RogerBW's Blog

Paul Temple and the Vandyke Affair 26 November 2021

1959 remake of 1950 audio thriller by Francis Durbridge, in 8 parts. A child is kidnapped, her "sitter-in" has vanished and may be responsible, and of course Drugs are lurking in the background.

Mostly it's the formula as usual: foreigners are Suspicious, Englishmen aren't, and so it's Terribly Surprising when an Englishman turns out to be dodgy. This time it's not at all helped by Richard Hurndall doing every gay-coded cliché in the book.

Given the amount of deception going on, one can really only go along for the ride until the last few episodes when at least some of the people involved finally start telling the truth. There's a large cast, many of whom get bumped off, and if you lose track of who Palmer is and why you were supposed to care about him you aren't alone. (And I listened to this on successive days; I suspect it was originally broadcast weekly.)

But this is the acting team of Peter Coke and Marjorie Westbury, and they make a good job of it; for once, Steve even gets to do something rather than just be thrown into danger to motivate Paul. It's not much, but it's a welcome breeze in this sometimes-turgid show. Meanwhile Paul connives at an actual murder (of the villain), in a way that doesn't really suit the law-and-order personality he's generally been painted with.

Production is unambitious, with a bit of background sound but nothing challenging. Overall, the whole thing is all right, but very uninspiring.

(It might be interesting to compare this with the 1950 original, which is archived at the British Library but only available in person; as I understand it the scripts are basically identical.)

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