episode 1

Jan 10
Fish Tales: Two Dog Night Syd’s involvement in a custody battle over two English sheepdogs turns out to be more dangerous than he expected.

With Denis Miller, Pamela Rabe, Tim Hughes, Ailsa Piper, Jules Hutchison, Christine Harris and David Burnett.
Download: Episode 2

Jan 17
Fish Tales: Boom Town Blues On a visit to the Gold Coast for a divorce case, Syd looks up a friend and becomes embroiled in some sticky situations.

With Dennis Miller, Natalie Bate, Joy Mitchell, Sean Myers, Bruce Kerr and Simon Wilton.
Download: Episode 3

Jan 24
Fish Tales: Wasted Lives Pursuing a teenage runaway leads Syd to ponder on the reasons behind alienation.

With Dennis Miller, Pamela Rabe, Mike Bishop, Jan Friedl, Gary Files, Wayne Macauley, Susan Arnold, Brent Grant and Robyn Gibbes.
Download: Episode 4

Jan 31
Fish Tales: Disorganised Crime
When Fiona McLeod, an old adversary, hires Syd to find a Filipino girl who holds an important memento, there are horrifying ramifications.

With Dennis Miller, Pamela Rabe, Ailsa Piper, Christine Harris, Kirk Alexander, John Murphy and Prani West.
Download: Episode 5

Source: | Thanks to Stephen for the download links from

‘Fish Tales’ is one that shouldn’t get away

In a world full of complexities, uncertainties and a goodly dollop of general confusion, there is a true pleasure in experiencing, if only for a short time, the simple, the known and even, at times, the stereotypical. Sort of takes you out of yourself, if you know what I mean.

However, rather than taking my word for it, have a listen on Saturday to Radio National’s Fish Tales (1.30 pm). Fear not that you are going to hear boat-loads of stories about the one that got away, because this is a crime series, set in Sydney with the ever professional Dennis Miller playing a former political speech writer and now private eye, Syd Fish.

By his side to occasionally help him with the “sleazies, snoops, crims and political hacks” is the marvellous Pamela Rabe, who plays Lizzy Darcy, a smart, funny, wisecracking newspaper columnist and Syd’s best mate.

Strange isn’t it, how journos and private eyes always seem to team up together in crime fiction? The same way that politicians with something to hide seem to turn up pretty regularly as well but that may be not quite so much fiction. Indeed, in the first episode, we meet a particularly unpleasant sort of polite, whose public stand is for “morality, motherhood and manners”, but whose private life leaves a great deal to be desired.

Enter Syd Fish, the said pollie’s press secretary, who when he is not getting his boss into the papers, spends a fair bit of time trying to keep him out of them. Constantly being threatened with the sack (obviously he finally gets it), Syd goes about in the first episode sorting out a personal mess his boss has managed to create for himself. In doing so, Syd takes us to the tackiest parts of Sydney, informing the listener of his thoughts and actions as he does so.

This method of narration has always worked marvellously for film and television crime fiction, and is no less effective on the radio. The whole of Fish Tales will be played as a six-part series, and it manages to sustain a proper “wireless” feel, that almost perfectly matches the characters, the speech patterns and their dialogue. And this, even though the story is set post federal election.

Fish Tales was written by Susan Geason, who published Shaved Fish three years ago, and has now adapted it for radio. I imagine a great deal of the verisimilitude displayed comes from Geason’s background, which has included her being a journalist, policy adviser to government figures, speech writer to Neville Wran, as well as author of several books on crime prevention.

Crime fiction, unfortuiately, hasn’t figured largely on the airwaves for some time, yet it is a genre that is extraordinarily popular. Many the wet Sunday when, ostensibly curled up with a good book, I am wrapped up in P. D. James or whoever.

Consequently, I was delighted when the preview tape of Fish Tales arrived. The imagination won’t be enormously stretched, nor will the “little grey cells”, but so what? Actually, my only real problem with the series is the time spot. Saturdays at 1.30 pm are not the best days for sitting and concentrating on listening. For a start it’s daylight (I previewed at night — much more appropriate), and secondly Saturday is one of those chore-type days. You can’t walk in and out of Fish Tales without losing half the fun.

Be that as it may it is a more than welcome addition to our radio life.

Jane S. Clarke

Source: | 05 August 1993