Francis Durbridge & Germany

Perhaps more than any other European country Germany took Francis Durbridge serials to its heart both on radio and television. He was often compared to Agatha Christie and Edgar Wallace in magazines such as Bild und Funk and the popularity of his serials was such that the German press gave him a nickname.

He became the straβenfeger or street sweeper because when a Francis Durbridge serial was on television the train stations, streets, restaurants and cinemas were all deserted. Such was the economic effect that some businesses even raised a petition to ban his television serials and one film producer ran a newspaper spoiler advert that read ‘Come tonight to the cinema to see Genosse Münchhausen because Dieter Borsche is the villain in The Scarf.’

The popularity reached all levels of German society and the German parliament adjourned its debate on the last night of one serial so members of parliament could go home to watch it....


Francis Durbridge & Italy

Between 1953 and 1977 seven Paul Temple radio serials were produced in Italy, but Italian fans must have on occasion been confused as in every serial different actors were cast as Paul Temple and Steve, who was even renamed as Betty in one serial. Several were produced by well-known radio producer Umberto Benedetto (1915-2003).

But it was with the television serials that Francis Durbridge became a household name in Italy and between 1963 and 1985 nine serials were produced by RAI locally and a further two BBC productions were also broadcast dubbed into Italian.

The television serials each had different producers and directors for RAI but the link between them was that they were all translated and adapted for Italian television by Franca Cancogni (1920-2022) who was a well-established Italian television writer in her own right...


Francis Durbridge & The Netherlands

Holland was a market in sharp contrast to France for Francis Durbridge. Whereas in France his popularity was all about his television serials, in Holland it was his Paul Temple radio serials that brought him great popularity and there were no local Dutch productions of his later television serials. This early success was no doubt contributed to by Francis Durbridge having an enthusiastic Dutch agent. Albert Milhado (1910-2001). who represented him for many years.

Send for Paul Temple was broadcast on Dutch AVRO radio in February 1939 only eight months after the first BBC radio broadcast. Translated by JC Van der Horst and produced by Kommer Kleijn (1893-1982) it starred Leo Frankel in the role of Paul Temple whose name was changed for Dutch audiences to Paul Vlaanderen, and Steve was renamed Ina and played by Lily Boumeester.

Due to its success this was followed very quickly a few months later by a Dutch version of Paul Temple and the Front Page Men produced by and starring the same team....


Francis Durbridge & France

Whilst the Paul Temple radio serials were widely produced across Europe, France was the exception and Francis Durbridge’s popularity in France stems from the local production of seven of his television serials between 1966 and 1975. Yet his first exposure in France was with the publication of Le Bande des Oiseaux Noirs which was based upon Paul Temple and the Front Page Men.

This was published in 1941 by Editions R Simon of Paris and quite how a young British author came to be published in Paris in the middle of wartime when Paris was occupied by German military forces is a bit of a puzzle...


Francis Durbridge & The Rest of Europe

In the rest of Europe Francis Durbridge radio and television serials were regularly broadcast sometimes in the case of television with the BBC serials being dubbed into the local language. However his work proved very popular in Scandinavia with at least three Paul Temple radio serials being produced in Denmark, and local television productions of The Scarf and Melissa in Finland and Sweden.

It was in Poland that he also became a household name due to the production of seven of his television serials locally between 1970 and 1976. All were translated into Polish by Kazimierz Piotrowski and four were produced and directed by Jan Bratkowski (1931-2015). At a time when the Iron Curtain existed however their popularity would prove a problem....

Newspaper Strip drawn by Alfred Sindall