In a guest post on this blog last month, Melvyn Barnes explained the work he'd been doing with the estate of Francis Durbridge and that enterprising small press Williams and Whiting to bring to print a good many of Durbridge's stories for TV and radio. I'm a Durbridge fan and I think this is a very worthwhile project indeed.
I was especially interested to read La Boutique, a radio serial in five parts which hadn't previously registered on my radar. The book contains the original scripts, which were especially commissioned by the European Broadcasting Union. As Melvyn points out in his intro, the story was written in 1967 and Durbridge was the first author to be invited by the EBU to write a radio serial for multi-lingual broadcasting. It shows how popular he was across the continent at that time.
La Boutique is a classic Durbridge mystery, with many of the tropes we know and love in evidence. The starting point is a meeting between Robert Bristol, a cop, and his songwriter brother Lewis. Lewis tells (with the aid of flashback scenes) the story of how he became infatuated with Virginia, whom he met in the US - only for her to disappear in highly mysterious circumstances. There's also a puzzle about a missing belt from a dress shop, La Boutique, owned by Lewis's ex-wife Eve. The plot thickens when a corpse is found - with the missing belt . A classic Durbridge cliffhanger to end episode one. I very much enjoyed this story.
The Scarf was a TV serial which was hugely popular back in 1959: it was shown on BBC TV in six thirty-minute episodes, with Donald Pleasence playing Inspector Yates and a cast which boasted the likes of Patrick Troughton and Anthony Valentine. A young woman called Fay Collins is found strangled on a farm tractor trailer and suspicion falls on a publisher called Clifton Morris. It's another story in the vintage Durbridge mould - the eponymous scarf adds to the puzzle, rather like the belt and a photograph of the shop in La Boutique, like the doll in The Doll, and so on...TV scripts aren't as easy to read as radio scripts in my opinion, because of the visual component, but this is an interesting story that is sure to entertain Durbridge fans.