Francis Durbridge

and Italy

Between 1953 and 1977 seven Paul Temple radio serials were produced in Italy, but Italian fans must, on occasion, have 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. As with the German productions there were often changes made to the plot and characters as well as changes to the format of the episodes.

It could be said that they were adapted to Italian television taste and as such might not have been immediately recognisable to a British audience, however there is no doubting their great success with the Italian public as they usually combined the best television directors with the most popular actors of the period including Rossano Brazzi and Alberto Lupo. The success of the television serials has prompted a book Francis Durbridge e la RAI by Antonio Scaglioni detailing how they were developed.

Such was the fame of Francis Durbridge in Italy that the well-known Italian and Hollywood film producer Dino de Laurentis engaged him to write a treatment for a film based upon an existing idea that he owned. The resulting treatment was call Zachary, a thriller set in Japan between the wars, but unfortunately it never went into production as is often the case with film projects.

Unfortunately it was also the case that Francis Durbridge’s stage plays were not performed in Italy. As he explains in the interview he gave to an Italian journalist which is reprinted on this website, whilst thrillers were popular with the Italian public they were thought by stage producers to carry too much risk to stage in a theatre.

Work by Francis Durbridge in Italy