Follow TV Tropes


Literature / Dalziel and Pascoe

Go To

Series of novels by Reginald Hill, set Oop North in a fictional Yorkshire town. The series revolves around two detectives, Andy Dalziel (pronounced dee-ell) and Peter Pascoe. Dalziel is a grumpy, overweight, politically incorrect character, while Pascoe is a more sensitive academic with a degree in Social Sciences. (However, see the description under Noble Bigot with a Badge). A television series based on the books and characters ran from 1996-2007 and featured Warren Clarke as Dalziel and Colin Buchanan as Pascoe. There was a one-off adaptation with Hale and Pace but this is reviled by fans and even the original writer.


Other characters include DC Kim "Posh" Spicer and DC Parvez "Fez" Lateef.

This series contains examples of :

  • Acrofatic: Dalziel, despite his huge girth, often shows himself to be graceful and agile. In one short story, he even shows off his roller-skating skills.
  • Action Girl: Shirley Novello.
  • Affectionate Parody: The novels Pictures of Perfection and A Cure for All Diseases, both loving send-ups of Jane Austen.
  • All Gays Are Promiscuous: spectacularly averted in both the novels and the series—Wield has a grand total of three love interests.
  • Always Murder
  • Alternate Continuity / Canon Discontinuity: "One Small Step," seeing as how we're long past 2010 and Pascoe is still in Wetherton...
  • Animal Testing: The Wood Beyond.
  • Animal Wrongs Group: Despite The Wood Beyond's dislike for Animal Testing, the animal rights activists (aside from Cap Marvell) don't exactly come off well themselves.
  • Advertisement:
  • Animals Hate Him: In the novels, Edwin Digweed vs. Monte and Tig.
  • Anonymous Killer Narrator: Dialogues of the Dead.
  • Arranged Marriage: Part of the backstory to Pictures of Perfection is an attempted arranged marriage between Guy Guillemard, slated to inherit Old Hall and the estate, and the far more capable Girlie Guillemard. Girlie objects, which takes care of that.
  • Benevolent Boss: Dalziel himself to everyone's surprise. He takes a paternal interest in all those below him; fighting like hell to push Pascoe up the ranks and ensuring that Sgt Wield is protected from genuinely homophobic bosses.
  • Bittersweet Ending: A few:
    • Bones and Silence: The Pascoes finally realize who has been threatening to commit suicide. Peter shows up just in time for her to actually do it.
    • On Beulah Height: Rosie Pascoe survives her near-fatal illness. That's not true of her friend.
    • Advertisement:
    • Death's Jest-Book: Rosie Pascoe survives a shoot-out. However, the young male prostitute Wield has been protecting is dead, and Dalziel realizes that he botched the case in Dialogues of the Dead.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: "Auteur Theory," which is about the fate of a Dalziel and Pascoe novel.
  • Breakout Villain: Franny Roote (novels only).
  • California Doubling: Both the books and the TV series are set in Yorkshire, however the TV series was made by the BBC studios in Birmingham (Then known as Pebble Mill, which made a lot of BBC dramas and current affairs programmes in the 90's), which meant that various places around the Midlands subbed Yorkshire towns, and the Cotswolds (which is roughly an hour's drive away from Birmingham) stood in for the Yorkshire Dales instead.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Sgt. Wield disappeared from the TV series after the adaptation of Dialogues of the Dead, although he remained a major player in the novels.
  • Circling Vultures: Parodied in Pictures of Perfection.
  • Clueless Deputy: The terminally inept Constable Hector.
  • Comic-Book Time: Although it varies, the characters are aging between one-quarter to one-half "real time." When the series hit its 20th year, Hill wrote a short essay discussing the issue and a story, "One Small Step", which looked forward to where Dalziel and Pascoe might find themselves if they kept it up for another 20 years.
  • Coming-Out Story: Wield comes out to both of his superiors in Child's Play, after the young man with whom he has had a brief affair is murdered. To Wield's astonishment, Dalziel knew all along, although Pascoe was completely clueless. In Pictures of Perfection, Edwin Digweed tells Wield that he was outed about thirty years earlier after an affair with an unnamed lord. As homosexuality was still criminalized at the time, Digweed was prosecuted and disbarred, and eventually left the country.
  • Connect the Deaths: Dialogues of the Dead.
  • Continuity Nod: Dalziel's eventual girlfriend from Recalled to Life turns out to have a small but important part in Good Morning, Midnight, where she appears as a corpse.)
    • Franny Roote's reappearance in Arms and the Women, after not being seen since the second novel, An Advancement of Learning.
