Dating from 1942, Paul Temple Intervenes is an early radio drama written by Francis Durbridge has been exhumed from the BBC archives and is now available as a two-CD set. The sound quality (especially of the sometimes startling incidental music) is not great, but so many gems have been lost by the BBC that one is grateful for those that have survived. And I enjoyed listening to it whilst commuting.
This was one of the first Temple serials, and the writing, production and acting were not as slick as they later became. Carl Bernard and Bernadette Hodgson are, for instance, not as appealing in the roles of suave detective novelist and amateur sleuth Temple and his wife Steve, as Geoffrey Coke and Marjorie Westbury. The famous theme tune, ‘The Coronation Scot’, had not yet been adopted, and the dialogue is sometimes ponderous (people keep saying things like, ‘I do not think I have had the pleasure, Mrs Temple’ and are laboriously well-mannered on every occasion).
The plot has its eccentric moments. A serial killer called The Marquis has seven victims to his name, and yet we never learn much about the victims, nor why they were killed. It is taken for granted that The Marquis is a blackmailer, but we never find out how he discovered so much incriminating material. The story is really taken up with the hunt for The Marquis (whose techniques for avoiding justice struck me as pretty weird) and there are the usual cliffhanger endings for each of the eight episodes.
With so many drawbacks, perhaps I shouldn’t have liked this serial as much as I did. Of course, it’s very dated, but it definitely has an eccentric charm, to add to its considerable historic interest. As usual, Durbridge shifts suspicion from one suspect to another with consummate ease. He had a great gift for maintaining suspense, and if you like old radio shows, I think you may enjoy this one as I did.