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Michael J Bird's Contribution to
Paul Temple

Screencap of the title card Screencap from the title sequence
After 30 years of Paul Temple radio shows Francis Durbridge introduced his character to the TV screen in 1969.

For more about the series see MEDIA Gems excellent

Paul Temple Website

(Beginning with the second series the German company Taurus film of Munich acted as co-producer.)

1st Series - 23rd Nov 1969 - 15 Feb 1970. 13 x 60 Min.
2nd Series - 5th April 1970 - 26th July 1970. 13 x 60 Min.
3rd Series - 10th Jan 1971 - 11th April 1971. 13 x 60 Min.
4th Series - 9th June 1971 - 1st Sept 1971. 13 x 60 Min.

Alan Bromly, Peter Bryant and Derrick Sherwin

Regular Cast
Paul Temple - Francis Matthews
Steve Temple - Ros Drinkwater
In the first series, in addition to wife Steve, Temple's sidekicks were elderly Kate (June Ellis) and Eric (Blake Butler). In the second series Kate appeared only sporadically, Eric was omitted altogether. The vacancy was filled by Sammy Carson (George Sewell), an ex-convict going straight, and his man friday Paddy (Derek Martin).

Michael Bird's contribution to series 3 was produced by Derrick Sherwin

24 January 1971


Writer: Michael J.Bird.
Director: Douglas Camfield

Radio Times entry - click for larger (more readable!) version Guest Cast:
Jack Le White (Porter), George Waring (Jack Singer), Robert Urquhart (Arthur Swann), Gerald Sim (Stanley Allen), George Moon (Freddie Price), Barry Jackson (Stephen Lamb), Linda Liles (Carol Lamb), John Acheson (Ralph Crosbie), Peter Halliday (Det-Sgt Waterhill), John Muirhead (Mundy), Geoffrey Chater (Sir Harold Malyon), Ian Elliot (Restaurant car attendant), Denis Plenty (Barman), Harold Reese (Donaldson)

Coincidence, perhaps? Or does the appearance of Freddie Price as a sleeping car attendant on the Temples' train have a more sinister significance?

Screencap from the episode
German TV Listing magazine

German TV Listing magazine

German TV Listing magazine

Screencap from the episode

Night Train German broadcast 14.03.72

Why have a coffin on board the night express?

The journey on the night express was supposed to be the beginning of a laid-back holiday trip for Paul Temple and his wife Steve. But Paul, being Paul, has a continuous feeling that all kinds of mysterious incidents happen in the course of the journey. When he eventually discovers a coffin in the freight car, his imagination runs rampant.

Paul Temple - Night Train to Inverness / In Colour

The Temples are on a holiday trip, destination Inverness in the north of Scotland. On the night express Paul can't get rid of the feeling that he's travelling with shady figures and that he's on the trail of a crime once again. Is the handsome thriller writer and amateur detective right? Or is his imagination just running wild?

Translation by Werner Schmitz

Producer - Derrick Sherwin

Director - Douglas Camfield
P.A. - Jeremy Owen
A.F.M. - Michael McDermott
Assistant - Jean Davis

Costume Supervisor - Janet Tuddenham
Make-up Supervisor - Tina Earnshaw

Film cameraman - Fred Hamilton

T.M.1 - Peter Winn
T.M.2 - Terry Wild
Sound Supervisor - Norman Bennett
Vision Mixer - Chris Griffin
Grams Operator - Andy Stacey
Floor Assistant - Gavin Burkett
Crew - 10

Designer - Paul Allen

Film Editor - Gordon Clarke

Assistant to Producer - Sheelagh Rees

Script Editor - Martin Hall

Screencap from the German credits

Although the BBC maintains the episode no longer exists, I have a copy on DVD with the soundtrack dubbed in German.

Screencap from the German credits

Tuesday, 22nd December 1970 TC.3

0830-1300 Set and light
1300-1400 LUNCH
1400-1830 Camera rehearsal (with TK.44 from 1430)
1830-1930 DINNER
1930-2030 Pre-record VTC/6HT/63843/A
2030-2200 Camera rehearsal

Wednesday, 23rd December 1970 TC.3

0830-1100 Set and light
1100-1300 Camera rehearsal
1300-1400 LUNCH
1400-1800 Camera rehearsal
1800-1900 DINNER
1900-1930 Sound and vision line-up
1930-2200 Telerecord VTC/6HT/63843/B

(Michael Bird's uncredited Paul Temple story)
Screencap of Title

With a series as long running as Paul Temple it seemed odd that Bird should have written only one episode. It came as no surprise, therefore, when I discovered that he scripted at least one other: a story he called "Cue Credits, Cue Grams, Cue Murder".

My good friend Werner Schmitz from MEDIA Gems excellent Paul Temple Website has made a detailed comparison of Bird's script and the filmed story: "Cue Murder!"

Bird's script is 87 pages long (including intro pages). Although it would have worked well as it stands it was subject to extensive rewrites by producer Derrick Sherwin and script editor Martin Hall (writing pseudonymously as David Simon), which led to Bird removing his name completely.

The majority of Bird's characters and their idiosyncrasies, the basic setting, structure and plot elements and even considerable portions of his dialogue remain in the filmed version. However, the producer/script editor team deleted Temple's police companion DI Alan Neville and one of the panelists, Prof. Leonard Mulvaney. Male "Guilty Party" producer Grahame Alton was changed into female (and slightly androgynous) producer Genine Dalton (played by Madge Ryan). The fictional director's name was shortened from "Robin Grenville-Tullough" to "Robin Tullough" (he is introduced much later and with less care in the episode), his PA becomes "Jenny" instead of "Jane" Bevin.

