The Cinderella Killer by Simon Brett

Dramatised by Jeremy Front:  BBC Radio 4 Full Cast Recording

If you have never treated yourself to one of Simon Brett’s Charles Paris creations you have missed out on a good many hours of sheer pleasure. Bill Nighy is perfect as actor Charles Paris, perhaps just beyond his best days, struggling with ex-wife Frances (Suzanne Burden) and the always-busy-with-more-famous-clients agent Maurice (Jon Glover).  ‘Hi-ho, the glamorous life!’ as Stephen Sondheim famously puts it in ‘A Little Night Music’.

Whether it is in the television or radio studio, but much more probably in provincial rep., Paris always seems to find himself in the middle of intrigue and murder, often mirroring the plot of the plays in which he manages to land a part.

In The Cinderella Killer, Paris tries his hand at provincial panto, having suffered as a department store Santa the nastiness of children grabbing his beard, poking his stomach and micturating as they sit on his lap. Surely, Maurice can find something more befitting his prodigious thespian talents and lengthy résumé.

But panto is better than nothing and Charles is soon glad-handing old mates and finding drinking buddies with new best friends. Meanwhile, things are going better with his ex and he is even making the late-night train back to town rather than staying in off-season lodgings with a dodgy seaside landlady. However,  murder and intrigue are never far away. Actors are an unforgiving lot, and what with stage-door groupies and an American TV actor with a questionable history, Kensington Gore (out of place at panto time, surely) soon turns into the real thing.

This is BBC radio at its best: two hours of drama, suspense and good old dry wit worth visiting and revisiting many a time and oft. Why Bill Nighy hasn’t been knighted is a mystery. Likewise, Simon Brett, a comic genius up there with Waugh and Wodehouse.

Unsurpassed. (Until the next one.)

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