Paul Temple

Paul Temple is a fictional character created by English writer Francis Durbridge. Temple is a professional author of crime fiction and an amateur private detective. With his wife Louise, affectionately known as Steve in reference to her journalistic 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".

Paul Temple
First appearanceSend for Paul Temple (1938)
Created byFrancis Durbridge
Portrayed byCarl Bernard
Hugh Morton
Barry Morse
Howard Marion Crawford
Kim Peacock
Peter Coke
Anthony Hulme
John Bentley
Francis Matthews
Crawford Logan
OccupationAuthor, detective
SpouseLouise ("Steve") Temple

Created for the BBC radio serial Send for Paul Temple in 1938, the Temples featured in more than 30 BBC radio dramas, twelve serials for German radio, four British feature films, a dozen novels, and a BBC television series. A Paul Temple daily newspaper strip ran in the London Evening News for two decades.[1]


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.


Original radio serials

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)[2] 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.[3]

The radio series was a collaboration between writer Francis Durbridge and BBC producer Martyn C Webster, both of whom worked on every one of the radio broadcasts aired over the thirty years from 1938 to 1968. Durbridge was still at college when he approached Webster, who then was with the BBC's regional service in the Midlands, with his proposal for a mystery series about a gentleman detective.[4]

The introductory and closing music for the majority of the long-running series was Coronation Scot, composed by Vivian Ellis, though the earliest serials (those aired prior to December 1947) used an excerpt from Scheherazade by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov.[5]

Initially the serials aired only on the BBC's regional service in the Midlands. As they gained in popularity, they were aired nationally instead on the Home Service. But in 1945 they found a new permanent home on the recently founded BBC Light Programme, which too was a national station, where they remained (save for occasional repeats on Home Service) until the final serial in 1968. Repeats of selected serials then 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).[6]

Many of the earliest serials, in which the eponymous hero was played by a wide variety of different actors, have not survived the passage of time (largely because these recordings had no value to the BBC once Peter Coke had become synonymous with the lead character). Several were remade in the 1940s, in abridged form, as feature films. However some of the early radio serials do still exist: including Paul Temple Intervenes from 1942, featuring the first appearance in the series by Marjorie Westbury, in a supporting role, who would later co-star as Mrs Temple. All but one of the serials starring Peter Coke also exist: since 2003 these have been regularly repeated on digital 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[7]; and the actor had also been interviewed extensively in 1998, for the half hour documentary Send For Paul Temple, an episode in the series The Radio Detectives.

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.[8][9]

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 and presented 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.[10][11]

