Ruth Rendell’s first novel, From Doon with Death (1964), introduced Chief Inspector Reginald Wexford: Fifty-two years old, the very prototype of an actor playing a top brass policeman…

I don’t have the joyous relationship with the Chief Inspector that people assume. I am often asked if I am in love with him, as lady writers of detective fiction are supposed to love their heroes. I always say that he should be in love with me — look what I’ve done for him!

Women love him. He seems to exude a particular sexual attraction which has something to do with an air of security and reliability and absolute safety. I know because women are always writing to me about it. They want me to kill off Dora so that they can marry Reg. They think that with such a man they would be safe for ever. They probably wouldn’t, of course. But that’s how they feel about him.

Wexford was always going to be a very big man… but I described him as an ugly man with irregular features and George is certainly not that. George is very handsome. But then, after a time, I began to see him as Reg. And now I could not imagine Reg Wexford any other way.

Christopher was always Mike Burden. As soon as I saw him he was my Burden made-flesh.

Of all the TV adaptations, the Wexfords are my favourites. And I’d say that owes even more to those two wonderful actors than to the adaptors…