Simon Brett

Last updated

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.


Personal life

The son of chartered surveyor John Brett and Margaret (née Lee), a teacher, [1] [2] 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. [3]

Radio and television career

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.


Detective novels

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.

Charles Paris

To date Brett has written 20 books about Charles Paris, an unhappily separated (but not divorced, more than 30 years on), moderately successful character [4] actor with a slight drinking problem who gets entangled in various crimes, and finds himself unwillingly in the role of amateur detective.

  1. Cast, In Order of Disappearance (1975)
  2. So Much Blood (1976)
  3. Star Trap (1977)
  4. An Amateur Corpse (1978)
  5. A Comedian Dies (1979)
  6. The Dead Side of the Mic (1980)
  7. Situation Tragedy (1981)
  8. Murder Unprompted (1982)
  9. Murder in the Title (1983)
  10. Not Dead, Only Resting (1984)
  11. Dead Giveaway (1985)
  12. What Bloody Man Is That? (1987)
  13. A Series of Murders (1989)
  14. Corporate Bodies (1991)
  15. A Reconstructed Corpse (1993)
  16. Sicken and So Die (1995)
  17. Dead Room Farce (1998)
  18. A Decent Interval (2013)
  19. The Cinderella Killer (2014)
  20. A Deadly Habit (2018)

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:

Saturday plays

  • So Much Blood (recorded on location at Edinburgh Fringe), 1999
  • A Series of Murders, 2004

Half-hour 4-part serials

  • Sicken and So Die, 2006
  • Murder Unprompted, 2007
  • The Dead Side of the Mic (So Much Blood set between last 2 serials), 2008
  • Cast in Order of Disappearance, began 29 January 2010
  • Murder in the Title, began 22 November 2010
  • A Reconstructed Corpse, 2012
  • An Amateur Corpse, began 5 December 2012
  • Corporate Bodies, began 25 June 2014
  • A Decent Interval, 9–30 March 2016
  • The Cinderella Killer, began 2 December 2016
  • Dead Room Farce, 23 February to 16 March 2018
  • Star Trap, 6 March 2019
  • A Doubtful Death, 22 May to 12 June 2020
  • A Deadly Habit, 3 to 24 September 2021

Mrs Pargeter

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:

  1. A Nice Class of Corpse (1986)
  2. Mrs, Presumed Dead (1988)
  3. Mrs Pargeter's Package (1990)
  4. Mrs Pargeter's Pound of Flesh (1992)
  5. Mrs Pargeter's Plot (1996)
  6. Mrs Pargeter's Point of Honour (1999)
  7. Mrs Pargeter's Principle (2015)
  8. Mrs Pargeter's Public Relations (2017)


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:

  1. The Body on the Beach (2000)
  2. Death on the Downs (2001)
  3. The Torso in the Town (2002)
  4. Murder in the Museum (2003)
  5. The Hanging in the Hotel (2004)
  6. The Witness at the Wedding (2005)
  7. The Stabbing in the Stables (2006)
  8. Death Under the Dryer (2007)
  9. Blood at the Bookies (2008)
  10. Poisoning at the Pub (2009)
  11. The Shooting in the Shop (2010)
  12. Bones Under the Beach Hut (2011)
  13. Guns in the Gallery (2011)
  14. Corpse on the Court (2012)
  15. Strangling on the Stage (2013)
  16. The Tomb in Turkey (2014)
  17. The Killing in the Cafe (2015)
  18. The Liar in the Library (2017)
  19. The Killer in the Choir (2019)
  20. Guilt at the Garage (2020)

Since 2011, Brett's Fethering series has been published by Severn House.

Blotto and Twinks

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.

  1. Blotto, Twinks and the Ex-King's Daughter (2009)
  2. Blotto, Twinks and the Dead Dowager Duchess (2010)
  3. Blotto, Twinks and the Rodents of the Riviera (2011)
  4. Blotto, Twinks and the Bootlegger's Moll (2012)
  5. Blotto, Twinks and the Riddle of the Sphinx (July 2013)
  6. Blotto, Twinks and the Heir to the Tsar (July 2015)
  7. Blotto, Twinks and the Stars of the Silver Screen (2017)
  8. Blotto, Twinks and the Intimate Revue (2018)
  9. Blotto, Twinks and the Great Road Race (2019)
  10. Blotto, Twinks and the Maharajah's Jewel (2021)



Frank Muir Goes into

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.

How to Be a Little Sod


Related Research Articles

Edith Pargeter British writer

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.

<i>The A.B.C. Murders</i> 1936 Poirot novel by Agatha Christie

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.

Bill Nighy British actor

William Francis Nighy is an English actor.

Mystery film Sub-genre of crime film

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

"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.

<i>The Body in the Library</i> 1942 Miss Marple novel by Agatha Christie

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.

<i>Sherlock Holmes</i> (1984 TV series)

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.

<i>Last Bus to Woodstock</i>

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:

<i>Ordeal by Innocence</i> (TV series)

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.

<i>Lord Peter Wimsey</i> (TV series)

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 on screen and stage

Bill Nighy is an English actor of the stage and screen.


  1. Twelve Englishmen of Mystery, ed. Earl F. Bargainnier, Bowling Green University Popular Press, 1984, p. 303
  2. Contemporary Authors, New Revision Series no. 63, ed. Daniel Jones, Cengage Gale, 1998, p. 47
  3. "No. 61450". The London Gazette (Supplement). 30 December 2015. p. N11.
  4. In Not Dead, Only Resting it is established that Charles Paris is in the character section of the Spotlights Directory (now defunct).
  5. Walberton Players stage Murder with Ghosts
  6. Murder with Ghosts – show report – NODA