Cherie Lunghi and George Baker
Cherie Lunghi pictured with George Baker. Put On by Cunning 1990.

Wexford’s country policeman appearance often leads suspects to underestimate his intelligence and a gruff exterior masks a surprisingly sensitive and thoughtful mind…

George Baker: “I’d never read any of Rendell’s books and I was very seriously thinking of not going on with acting and trying something less stressful. But I thought that the first Wexford novel I read was an absolute cracker and since I was given to understand that it would be a one-off, I agreed. Yet, as I read more, the writing made me sense aspects of the character with which I sort of agreed.

I had to bring to the screen Wexford’s stature, his calm and his intelligence.  From my point of view as an actor what was particularly interesting was the subtle way Ruth confronted Wexford with the necessity of re-evaluating his moral and philosophical certainties in every book.

He is the sort of policeman you want to meet in real life and seldom do. He sympathises with human frailties, but not enough to let you off the hook.  He’s got a sense of humour.  He loves his family, but it’s a real sort of love, they quarrel, they have misunderstandings and they make up. 

He’s also got a temper, which is sometimes very short.  He’s so opinionated he knows he’s always right, and nine times out of ten he is.  He’s very obstinate, as his sidekick Inspector Burden will tell you.  Sometimes he’s down-right rude.  In fact Ruth seems to have written a real man with all the faults and virtues; he just happens to be a policeman.  That’s what makes the part such fun to play.  I hope you enjoy watching the Ruth Rendell Mysteries as much as I’ve enjoyed playing Inspector Wexford.”