A kindly detective puts right the wrongs in a sleepy English town
Clad in tweed and puffing on a pipe, Detective Inspector Purbright (Anton Rodgers, Lillie, May to December) pursues the evildoers of Flaxborough with a doggedness that belies his polite conversation and mild manner. And a good thing, too. For although the quiet country town appears all gentility, beneath the surface lies a darker world of deception, intrigue, treachery, and infidelity. These forces can upset the harmony of the most staid of small communities … and ignite passions that erupt into violence.
Assisted by the ever cheerful Detective Sergeant Love (Christopher Timothy, All Creatures Great and Small) and the sometimes helpful Chief Constable Chubb (Moray Watson, The Darling Buds of May), Purbright serenely polices the clean but mean streets of Flaxborough. Armed with courtesy, respect, and a steely determination, he works to uncover the truth and restore order to this most English of English towns.
Based on the series of detective novels by Colin Watson.
A truly ingenious and sly murder mystery series, Murder Most English features the polite, thoughtful, and completely engaging Inspector Purbright, played with gracious wiliness by Anton Rodgers. This British series from the 1970s adapted four novels by Colin Watson, an unjustly neglected mystery writer whose excellent plotting, eccentric characters, and sneaky humor are in full display. Set in the mythical and typical English town of Flaxborough, Murder Most English features some atypical goings-on: A love triangle murder that turns out to involve a singularly indiscreet secret-service agent; a murderer who uses a matrimonial service to find his prey; a sexual predator who walks sideways, like a crab, and whose affliction may be related to a pharmaceutical cartel; and a clandestine pact of upstanding citizens that unravels through a series of murders. Each two-episode story is skillfully structured, always seeming to be solved only to reveal a completely different layer of mystery. Odd and intriguing characters (played by an outstanding plethora of clever British character actors) dot every turn, deft little psychological snapshots that make the plots not merely smart but surprisingly resonant--and wonderfully funny, such as when a cranky old woman unsettles a prim church matron with the rude names of country plants. Puffing his pipe, Purbright quietly but doggedly sorts out the tangled strands, aided by the impulsive Detective Sergeant Love (Christopher Timothy) and not particularly helped by the stodgy Chief Constable Chubb (Moray Watson). Appearing in two of the stories is the stealthy Lucilla Teatime (Brenda Bruce), a con woman whose bland, benign appearance belies a steely spirit and a foul mouth. Even viewers who aren’t usually drawn to murder mysteries may enjoy Murder Most English; Colin Watson’s imagination doesn’t follow the narrow clockwork efficiency of Agatha Christie and is all the more enjoyable for it. --Bret Fetzer
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