Top Five British Television Detectives of All Time

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List of the Top Five British TV Detectives

This article overviews the top five British TV detectives of all time. Mystery writers have perfected their craft for creating a whodunit world that has kept readers fascinated for centuries. The crime novel entertains as well as challenges even the sharpest of minds. Readers follow detectives through untold sorts of trouble, danger, and intrigue in hopes of finding elusive clues to solve crimes of passion and intrigue.

Readers crave the thrills, the scares, and the intricate puzzles that stretch their imagination, all from the comfort of their overstuffed easy chairs with a glass of their favorite beverage.

Cozy detective stories come in paperbacks, magazines, DVDs, and even in streaming format over the Internet. No matter what the format, audiences still love to peer into the heads of the detectives whose “little grey cells” solve crimes and bring criminals to justice. The cozies won’t curdle your blood with shootouts, car chases, bomb threats, or aliens. But you’ll get your fill of murders, missing persons, and thefts that’ll keep you on the edge of your seat from start to finish.

The best authors lull you into the comfy cozy zone when you turn the first page or hear the opening music. The British, in particular, seem to have developed a unique talent for making you choose a quiet armchair mystery over the artificial thrill rides of blood, guts, and explosions. Below is a top 5 list of the best British Detectives of all time, in alphabetical order, followed by a brief description of each.

Hercule Poirot

Arguably the most famous detective in Agatha Christie’s long list of best sellers, the Belgian detective Hercule Poirot has been seen on both the big screen and TV. Always a perfectionist and a nit-picker, he once sent a full breakfast back to the chef because he could not possibly eat breakfast with eggs of two different sizes. He is the only fictional detective on our list to be given an obituary in the New York Times.

Hetty Wainthropp

Next on the list of British TV detectives is Hetty Wainthropp. Initially written by writer David Cook, this detective series was brought to the small screen in a series called “Hetty Wainthropp Investigates.” It chronicles the story of an old-age pensioner who refuses to give up living just because she has turned 60. She likes things to add up neatly, and her sidekick Geoffrey Shawcross motors her around on the back of his borrowed scooter through the streets of Lancashire, UK, solving local crimes deemed too trivial for the police. (Look for a review of this series in the April edition of this column).

Jack Frost

Based upon the “Frost” novels by R.D. Wingfield, William Edward “Jack” Frost played the main character in the British TV series “A Touch of Frost.” A former police officer, Jack Frost has a wry sense of humor, a disdain for paperwork, and unconventional respect for authority. His character is enjoyable for his many failures and successes, but he always solves crimes where the highly trained and modernized police forces fail. (Look for a review of this series in the May edition of this column.)

Jane Marple

As she is affectionately known to her viewers, Miss Marple is a most unlikely sleuth. She knew that “a policeman asking questions arouses suspicion, but an old lady asking questions, is just an old lady asking questions.” Quietly observant but sharp as a saber, Miss Marple goes about helping the police solve crimes, even though her help is often scorned by policemen who think she’s a kook.

She outwits them every time, leaving the police detectives speechless. The viewer watches her observe, question, and deduce her way to the final revelation of the guilty party. (Look for a review of this series in the June edition of this column.)

Sherlock Holmes

Crafted by Scottish author Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes is famous for his skill in deductive reasoning. Accompanied closely by his dear friend Dr. John Watson, the two solve crimes, with Watson often working as the decoy while Holmes figures out the solution through his keen sense of observation.

Eccentric and unconventional, he often starves himself to strengthen his intellectual powers. Not interested in money, he draws much of his satisfaction from solving crimes the police find too baffling. (Look for a review of this series in the July edition of this column.)

Questions and Comments about British TV Detectives

If you have any questions about this list of the top five British TV detectives, please post a comment below. Also, see our collection of police TV series.

Author: Ron Kissiah – Technical Analyst and Writer

Michael Kissiah is the owner of Brandy Lane Publishing, LLC, which owns and operates a small portfolio of websites, including Michael created more than 20 years ago after working as a private investigator in the state of Florida. Since that time, he has become an expert at how to find information online and has written over 1000 articles on topics related to the investigation industry. In addition, he is the author of the "Private Investigator Licensing Handbook", available at


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