    • Wield himself lampshades that his subplot in Death's Jest-Book revisits Child's Play.
  • Cowboy Cop: Pascoe in the TV episode Under Dark Stars.
  • Da Chief: CC Raymond.
  • December–December Romance: Dalziel and Cap Marvell. Wield and Digweed also qualify, although Digweed is a decade older.
  • Depraved Bisexual: Franny Roote in An Advancement of Learning.
  • Disowned Adaptation: The Hale and Pace adaptation of A Pinch of Snuff, which Hill loathed so much that he bought back the rights.
  • Distinguished Gentleman's Pipe: Girlie Guillemard in Pictures of Perfection is a rare female example.
  • Driven to Suicide:
    • A subplot in Bones and Silence.
    • Crops up again in On Beulah Height, for much less sympathetic reasons.
  • Electrified Bathtub: A variant in Dialogues of the Dead.
  • Embarrassing Middle Name: Andrew Hamish Dalziel. Dalziel is visibly appalled when somebody mentions it, relatively late in the series.
  • Everybody Did It: Parodied in Pictures of Perfection, in which every character does something... but all of the victims are unwilling to file a complaint. This includes Wield, who discovers that Digweed has robbed the post office to cover up his detour into dust jacket forgery. Dalziel is left completely livid at the end.
  • Face–Heel Turn: By the end of the short story "One Small Step", set many years in the future, Pascoe turns out to have become, if not corrupt, then certainly tainted.
  • Fair Cop:
    • In the early episodes, Sanjay Singh is a male example.
    • In the novels, DC Shirley Novello deliberately subverts this by leaving off makeup and wearing baggy clothes.
  • Fake-Out Opening: Pictures of Perfection.
  • Fat and Skinny: Dalziel (fat), Pascoe (skinny).
  • Fatal Attraction:
    • Dalziel suspects his love interest in An April Shroud may be a Black Widow, and Good Morning, Midnight reveals that his girlfriend at the end of Recalled to Life was also serious trouble.
    • The trope is played absolutely straight in Dialogues of the Dead and the beginning of Death's Jest-Book.
  • Faux Yay: Hinted at with the journalist in Ruling Passion.
  • Fish out of Water: In the novel Recalled to Life, Dalziel's investigations take him off to the United States, with predictable results. The television adaptation eliminates that chunk of the novel, for understandable reasons.
  • Fourth Date Marriage: In Pictures of Perfection, Digweed proposes to Wield after they've known each other for exactly two days.
  • Gaydar: Both Ellie and Dalziel figure out Wield almost immediately, although neither one lets on. Ironically, Wield's gaydar is non-existent.
  • Gayngst: Wield suffers from this until Child's Play, although it takes Pictures of Perfection for the final symptoms to disappear.
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door: Franny Roote.
  • How We Got Here: Pictures of Perfection.
  • It Is Pronounced "Tro-PAY": Tends to happen more in real-life, as a lot of people pronounce "Dalziel" as "Dal-zeel" or "Day-zee-ell" rather than its actual pronunciation. It sometimes happens in the show as well, albeit quite rarely — the writers managed to avoid the temptation of turning it into an overused running joke. In the TV version of A Killing Kindness, Dalziel knows he's in trouble when a reporter pronounces his name correctly.
  • Impoverished Patrician: In Pictures of Perfection, the Guillemards are fast running out of the money they need to maintain their estate, Old Hall, especially since most of their tenants are long gone. Later novels often mention Girlie Guillemard's most recent schemes for keeping Old Hall afloat.
  • The Jeeves: Wield. This is even lampshaded by Pascoe in one of the later books.
  • Jurisdiction Friction: Ruling Passion. Pascoe, who isn't on his turf, keeps stepping on the toes of the local Detective Superintendent. In the novel, Pascoe turns out to be in the wrong throughout, and the Detective Superintendent solves the crime.
  • Karaoke Box: Wield winds up doing a karaoke duet in Death's Jest-Book.
  • Kavorka Man: Dalziel, who attracts a surprising number of women over the course of the series.
  • Last-Name Basis: Wield, with everyone except his partner.
  • Let Off by the Detective: Pictures of Perfection. Wield doesn't arrest Digweed either for robbery or forgery. Of course, Wield is also falling in love with him, although he doesn't realize that yet.
  • Limited Advancement Opportunities:
    • Wield's early annoyance about being stuck at Detective Sergeant is later retconned into being a deliberate choice.
    • Averted with Pascoe, who begins the series as DS, appears in one short story as a newly-minted Detective Constable, and is currently Detective Chief Inspector. The short story "One Small Step" suggests that he'll keep moving upward (but see Alternate Continuity).
  • Literary Allusion Title: Virtually every episode based on the novels. (Hill started his career as a lecturer in English literature, and it shows.)
