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||Francis Durbridge (1912-1998) - in full Francis Henry Durbridge|
English tv, radio, and mystery writer, whose best known series character is Paul Temple and his wife Steve. Francis Durbridge was the master of the cliffhanger and one of the most successful writers for television. However, the first radio detective in England was probably Inspector Hornleigh, whose adventures were heard in Monday Night at Seven (1937-40) and who appeared in three films between 1939-41. In the Unites States, the first popular radio detective series was Detectives Black and Blue from 1931.
'I suppose,' the assistant commissioner said thoughtfully, 'that we detectives understand crime, understand the psychology of crime if you like. But we don't reach our understanding by experiments on rats, or by statistics. (from The Curzon Case, 1972)
Francis Henry Durbridge was born in Hull, Yorkshire. From an early age, he was a voracious reader. Durbridge was educated at
Bradford Grammar School, where he was encouraged to write by an English
teacher. He declared that he's going to be the next Edgar Wallace.
While still a student, Durbridge had a radio
(1933) broadcasted by the BBC. Durbridge studied English at Birmingham
University. He joined the university theatrical club and performed in
revue sketches (he was a terrible actor). After graduating in 1933, he
worked as a stockbroker's
clerk, before becoming a full-time writer, the only vocation he has an
In 1940 Durbridge married Norah
Elizabeth Lawley; they had two sons, Nicholas and Stephen. At the age
of 26, Durbridge created the character of Paul Temple. The first book, Send for Paul Temple (1938),
a collaboration with John Thewes (possibly a pen-name for Charles Hutton), was a novelization of radio serial.
"By Timothy!" (Paul Temple's catchphrase)
Before his famous radio detective series, Durbridge wrote for the
BBC diverse plays and sketches. From 1938, Durbridge cooperated in
Temple stories with Charles
Hatton, a prolific writer of radio plays. The early serials were broadcast live
Over the years, several
actors played the role of the
novelist-sleuth, first by Hugh Morton in Send for Paul Temple (1938), Paul Temple and the
Front Page Men (1938), and
News of Paul Temple (1939), and then by Carl Bernard, Richard Williams,
Barry Morse, Howard Marion
Crawford, Kim Peacock, and Peter Coke, beginning from Paul Temple And The Gilbert Case (1954).
Coke's portrayal of the detective is perhaps the best known;
later in his career he gained acknowledgement as a playwright and shell
artist. With his baritone voice, he was a perfect for the character.
Louise Trent, a Fleet Street journalist and later Temple's wife,
nicknamed affectionally as Steve, was played by Marjorie Westbury from
the fifth serial; she continued up through 1968.
Originally the signature tune for the series was taken from Rimsky-Korsakov's symphonic suite Scheherazade. Then the introductory and closing music was changed to Vivian Ellis's 'Coronation Scot,' it added greatly to the popularity of the radio series. In Finland, the theme song was 'The Devils Gallop' by Charles Williams.
The series became hugely popular in Britain and Temple's adventures were followed in many counties,
among others in Germany, where Albert Lieven gained recognition in several adaptations of Durbridge's
crime thrillers. However, Temple's four film appearances in the 1940s and 1950s are considered insignificant.
John Bentley, who became a B-movie star in the
black-and-white mysteries, was the hero in Calling Paul Temple (1948), Paul Temple's Triumph (1950), based on the 1939 radio serial News of Paul Temple,
and Paul Temple Returns (1952), based on Paul Temple Intervenes. The
British Monthly Film Bulletin characterized this production as a
"slickly-made, American style thriller". The future Hammer star
Christopher Lee played the killer, whose country home is filled with
art and reptiles. All these films were directed by Maclean Rogers and
made at the Nettlefold studios. The Cinema
magazine concluded that a Temple film without Bentley was "as unthinkable as Quo without Vadis," but his
greatest success he achieved in the role of Hugh Mortimer in the television series Crossroads. Anthony Hulme, who had acted in some minor productions, played the character in Send for Paul Temple (1946), directed by
the producer and screeenwiter John Argyle.
In the 1960s, Durbridge created for TV a new series character, Tim Frazer, starring Jack Hedley. Frazer, an engineer who is recruited as an undercover agent, appeared in three books. ". . . what kind of fool I was to have let myself be caught up in the cloak and dagger business of a Goverment department that was a cross between M-I-5 and the C.I.D. I should have gone back to engineering and had fun and games with shop stewards over tea breaks." (Tim Frazer Again, 1964) Durbridge wrote the TV series, which run for eighteen episodes, with Clive Exton, Charles Hatton, and Barry Thomas.
