Peter Coke and Marjorie Westbury star in another intriguing case for BBC Radio's smoothest sleuth and his glamorous wife.
Francis Durbridge was born in Hull in on 25 November 1912. He was educated in Bradford and went on to Birmingham University. It was while he was there that his radio play, Persuasion, was written and broadcast. After leaving university he worked for a short time in a stockbroker's office before realising that the only career he was really interested in was writing. For some time he toyed with the idea of creating a detective who was also a crime novelist, but was unable to finalise the character to his satisfaction until 1938. The end result, Paul Temple, inhabited a world of luxurious sports cars, Knightsbridge flats and chic women - a bygone age of elegance and manners. Durbridge had his first detective novel published at the age of twenty-two and went on to write three dozen more. Paul Temple made his first radio appearance on 8 April 1938 on the BBC's Midland Region. Send for Paul Temple was a huge success: within a week of the serial's final instalment the BBC received 7000 letters demanding more. A second adventure, Paul Temple and the Front Page Men, was broadcast in November and December 1938 and was even more popular than the first. The theme tune for the series was Vivian Ellis' Coronation Scot, which became instantly recognisable to the millions of Temple listeners. In all, twenty-one series of Paul Temple were broadcast over a period of thirty years. During the 1950s and '60s Durbridge transferred his skills to television; Portrait of Alison, Melissa and The Scarf are just a few of the serials that gripped the nation during those years. They all adhered to the writer's golden formula: 'Everybody is lying, nothing is as it seems.' His appeal was widespread: in Germany in particular a new Durbridge television thriller was apparently enough to clear the cinemas. In 1967 the European Broadcasting Union commissioned him to create a radio serial for the international market. The result, La Boutique, made for riveting listening. Durbridge was an extremely entertaining writer and the clever twists and turns of his plots were guaranteed to keep audiences tuning in week after week. He also wrote nine plays for the theatre: Suddenly at Home, The Gentle Hook, House Guest and A Touch of Danger all ran successfully in the West End. He married Norah Lawley in 1940 and had two sons. Francis Durbridge died in London on 10 April 1998.