Jozef Walczak was originally a non-speaking part. In the revised episode he cuts in very dramatically when Paul explains the meaning of the word "glina" and assumes control of the fictional TV show from Humphrey Dean for a couple of minutes, delivering a long dramatic monologue (Dean compensates with a monologue of his own, which is not in the original draft and in which he introduces a Mr. Alton (!) in the Temple role for the following week).

The female victim's name was changed to Lucia/Lucy, the sister is now called Galina Wyzanski (not Novak). The geographical details for Beech cottage are changed, and Agnes' digestion problems and its implications (providing drama/humour in the original script) were deleted. In the TV version it is Paul, not an interviewer, who speaks to Galina, and not least due to a bad satellite line she comes along as a comic relief. The interview as such is different.

The exposition is tightened considerably. The lengthy climactic chase through the BBC studios, including a standoff in an executive producer's office and another during a song and dance rehearsal, is left out completely. The "action" is reduced to Margolis being pushed through a studio backcloth by Walczak, after the killer tries to justify himself.

Many of Steve's scenes are deleted, most notably one in which Bird had her warning Paul, along with scenes which revealed that Walczak was carrying a gun.

The dramatic pace is different in the episode, with the details revealed about the night of the murder following much later (after the live interview) and those about the van robbery inserted earlier. The sequence of events is also changed so the interview follows Agnes' revelation about her clock (the interview is inserted much earlier in the original draft).

Drusilla annoys the producer with sociological analysis, resulting in a strong rivalry between her and Genine. In similar vein, in the revised draft more time is given to long heated exchanges between Paul and Margolis, and Tullough clashes with the (female and dominating) producer in a more punctuated fashion.

A new suspect was invented for the filmed version, Bernard Donnelly, whose mother is present in the studio. This subplot consumes a great deal of running time. Now crucial (and added) to the plot is Paul's explanation of the Polish, L'.

Maurice as played by Michael Lees has a homosexual air about him, a detail which is hinted at in the Bird script (and which keeps cropping up in his early work). Instead of a wrap up with Neville there's a final confrontation with the producer: Paul says that according to the small print in his contract he is entitled to vetting of the final version (so there IS a producer bit with implied/more direct media criticism of sensationalist approaches at the end). Finally ... in the TV version everybody smokes on stage like junkies!

All in all the episode as completed is minus two (conventional) melodramatic deaths and minus a (conventional) police/detective/villain chase. The changes succeed in making the episode quite different from other melodrama episodes like A Greek Tragedy (in which melodrama seems more organic).

Of course the changes also helped to reduce costs and time spent for production - there was eventually NO location filming at all, and the studio scenes could be done all on one set instead of several. Criticism levelled at Bird's draft could have been along the lines of "too slow, too conventional/similar to other scripts, with a solution coming too much out of the blue". We would hope though that the man received a full payment.

Producer - Derrick Sherwin
Script Editor - Martin Hall
Assistant to Producer - Sheelagh Rees

Director - George Spenton
P.A. - Jeremy Owen
A.F.M. - Michael McDermott
Assistant - Jill Reeves

Designer - David Myerscough-Jones

Costume Supervisor - Maggie Fletcher
Make-up Supervisor - Elizabeth Moss

T.M.1 - Peter Winn
T.M.2 - Derek Martin
Sound Supervisor - Richard Chubb
Grams Operator - John Howell
Vision Mixer - Fred Law
Floor Assistants - Gavin Birkett/John O'Shaughnessey
Senior Cameraman - Frank Wilkins
Crew - No.2

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Friday, 29th January, 1971

6.30 pm - 7.30 pm DINNER
7.30 pm - 10.00 pm Camera rehearsal

Saturday, 30th January, 1971

11.00 am - 1.00 pm Camera rehearsal
1.00 pm - 2.00 pm LUNCH
2.00 pm - 6.00 pm Camera rehearsal (with TK-44 from 2.30pm)
6.00 pm - 7.00 pm DINNER
7.00 pm - 7.45 pm Sound and Vision Lineup
7.45 pm - 10.15 pm Telerecord VTC/6HT/64611/ED

EDITING: Monday 1st February: 9.00 am - 6.00 pm

TRANSMISSION: Sunday 28th March, 1971

Cuttings and English translation courtesy of Werner Schmitz of the MEDIA Gems

Paul Temple Website

TV show dealing with a murder case

German TV Listing magazine

Cue Murder German broadcast 09.05.72

Today Paul Temple faces an unusual assignment, appearing in a TV show as an crime expert. The purpose of this show is to discuss a crime which has never been solved. The invitation puts Paul in a highly uncomfortable position. Someone is trying to intercept his appearance on the panel because s/he is afraid that Paul will have a hand in unveiling the murderer.

"Quiz show on trial" - the series' hero appears on a new TV show as a crime expert

German TV Listing magazine

The subject matter of a new TV show entitled "Guilty Party" (in German this means, roughly, "Who's the guilty person?") is going to be an unsolved crime. One of the experts on the panel will be Paul Temple, crime writer and amateur investigator. Just before transmission starts Temple receives threats. Someone is intent on thwarting his participation. Obviously someone is afraid Paul might contribute to disclosing the identity of the murderer. But Paul is interested in the case to such an extent that he can't be intimidated by threats. Despite all the warnings he doesn't hold back his opinion in front of the TV cameras. And then events take a turn into a direction which the programme makers did not expect at all.

Michael J Bird Tribute Website

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