Serial titleAs Paul TempleAs Louise TempleOriginal broadcast dates [12][13]EpisodesArchive status [13]
Send for Paul TempleHugh MortonBernadette Hodgson8 April – 27 May 1938 (BBC Midland region only)8 × 25 minutes1–5 & 7–8 lost, 6 exists. A 1940 remake for Canadian radio exists in full, starring Bernard Braden.[14]
Paul Temple and the Front Page MenHugh MortonBernadette Hodgson1 November – 21 December 1938 (BBC Midland region only)8 × 25 minutes1–7 lost, 8 exists
News of Paul TempleHugh MortonBernadette Hodgson13 November – 18 December 19396 × 25 minutesall lost[15][16]
"Send for Paul Temple" (abridged remake)Carl BernardThea Holme13 October 19411 × 60 minuteslost
Paul Temple IntervenesCarl BernardBernadette Hodgson30 October – 18 December 19428 × 20 minutesexists in full[17][18]
"News of Paul Temple" (abridged remake)Richard WilliamsLucille Lisle5 July 19441 × 60 minuteslost
Send for Paul Temple AgainBarry MorseMarjorie Westbury13 September – 1 November 19458 × 30 minutesall lost[19][20]
A Case for Paul TempleHoward Marion CrawfordMarjorie Westbury7 February – 28 March 19468 × 30 minutesall lost[21]
Paul Temple and the Gregory AffairKim PeacockMarjorie Westbury17 October – 19 December 194610 × 30 minutesall lost[22]
Paul Temple and SteveKim PeacockMarjorie Westbury30 March – 18 May 19478 × 30 Minutesall lost[23]
"Mr & Mrs Paul Temple" (abridged remake of Paul Temple and Steve)Kim PeacockMarjorie Westbury23 November 19471 × 45 minuteslost
Paul Temple and the Sullivan MysteryKim PeacockMarjorie Westbury1 December 1947 – 19 January 19488 × 30 minutesall lost[24][25]
Paul Temple and the Curzon CaseKim PeacockMarjorie Westbury7 December 1948 – 25 January 19498 × 30 minutesall lost
Paul Temple and the Madison MysteryKim PeacockMarjorie Westbury12 October – 30 November 19498 × 30 minutesall lost[26]
Paul Temple and the Vandyke AffairKim PeacockMarjorie Westbury30 October – 18 December 19508 × 30 minutesexists in full (archived at the British Library)[27][28]
Paul Temple and the Jonathan MysteryKim PeacockMarjorie Westbury10 May – 28 June 19518 × 30 minutesall lost[29]
"Paul Temple and Steve Again"Kim PeacockMarjorie Westbury8 April 19531 × 60 minuteslost
Paul Temple and the Gilbert CasePeter CokeMarjorie Westbury29 March – 17 May 19548 × 30 minutesexists in full (this is the version available on CD/cassette from the BBC Radio Collection)[30]
Paul Temple and the Madison Mystery (remake)Peter CokeMarjorie Westbury20 June – 8 August 19558 × 30 Minutesall lost[31]
Paul Temple and the Lawrence AffairPeter CokeMarjorie Westbury11 April – 30 May 19568 × 30 minutesexists in full
Paul Temple and the Spencer AffairPeter CokeMarjorie Westbury13 November 1957 – 1 January 19588 × 30 minutesexists in full
Paul Temple and the Vandyke Affair (remake)Peter CokeMarjorie Westbury1 January – 19 February 19598 × 30 minutesexists in full
Paul Temple and the Conrad CasePeter CokeMarjorie Westbury2 March – 20 April 19598 × 30 minutesexists in full
Paul Temple and the Gilbert Case (remake)Peter CokeMarjorie Westbury22 November 1959 – 10 January 19608 × 30 minutesexists in full
Paul Temple and the Margo MysteryPeter CokeMarjorie Westbury1 January – 19 February 19618 × 30 minutesexists in full
Paul Temple and the Jonathan Mystery (remake)Peter CokeMarjorie Westbury14 October – 2 December 19638 × 30 minutesexists in full
Paul Temple and the Geneva MysteryPeter CokeMarjorie Westbury11 April – 16 May 19656 × 30 minutesexists in full
Paul Temple and the Alex Affair [32]Peter CokeMarjorie Westbury26 February – 21 March 19688 × 30 minutesexists in full
Paul Temple and the Sullivan Mystery (remake)Crawford LoganGerda Stevenson7 August – 2 October 20068 × 30 minutesexists in full[33]
Paul Temple and the Madison Mystery (remake)Crawford LoganGerda Stevenson16 May – 4 July 20088 × 30 minutesexists in full[34]
Paul Temple and Steve (remake)Crawford LoganGerda Stevenson11 June – 30 July 20108 × 30 minutesexists in full[35]
A Case for Paul Temple (remake)Crawford LoganGerda Stevenson24 August – 12 October 20118 × 30 minutesexists in full[36]
Paul Temple and the Gregory Affair (remake)Crawford LoganGerda Stevenson3 July – 11 September 201310 × 30 minutesexists in full[37]

Film adaptations

Between 1946 and 1952 Paul Temple appeared in four feature films, each an abridged version of one of the early (hence, now lost) BBC radio serials. These films were distributed by Butcher's Film Service based in the North of England (best known as a distributor of Northern comedies, including the fifteen Old Mother Riley films). All were made in the years before Peter Coke was cast as the definitive Paul Temple in the radio series in 1954. Marjorie Westbury had been established in the radio series by this point, but was not cast in these films because she was not a film actress.

BBC television series

Francis Durbridge licensed the television rights in his characters to the BBC, who between 1969 and 1971 produced fifty two colour 50-minute episodes of a drama series entitled Paul Temple.[38] It starred Francis Matthews as Paul Temple, and co-starred Ros Drinkwater as his wife Steve, with George Sewell as Sammy Carson. None of the television scripts were written by Durbridge.

The 52 episodes, made over 4 seasons, were co-produced with ZDF, a West German television station based in Munich, making it the very first international co-production of the TV era. This made it practicable, in terms of the show's budget, to film location scenes for the series overseas (i.e. in Munich and other cities in West Germany). The episodes were subsequently dubbed into German, using German voice artists, for broadcast by ZDF to German audiences.

Only 16 of the 52 episodes currently exist in the BBC's television archive with their original English soundtrack, and only 11 of these are in colour (for the other 5, only black and white telerecordings survive[39]); the other 36 episodes are lost. Many of the missing episodes survive, in colour, in ZDF TV's archives in Germany, but with dubbed German soundtracks.

