Simon Anthony Lee Brett OBE FRSL (born 28 October 1945 in Worcester Park, Surrey, England) is a British writer of detective fiction and a radio producer.
The son of chartered surveyor John Brett and Margaret (née Lee), a teacher,he was educated at Dulwich College and Wadham College, Oxford, where he gained a first-class honours degree in English. He is married with three children and lives in Arundel, West Sussex, England.
Brett was the president of the Detection Club from 2000 to 2015. He was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2016 New Year Honours for services to literature.
After his graduation from Oxford University, Brett joined the BBC as a trainee and worked for BBC Radio and London Weekend Television. While with the BBC, Brett produced the pilot episode of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy , as well as many episodes of the comedy series The Burkiss Way , as well as the comedy panel games I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue and Just a Minute and radio adaptations of Lord Peter Wimsey . He also co-produced From Us To You for BBC Radio 4 with David Hatch. In the mid-1990s, Brett wrote and hosted Foul Play , a radio panel game in which well-known writers of detective fiction were challenged to solve a dramatised mystery. When he moved into television, Brett was responsible for producing End of Part One (1979–80) and the television revival of The Glums (1979), both for LWT.
Brett wrote several sitcoms, including BBC Radio 4's After Henry , No Commitments , Semi Circles and Smelling of Roses . After Henry was later produced on television for ITV. He has written episodes of the BBC radio detective drama Baldi (2000).
In 1987, the Nigel Molesworth character created by Geoffrey Willans was reprised for a four-part BBC Radio 4 series Molesworth. Written by Simon Brett, the series portrayed Molesworth in middle age, still surrounded by many of the characters from his youth. Molesworth was played by Willie Rushton, with Penelope Nice as his wife Louise, and Clive Swift as the now aged ex-headmaster Grimes.
Brett has written four series of detective novels (Charles Paris, Mrs Pargeter, Fethering, and Blotto & Twinks). Most of these novels are in the "Golden Age" tradition of detective fiction, entertaining the reader through humour, eccentric characters and intricate plot twists. He has also written several mystery plays and some non-series novels, of which A Shock to the System (1984) is probably best known because the filmed version starred Michael Caine as the business executive who takes revenge after being passed over for promotion.
To date Brett has written 20 books about Charles Paris, an unhappily separated (but not divorced, more than 30 years on), moderately successful characteractor with a slight drinking problem who gets entangled in various crimes, and finds himself unwillingly in the role of amateur detective.
Cast, In Order of Disappearance and So Much Blood were both adapted as serials for BBC Radio 2 with Francis Matthews in the lead role in the 1980s.
Bill Nighy has played Paris in a series of BBC Radio productions. The first, an adaptation of So Much Blood for The Saturday Play in 1999, was recorded on location at its Edinburgh Fringe setting. A Series of Murders followed as another Saturday Play in 2004, leading into a number of half-hour serials which began with Sicken and So Die (2006) and continued with Murder Unprompted (2007) and The Dead Side of the Mike (2008), with So Much Blood apparently happening between the last two serials. These serials have all been updated from the novels, and adapted to deal with continuity problems caused by the adaptations being made out of order in relation to the books, with later adaptations featuring more far-reaching changes to the central mysteries.
Cast, In Order of Disappearance, again starring Nighy as Paris, began airing on Friday 29 January 2010 on BBC Radio 4. From 26 February, its slot was taken for three weeks by an original series from Brett. A three-hour I Did It My Way programme featuring Brett's work was rebroadcast by BBC Radio 7 on Saturday 20 February 2010, including a repeat of A Series of Murders.
This was followed by Murder in the Title (2010) which aired weekly from 22 November to 13 December 2010. Nighy returned to the role in A Reconstructed Corpse (2012). Other recurring cast members include Jon Glover as Charles's agent Maurice, and Suzanne Burden as his estranged wife Frances. On 5 December 2012 a 4-part adaptation of An Amateur Corpse began on Radio 4; Nighy and Burden again played Charles and Frances. A tenth story starring Bill Nighy as Charles began broadcast on 25 June 2014; this 4-part adaptation of Corporate Bodies also stars Suzanne Burden as Frances.
List of radio adaptations with Bill Nighy as Charles:
Half-hour 4-part serials
Mrs Pargeter is a widow with a shadowy past who, with a little help from her dead husband's friends, is able to solve uncanny mysteries. The Mrs Pargeter novels include:
Fethering is a fictitious village on England's south coast (adjacent to Tarring). It is the place of residence of amateur sleuths Carole Seddon, a retired civil servant, and her neighbour, Jude Nichols, whose origins are obscure. Twenty Fethering mysteries have been published so far:
Since 2011, Brett's Fethering series has been published by Severn House.
