Other Writing

Original Television Dramas

Francis Durbridge made the transition from radio to television with the first BBC television serial The Broken Horseshoe broadcast live in March 1952. This was the first of a string of highly successful television serials which garnered big audience ratings and critical success. The BBC accorded him a Francis Durbridge Presents credit before the title of each serial, a unique recognition for a television writer.

The Times commented in 1959 ‘When he writes a script nowadays Mr Francis Durbridge takes full advantage of his position as undisputed master of the detective serial. Boldly stamped across the screen, his signature is less the mark of an author than a brand name, guaranteeing the quality of the goods.'

Original Stage Dramas

Throughout his life Francis Durbridge’s first love was the stage and as a young man he frequently visited the theatre in London and Birmingham. He read and studied plays and possessed a substantial library of plays by English and American playwrights.

His first stage play Send for Paul Temple which was performed at the Alexandra Theatre Birmingham from 25th October to 6th November 1943 was based upon the radio serials Send for Paul Temple and Paul Temple and the Front Page Men. This play and its performance was forgotten until unearthed by Melvyn Barnes when researching his Complete Guide to the works of Francis Durbridge and a copy of the play was subsequently found in the British Library in the archive of the Lord Chamberlain (who acted as theatre censor).

Suddenly at Home in 1971 is often stated to be Francis Durbridge’s first stage play but apart from Send for Paul Temple in the 1960s there were several productions in Germany of a play that later became known as Murder with Love. Several of his plays were also adapted as television plays in Germany, France, Italy and Poland although they have not been adapted for television in the UK.

Original Books

Francis Durbridge considered himself primarily a playwright and his forte was taut dialogue and a fiendish plot comprising numerous twists, turns and cliffhangers. Whilst early in his career he personally on occasion developed his radio plays into novels the time involved took him away from developing new radio and television plots and serials where his real interest lay.

Consequently during his long career he worked with a number of collaborators who, under his supervision and with his approval, developed his scripts into narrative form for publication. Collaborators and the number of novels worked upon included Charles Hatton, a long-time friend from Birmingham University (11), James McConnell who himself wrote thrillers under the name Douglas Rutherford (12), John Thewes (2), Tim Carew (5), Paul Townend (6) and John Garforth (4)

The first novel was Send for Paul Temple based upon the radio serial of the same name published by John Long in June 1938 shortly after the radio serial was broadcast. It was very successful and ran to several reprints....

Original Radio dramas

Francis Durbridge’s output for radio was considerable in the 1930s and 1940s and in addition to his own name he wrote under several pseudonyms as Frank Cromwell, Lewis Middleton Harvey and Nicholas Vane.

His first broadcast production was The Three-Cornered Hat a short play included in Children’s Hour and broadcast on 25th July 1933 and this was followed by several other children’s plays and short stories.

His first adult radio play was The Word Woman a twenty-five minute play produced by Charles Brewer on 11th October 1933. He also contributed a number of sketches to popular radio variety shows of the time including The Radioptimists and Divertissement. Through his work on variety sketches he became acquainted with John Bentley the actor who would later appear as Paul Temple in three feature films and Hugh Morton who played Temple in the first three Paul Temple radio serials....

Other Writing

Films written by Francis Durbridge.

As well as the theatre Francis Durbridge was interested in the cinema and a number of his works were made into feature films often with him contributing to the scripts written by others. There were also two unauthorised films produced in Germany by unscrupulous producers who attempted to cash in on his enormous popularity in that market, particularly surrounding the Tim Fraser serials....

Serials and Short Stories by Francis Durbridge.

Francis Durbridge was frequently asked by major UK newspapers to write short stories or serials. These were usually original stories that were not turned into radio or television serials. These include:

Paul Temple’s White Christmas (1946) a short story published in the Radio Times.
A Present for Paul (1946) a short story published in the Yorkshire Evening Post and the London Evening Standard.
In 1947 Francis Durbridge wrote 12 Paul Temple short stories which were published in the London Evening Standard between January and March.....


An Interview with Francis Durbridge (1979)

In January 1979 Francis Durbridge (FD) met an Italian journalist Renee Reggiani (RR) who was writing about thrillers and who subsequently sent him 16 questions about his work to which he replied in writing as follows...

Francis Durbridge on Desert Island Discs (1968)

Francis Durbridge (FD) was invited to appear as the guest on BBC’s Desert island Discs. Interviewed by Roy Plomley (RP)the creator of the long running radio programme it was broadcast on 8th July 1968...

Newspaper Strip drawn by Alfred Sindall