The theme tune of the television series was composed by Ron Grainer, who composed very many TV themes for the BBC during the 1960s.


Many of the BBC Paul Temple radio serials were novelized between 1938 and 1989 by Francis Durbridge from his original scripts.[40] Some of the novels in which the character appears were written in collaboration with John Thewes, Douglas Rutherford or Charles Hatten and those with Rutherford were even published under the pen-name Paul Temple, thus making the fictional writer a "real" one.

  1. Send for Paul Temple (1938), Anthony Head (2007)*
  2. Paul Temple and the Front Page Men (1939), Anthony Head (2009)*
  3. News of Paul Temple (1940), Anthony Head (2008)*
  4. Paul Temple Intervenes (1944), Toby Stephens (2011)*
  5. Send for Paul Temple Again! (1948)
  6. Paul Temple and the Tyler Mystery (1957), Anthony Head (2006)*
  7. Paul Temple: East of Algiers (1959), Anthony Head (2009)* - based on The Sullivan Mystery but with locations and character names altered
  8. Paul Temple and the Kelby Affair (1970), Anthony Head (2007)*
  9. Paul Temple and the Harkdale Robbery (1970), Anthony Head (2007)*
  10. Paul Temple and the Geneva Mystery (1971), Toby Stephens (2011)*
  11. Paul Temple and the Curzon Case (1972), Anthony Head (2006)*
  12. Paul Temple and the Margo Mystery (1986), Toby Stephens (2011)*
  13. Paul Temple and the Madison Case (1988)
  14. Paul Temple and the Conrad Case (1989)

(*) Indicates released as a CD-only audiobook between 2006 and 2011, read by Anthony Head or Toby Stephens.

Newspaper Strip

Between 19th November 1951 and 1st May 1971, whilst the character was at the height of his popularity on radio and television, Paul Temple was adapted as a daily newspaper strip in the London Evening News.[41][42][43] The strip was written by (and credited in-page to) Francis Durbridge himself.[44]

Until 1954 the strip was drawn by Alfred Sindall.[45] From 1954 onward it was continued by Bill Bailey, John McNamara [46] and Philip Mendoza. [47] Selected editions from the strips drawn by John McNamara were reprinted by an obscure South London magazine publisher, Micron, in a short lived series in 1964.[48] At no stage did the strip feature recognisable portraits of the then-current stars of the radio series, Peter Coke and Marjorie Westbury.[49]

Commercial releases

All the surviving English-language radio episodes, including the 1940 Canadian remake of Send for Paul Temple, have been released on CD by the BBC.

The 11 surviving colour episodes held in the BBC archives (featuring Francis Matthews and Ros Drinkwater) from the BBC-tv version of "Paul Temple" were released on DVD on 6 July 2009 by Acorn Media UK. A further five black-and-white recordings (of originally colour episodes) were released in April 2012. Many of the lost colour episodes exist in the archives of ZDF, the series' German co-producer, with soundtracks dubbed in German (a bare handful in English). The German language versions have begun to be released on DVD in Germany by Fernsehjuwelen DVD.

In 2010 Renown Pictures Ltd, new owners of The Butchers Library, released on DVD the feature films Send For Paul Temple, Paul Temple Returns (a.k.a. Bombay Waterfront) and Calling Paul Temple.[50]

During 2011–12 all four Paul Temple movies were released by Renown. A DVD box set of three was released in November 2011; the fourth film, Paul Temple's Triumph, was released singly, initially to Renown Club members only, in March 2012, but has since become generally available.

Starting in February 2016, all the surviving Paul Temple radio serials were released on CD across four new BBC box sets. These include the previously unreleased 1959 remake of Paul Temple and The Gilbert Case and the original 1950 Kim Peacock version of Paul Temple and The VanDyke Affair (the latter featuring Peter Coke in a supporting role) as well as the remakes made in the 21st century.

International adaptations


In the Netherlands, several of the radio plays were re-recorded using Dutch actors and the title character's name adapted as Paul Vlaanderen. Alfred Sindall drew the initial strips.


In Germany, twelve Paul Temple radio serials were adapted between 1949 and 1967, each episode (in common with the BBC serials) ending on a cliffhanger. They were listened to by such huge numbers of people that they earned the sobriquet Straßenfeger ("street sweepers"), because they left the streets practically deserted whenever an episode was broadcast. They were performed by actors of national renown, including Luxembourg-born René Deltgen (who played the title role in 11 of the 12 series), Gustav Knuth, Friedrich W Bauschulte, Pinkas Braun, Heinz Schimmelpfennig, Siegfried Wischnewski, Wolfgang Wahl, Günther Ungeheuer and Paul Klinger amongst others.

