If you are looking for a mystery series to watch that is short on the gore and long on fun with a lot of “cozy-ness” thrown in, then look no more……. you have found it……. Hetty Wainthropp Investigates is for you!
I first started watching the Hetty Wainthropp series on PBS years ago, and, having been a fan of Keeping Up Appearance, I was already a fan of Patricia Routledge. If you first saw Routledge as Hyacinth Bucket (Keeping Up Appearances… and pronounced “Bouquet”!!!) and then as Hetty, you will know what a wonderful actress Dame Routledge is. Don’t expect any “pratfalls” when you see Hetty…
Expect the BBC’s wonderful attention to detail when you see the Hetty Wainthropp Investigates shows. Patricia Routledge (as I stated above) is absolutely wonderful. And, for all of you Tolkien Trilogy movie fans, Geoffrey, her young, but very capable sidekick is played by Dominic Monaghan. (You might also recognize him from the TV show Lost…)
The first season of the Hetty Wainthropp Investigates is from 1996. We meet Hetty (right as she turns sixty), her retired husband Robert (Derek Benfield), and Geoffrey. Hetty is determined that she will not be a “senior citizen”… She is too young for that label, and she is going to show the world that people in the later part of their lives are viable and productive. And that, she does!
She starts up a detective agency with Geoffrey as her assistant in the field, and Robert, who is only involved in the field when absolutely necessary, handles the phone back in the “office” (home). She slowly wins the admiration and respect of DCI Adams (played perfectly by John Graham Davies), and is even called in a few times when DCI Adams feels that a case needs Hetty’s gentle technique. Unfortunately, PBS only showed four of the six episodes in the first season of Hetty Wainthropp Investigates.
At the end of 1996 and beginning of 1997, the BBC filmed six new shows for the second season of the Hetty Wainthopp Investigates series. (Again, for some reason, PBS only showed four of the six episodes.) These shows were as good as the first season’s. The scenery is beautiful, the acting is faultless, and the shows are great fun to watch. Very cozy!
Apparently, the BBC knew that they had a great show on their hands, because the third season of Hetty Wainthropp Investigates has nine episodes in it, instead of the previous two seasons that only had six episodes each. During the middle of the season, Robert (Hetty’s husband) makes an abrupt trip to Australia to visit their son. I am not quite sure what happened to the actor who played Robert, but, they brought Robert’s brother Frank in to replace him for the rest of the season. Although I missed Robert, Frank was able to infuse a new type of “friction” to the series, as he insists on helping Hetty and Geoffrey, usually messing things up along the way.
In 1998 the BBC made the fourth season of Hetty Wainthropp Investigates, which unfortunately is the end of the shows. Hetty’s husband is back, and you don’t want to miss him as the millionaire who is confined to a wheelchair! Of course, seeing Geoffrey as his chauffeur is a real treat!
One thing that I feel I must add is that six years before the BBC bought the rights to Hetty Wainthropp Investigates, another network commissioned a pilot for the series. Missing Persons is the name of the pilot, and it is based on the David Cook novel with the same name. The station (ITV) didn’t pick up the series. I was able to track down this movie, and was really surprised at how different everything is. I would definitely not recommend watching this episode first; it is not at all like the BBC Hetty Wainthropp Investigates series. And, if you do decide to watch this pilot, it might help if you convince yourself that it is another character with the same name as the wonderful Hetty Wainthropp, even though Patricia Routledge is also the actress playing this very different Hetty.
I can truly say that I love (and highly recommend) the Hetty Wainthropp Investigates series!
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