Francis Durbridge

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Francis Durbridge
Writer Francis Durbridge.jpg
Durbridge in April 1967
Born (1912-11-25)25 November 1912
Hull, East Riding of Yorkshire, England
Died 11 April 1998(1998-04-11) (aged 85)
Barnes, London, England
Alma mater University of Birmingham
Occupation Radio and television scriptwriter, playwright, author
Years active 1933-1998

Francis Henry Durbridge (About this sound listen ) (25 November 1912 – 11 April 1998)[1] was an English playwright and author.[2]

Durbridge was born in Hull, East Riding of Yorkshire, and educated at Bradford Grammar School, where he was encouraged to write by his English teacher. He continued to do so while studying English at the University of Birmingham. After graduating in 1933, he worked for a short time as a stockbroker's clerk before selling a radio play, Promotion, to the BBC at the age of 21.[3]

Durbridge created the character of Paul Temple, a crime novelist and detective, in the 1930s. With Steve Trent, a Fleet Street journalist who would later become his wife, Temple solved numerous crimes in the glamorous world of the leisured middle classes, first on radio, then in films and, from 1969 to 1971, in a television series. In addition to the Paul Temple series, Durbridge wrote other mysteries for radio and television, many of which were also produced for Dutch, German and Italian television and radio.[4] In the Netherlands Temple was known as Paul Vlaanderen.

Durbridge also forged a successful career as a writer for the stage with seven plays, the last of which, Sweet Revenge, was written in 1991. He also wrote forty-three novels, many of which were adapted from his scripts, sometimes with the help of others.[5]

Durbridge married Norah Lawley in 1940. They had two sons. He died at his home in Barnes, London, aged 85, in 1998.[5]

Work for radio[edit]

Paul Temple in the United Kingdom[edit]

Durbridge wrote twenty Paul Temple serials for radio. The first was Send for Paul Temple, broadcast in eight episodes on the BBC Midland Regional Programme from 8 April 1938. Hugh Morton played Paul, and Steve was played by Bernadette Hodgson. Carl Bernard took over the part of Paul in 1939. After the war the character was played by a succession of different actors: Barry Morse (1945), Howard Marion-Crawford (1946) and Kim Peacock (1946–1951). Peter Coke took over the part from the 1954 serial, Paul Temple and the Gilbert Case, onwards.[6][7]

Marjorie Westbury took over the part of Steve from the fifth serial, Send for Paul Temple Again (1945), although she had a small part in the fourth serial, Paul Temple Intervenes (1942). She remained as Steve for the rest of the radio run. To many people, Coke and Westbury are most firmly identified with Paul and Steve.[8]

Durbridge's grave at Putney Vale Cemetery, London, in 2015

The original signature tune was taken from Scheherazade by Rimsky-Korsakov, with incidental music taken from the works of other composers, including Tintagel by Sir Arnold Bax. The signature tune was later changed to Coronation Scot by Vivian Ellis. The BBC licensed the serials to broadcasters in Commonwealth countries, where they were transmitted long after their original runs in the UK.

Repeating the recordings on the BBC7 digital speech channel revived interest in the serials in the early 2000s. BBC Worldwide then released all the complete recordings known to have survived on CDs and cassettes.

On Monday 7 August 2006, BBC Radio 4 broadcast the first episode of a new production of Paul Temple and the Sullivan Mystery, a lost 1947-produced serial. The re-creation used the original 1947 script, vintage sound effects, music and microphones, and carefully reproduced 1940s upper-class accents. Paul Temple was played by Crawford Logan and Steve by Gerda Stevenson. This production was repeated on Radio 4 from mid-June 2007.

Paul Temple in Germany[edit]

In the 1960s, German radio adapted twelve Paul Temple serials. Like the BBC originals, each part ended with a cliffhanger, making them Strassenfeger ("street-clearers"), which were so popular as to leave the streets deserted. The actors were of national renown, with Paul Temple played by Luxembourg-born René Deltgen, and supported by Gustav Knuth, Paul Klinger and others. All of these German radio serials are, like the BBC originals, available on CD.[9][10]

The European Broadcasting Union invited Durbridge in 1967 to write an original radio serial for the international market, La Boutique. This was broadcast in more than fifteen countries, and in a variety of languages.

Work for television[edit]

Between 1952 and 1980, Durbridge wrote 17 TV serials for the BBC. Until 1959 they were shown under the umbrella title A Francis Durbridge Serial, which was then changed to Francis Durbridge Presents.[11] Versions were also made in the Netherlands, Italy, France and Germany. Even after Durbridge stopped writing, some serials were re-made in the 1980s and '90s.

