While I have been a huge fan of BBC Radio 4 and BBC Radio 4 Extra for a number of years, I had somehow never heard of the Charley Paris Mystery series. A friend who was in town recently turned me on to it and once he said that it starred Bill Nighy, I was all in. Based on a series of books by Simon Brett and adapted and dramatized for BBC Radio 4 by Jeremy Front, Charley Paris is an unhappily separated, but not divorced, moderately successful character actor with a bit of a drinking problem who gets entangled in various crimes, and finds himself unwillingly in the role of amateur detective as he seems to never be far from a murder.
The greatness of Bill Nighy is currently on display and archived in 14 separate stories by Brett. While Brett’s novels are written in the ‘Golden Age’ tradition of detective fiction which entertained the reader through humor, eccentric characters and intricate plot twists, the radio series is classic Radio 4 which broadcasts a wide variety of spoken-word programs including news, drama, comedy, science and history such as The Shipping Forecast, The Archers and Desert Island Discs. Much of the BBC’s spoken word archive is broadcast on Radio 4’s sister station, BBC Radio 4 Extra.
BBC Radio 4 is the second-most-popular domestic radio station in the UK and is broadcast throughout the UK, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands on FM, LW and DAB. It can also be received in eastern and south eastern counties of Ireland, the north of France and Northern Europe. Available on the Internet, BBC Radio 4 and BBC Radio 4 Extra can be easily heard around the world.