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Murder Most English (A Flaxborough Chronicle)

3.2 out of 5 stars 39 customer reviews

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(May 26, 2009)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

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

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Anton Rodgers, Christopher Timothy, Brenda Bruce, John Carson, Erin Geraghty
  • Directors: Ronald Wilson
  • Writers: Colin Watson, Richard Harris
  • Producers: Martin Lisemore
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 3
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Acorn Media
  • DVD Release Date: May 26, 2009
  • Run Time: 344 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #63,987 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Murder Most English (A Flaxborough Chronicle)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Harold Wolf TOP 50 REVIEWER on May 1, 2009
Format: DVD
DI Purbright (Anton Rodgers of "Lillie" also recommended by this reviewer) works his way through crime in the fictional rural village of Flaxborough. His drone monologue way of sorting through the clues and elements of a mystery take place either through interrogations over a cup of tea or a pipe of tobacco. His intellectual approach to crime is never flustered.

His Det. Sgt. assistant, Sid Love (Christopher Timothy), is a bit more animated. His speech is more typically British and fast-paced making the Acorn Media addition of the SDH subtitles advantageous.

The stated seven episodes is a bit of a misnomer in that the first 3 take in two crime stories "Hopjoy Was Here" and "Lonelyheart 4122". One story turns into the other just as the first crime is solved. Episodes 4 & 5 are two parts of the story "The Flaxborough Crab" about neighborhood sex-maniac activity by a man who walks sideways. The final story, "Coffin, Scarcely Used", is another two-part, making up the final episodes 6 & 7. I'll say no more about the final story to refrain from spoiling your viewing. Each episode is 50 minutes. The stories to have a connection one with the other, through the town characters, more than just the two lead coppers.

The first story seemed a bit slow. After one hour I was considering this set less than a 5-star value. But then the stories picked up in interest and plot lifting the set to where I was glad to have purchased.

The DVD's themselves warn in the beginning that there is a less than 21st century level with the visual and audio aspects of the TV series. This is due to the quality of the original, dated from 1977. Because of age, although the resolution is improved, not all can be elevated to perfection.
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Format: DVD
"Murder Most English," a classic British mystery series that dates from 1977, was produced by the British Broadcasting Company Birmingham, rather an unusual genealogy. The television series, which aired in the United States on Public Broadcasting System stations, is, not too surprisingly, set in the Midlands, Birmingham area. Thankfully for us, Acorn Media has provided subtitles, as Birmingham accent and usage are surely unfamiliar to us on this side of the pond: not sure how familiar they'd be on the other side of the pond, either, where, I believe, Birmingham's native speakers refer to their patois as "brum."The boxed set release consists of three DVD's and four mysteries in seven episodes, approximately 344 minutes.

The series stars Anton Rodgers (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels; Lillie) as Detective Inspector Purbright: outfitted in tweed and puffing a pipe, he does his best to stamp out serious crime in the fictional, sleepy country town of Flaxborough. (This town was apparently modeled after Lincoln, a Midlands town where Colin Watson, the author upon whose series of detective novels this TV series was based, worked as a journalist.) Purbright is assisted in his crime-solving efforts by Detective Sergeant Love, (Christopher Timothy,All Creatures Great and Small: The Complete Collection); and, occasionally, by his boss, Chief Constable Chubb (Moray Watson (
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Format: DVD
Murder Most English is the DVD debut of a British murder mystery series laced with scathing dark humor and shocking twists. Based on a series of detective novels by author Colin Watson, Murder Most English: A Flaxborough Chronicle features star talent Anton Rodgers (known for his work in "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" among other films), Christopher Timothy ("All Creatures Great and Small"), John Comer ("I Didn't Know You Cared") and Moray Watson ("The Darling Buds of May"). Featuring an unquestionably English hero who embodies British culture in every aspect of his attitude, down to wearing tweed and puffing on pipes, Murder Most English is an enthralling drama of the effort to unravel duplicity and bring order back to a most English town. 3 DVDs, 7 episodes, 344 minutes, subtitles.
1 Comment 29 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: DVD
I was delighted to find this made available again, having watched it on BBC when it first aired. It's lovely to find that people in the US have also warmed to its charms. As some reviewers have already suggested, this is NOT low-concentration span tv, the pace is leisurely (slow) and it has neither the visceral thrills of a CSI nor the chocolate box Englishness of a Miss Marple plus its 1977 shoestring budget shows. That said the charm, as with the Colin Watson novels the tales are based on, is in the dry, sly subversive wit and the steady unravelling of social pretension. However I was amused by all the talk of subtitles. No offence intended but is the accent of Lincolnshire (not Birmingham - that's where the tv studios were located) really that impenetrable to Americans when English audiences have had to deal with New York gangsters, Detroit rappers, Southern belles and Texas Cowboys without ever resorting to subtitles? Maybe some of the phrases are unfamiliar but listening and applying some context is the best way to learn a language - even if it is English.
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