The Return of Jonathan Creek

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Recently one of my most favourite series returned to the BBC. Jonathan Creek! We had three episodes and then it was snatched from us, in manner of Sherlock.

Of course, Jonathan Creek is a lot like Sherlock, an introspective brilliant detective solving apparently unsolvable mysteries with a sidekick, although in this case it was a woman. Also, he lived in a windmill and his day job was plotting conjuring tricks for a famous magician. Initially the super sidekick was the marvellous Caroline Quentin, although it was taken over by Julia Sawahla. The series ended ten years ago although we have had a few Christmas specials, where the assistant was played by the equally marvellous Sheridan Smith.

The new series, and the preceding Christmas special, did not pretend that nothing has changed in the intervening decade. In fact, a lot has changed. Now, Jonathan has a wife, a sloaney lady called Polly with whom he runs a very successful business. He no longer lives in the windmill, in fact, he has just moved from London to a massive country house inherited from Polly’s parents. They have a very upper middle class existence, very far removed from the Jonathan we used to know.

At first, this difference jarred on me. I didn’t like Polly. I felt like she was trying to quash his spirit, and she was not very supportive of his mystery solving. Even worse, in the first episode they actually went for a Columbo style mystery, where we knew the answer from the start. That was pretty rubbish. I hate not having the chance to guess, and besides there were a couple of characters that very much warranted more explanation. However, the second episode was a bit better on the mystery front, and the third was outstanding (plus Josie Lawrence was in it!).

What I have finally come to terms with is that Jonathan Creek is no longer the mystery show it was. It is a bit like Midsomer Murders crossed with Sherlock, and the emphasis is much more on the comedy that it ever used to be. Jonathan navigating his new life is very amusing, and Polly’s exasperation with him has made me warm to her. It was a slow start, but generally excellent. I shall hope for another series!


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