As I’ve mentioned before, the C.S.O. and I have been watching a great many British murder mysteries and police procedurals since we terminated our cable-TV subscription. Beth loves the genre, and I’m willing to go along with whatever viewing fare she prefers as long as it holds the trendy PC crap to a minimum. Fortunately, the Brits love their mysteries quite as much as Beth does, and have largely resisted the pollution of the genre with such irrelevancies.

     There is a downside, of course: Our evenings are filled with death and evil. Anyone who derived his impression of the Sceptered Isle from these shows would surely conclude that Britain is the murder capital of the globe, especially if he were a devotee of Midsomer Murders or Silent Witness.

     Midsomer Murders, which kills an average of three victims per episode, is especially “murderous.” In consequence it uses up Supporting Cast actors at a rate exceptional even for British TV. It knocks ‘em off so fast that Neil Dudgeon, who plays DCI John Barnaby in the current run of the series, was once used as a Supporting Cast character, a lecherous gardener, in an episode some time before he assumed the leading role.

     Just now we’re immersed in the Inspector Lynley Mysteries based on the novels of the great Elizabeth George. There’s a romantic subplot involving DI Thomas Lynley’s wife Helen Clyde, a police profiler, who separates from him for a year in the course of season three. As of the second episode of season five, Helen returns to Thomas – but the actress who originally played Helen, Lesley Vickerage, is not present. Instead the role is played by another actress, Catherine Russell, who doesn’t look at all like Vickerage. This gave rise to the following exchange:

     Reflecting on this gave rise to the following exchange.

CSO: So Lynley and Helen are back together at last!
FWP: Well, yeah, but it’s a different Helen.

CSO: Still…
FWP: What if he preferred the other Helen?

CSO: Are you worried that that would destabilize the marriage?
FWP: Worse: what if the other Helen comes back in a later episode? Can you imagine the confusion? “I’m Helen!” “No, I’m Helen!” Could be bad news for Lynley.

CSO: I wouldn’t worry. You know how British actors circulate around all those mystery shows. The original Helen probably took a job in Midsomer.
FWP: Those tend to be very short-term jobs.
CSO: Yeah.

1 comment

    • John on September 13, 2022 at 11:51 AM

    My wife and I also watch British mystery shows together. (On my own I watch other shows which my wife considers too violent or humor too raunchy), but besides films the British mysteries are always something we can both enjoy together. We’ve watched about half of Midsomer Murders, and watch other episodes depending on our viewing time for the evening. We are currently enjoying Father Brown with Mark Williams (the Weasley father from Harry Potter if the name is not familiar).

    We have also watched all the BBC Miss Marple, Poirot, some Inspector Morse and others. While technically French, not British, the Michael Gambon Maigret was also very good (as was a more recent series of films with Rowan Atkinson)

    As we watch them I also comment frequently that small English towns seem to be more dangerous than the worst neighborhoods in Chicago.

    Also for British non-mystery the Stephen Fry/Hugh Laurie Wooster and Jeeves is great, especially for Wodehouse fans.

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