Paul Temple is a fictional character, created by English writer Francis Durbridge (1912–1998). Temple is a professional author of crime fiction and an amateur private detective. Together with his journalist wife Louise, affectionately known as Steve after her pen name “Steve Trent”, he solves whodunnit crimes through subtle, humorously articulated deduction. Always the gentleman, the strongest oath he ever utters is “by Timothy”.
Created for the BBC radio serial Send for Paul Temple in 1938, the Temples have featured in over 30 BBC radio dramas, twelve serials for German radio, four British feature films, a dozen novels, and a BBC television series. A Paul Temple comic strip ran in the London Evening News from the mid-1950s to the early 1960s.
Paul Temple was a professional novelist. While he possessed no formal training as a detective, his background in constructing crime plots for his novels enabled him to apply deductive reasoning to solve cases whose solution had eluded Scotland Yard.
Over the course of each case, Temple eschewed formal interviews or other police techniques, in favour of casual conversations with suspects and witnesses. Yet even this informal style of investigation invariably precipitated attempts by the suspects to hamper him, through traps, ambushes, even assassination attempts. Surviving these, Temple would arrange a cocktail party or similar social event at which he unmasked the perpetrator.
At the end of each tale, Paul, Steve and Sir Graham Forbes held a post mortem. Here, Paul explained why certain events in the serial took place, which of these had been red herrings, and which had been genuine clues. Some elements of the plot had already been explained during the serial, while others were occasionally never fully explained, due to limitations of time.
The Paul Temple characters and formula were developed in a succession of BBC radio serials broadcast between 1938 and 1968, with several voice actors portraying the Temples. The longest running team, and the most popular with audiences, was Peter Coke (pronounced Cooke) and Marjorie Westbury, who starred together in every serial made between 1954 and 1968 — and Marjorie Westbury also co-starred as Steve Temple in every serial aired between 1945 and 1954.
The introductory and closing music for the majority of the long-running BBC radio series was Coronation Scot, composed by Vivian Ellis, although the earliest serials (those aired prior to December 1947) used an excerpt from Scheherazade by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov.
The very earliest serials aired only on regional services of the BBC, in the Midlands. As the serials gained in popularity, they were aired nationally instead on the Home Service. But in 1945 they found a permanent home on the newly founded BBC Light Programme, where they remained (apart from occasional repeats on Home Service) until the final serial in 1968. Repeats of selected serials continued to be heard on Radio 4 (the new name for the Home Service) during the 1980s and as late as 1992 (when The Spencer Affair was repeated to celebrate Francis Durbridge’s 80th birthday).
Many of the early serials, in which the eponymous hero was played by a wide variety of different actors, have not survived the passage of time (although some still exist). However, almost all of those starring Peter Coke still exist; and these have been periodically repeated, from 2003 onwards, by digital radio station BBC Radio 7 (now called BBC Radio 4 Extra). In 2006 the station tracked down the then 93-year-old Coke for a half-hour interview programme, Peter Coke and the Paul Temple Affair.
Because no recordings survive for many of the early serials, in 2006 BBC Radio 4 began recreating them, in as authentic a manner as possible: as mono productions, employing vintage microphones and sound effects, and using the original scripts. In all cases Crawford Logan starred as Paul Temple with Gerda Stevenson as Steve, in place of the original leads. The first of these broadcasts, in August 2006, was a new 8-part production of Paul Temple and the Sullivan Mystery, originally aired in 1947. A new production of The Madison Mystery, from 1949, aired between May and July 2008, followed by the 1947 serial Paul Temple and Steve in June and July 2010. A Case for Paul Temple, from 1946, was transmitted in August and September 2011. The final such production to date was Paul Temple and the Gregory Affair, aired in 2013 (the longest of all the serials, running to ten episodes). Many of these new productions featured Welsh character actor Gareth Thomas as the head of Scotland Yard. Each of the new recordings was also released on CD.
Paul Temple’s catchphrase, “by Timothy”, first occurred in episode two of the first ever serial, Send for Paul Temple. As spoken by Kim Peacock in the 1940s serials, it made Temple sound like Wilfrid Hyde-White (it was a phrase Hyde-White frequently used, particularly in the BBC radio series The Men from the Ministry). Interviewed in 2006, Peter Coke said he hated the phrase, because even in the 1950s he thought it sounded old-fashioned.
In 1998, on the death of author Francis Durbridge, the BBC made a radio documentary about Paul Temple written by noted authority Professor Jeffrey Richards, entitled Send For Paul Temple (aired on 20 May 1998), which included extracts from surviving recordings held in the BBC sound archives going right back to the first ever serial in 1938.
Paul Temple – The Brain Twisters
Paul Temple – The Erasers
1 story – Gromgate Killer
Affair of the Tired Tiger
Au Pair Affair
Death sitting down
Great Jewel Robbery
In order to view
Project Deep Plunge
The Khanwada Conspiracy
Thanks to Paw Broon