Farcical whodunnits set just after the First World War and featuring the handsome and dim "Blotto" and his beautiful and clever sister "Twinks", both from a ducal family.
Each book is a compilation of the anecdotes taken from the BBC Radio 4 series 'Frank Muir Goes into', which was produced by Brett and presented by Frank Muir and Alfred Marks.
Edith Mary Pargeter, also known by her nom de plumeEllis Peters, was an English author of works in many categories, especially history and historical fiction, and was also honoured for her translations of Czech classics. She is probably best known for her murder mysteries, both historical and modern, and especially for her medieval detective series The Cadfael Chronicles.
The A.B.C. Murders is a work of detective fiction by British writer Agatha Christie, featuring her characters Hercule Poirot, Arthur Hastings and Chief Inspector Japp, as they contend with a series of killings by a mysterious murderer known only as "A.B.C.". The book was first published in the UK by the Collins Crime Club on 6 January 1936, sold for seven shillings and sixpence (7/6) while a US edition, published by Dodd, Mead and Company on 14 February of the same year, was priced $2.00.
Ariadne Oliver is a fictional character in the novels of Agatha Christie. She is a mystery novelist and a friend of Hercule Poirot.
William Francis Nighy is an English actor.
A mystery film is a genre of film that revolves around the solution of a problem or a crime. It focuses on the efforts of the detective, private investigator or amateur sleuth to solve the mysterious circumstances of an issue by means of clues, investigation, and clever deduction.
Brett Halliday is the primary pen name of Davis Dresser, an American mystery and western writer. Halliday is best known for the long-lived series of Michael Shayne mysteries he wrote and later commissioned others to write. Dresser wrote westerns, non-series mysteries, and romances under the names Asa Baker, Matthew Blood, Kathryn Culver, Don Davis, Hal Debrett, Anthony Scott, Peter Field, and Anderson Wayne.
"The Adventure of the Dying Detective", in some editions simply titled "The Dying Detective", is one of the 56 Sherlock Holmes short stories written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It was originally published in Collier's in the United States on 22 November 1913, and The Strand Magazine in the United Kingdom in December 1913. Together with seven other stories, it was collected in His Last Bow.
The Body in the Library is a work of detective fiction by Agatha Christie and first published in the US by Dodd, Mead and Company in February 1942 and in UK by the Collins Crime Club in May of the same year. The US edition retailed at $2.00 and the UK edition at seven shillings and sixpence (7/6). The novel features her fictional amateur detective, Miss Marple.
Sherlock Holmes is the overall title given to the series of Sherlock Holmes adaptations produced by the British television company Granada Television between 1984 and 1994. The first two series were shown under the title The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and were followed by subsequent series with the titles of other short story collections by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Michael "Mike" Shayne is a fictional private detective character created during the late 1930s by writer Brett Halliday, a pseudonym of Davis Dresser. The character appeared in a series of seven films starring Lloyd Nolan for Twentieth Century Fox, five films from the low-budget Producers Releasing Corporation with Hugh Beaumont, a radio series under a variety of titles between 1944 and 1953, and later in 1960–1961 in a 32-episode NBC television series starring Richard Denning in the title role.
Last Bus to Woodstock is a crime novel by Colin Dexter, the first of 13 novels in his Inspector Morse series.
The Cadfael Chronicles is a series of historical murder mysteries written by the linguist-scholar Edith Pargeter (1913–1995) under the name "Ellis Peters".
Suzanne Burden is a British actress.
Adaptations of the works of Agatha Christie:
Ordeal by Innocence is a three-part BBC drama that was first broadcast during April 2018. It is based on the Agatha Christie novel of the same name and is the third English-language filmed version to be broadcast. The drama stars Morven Christie, Bill Nighy, Anna Chancellor, Alice Eve and Eleanor Tomlinson amongst others.
Hercule Poirot is a series of full cast BBC Radio drama adaptations of Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot novels and short stories adapted by Michael Bakewell, broadcast on BBC Radio 4 between 1985 and 2007. With the exception of the first two adaptations, the series stars John Moffatt as Poirot.
Lord Peter Wimsey is a series of full cast BBC Radio drama adaptations of Dorothy L. Sayers's Lord Peter Wimsey detective novels broadcast on BBC Radio 4 between 1973 and 1983, with a further adaptation of Gaudy Night mounted for BBC Audiobooks in 2005 to complete the full sequence of Sayers' novels, all starring Ian Carmichael in the title role.
Lord Peter Wimsey is a series of television serial adaptations of five Lord Peter Wimsey novels by Dorothy L. Sayers starring Ian Carmichael broadcast on BBC One between 1972 and 1975, beginning with Clouds of Witness in April 1972.
Bill Nighy is an English actor of the stage and screen.