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Wexford returns in Simisola

Press release • Meridian Broadcasting • May 30, 1996

George Baker returns to ITV in the role he made so popular with the dramatisation of Ruth Rendell’s latest novel Simisola, her first new Wexford story for three years. And he brings with him his screen wife Dora, played by Louie Ramsay, whom he married in real life in 1993.

The Ruth Rendell Mystery - An Inspector Wexford Special - Simisola, adapted by Alan Plater and directed by Jim Goddard, will be screened on the ITV network in three one-hour episodes from Friday 26 January 1996 at 9 pm.

Every one of Ruth Rendell’s previous 20 stories featuring Detective Chief Inspector Wexford has been televised, so Simisola is eagerly awaited by millions of the best-selling author’s fans. George Baker recreates his role of Detective Chief Inspector Wexford, teaming up with his partner, Detective Inspector Mike Burden, played by Christopher Ravenscroft. Together they investigate the disappearance of the daughter of a Nigerian doctor new to Kingsmarkham, encountering unsuspected racial prejudice deep within the discreet English market town and forcing Wexford to examine his own values.

I am delighted Wexford’s sabbatical is over, says George Baker. I have missed him a lot, but I haven’t missed Dora because I took her with me, says George.

The couple first met some 40 years ago whilst starring in separate West End productions. I remember seeing Louie’s name in lights, but there was no romance between us then, recalls George.

Louie’s friendship has always meant a lot to me. A year passed after we’d finished filming Wexford before fate brought us together, says George, whose second wife, the actress Sally Home, died after a long illness more than three years ago.

Louie takes up the story. We were visiting California but completely independent of each other. I happened to be leaving the hotel the day before George was arriving to stay there, so I left him a welcoming note. Then when we got back to the UK, George called to invite me along to one of the charity occasions he attends.

It was from this point that friendship blossomed into romance, encouraged by Louie’s son Matthew and George’s five daughters. Sarah, George’s youngest daughter, was delighted to act as best man when the couple married in September 1993.

Ruth Rendell likes to claim that the Bakers’ story is the only romance she has ever created. But they insist they’ve known each other for over 40 years and just took a little more time than most to get together!

Rendell’s first novel, the Wexford story From Doon with Death, was published more than 30 years ago, and she enjoys enduring popularity with her readers and television audiences alike. On a good day, she can write as many as 2,500 words and even on infrequent bad days, still manages 500 words. Every morning she wakes at seven, starts writing at nine and stops for a walk at 11:15 am and then lunch. No sooner has she finished one novel than she starts a new one.

Ruth Rendell has attributed her gifts to insecurity in her childhood and says she learned the nature of fear, of her parents’ unhappy marriage, early in life. To comfort herself, she created a voice in her head to describe everything she did or saw as if it was happening to someone else in a story. That voice made her a writer, so much so that she claims to feel uneasy when not writing. She also admits to a chronic suspicion of other people. I suspect people will not be pleasant, that they won’t like me or that they have bad motives. I put that into my fiction, and that’s why it’s so nice to do. Writing is therapeutic.