Alan Waldman : ‘Dalziel and Pascoe’ is a Dramatic Yet Funny Yorkshire Cop Series

Waldman’s film and TV
treasures you may have missed:

For 59 episodes, its humorously mismatched lead characters stopped a wide range of dastardly doings.

By Alan Waldman | The Rag Blog | October 8, 2013

[In his weekly column, Alan Waldman reviews some of his favorite films and TV series that readers may have missed, including TV dramas, mysteries, and comedies from Canada, England, Ireland, and Scotland. Most are available on DVD and/or Netflix, and some episodes are on YouTube.]

Dalziel and Pascoe is a gripping but humorous British cop series featuring two seemingly mismatched police detectives who always manage to thwart crime in Yorkshire. Warren Clarke (one of Malcolm McDowell’s three deranged cronies in A Clockwork Orange) steals the show as blunt, sarcastic, politically incorrect, old-school detective superintendant Andy Dalziel (strangely enough pronounced “dee-el”). He is ably if frustratedly assisted by university educated, well-mannered detective inspector Peter Pascoe

Andy is a very amusing character, for all his flaws.”Dalziel is a perfect pig” explains Clarke. “He’s vulgar, loud and rude, but he is in fact also a great humanitarian and he gets very good results.”

The two coppers are complete opposites: different backgrounds, different beliefs, and different styles. They frequently get on each other’s nerves or are embarrassed by each other. Yet their differences make them a stunningly brilliant crime-solving team.

The series ran for 12 seasons (1996-2007) and 59 episodes, winning two Edgar awards, including “best TV feature or miniseries,” and three more “best TV feature or miniseries” noms. Seven seasons of the show are on Netflix, and many episodes are free on YouTube. Here’s an episode.

Other major characters in the series include gay, earnest detective sergeant Edgar “Wieldy” Wield and gutsy but inexperienced detective constable Shirley Novello. Ivor Novello was a famous old entertainer, so Dalziel always calls her “Ivor.”

All the first three seasons’ episodes and the first two stories of Season Four are entirely based on the novels of Reginald Hill, winner of the 1995 Crime Writers’ Association Diamond Dagger for Lifetime Achievement. The remaining episodes were penned by 29 other writers, including Tony McHale — the driving force behind immensely popular evening soap Eastenders — and Alan Plater, writer of 80 films and TV episodes, including the excellent Inspector Lewis.

Sample dialogue:

Dalziel: Did you find any drugs?

Detective constable Seymour: No one mentioned anything about looking for drugs.

Dalziel: No one mentioned anything about Barbary apes, but if you’d seen a couple of them fornicating on the kitchen table, likely you’d have mentioned it.

[Oregon writer and Houston native Alan Waldman holds a B.A. in theater arts from Brandeis University and has worked as an editor at The Hollywood Reporter and Honolulu magazine. Read more of Alan Waldman’s articles on The Rag Blog.]

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