The Scarf was a six-part serial starring Stephen Murray and Donald Pleasence, and was aired by the BBC in February and March 1959. The theme music was The Girl from Corsica by Trevor Duncan. There was uproar in Germany in 1962 when comedian Wolfgang Neuss revealed in a newspaper who would turn out to be the murderer in the last episode of a German version called Das Halstuch.[12]

In 1960–61, The World of Tim Frazer was broadcast as an 18-episode serial featuring three adventures [1] starring Jack Hedley in the title role. They attracted almost 80% of all TV viewers—partly because, at that time, many European countries had one TV station each.[13]

In the sixties and seventies, many mini-series adapted from Durbridge's works were produced in Italy by RAI-TV. They featured some of the best Italian actors, among them Aroldo Tieri, Giuliana Lojodice, Nando Gazzolo, Ugo Pagliai, Luigi Vannucchi, Alberto Lupo and Rossano Brazzi. In France, TV scriptwriter and director Abder Isker produced some of Durbridge's adaptations for ORTF.

In the mid-1960s, mini-series based on the Paul Temple novels appeared on TV in Europe.[14]

The 1969–1971 television series Paul Temple ran for 52 episodes over four seasons, with the last 39 episodes (seasons 2–4) being the first international television co-production, made by the BBC with Taurus Films of Munich, West Germany. Paul Temple was played by British actor Francis Matthews, with Ros Drinkwater playing Steve. Only 16 of the 52 episodes survive in the BBC TV archives today, with their original English soundtracks (11 in colour, with 5 only available in black and white). The visuals of some of the 36 missing episodes survive in the ZDF TV archives in Germany, but only with the dubbed German soundtracks.[15][16]

The surviving 11 colour episodes of Paul Temple were re-run on UK Gold in its formative years. In July 2009, Acorn Media released the 11 existing colour episodes on DVD.[17] In April 2012, Acorn Media released a DVD of the final 5 episodes ever broadcast, which are only available in black and white. In August 2013, Acorn Media released all 16 existing episodes (11 in colour, 5 in black and white) on DVD, in a release named Paul Temple: The Complete Collection.


Durbridge wrote several Paul Temple novels in collaboration with John Thewes, Douglas Rutherford and Charles Hatten. Those he wrote with Rutherford appeared under the pen name 'Paul Temple'.

List of radio plays and serials[edit]

Paul Temple[edit]

  • Send for Paul Temple (1938)
  • Paul Temple and the Front Page Men (1938)
  • News of Paul Temple (1939)
  • Paul Temple Intervenes (1942)
  • Send for Paul Temple Again (1945)
  • A Case for Paul Temple (1946)
  • Paul Temple and the Gregory Affair (1946)
  • Paul Temple and Steve (1947)
  • Mr. and Mrs. Paul Temple (1947)
  • Paul Temple and the Sullivan Mystery (1947)
  • Paul Temple and the Curzon Case (1948)
  • Paul Temple and the Madison Mystery (1949)
  • Paul Temple and the Van Dyke Affair (1950)
  • Paul Temple and the Jonathan Mystery (1951)
  • Paul Temple and Steve Again (1953)
  • Paul Temple and the Gilbert Case (1954)
  • Paul Temple and the Madison Mystery (1955) (new production)
  • Paul Temple and the Lawrence Affair (1956)
  • Paul Temple and the Spencer Affair (1957)
  • Paul Temple and the Van Dyke Affair (1959) (new production)
  • Paul Temple and the Conrad Case (1959)
  • Paul Temple and the Gilbert Case (1959) (new production)
  • Paul Temple and the Margot Mystery (1961)
  • Paul Temple and the Jonathan Mystery (1963) (new production)
  • Paul Temple and the Geneva Mystery (1965)
  • Paul Temple and the Alex Affair (1968) (revised version of Send For Paul Temple Again)
  • Paul Temple and the Sullivan Mystery (2006) (new production)

Other radio plays and serials[edit]

  • Persuasion (1933)
  • Information Received (1938)
  • And Anthony Sherwood Laughed (1940)
  • Were Strangers (1941)
  • Mr. Harrington Died Tomorrow (1942)
  • The Essential Heart (1943)
  • Frewell Leicester Square (1943)
  • Over My Dead Body (1946)
  • John Washington Esquire (1949)
  • What Do You Think? (1962)
  • La Boutique (1967)

