A British mystery drama shown from 1996 to 1998. The series stars Patricia Routledge (or Mrs. Bouquet to you) as Hetty, who on her sixty-fourth birthday decides that her life requires a bit more spice and adventure. An insightful and observant woman, she decides to open a detective agency. Along with her supportive husband Robert (Derek Benfield) and 'Young' Geoffrey (Dominic Monaghan), their lodger, she investigates a number of mysteries and helps those in need seek justice.The premise and characters derive from the 1986 novel Missing Persons by David Cook (who would co-write the BBC show). ITV had already made their own feature length adaptation of the novel, but opted out of a full series, with the BBC series choosing to rewrite it's own origin pilot. The show ran for four series, while the BBC commissioned a fifth, it never came to be.
Provides examples of:
- Abuse Mistake: Once, when Hetty fell down a staircase while walking in high heels and bruising her legs, D.C.I. Adams asked her to pose as a victim of spousal abuse and investigate a shelter for battered women; somehow the shelter's location was revealed to a few of the women's husbands, possibly resulting in at least one death.
- Always Murder: Often averted.
- Fidelity Test: One of the B-plots involves Robert and Geoffrey, while Hetty's occupied with another case, approached by a man who wants them to set one of these up to test his girlfriend. As Robert's too old and Geoffrey's too young, they hire a third party to do so. It backfires when the girl not only falls for it, but dumps her boyfriend for the mark. Needless to say, the boyfriend isn't happy.
- Friend on the Force: D.C.I. Adams.
- Kitchen Sink Drama: Although a more light-hearted example than the usual, given the Oop North setting and the working class characters the series could almost be described as a Kitchen Sink version of Miss Marple.
- Little Old Lady Investigates: Hetty. A somewhat more realistic example than most, in that most of Hetty's cases were fairly small-scale in nature (or at least started off that way) and matters that the police were unlikely to be interested in. She was also a registered official private investigator.
- Oop North: The series was set in Lancashire.
- Private Detective: Unlike most little old ladies who solve crimes, Hetty actually is a registered private detective.
- Playing Against Type: A moderate example, as both characters have somewhat matronly atmosphere to them and have dedicated long suffering husbands - but Hetty is personality wise completely different to Patricia Routledge's most famous prior role Hyacinth. Whereas Hyacinth is an oblivious social climber, Hetty is not only happily working class but also very astute.
- Reality Ensues: Into the Little Old Lady Investigates genre; Hetty is a registered private investigator who actively stays away from major cases that are the police's jurisdiction, and tends to focus on smaller-scale incidents.