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Last chapter for Rendell's hero?

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The end of the road is in sight for ruddy-faced detective Reg Wexford as he returns with four new Ruth Rendell Mysteries. The kindly copper’s very last case will be called Kissing the Gunner’s Daughter - the final episode in the new series starting this week.

Ruth Rendell has brought down the curtain on Reg and his inscrutable partner Mike Burden (Christopher Ravenscroft). George Baker, who has played Wexford for six years, says: “If Ruth Rendell writes another one, I’ll do it. But I do feel we have reached the end with the latest series. There’s a sense of finality about it.”

The cast and crew of Wexford had a farewell party after filming the last episode. It was an emotional day, recalls Louie Ramsay - who plays Mrs Wexford and has been a friend of George’s for 40 years. “After our last scene, an enormous bouquet of flowers arrived at my dressing room, and I burst into tears. I’ll miss all my friends, but I’ll have many happy memories.”

The first new mystery, to be screened on Sunday, is The Speaker of Mandarin, which takes Wexford to China and Hong Kong. For George, it was a heartbreaking trip. His wife Sally had just lost her battle against cancer, and the funeral had been the day before filming started. “I got through Hong Kong in a bit of a daze,” he admits.

Marjorie Summerville as Elsie Parish with George Baker as Wexford