30 April 2013


I have racked my brain but I am pretty sure that in real life I have never met a detective - neither a police detective or a private investigator. But I have met plenty of cleaners, bartenders, bus drivers, nurses, double glazing salesmen, air hostesses and of course teachers. And I have also never witnessed a murder or known anybody who was unfortunate enough to be murdered - though I have known plenty of people who have been hospitalised for various reasons.

But getting back to detectives, why is it that hundreds of TV drama series around the world have focussed on the work of detectives from Maigret to Colombo and from Sherlock Holmes to Kojak? Our screens have been awash with detective stories and the cinema is almost as bad. It is as if media moguls believe that everybody is interested in tales of cunning detective work, forensic science and the war against the world's criminal underworld. But to me all this stuff is on the periphery of real life and the more I see of these damned detectives - Inspector Morse, Barnaby Jones, Dempsey and Makepeace, Lewis, McCloud, Cagney and Lacey etc, etc, the more I dislike them. They are just not reflective of everyday life and where it is not so easy to make drama out of ordinariness, it is surely child's play to make dramas out of well, drama - if you see what I mean.

I wonder what proportion of England's working population are detectives? I would hazard a guess at 0.001%. However, television appears to suggest that about 75% of us are detectives and that every sizable town in the country has a few hundred murders each week. It's all bollix.

If perchance any media moguls have happened upon this blogpost could I urge you to cease all these tales about detectives? It has all been done now and there are no new detective stories to tell so please give us stories about roadsweepers, family life, the mundanity of work, nursing, health and safety, bloggers from darkest Georgia or Angola, working down coalmines or buggering off to France to paint sunsets over Provence, stories of love and childhood of death and cancer of marriage and making homes and getting drunk, of birthdays and curry houses and of real people coping with real life - the highs and the lows, the laughter, the tears and the boredom. Those are the dramas I want to see - not bloody detectives!

There! Rant over. I feel a lot better now.


  1. You should try the Scandinavian thrillers on BBC4, YP. Fantastic!

  2. I'll have you know that the sun shines very brightly in Georgia....

    If you watch daytime television in the U.S., there are far more "Judge/Court" programs and "Let's have a DNA test to prove he's my baby's daddy" programs than detective programs. It's enough to make me want to fwow up.

  3. Rosemary and Thyme was one of my favorite British detective series because it was mostly about gardening, with just a little suspense thrown in. One thing I loved was the corpses were always posed so artfully, no blood and gore, maybe just a smudge on a forehead.

    And then there was Doc Martin. He was sort of a medical detective. I never cared about the plot, I just watched it for the scenes of the beautiful little village, and the interesting characters that seemed to live in real houses.

  4. Having never watched a Morse or a Midsomer murders, I don't have your rage YP. Although normal lives are mundane they all have wonder in them in one way or another and really good writers can make good drama out of the ordinary...

  5. Well I for one love to read mysteries and murders. ..... And I love to watch them on tv too! I've a Lee Child "Reacher" story with me on my travels as well as a Kathy Reichs book too, I love Midsomer Murders, Hercule Poirot and other detective stuff on tv. I certainly don't really think all those people get murdered in those lovely Midsomer villages but I do find the stories entertaining.
    Are you almost finished your time over there? The weather should be just right when you get home.


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