Sunday, March 10, 2013

UK Detective Series Worth Watching on WETA UK

Richard Armitage in the First Episode of George Gently

Richard Armitage - George Gently Series

British TV crime drama, detective, mystery, police procedurals, whatever you want to call them are some of the best in the world. They have some of the best actors in the world, high production values, and great locations to work with. Many of the great crime/mystery fiction novels in the world are also set in the UK, and not always written by British writers. WETA UK seems to be specializing in bringing these great series to viewers in the Washington DC area.

George Gently

Richard Armitage and Hobbit fans make sure to catch the first episode, really the pilot episode, of this series with guest star Richard Armitage.  According to the WETA UK schedule it starts this Monday, March 11, at 10:00pm.

The story is set in the 1960's in Northumberland and our two police detectives are seasoned and jaded Inspector Gently, played by Martin Shaw, and weaselly and ambitious young Detective Sergeant Bacchus, played by Lee Ingleby.  The 1960's setting is perfect, and fun to watch for those of us that remember that time, and the two leads and their interaction with each other are often as interesting, or more, than the crimes they are investigating. Tough and gritty stories, great cast and great guest stars as well.  

Check the WETA UK program schedule:


A series about veteran Detective Chief Inspector Stanhope played by Brenda Blethyn. This series was new to me, had not seen it on PBS before, or BBCAmerica, or other cable channels. I really enjoyed seeing a woman detective who has been around for a while in life and is balancing her personal loneliness with dedication to her job.Vera is not always likeable and I do cringe a bit whenever she calls someone "pet", and she calls everyone, especially younger  suspects "pet". It is a clue to the character though, and Blethyn is not afraid to make Vera difficult to like at times. The Chief Inspector has a young and very handsome partner, DS Ashworth, played by David Leon. The series is set in Northumberland.

The series is not currently playing on WETA UK, but I'm sure it will be back:

Dalziel and Pascoe

A show that has been on Cable TV in various channels, but hasn't been around for a while I think. It takes a well known premise, think of Morse and Lewis, one detective from the North, who came up through the ranks, and one university educated detective from the South join forces and hilarity and crime solving follows.  In this case Detective Superintendent Dalziel (pronounced Deal)  played by Warren Clarke is the up from the ranks senior officer, and Detective Inspector Pascoe, played by the perfectly groomed Colin Buchanan, is the intellectual college graduate.  The great fun in this series is watching veteran British character actor Warren Clarke take center stage in this series. 

The series is currently playing on Wednesdays at 10:00pm on WETA UK and also repeats at other times. Check link below:


I confess it took me a while to warm up to actor Stephen Tompkinson as DCI Banks, but once I did I became a loyal viewer of this series. This is another series that is new to me, and I watch lots of UK TV in addition to what is on PBS. Another gritty series, this one set in Yorkshire, that explores the process of solving crimes and the personal lives of the police who solve those crimes. Banks has an efficient team to support him, especially DS Annie Cabbot played by Andrea Lowe.  There's a possible romantic relationship between the older Banks and the younger Cabbot, a nice twist for the viewers as we wonder "will they, or won't they?".  Lowe was later replaced I think by Caroline Catz (Doc Martin) as DI Morton I believe, but I haven't seen those episodes yet, only the previews.

DCI Banks is now playing on Saturday nights at 8:00pm on WETA UK, and repeats at other times. Check schedule at the link:


For those outside the Washington DC Metro Area, check your local PBS stations for these mystery/crime series. 

WETA UK still remains I believe the only PBS station in the US with all UK programming.  

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