Sherlock and Watson vs Scott and Bailey – who are TV’s top detective duos?
So it’s farewell to Janet Scott and Rachel Bailey, of ITV’s Scott and Bailey, the third series of which concludes this week. The series features a brilliant detective duo played by Lesley Sharp and Suranne Jones and is written by the even more brilliant Sally Wainwright. If you think I’ve overused the word brilliant, forgive me. But I think it’s deserved.
What is fantastic – and refreshing – about this series is that the crimes the two detectives solve take second place to the storylines that reveal what is happening in their own lives – their relationships with each other, their families and their colleagues. And the drama boasts one of the best casts on television right now – including the fantastic Amelia Bullmore and Tracie Bennett.
It has been one of the highlights of my weekly television viewing for the last couple of months and I will miss it. But I am confident ITV will bring it back. The commissioners would be foolish not to.
So as we say farewell to Scott and Bailey for the time being, I thought I would take a look at the other top detective duos – past and present – that have made an impact on British television. With Scott and Bailey topping my list, here are four more worth shouting about…
Broadchurch – Detective Inspector Alec Hardy and Detective Sergeant Ellie Miller
It hasn’t long finished on ITV, but Broadchurch and its two detectives, played by David Tennant and Olivia Colman, certainly made a splash. As the duo attempted to solve the murder of Danny Latimer, millions were gripped each week as the story unfolded until the identity of the killer was finally revealed. It had sharp writing, top performances and created what I called the “Broadchurch effect”. It also gave Pauline Quirke a chance to be sinister. And scary. Roll on series two.
Hetty Wainthropp Investigates – Hetty Wainthropp and Geoffrey Shawcross
This BBC series ran from 1996 to 1998 and featured Patricia Routledge as a “retired working-class woman” who had a “knack for jumping to conclusions and solving crimes”. What’s not to like? Hetty was helped by her assistant Geoffrey, played by Dominic Monaghan, who has since found fame appearing in the US drama Lost and in the hugely successful Lord of the Rings films. Hetty Wainthropp was daft and entertaining. It ran for four series, and I for one enjoyed it very much.
Sherlock – Sherlock Holmes and Dr John Watson
It would be hard to mention detective duos without referencing Holmes and Watson, most recently brought to our screens in the BBC drama Sherlock, penned by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss. The multi-award winning series keeps entertaining viewers and has won Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman legions of fans. The contemporary retelling of Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories makes for essential viewing.
The Killing – Detective Inspector Sarah Lund and Detective Inspector Jan Meyer
Danish drama The Killing makes it on to this list thanks to its gripping first series, shown on BBC4, which saw Lund, played by Sofie Grabol, and Meyer, played by Soren Malling, working together to try and solve the murder of Nanna Birk Larsen. Quite why anybody would name their daughter Nanna wasn’t the only mystery in this series, which had more twist and turns than a country lane in Somerset.
So there you go. The above, together with Scott and Bailey, make up my top five television detective duos. But now it’s over to you. Who are your favourites?
We need your help…
When you subscribe to The Stage, you’re investing in our journalism. And our journalism is invested in supporting theatre and the performing arts.
The Stage is a family business, operated by the same family since we were founded in 1880. We do not receive government funding. We are not owned by a large corporation. Our editorial is not dictated by ticket sales.
We are fully independent, but this means we rely on revenue from readers to survive.
Help us continue to report on great work across the UK, champion new talent and keep up our investigative journalism that holds the powerful to account. Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue.