Easy Listening: Charles Paris

Title: Murder in the Title, a Charles Paris mystery.

Author: Jeremy Front based on the books by Simon Brett

Genre: Comic Crime

Publisher: BBC Audio Books

Voice: Charles Paris is played by the mighty Bill Nighy!

Broadcast: 13th December 2010 – Radio 4

Stand alone or Series: Four radio episodes per story or obviously just the one book.

Why: There are few voices I could probably die happily listening too one is David Attenborough the other is Bill Nighy therefore, the choice was already made for me.

Where: In bed, on the tube or even doing a spot of cleaning at home.

Refreshments: Snacks, whatever comes to mind.


Charles Paris is an out of work, alcoholic actor who frequently finds himself embroiled in unusual situations,  involving multiple murders and a damsel in distress who relies on him to solve the crimes and act the super sleuth – in between shots of scotch.

In his latest stage performance, our unlikely hero hits a new low in his less-than glittering career as he finds himself working for a local theatre company in Rugland Spa, where he plays a corpse. However, when accidents begin to happen, Charles finds himself once again playing the role of detective.

The central character of Charles Paris has stuck gold with the casting of Bill Nighy. His slightly husky  and world weary tone, his age similarity to the character and his  air of eloquent buffoonery makes him the perfect fit.  His performance as Paris is reminiscent of previous Nighy roles such as, Quentin in, ‘The Boat that Rocked’ and Slartibarfast in, ‘Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy,’ where he manages to capture the character and add his own roguish charm to captivate the listener.

Paris is accompanied by the sounds of The Kinks, Eric Clapton and The Doors, reliving the bygone days of his youth and leading us to the inevitable drunken scene down the local pub. In this case in-between takes when we are taken on his journey from two pints and two shots of scotch in the space of ten minutes, to running back to the theatre where he is supposed to be found dead in the closet.

On the theme of music his mobile phone ringtones are used to great comedic effect. He is alerted to calls from his estranged and long-suffering wife, Frances, by   Je t’aime.. moi non plus by Serge Gainsbourg. This encapsulates beautifully his on-going task to get back into her good books and back into the marital bed after all the mistakes he has made. On the other hand we have ‘The Funeral March,’ for his agent Maurice which supports his feeling that his career would have been a lot more successful if only his agent had supported him. These work well alongside the setting of the story, when Charles finds himself in a backwater town, rather than the starry lights of Hollywood.

You can’t help but feel sorry for the character of Paris, he is reminiscent of that family friend that your parents insisted you called ‘Uncle,’ someone to take pity on as he gets himself into situations that largely aren’t his fault. 

I love listening to Bill Nighy he plays the louche, unlikely hero brilliantly and is supported by a brilliant cast and exceptional, well thought out music choices. This is seriously something you could listen to wherever you are, whatever you’re doing – LISTEN


Rating: 9 – I’m sorry I may be biased but I love it!…


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