Dialogue dominates usually in Durbridge's novels, which sometimes reveal that they were
originally written for radio or television. His characters belong to the middle-class and have
much time to devote themselves in solving crimes – or planning them. The protagonist is
sometimes a suspect, who tries to free himself from the web of intrigues. In News of Paul Temple
(1940), the amateur detective travels to Scotland, where he reveals the
identity of the head of Europe's greatest spy network. The codename of
this mysterious person is Z4. It turns out that Z4 is a middle-aged
woman, Mrs Weston, who runs with her husband a small holiday home at
Inverdale. There is action and a couple of murders in the story, but
the like in other Paul Temple novels, the general atmosphere is cosy. No reference is made to the ongoing
World War II.
A Game of Murder was first made as a TV screenplay, nine years later it came out in book form. In the film The Vicious Circle (1957) an actress is found dead in Dr Latimer's flat and the weapon turn up in the boot of his car. Then another body is found and again all the clues lead to Latimer. In the story 12 Past 12, filmed in Germany under the title Piccadilly, Null Uhr Zwolf (1963), the young Edgar Wallace helps to solve a crime.
Durbridge published 35 novels, several of them were based on his tv or radio series.
Suddenly at Home (1973), a thriller written for the stage, ran in the Fortune Theatre in London's West End for a year. Gerald
Harper portrayed a suave ladies' man, Glenn Howard, who plans to murder
his wife. "He had an emormous following of middle-aged women. Some of
them came to see him in the play again and again." (Rula: My Colorful Life by Rula Lenska, 2013) Rula Lenska was cast in the small role of a mysterious au pair girl. Also the plays The Gentle Hook (1975), House Guest (1982) and A Touch of Danger (1988) ran succesfully in the West End.
Some of Durbridge's books were written in collaboration with other writers, among them John Thewes, Douglas Rutherford, and Charles Hatton. Paul Temple was credited as the author of his own adventures, two of which Durbridge wrote with Rutherford. The masterfully plotted novel My Wife Melissa, originally published in 1967, was reissued in 2013 by Bello Books.
The Broken Horseshoe (1952) and Operation Diplomat (1952) were Durbridge's first TV thriller serials. They were produced live in a studio at Alexandra Palace. In 1997, Alan Bleasdale created his own version of Durbridge's 1960s BBC serial Melissa, in which a war correspondent, Guy Foster, falls in love with a beautiful but mysterious Melissa. Bleasdale described the mystery detective story as his "homage and tribute to one of this country's finest thriller writers." Durbridge died in London on 10 April 1998.
Paul Temple: One of the most successful detective characters ever created for broadcasting. Paul Temple made his first radio appearance on 8 April on the BBC's Midland Region. As a result, the BBC received 7,000 letters from listeners demaning more. Temple is former reporter and playwright, who then becomes a successful novelist and criminologist, helping Scotland Yard. He solves mysteries with his wife, who changed her name from Louise Harvey to Steve Trent after a gang of diamond thieves murdered her brother, a Scotland Yard superintendent. – Temple had a thirty-year career on radio, and continued his adventures also in books from 1938 to the late 1980s. Two of the novels, The Tyler Mystery and East of Algers list Temple as the author. A Paul Temple comic strip, which lasted for two decades, was begun in 1951. Its artists included Alfred Sindall, Bill Bailey, and John Namara. – The BBC television series Paul Temple, Detective from 1968, written by Durbridge and starring John Bentley and Dinah Sheridan, ran for twelve episodes. Paul Temple, which ran from 1969 to 1971, was one of BBC's first color productions. Francis Matthews portrayed Paul Temple and Ros Drinkwater was Steve. Other radio series heroes: Harry Lime (produced in the 1950s in Britain, see Graham Greene), Dragnet (premiered on radio on NBC in 1949), Perry Mason (CBS soap opera from 1943 to 1955), Nick Carter (on radio from 1943 to 1955). For further reading: Francis Durbridge: The Complete Guide: With an Annotated Listing of His Novels and His Works for Radio, Television, the Stage and the Cinema by Melvyn Barnes (2018) 'Send for Paul Temple - Francis Durbridge and John Thewes,' in The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books by Martin Edwards (2017); 'Paul Temple,' in Famous Movie Detectives III by Michael R. Pitts (2004); St. James Guide to Crime & Mystery Writers, edited by Jay P. Pederson (1996); 'Durbridge, Francis (Henry' by Melvyn Barnes, in Twentieth-century Crime and Mystery Writers, edited by John M. Reilly (1985). Suom.: Paul Temple on seikkaillut mm. kuunnelmissa Paul Temple ja tapaus Conrad, Paul Temple ja Spencerin juttu, Paul Temple ja Valentinen tapaus, Paul Temple ja Alexin juttu. Televisiossa on nähty useita Durbridgen jatkojännäreitä, mm. Melissa, Mies nimeltä Harry Brent, Pelin loppu, Salama kirkkaalta taivaalta, Kaksoisolento, Epätoivoiset. Alan Bleasdale teki Melissasta kolmannen tv-sovituksen 1997. Toinen valmistui 1974.