Top Five British Television Detectives of All Time
By Ron Kissiah – Technical Analyst and Writer
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 Internet. No matter what the format, audiences still love to peer into heads of the detectives whose “little grey cells” solve crimes and bring criminals to justice. The cozies won’t curdle your blood with shoot outs, 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 the minute you turn the first page or hear the opening music. The British in particular seem to have developed a special 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 Christies long list of best sellers, the Belgian detective Hercule Poirot has been seen on both the big screen as well as TV. Always a perfectionist and a nit-picker, he once sent a full breakfast back to the chef because he could not possibly eat a breakfast with eggs of 2 different sizes. He holds the distinction of being the only fictional detective on our list to be given an obituary in the New York Times. (Look for a review of this series in the March edition of this column.)
Hetty Wainthropp — Originally written by writer David Cook, this detective series was later 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 an unconventional respect for authority. His character is enjoyable for his many failures as well as successes, but he always solves the crime 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 – Miss Marple, as she is affectionately known to her viewers, 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 the business of 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.)