Ernest Dudley was born Vivian Ernest Coltman-Allen on 23 July 1908 (he took his pseudonym from his place of birth: Dudley, in the West Midlands). He was educated at Taplow School, but ran away aged 17 to become an actor, first joining a repertory company in Ireland and subsequently becoming part of Charles Doran's Shakespearean company. In 1930, he married Jane Grahame, a fellow member of the company, and the duo starred in the first British touring production of Noel Coward's Private Lives, which played in the West End before transferring to Broadway. After performing minor roles in several more West End plays, Dudley decided that he was better suited to writing than acting, and became a gossip columnist for the Daily Mail. He also started writing scripts for BBC Radio. His long-running radio series Mr Walker Wants to Know was adapted as a novel of the same name in 1939, and in 1942 Dudley was given his own radio show, The Armchair Detective. It ran for over 10 years, had over 10 million listeners and was even adapted as a film in 1951, in which Dudley starred. 1942 also saw the first appearance of Dudley's most famous radio creation, the psychiatrist detective Dr Morelle. Based on the autocratic film actor and director Eric Von Stroheim, the overbearing, imperious Morelle made his debut on the anthology show Monday Night at Eight, dubbed 'the man you love to hate'. The segments featuring him were entitled Meet Dr Morelle, and between 1942 and 1946 they starred Dennis Arundell as Morelle and Dudley's wife Jane Grahame as faithful secretary Miss Frayle. Heron Carvic took over the lead role from 1947-48, and in 1957 Cecil Parker was the voice of Morelle in the thirteen-episode series A Case for Dr Morelle (with Sheila Sim as Miss Frayle). The success of the radio series led to several spin-offs: Dudley wrote three volumes of short stories and twelve novels featuring Morelle and co-wrote (with Arthur Watkyn) the play Dr Morelle. A film, The Case of The Missing Heiress, was made in 1949, starring Valentine Dyall. Dudley scripted many other series for radio and television, including the 1950s TV series Judge For Yourself, in which the audience decided the outcome of fictional court cases; a 1967 radio comedy thriller series starring Leslie Phillips, The House of Unspeakable Secrets; and a 1987 radio adaptation of Dick Francis' Proof. He kept writing well into his nineties, penning numerous books including crime fiction, historical novels, non-fiction and biographies. He died on 1 February 2006, aged 97.