Whenever someone thinks of the consummate detective, Sherlock Holmes is the first character that comes to mind. Yet the United Kingdom has produced a great many more mystery solvers in the last several years, exploring the boundaries of what can be done with the genre. While Holmes is still prevalent in shows such as Sherlock and Elementary, here are five detectives who are also worth a look that will make great binge viewing for the long weekend.
1. Jonathan Creek
Perhaps the last major programme produced by Doctor Who co-creator Verity Newman, Jonathan Creek began in 1997 and has run semi-regularly up to the present. At the heart of the programme is its title character, played by comedian Alan Davies, a brilliant engineer who designs tricks and illusions for the irredeemable magician Adam Klaus (played in the first episode by Anthony Head and henceforth by Stuart Milligan). Jonathan is recruited by journalist Maddie Magellan to solve murders and other crimes, continuing to do so after Maddie leaves. What’s interesting about a programme like Jonathan Creek is not that Jonathan devises who the killer is or what their motive was, but that he figures out *how* the crime was committed. Perhaps owing to Lambert’s involvement, several figures from Doctor Who appear over in many episodes, including Peter Davison, Colin Baker, and Paul McGann.
2. Foyle’s War
Set during World War II and the beginning of the Cold War, Foyle’s War follows Detective Chief Superintendent Christopher Foyle (Michael Kitchen), attempting to solve murders and other crimes in Hastings either directly or indirectly connected to the war. Running from 2002 through the present, the last couple of series have seen a shift to dealing with post-War Britain and the rise of the espionage era as allies turn into Cold War enemies. Foyle is helped throughout the programme by his army-assigned driver, Samantha “Sam” Stewart (Honeysuckle Weeks). The historical setting is what sets the programme apart from others, watching how some criminals take advantage of the war’s confusion to commit their crimes and seeing the effect wartime and peacetime have on the population.
Available for steaming on: Amazon Instant, Netflix, AcornTV
3. Midsomer Murders
Begun in 1997 like Jonathan Creek, Midsomer Murders shows that the English countryside can be anything but peaceful. First featuring DCI Tom Barnaby (John Nettles) and later DCI John Barnaby (Neil Dudgeon), along with as many Sergeants as the Doctor has companions, the programme takes place in fictional Midsomer county. Perhaps its most notable feature is the nature of such violence taking place in midst the picturesque countryside. The number of murders occurring in one place has become something of a joke for the shows fans and the cast, playing up their character’s quirks to the point where the show is almost a black comedy. It’s also dealt with its share of controversy for its lack of a diverse cast.
Available for streaming on: Amazon Instant, Netflix and AcornTV
4. Dirk Gently
A detective from the mind of sci-fi author Douglas Adams, this programme ran for one series spanning 2010 to 2012, based on Adams’ series of “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency” novels. As the name may suggest, the programme focuses on “holistic” detective Dirk Gently (Stephen Mangan), who solves crimes by seeing extremely random connections that form a pattern, often leading him to solve a different mystery than the one he was hired to solve. Grudgingly following him in his adventures is his friend Richard MacDuff (Darren Boyd). Across the four-episodes, Dirk’s mysteries appear simple enough at first, but grow increasingly bizarre and often possess sci-fi elements.
Available for streaming on: Amazon Instant, AcornTV
5. Father Brown
An updated adaptation of the Father Brown mystery stories by G.K. Chesterton, the crime-solving priest of the latest programme is played by Mark Williams (aka Arthur Weasley of the “Harry Potter” films). Unlike some hard-nosed detectives, Father Brown is a compassionate and gentle man whose love of people and desire to understand sin lead him to solve mysteries as a way of saving the criminal’s soul. This often leads him into conflict with local police Detective Inspector Valentine (Hugo Speer), whose concern is following the law and proper procedure, a trait carried over to his replacement, Inspector Sullivan (Tom Chambers). With two series running from 2013 through 2014, Brown’s mild-mannered attitude is prefect for an afternoon mystery with your tea.
Available for streaming on: PBS Streaming
Which one if your favorite? Let us know in the comments!