Alan Waldman : ‘Inspector Lynley Mysteries’ Feature Aristocratic Police Detective

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

Nathaniel Parker and Sharon Small are excellent as the mismatched-but-successful crime-fighting pair.

By Alan Waldman | The Rag Blog | August 6, 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.]

The Inspector Lynley Mysteries feature tall, handsome, suave Nathaniel Parker as Scotland Yard Detective Inspector Tommy Lindley, who is also the eighth Earl of Asherton, assisted by brusque working-class Sergeant Barbara Havers (Sharon Small). This odd couple solved a lot of crimes in 23 episodes broadcast from 2002 to 2008. Several are based on some of the popular 18 English mystery novels from American author Elizabeth George. You can watch one here.

In 2007, Small was nominated for the “Best Actress” Satellite Award. More than 89.5% of viewers polled at gave the series thumbs-up. The San Francisco Chronicle called Lynley and Havers an “incomparable Scotland Yard team.”

Guest casts included many fine British character actors, including Bill Nighy (who won major awards for State of Play, Love Actually and eight other films), Jenny Agutter (won a BAFTA for Equus), Henry Cavil (Man of Steel), Jemma Redgrave (Bramwell), Richard Armitage (two award noms for MI-5 ), Honeysuckle Weeks (nom for Foyle’s War), Indira Varma (Kama Sutra) and Idris Elba (five awards and 21 noms for works including Luther and The Wire).

Lynley is the rare detective who exposes the secrets of the upper classes. The series deals with baffling crimes and his marriage, separation, and the murder of his wife.

Elizabeth George explains why there is no romance between Lynley and Havers:

The dynamic between them is not one of sexual attraction. Lynley is from a posh background with a posh voice, educated at Oxford, with a title and money. Havers is from a poor background, and she’s had to fight for everything she’s got. Needless to say, they have huge preconceptions about each other. What I’m interested in is how they start to discover their common ground through police work.

In the novels, Lynley is blond and Havers is plain, dumpy and too-casually dressed. Not so in the TV series.

The series aired in the U.S. on PBS’s “Masterpiece Mystery” series. In France it aired as Meurtres à l’anglaise and in Hungary as Linley felügyelő nyomoz. Netflix and DVD have 22 Inspector Lynley episodes, Netflix Instant streaming has one, and all are on YouTube.

[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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1 Response to Alan Waldman : ‘Inspector Lynley Mysteries’ Feature Aristocratic Police Detective

  1. Rachel Port says:

    I won’t watch these. Elizabeth George has said she didn’t understand how much control she was signing away when she originally signed the agreement, and was not happy with the series.

    I love these books, and Barbara Havers is one of the most interesting characters to come along in years, and her changes throughout the series are amazing. As is the deep caring relationship between her and Lynley and her and Nkata. There’s a new one coming out in the next few months.

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