Possibly inspired by the success of ITV's Danger Man series, The World of Tim Frazer was shown under the banner of Francis Durbridge Presents and became, until Z-Cars, the longest running serial on BBC television being transmitted in a straight run of 18 episodes between 1960 and 1961.
The Yorkshire born Durbridge sold his first play to BBC radio at the age of 21 and in 1938 he created the character Paul Temple, a crime novelist and detective, who's radio adventures soon became one of the Corporation's best known broadcasts with recordings of the serials being sold to other Commonwealth countries where they were repeated long after they had stopped in the UK.
In a departure from usual BBC practice (but common to ITV), Durbridge, who was Executive Producer, approached Clive Exton, Barry Thomas and Charles Hatton to serve as script associates so that he could spend more time producing and casting. Durbridge provided the basic story outlines to the three writers but then left them to their own devices.
Tim Frazer (played by Jack Hedley) is an easy-going structural engineer who gets involved with a secret government department and is recruited as an undercover agent. Writing in the Radio Times in 1960 Durbridge described his character: "Let me start by saying that he is not a Private-Eye. Nor is he a tough, gimmicky, trigger-happy, dame-slapping, mid-Atlantic character of no fixed abode. Frazer spent four years in the Middle East with an engineering company, finally returning to England to start a small machine-tool business of his own. Unfortunately the firm went broke and Frazer's partner, Harry Denston, disappeared - owing Tim a fair sum of money. In pursuit of the money - and Harry Denston - Frazer suddenly finds himself engaged in a considerably more hazardous and dangerous occupation than engineering."
At the end of the series the BBC publicity machine went into action again reporting in a 1961 issue of RT: "Tonight brings to an end the longest serial ever put out by BBC Television, and judging by the public reaction to it, one of the most successful." However, no further episodes were made and the series, at the time of writing, has not been released in any video format.
Published on February 12th, 2019. Written by Laurence Marcus for Television Heaven.