From recent releases to evergreen classics, here’s our selection of detective dramas that are geared for wry amusement, play-along detection and downright belly laughs.
What will you watch next?
Ashley Jensen (Extras, Ugly Betty) stars as the eponymous amateur sleuth who, having retired from her job as a high-flying PR, moves to a supposedly sleepy Cotswold village where she uncovers no end of mayhem, mischief and murder. Adapted from the popular comic novels by M.C. Beaton, this box set includes the three complete series to date, as well as the original feature-length film Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death.
“Suspense is to Agatha Raisin as pineapple chunks are to space travel, but fans will lap up Ashley Jensen's schtick.” The Age
Writer-director Rian Johnson deftly channels Agatha Christie in this all-star, Oscar-nominated mystery drama. Detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) is enlisted to investigate the death of crime novelist Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer), apparently murdered on his sprawling estate. Lining up each of Harlan’s dysfunctional family and long-serving staff (Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson and Toni Collette), Blanc sifts through vital clues, red herrings and downright lies to uncover the killer.
“A pitch-perfect whodunit.” ★★★★★ The Times
Alec Guinness, Stanley Holloway, Sid James, Alfie Bass and Marjorie Fielding star in Charles Crichton’s superlative comedy about a mild-mannered bank clerk who goes rogue and plots to steal a delivery of gold bullion. The fiendish plan to melt down the spoils into miniature statues of the Eiffel Tower to smuggle into France for resale goes awry when the goods are mistaken for cheap souvenirs.
“Charles Crichton’s direction is subtle but inventive, and the performances, writing and plotting are faultless.” Time Out
Take a look at the original 1951 trailer. They don't make them like they used to!
Alastair Sim stars as light-hearted, deceptively smart and occasionally fallible Inspector Cockerill, who is called in to investigate a series of murders at a wartime emergency hospital. Sidney Gilliat’s subversive take on the traditional whodunit also features memorable support from Trevor Howard, Sally Gray and Rosamund John.
“Brisk, bright and thoroughly engaging.” Radio Times
The meagre six episodes of this landmark detective spoof – which spawned the Naked Gun film franchise – are crammed with unforgettable sight gags, one-liners, hilarious non sequiturs and double-takes. An artfully deadpan Leslie Nielsen stars as Detective Lieutenant Sergeant Frank Drebin, who investigates a series of unlikely crimes with even less likely outcomes. Wonderful, endlessly quotable silliness from comic geniuses Jerry and David Zucker and Jim Abrahams.
“Laugh until you’re reduced to a dribbling puddle of helpless humanity.” Washington Post
Ralf Little’s Neville Parker is the latest misfit DI despatched to the fictional sun-filled Caribbean island of Saint Marie to resolve a baffling succession of crimes. BBC One’s ever-popular drama also features Aude Legastelois and Shyko Amos as local cops Madeleine Dumas and Ruby Patterson, as well as ever-present Don Warrington and Élizabeth Bourgine as Commissioner Selwyn Patterson and bar owner Catherine Bordey, while guest stars include Nina Wadia, Steve Pemberton, Samuel West and Samantha Bond.
“Even in the sophisticated Netflix age there is a place for gentle, calming, escapist murder.” The Times
All five seasons of BBC One’s gourmet police procedural starring Richard Griffiths. Maverick DI Henry Crabbe (Griffiths) was planning to retire after 25 years of service to open a restaurant with wife Margaret (Maggie Steed). Shot on duty on his last case, his methods called into question by double-dealing Assistant Chief Constable Freddy Fisher (Malcolm Sinclair), Henry is forced to continue part-time in order to keep his pension. An irresistible, slow-cooked casserole of genial mystery and culinary invention.
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