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Nostalgia Much-loved actress - with a face that was perfect for radio.

Byline: MIKE LOCKLEY News Reporter @birminghammail

SHE has been largely forgotten, but for decades Marjorie Westbury was the voice of radio - and we can reveal the amazing windfall bestowed on her by one diehard fan.

Born in Langley Green, Oldbury, Marjorie gained fame as the sidekick to sleuth Paul Temple and they starred in the popular series of the same name. Marjorie was the voice of Steve, wife of crime writer Temple, a man constantly called on by police to solve baffling crimes.

But, in real life, the actresses life took an even more unexpected twist.

One elderly woman was such a fan of 'Steve', she decided to leave her entire fortune to Marjorie in her will. The pair met up and Marjorie did her damnest to dissuade her fan, but the woman would have none of it.

When the old dear died, Marjorie was left comfortably off and the cash allowed her to pick and choose her parts.

It sounds unkind, but Marjorie, born on June 15, 1905, had a good face for radio. She was small and stout, leading fellow radio actor Martin Jarvis to describe her as "a small, bunshaped, grey-haired woman who danced up to the microphone with phenomenal energy".

In fact, when Paul Temple, created by writer Francis Durbridge, was turned into a TV series, Marjorie was deemed unsuitable for the small screen adaption.

She studied singing at London's Royal College of Music between 1927 and 1930 and made her debut on the radio show in Paul Temple Intervenes, broadcast from October to December, 1942. Carl Bernard played Temple.

Producer Martyn C Webster was so impressed, he handed the Black Country actress the plum role of Steve three years later. Her first serial was Send for Paul Temple Again, broadcast from September to November 1945.

She played opposite Barry Morse as Paul.

Marjorie played the part until the last series in 1968.

There was certainly no trace of the rather frumpish local woman in her vampish alter ego, Steve.

Simon Elmes in his 2012 book Hello Again: Nine Decades of Radio Voices wrote: "Westbury's 'Steve', with her sexually ambiguous name, was part Bond-girl, part sensible voice of reason, she was frankly sexy. And this is where the alchemy of radio comes into play because Westbury was an actress blessed with a voice that utterly belied her age.

"Born just five years after the start of the 20th century, she had reached comfortable middle age when the Paul Temple mysteries were at their height of popularity in the mid-1950s yet, sublimely, her dusky, delicate tones remained convincingly those of a seductive young woman in her mid-20s."

The radio series came to an end when the BBC made a series for TV, which ran from 1969 to 1971. Both Westbury and Coke were judged unsuited to play the detective couple on screen and the roles were taken by Francis Matthews and Ros Drinkwater.

In April, 1959, Marjorie appeared on Desert Island Discs with Roy Plomley, where her favourite piece of music was Mozart's Cosi Fan Tuti (Act 1 Trio) and her book was James Frazer's The Golden Bough.

In the early 1960s, she recorded a number of talking books for children, with selections of singing games and stories by Alison Uttley. In 1968 she was the voice of the spiders in the BBC's radio adaptation of The Hobbit and in 1975 she was the narrator of BBC TV's Girls of Slender Means.

Marjorie continued acting on radio into the 1980s. She died at her Sussex farmhouse home on December 16, 1989, aged 84.

A small, bun-shaped, grey-haired woman who danced up to the microphone with phenomenal energy Martin Jarvis
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Apr 19, 2017
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