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Literature: The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency
Mma Ramotswe had a detective agency in Africa, at the foot of Kgale Hill.

You have probably heard of precisely two works set in Botswana. This is the one that isn't The Gods Must Be Crazy.

Series of eleven (so far) books, written by Alexander McCall Smith, involving Precious Ramotswe, Botswana's first female detective and therefore number one.

The books have been adapted for TV, with the two-hour pilot in Easter 2008, followed by a six-part series in 2009, based on all ten books. The books were originally going to be filmed in South Africa, but Botswana's government, realising the tourism that would come its way, offered The BBC $5 million to film there instead. So they did.

The pilot was the last work of director Anthony Minghella before his death in 2008.

There has also been a radio adaptation.


This book series contains examples of:

  • Antiquated Linguistics: Verging on Spock Speak, it seems that everyone in Botswana speaks stitled, formal, old-fashioned and rather pompous English. Truth in Television, by most accounts.
  • Closet Geek: Mma Makutsi is a fan of superhero movies, though Mma Ramotswe thinks they're ridiculous.
  • Darkest Africa: Averted big time. Botswana is portrayed as a modern, fairly prosperous nation, albeit one still struggling with the AIDS crisis.
  • Good Old Ways: The old Botswana morality. Mma Ramotswe frequently bemoans the lack of it.
  • Insistent Terminology: in the books, Mma Ramotswe always refers to herself as "...traditionally built."
  • Little Old Lady Investigates: Precious Ramotswe is not old, and definitely not little. The premise is mostly similar though.
  • Orphanage of Love: Mma Potokwane's orphan farm.
  • Overly Narrow Superlative: The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency happens to be the best (and only) female detective agency in Botswana.
  • Private Detective
  • Running Gag: Mr. J.L.B Maketoni's full name. Mma Ramotswe knows what it is, but no one else does. John Limpopo Basil. He doesn't like the "Basil".
  • Sassy Secretary: Only slightly. Makutsi will not hesitate to point out that she got 97% on her exams at the Botswana Secretarial College.
  • Sexy Secretary: Mma Makutsi averts this. She only makes a half-decent stab at Hot Librarian, actually and says she doesn't like them. Her rival from secretarial college however exploits this trope in order to get jobs despite getting half of Makutsi's score.
  • Token White: Largely averted. There are several white people - Dr. Moffat, for instance - but they are treated no differently than the Batswana.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Precious is willing to wait in the dark with a rifle for a man-eating crocodile, but flees her van when she thinks a deadly snake is inside, until a man comes along and sorts out the problem for her. That doesn't stop her from taking credit for killing the snake when she wants to impress an arrogant attorney later on.

The TV adaptations add examples of:

  • Ascended Extra: Cephas Buthulezi is only around for a few scenes in one book. He is shifty but never really causes any trouble. In the television series, he is present in two episodes and is nothing short of malicious to Mme. Ramotswe.
  • Funny Background Event: in the pilot, Mma Ramotswe and Makutsi leaving work at the end of the day, not noticing that an unhappy client has graffitied their "No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency" sign.
  • Knight of Cerebus / Vile Villain, Saccharine Show: Idris Elba's character in the pilot is notable for being far scarier than most of the antagonists in the show, which, like the books, is fairly lighthearted and low-stakes.
  • Large Ham: David Oyelowo in the pilot, Patterson Joseph as a rival detective.
  • Scenery Porn: Shot on location in Botswana, the landscape shots will show anyone why Mma Ramotswe loves her country.
  • Token White: Completely averted, there being no white people in the series at all.
  • Took a Level in Badass: J.L.B. Maketoni in the season finale.

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alternative title(s): The No 1 Ladies Detective Agency; Ptitleyuoo03dc
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