Temple is an amateur private detective and author of crime fiction. Together with his wife Steve, he solves the featured "whodunnit" crimes with subtle, humorous dialogue and rare "action". The introductory and closing music for the majority of the long-running BBC radio series was Coronation Scot (a musical depiction of a train journey) written by Vivian Ellis.
Paul Temple was "born" as a radio detective. In Britain, several Paul Temple radio series were broadcast from the 1930s to the 1960s. While several actors and actresses portrayed the Temples over the years, including the Send for Paul Temple Again series which starred Barry Morse and aired in 1945, probably the best known portrayal of the couple was by Peter Coke and Marjorie Westbury. Many of the serials staring Coke and Westbury have been repeated since 2003 by digital radio station BBC 7. In 2006 the station tracked down the then 93-year-old Coke for a half-hour interview programme, Peter Coke and the Paul Temple Affair.
Paul Temple was also adapted for film; the first these adaptations was released in 1946 as Send for Paul Temple. In all, four cinema movies were made:
In Germany, 12 Paul Temple novels were adapted as radio serials between 1949 and 1967, each episode ending with a cliffhanger. They were listened to by such huge numbers of people that they earned the sobriquet Straßenfeger ("street sweepers"), because they left the streets practically deserted whenever an episode was broadcast. They were performed by actors of national renown, including Luxembourg-born René Deltgen (who played the title role in 11 of the 12 series), Gustav Knuth, and Paul Klinger amongst others. Almost all the German radio serials have since been released on CD as audiobooks.
Durbridge licensed the character to the BBC, which from 1964 made 64 TV episodes starring Francis Matthews as Paul Temple, assisted by Ros Drinkwater as his wife Steve. 52 parts of the series were co-produced with the German television station ZDF, making it the very first international co-production of the TV era. The theme tune of the television series was written by British composer Ron Grainer.
In August 2006, BBC Radio 4 broadcast a new 8-part re-creation of one of the lost early radio serials, Paul Temple and the Sullivan Mystery, which had originally been broadcast in 1947. Crawford Logan as Paul Temple and Gerda Stevenson as Steve effectively mimicked their earlier incarnations in a mono production employing vintage microphones and sound effects. A new production of The Madison Mystery followed in May to July 2008.
Two short-lived comic series by the Aachener Bildschriftenverlag and the Luna-Kriminalromane are rare collector's items.
A Paul Temple comic strip featured in the London Evening News from the mid-1950s to the early 1960s.
$ The Anthony Head items are readings of the Paul Temple novels, not broadcasts of the radio serials*