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 devised 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-Friday 7.15-7.30pm
slot previously held by The Avengers. 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
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