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Paul Temple (BBC Crime Drama, Francis Matthews, Ros Drinkwater)

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Paul Temple Ros Drinkwater and Francis Matthews

Paul Temple has been around since the late 1930’s having been created by the legendary Francis Durbridge for a hugely popular BBC Radio series (which ran off and on for almost 30 years), it wasn’t until the late 1960’s though that he and his gorgeous wife Stevie made the transition to television.

Played by Francis Matthews, Paul Temple is a best selling novelist who, along with his wife Stevie (played by Ros Drinkwater), travels around Europe researching his next book but somehow always managing to get embroiled in mystery and murder. Paul and Stevie are a great couple with an excellent dynamic, Ros is a few years younger than Paul (Temple is supposed to be in his early thirties but looks older) but they are a real partnership. They are also extremely wealthy, Paul has a Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow Coupe!

The only other regular on the series is Sammy (George Sewell), the Temple’s butler/fixer.

Unlike most series of the time Paul Temple actually went on location (for exteriors anyway, interiors are still in studio giving it that classic seventies look) for quite a few of its stories. One of the best tales features the brilliant George Baker as a world famous film star playing dangerous games with his coterie of hangers on in Malta. The duo also find themselves getting mixed up with witchcraft, a mysterious masked ball in Munich, mystery on the Riveira and a trip to Spain for murder in the Bullring.

Francis Matthews is perfectly suited to playing the suave Temple and the series itself is extremely enjoyable and very watchable. Most of the episodes of have been lost although it has been long rumoured that German company Media Kirch has the last 39 episodes in their archive. The series was very popular in Germany and TV channel ZDF does hold all 52 episodes as telerecordings but they are dubbed into German.

Producer Shaun Sutton talking in the Sunday Mirror 29 Mar 1970 about big plans for series three – a co-production deal with German TV and an increased budget along with an increase in overseas location filming: “We are going to build Paul Temple into a big international character. Francis Matthews will make a lot of money, maybe not so much as Roger Moore, who is on a film type contract, but nearly so. Matthews is a great actor, but he has been pottering along from part to part since the film Bhowani Junction in 1956. This new series should make him a superstar. What’s more I think we’re going to employ his real life wife Angela Browne in several episodes as well.

In the same article Francis Matthews commented: It’s a great breakthrough. I’ve had the rough with the smooth but mostly the rough for many years. I’ve been in so many TV parts, yet for all people know me I might as well be in Manchester repertory. Mr Whatsit they call me. At least the Germans and most Europeans know about Temple. But he’s almost a secret in England.

Francis Matthews on why season four spelled the end of the series: “When I finish filming the series in July I’ll have done fifty two episodes. I can’t state categorically that the series is finished for good. But this is the end of my contract and there is no talk of doing anymore. If there were I think I would be among the first to know. It’s ironical really. It’s coming to an end just when all the troubles are beginning to be ironed out. Still I don’t want to sound too critical. This present series is much better than before.” (Sunday Mirror, 6 June 1971).

Cast: Francis Matthews as Paul Temple; Ros Drinkwater as Steve Temple; George Sewell as Sammy Carson

Creator: Francis Durbridge / Theme Music: Ron Grainer / Incidental Music: Dudley Simpson / Script Editors: Barry Thomas (Season 1), Trevor Ray (Season 2), Martin Hall (Seasons 3 and 4) / Producers: Alan Bromly (Season 1), Peter Bryant and Derrick Sherwin

UK / BBC One / 52×50 minutes / 23 November 1969 – 1 September 1971