All 11 surviving German radio serials have since been released on CD as audiobooks. Two short-lived comic series by the Aachener Bildschriftenverlag and the Luna-Kriminalromane are rare collector's items.

In 2014, an abridged remake of the lost 1949 version of "Paul Temple and the Gregory Affair" was aired and released, followed by a live radio show in 2015 with the cast and the WDR Radio Orchestra, hosted by German Comedian Bastian Pastewka.

In 2015, all four Paul Temple feature films were released on DVD.


Seven Italian-language Paul Temple serials were produced by RAI between 1953 and 1977, each with a different voice actor in the title role:

  • Paul Temple, il romanziere poliziotto (from A Case for Paul Temple), 1953 with Fernando Farese
  • Paul Temple e il caso Gregory (from Paul Temple and the Gregory Affair), 1961 with Gualtiero Rizzi
  • Paul Temple e l'Uomo di Zermatt (from Paul Temple and the Lawrence Affair), 1961 with Adolfo Geri
  • Margò (from Paul Temple and the Margo Mystery), 1967 with Aroldo Tieri
  • Chi è Jonathan? (from Paul Temple and the Jonathan Mystery), 1971 with Mario Feliciani
  • La ragazza scomparsa (from Paul Temple and the Conrad Case), 1975 with Alberto Lupo
  • Cabaret (from Paul Temple and the Spencer Affair), 1975 with Luigi Vannucchi

Both 1961 productions are presumed lost.


  1. Prof. Jeffrey Richards, Send For Paul Temple (documentary), aired on BBC Radio 4 FM, 20 May 1998
  2. Peter Coke obituary, The Independent
  4. The Radio Detectives (1998): Send For Paul Temple
  5. Prof. Jeffrey Richards (ibid)
  11. Prof. Jeffrey Richards, Send For Paul Temple (documentary), aired on BBC Radio 4 FM, 20 May 1998
  13. Paul Temple: The Radio Shows, The Original Old Time Radio WWW Pages
  14. Abridged remake in the 1946 film Send for Paul Temple
  15. Abridged remake in the 1950 film Paul Temple's Triumph
  16. Lester Mudditt first played Sir Graham Forbes, the Chief Commissioner of Scotland Yard, in this serial – and would continue to play that part in every serial up to and including The Spencer Affair in 1958.
  17. Marjorie Westbury, who in 1945 would take over the role of Mrs Temple, had a supporting role in this serial (as Dolly Fraser – episode 1 only).
  18. Abridged remake in the 1952 film Paul Temple Returns
  19. Abridged remake in the 1948 film Calling Paul Temple
  20. Remade in 1968 with Peter Coke and Marjorie Westbury, as Paul Temple and the Alex Affair
  21. Remade in 2011 starring Crawford Logan
  22. Remade in 2013 starring Crawford Logan
  23. Remade in 2010 starring Crawford Logan
  24. Remade in 2006 starring Crawford Logan
  25. The rumour that recordings of this serial have been found is entirely false. It arose when an American collector heard a recording of the BBC's 2006 re-make of this lost serial.
  26. Remade in 2008 starring Crawford Logan
  27. Peter Coke, who in 1954 took over the lead role, had a small part in this serial
  28. Remade in 1959 with Peter Coke and Marjorie Westbury
  29. Remade in 1963 with Peter Coke and Marjorie Westbury
  30. This is the version repeated by BBC Radio 4 Extra in 2011, 2013 and 2016
  31. Remade in 2008 starring Crawford Logan
  32. Remake of Send for Paul Temple Again, with the name of the villain changed from "Rex" to "Alex"
  38. Francis Matthews, Daily Telegraph
  39. A new digital process known as chroma dot colour recovery has now been successfully used by the BBC to restore to colour a dozen episodes of Doctor Who, Dad's Army and Are You Being Served from this type of film recording
  40. Many audiobook recordings of these novels, some unabridged, have been issued including a series made by Isis Audio Books (these latter read by Michael Tudor-Barnes)
  41. Daily newspaper serial from the London Evening News
  42. Surviving examples of the daily newspaper strip
  43. More art from the Evening News daily serials
  44. Cover art for issue 2 of The Paul Temple Library
  48. The Paul Temple Library, reprints from the daily newspaper strips, published by Micron (March to July 1964): ten issues, priced at 1s 3d each
  49. Images from the daily newspaper serial
  50. Renown Pictures Limited
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