A Case for Paul Temple by Francis Durbridge (BBC Audio dramatisation)

“Do as I tell you, darling…”

🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

paul templeThis remake of one of the original radio productions of a Paul Temple drama has apparently stuck as closely as possible to the original. Sound effects and incidental music have been reproduced as faithfully as possible and this works very well, giving a real impression of how the drama would have sounded when first broadcast in 1946, but without the crackles. Starring Crawford Logan as Paul and Gerda Stevenson as Steve, the acting is excellent with the actors maintaining the kind of ‘received pronunciation’ accents that were commonly used on the Beeb at the time. There are 4 discs each containing two half hour episodes. Each episode contains a fairly substantial resume of what’s gone before, so if you don’t want to listen all at once this gives a good reminder of the story so far.

The plot is good for its time – a series of suicides related to drugs leaves Scotland Yard baffled so it looks like a case for Paul Temple. It’s hard now to accept that one drug dealer would have caused so much consternation that the police had to call on outside help, but these were simpler times (in dramas, at least). There’s plenty of action, complete with dramatic music, and the plot twists and turns right up to the end.

Francis Durbridge
Francis Durbridge

So that just leaves the dialogue. I have always thought of Paul Temple as one of the more insufferable of the smug amateur detectives and this case served to reinforce that view. Bad enough when dealing with the criminals or the police, but the way he talks to his wife is cringe-worthy to modern ears. ‘Stay in the car, darling – you’ll be more use to us there’; ‘Another cup of tea please, darling’; and my personal favourite ‘Do as I tell you, darling’. If your sense of humour is good enough to cope with this type of thing, I’m sure you’ll enjoy this. But feminists, you have been warned!

Overall, a very good reproduction of a rather dated but still enjoyable drama. Recommended.

NB This audio disc set was provided for review by Amazon Vine UK.

Amazon UK Link
Amazon US Link

10 thoughts on “A Case for Paul Temple by Francis Durbridge (BBC Audio dramatisation)

  1. I sometimes think that today’s adaptations entail taking a decision as to how closely to stick to an original. Sticking to an original can mean, as your excellent review points out, staying with dated dialogue or character, etc.. But if the story is good… Glad you enjoyed this one.

    • It’s difficult to know what’s best. Keeping to the original does give an insight to attitudes of the time, but I often wonder if it means that a new audience of younger people will be put off.

  2. You have really moved onto my ground now! I own pretty well all of the Paul Temple books and have spent many sleepless nights listening to the radio serials being re-broadcast on Radio 4 Extra (not all of the original broadcasts were lost). Paul’s attitude to Steve doesn’t bother me – I treat these books as quasi-historical novels and,in any case, when you read the books as a sequence, you see that Steve does precisely what she likes! She was after all a crime reporter before the couple met, and is a good deal younger and much more socially liberal thanTemple, who is (in the books) a bit of a fuddy-duddy who is shaken out of his complacency by Steve. I agree this does not really come across in this particular adventure though.
    In the late70s/early 80s, there was a television series which was very loosely based on the characters, but updated to the then present day. Despite having good actors (Francis Mathews as Temple, Roz Drinkwater as Steve) this didn’t work at all, particularly since they reinvented Steve as an interior designer, therefore devaluing her as an expert on crime and turning her into a sort of “Perils of Penelope” heroine who came with her own ransom note. Think I’ll go and listen to the tape now -which you gave me as a Christmas present a couple of years ago, remember?

    • Oh I’d forgotten that! And now you know it came as a freebie from Vine – did I own up to that at the time?!?

      I remember the TV series vaguely but never really enjoyed it – I didn’t like Francis Matthews. Or so I thought – maybe it was actually Paul Temple I didn’t like. I don’t have much recollection of Steve though. I preferred The Persuaders with the lovely Tony Curtis – my hero. I’d probably find the attitudes in that just as cringy if I re-watched it now, though.

  3. I grew up listening to Paul temple and have either forgotten the condescension or more likely didn’t register it at the time. Part of me would like to go back and relive my youth but another part thinks I might start throwing things at the radio.

    • Yes, I think it seemed ‘normal’ back at the time. Funnily enough I have no problem with the prejudices of 100 years or more ago – Rider Haggard etc. But stuff written mid-twentieth century can either make me all militant-feministy or make me chuckle – depends how it’s written. This one definitely fell into the chuckle category, I think because of the performances. 🙂

    • I’ve never made it past 15 mins on a Bond film. But not long after this, Vine gave me a David Tennant reading of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (a martyr, that’s me!) – honestly, Bond makes Paul Temple seem like Germaine Greer!!

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