List of TV series[edit]

None of the episodes of The Francis Durbridge Serial are believed to have survived.[18] All episodes of Francis Durbridge Presents survive except for The World of Tim Frazer of which only episode 3 and 10 (out of 18) are thought to still exist.[19]

  • A Francis Durbridge Serial
    • The Broken Horseshoe (1952)
    • Operation Diplomat (1952)
    • The Teckman Biography (1953–54)
    • Portrait of Alison (1955)
    • My Friend Charles (1956)
    • The Other Man (1956)
    • A Time of Day (1957)
    • The Scarf (1959)
  • Francis Durbridge Presents
    • The World of Tim Frazer (1960–61)
    • The Desperate People (1963)
    • Melissa (1964)
    • A Man Called Harry Brent (1965)
    • A Game of Murder (1966)
    • Bat Out of Hell (1966)
  • Paul Temple (52 episodes) (1969–71)
  • Francis Durbridge Presents
    • The Passenger (1971)
    • Melissa (1974)
    • The Doll (1975)
    • Breakaway – The Family Affair (1980)
    • Breakaway – The Local Affair (1980)

In 1997, Channel 4 broadcast a version of Melissa, adapted by Alan Bleasdale from the Francis Durbridge novel. Jennifer Ehle played Melissa.

List of Italian TV adaptations[edit]

  • La sciarpa (from : The Scarf, 1963)
  • Paura per Janet (from : A Time of Day, 1964)
  • Melissa (1966)
  • Giocando a golf una mattina (from : A Game of Murder, 1969)
  • Un certo Harry Brent (from : A Man Called Harry Brent, 1970)
  • Come un uragano (from : Bat Out of Hell, 1971)
  • Lungo il fiume e sull'acqua (from : The Other Man, 1973)
  • A casa una sera... (from the play : Suddenly at Home, 1976)
  • Dimenticare Lisa (from : The Doll, 1976)
  • Traffico d'armi nel golfo (from : The World of Tim Frazer, 1977)
  • Poco a poco (from the play : The Gentle Hook, 1980)

List of French TV adaptations[edit]

  • L'Écharpe (from : The Scarf, 1966)
  • La Mort d'un champion (1972)
  • Un certain Richard Dorian (1973)
  • La Passagère (1974)
  • La Mort d'un touriste (1975)

List of plays[edit]

  • Suddenly at Home (1971)
  • The Gentle Hook (1974)
  • House Guest (1976)
  • Murder With Love (1976)
  • Deadly Nightcap (1983)
  • A Touch of Danger (1987)
  • The Small Hours (1991)
  • Sweet Revenge (1993)
  • Fatal Encounter (2002-posthumous)

List of films[edit]

List of novels[edit]

Paul Temple novels[edit]

  • Send for Paul Temple (1938)
  • Paul Temple and the Front Page Men (with Charles Hatton) (1939)
  • News of Paul Temple (1940)
  • Paul Temple Intervenes (1944)
  • Send for Paul Temple Again! (1948)
  • The Tyler Mystery (with Douglas Rutherford) (1957)
  • East of Algiers (with Douglas Rutherford) (1959)
  • Paul Temple and the Kelby Affair (1970)
  • Paul Temple and the Harkdale Robbery (1970)
  • The Geneva Mystery (1971)
  • The Curzon Case (1971)
  • Paul Temple and the Margo Mystery (1986)
  • Paul Temple and the Madison Case (1988)
  • Paul Temple and the Conrad Case (1989)

Tim Frazer novels[edit]

  • The World of Tim Frazer (1962)
  • Tim Frazer Again (1964)
  • Tim Frazer Gets the Message (1978)

Other novels[edit]

  • Back Room Girl (1950)
  • Beware of Johnny Washington (1951)
  • Design for Murder (1951)
  • The Other Man (1958)
  • A Time of Day (1959)
  • The Scarf (1960)
  • Portrait of Alison (1962)
  • My Friend Charles (1963)
  • Another Woman's Shoes (1965)
  • The Desperate People (1966)
  • Dead to the World (1967)
  • My Wife Melissa (1967)
  • The Pig-Tail Murder (1969)
  • A Man Called Harry Brent (1970)
  • Bat out of Hell (1972)
  • A Game of Murder (1975)
  • The Passenger (1977)
  • Breakaway (1981)
  • The Doll (1982)


External links[edit]