David Gooden's earliest professional forays into South African radio were as a young sound engineer at the Herrick Merril recording studio in Johannesburg. A gifted, talented and well respected engineer, it soon became obvious to David that he would love to have a studio of his own. David investigated the possibilities and, with money generously lent to him by the Herrick Merril Studios, purchased a property on Kirk Street and set up his facility. Early productions he oversaw at the Kirk Street location included Squad Cars, a massively popular Springbok Radio series set in Johannesburg that was roughly in the style of the American TV favourite Dragnet. Squad Cars ran from 1967 until the station's closure in 1985. Within a relatively short time, David was able to purchase a larger and better facility on Plein Street, and this became one of the most successful private recording studios in South Africa. It was while at Plein Street that The Avengers was developed and produced. 

Aside from The Avengers, Gooden also produced many popular radio serials at Sonovision, with many of these utilising cast and crew who were to feature in the adventures of Steed and Mrs Peel. Among these favourites were Taxi, which was written by (and starred) Tony Jay and told stories of New York taxi drivers, and The Mind of Tracy Dark, a long-running series which inherited the Monday to Friday 7.15-7.30pm slot when The Avengers drew to a close. Written and directed by Dennis Folbigge, The Mind of Tracy Dark centred on the exploits of the eponymous psychic investigator, a memorable role for Avengers guest player Erica Rogers.

Gooden had a curious reputation in the business. He loathed bad language and bad manners and would not tolerate either at the studios. Consequently, he was considered rather old fashioned by those in the business, although he commanded an enormous respect for the quality of programming produced at Sonovision, and for his professional dedication. He refused to submit anything for broadcast that he considered imperfect - and he expected more of his productions than the most demanding critic might. 

David's work and his wife Sue were his two great passions and it was with much regret that he finally sold the business to Louis van Ass and John Culverwell in 1986, because bureaucracy at the SABC was making his job increasingly difficult. Louis and John had joined Sonovision as sound engineers new to the business many years before. The pair still own Sonovision today (in new buildings in the Rivonia district of Johannesburg). David then retired with Sue to Knysna where he remained until his untimely death from cancer.

by Alan Hayes with Beverly Charpentier and Donald Monat

 

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