  • Locked Room Mystery: Played with in Good Morning, Midnight, which features a suicide made to look like a locked room murder. Dalziel lampshades this when he accuses Pascoe of 'being at the John Dickson Carr.'
  • Long-Runners: The first novel, A Clubbable Woman, appeared in 1970. The last one was slated for summer of 2013, but after Hill's death in January of 2012, the publisher canceled it.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: The killer's technique in Deadheads.
  • Market-Based Title: Happened to the novels twice:
    • The Death of Dalziel (UK) = Death Comes for the Fat Man (Canada and some other markets).
    • A Cure for All Diseases (UK) = The Price of Butcher's Meat (USA).
  • Mistaken for Cheating: Wield in Death's Jest-Book, although not by his partner.
  • Mistaken for Gay: Dalziel briefly pretends to be gay in order to throw a homophobic superior off Wield's trail.
  • The Mole: One of the subplots in Dialogues of the Dead involves Dalziel's search for a mole in the police department who is passing on information to a crusading journalist.
  • Motive Rant: Ruling Passion.
  • My Greatest Failure: In 'On Beulah Heights' for Dalziel - the case of three missing girls fifteen years ago.
  • My Secret Pregnancy: Strongly hinted in the TV episode Time to Go: Mary Waddell's son may well be Dalziel's.
  • Mystery Magnet: When Dalziel and Pascoe take vacations, they wind up stumbling into murder cases.
  • Never Suicide: Averted in Bones and Silence and Good Morning, Midnight.
  • The Nicknamer: Dalziel—Pascoe is "Sunbeam", DC Shirley Novello is "Ivor", Wield is "Wieldy", etc.
  • Noble Bigot with a Badge: Played with in Dalziel, who talks like a bigot and misogynist but sometimes acts more liberal than uber-liberal Pascoe.
    • In Child's Play, when Wield is threatened with being outed, Dalziel reveals to him that he knew all along that Wield was gay and didn't particular care as it didn't affect his job. He then goes out of his way to protect Wield from a genuinely homophobic superior.
    • Justified in that Dalziel, with his working-class background, was regarded as an outsider when he joined the police, and had to prove himself the hard way; he therefore naturally identifies with and defends others who might be considered "outsiders" themselves.
  • Obfuscating Insanity: Squire Selwyn of Pictures of Perfection is nowhere near as senile as he first appears.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Dalziel often presents himself as an ignorant fat slob. Woe betide anyone who believes him. Lampshaded in "On Beulah Night":
    Culprit: You already know, don't you? You're not as stupid as I thought.
    Dalziel: You're not the first person to make that mistake either.
  • Obfuscating Disability: Roote in Cure for all Diseases.
  • Old Cop, Young Cop
  • Old-Fashioned Copper: Dalziel himself.
  • Out-of-Genre Experience: Pictures of Perfection. Not only does every subplot track back to Jane Austen, but the whole thing sends up the rest of the series' Always Murder mode.
  • Overtook the Series: Not because Hill stopped writing novels, but because the television producers found the later ones almost impossible to adapt.
    • Ellie, Rosie, and Sergeant Wield disappear from the TV series during the later seasons, but remain prominent in the novels.
  • The Perfect Crime: Deadheads. Successfully. So much so that in the novels, the killer is still living a few doors down from Pascoe, many years later.
    • Bones and Silence. Not so successfully.
    • Dialogues of the Dead. Successfully again, although in Death's Jest-Book Dalziel realizes, with some horror, who the killer must have been. Too late, however, to do anything about it.
  • Police Procedural
  • Politically Motivated Teacher: Ellie Pascoe was this up through Under World.
  • Power Trio: Dalziel, Pascoe, and Wield. Lampshaded in the novels, where they're nicknamed the "Holy Trinity."
  • Put on a Bus: Happens to Singh in both the TV series and the novels when Dalziel notices that Wield has fallen in love with him. Wield is not amused when Dalziel owns up to this in Child's Play.
    • A more traditional example: the TV series divorced Ellie and Peter Pascoe, then sent Ellie off to the United States.
  • The Quiet One: Wield.
  • Rank Up: Pascoe.
  • Rising Water, Rising Tension: The climax of "Under World" has Pascoe confronting a murderer in an abandoned mine that is slowly filling with water due to a storm.
  • Sarcasm Mode: Dalziel and Edwin Digweed appear to be permanently stuck in this mode. Ellie Pascoe also tends to wind up here.
  • Scrapbook Story: Several of the novels, most notably On Beulah Height (a Yorkshire folktale that affects the plot), Arms and the Women (Ellie Pascoe's mock-epic), and A Cure for All Diseases (e-mails and iPod recordings).
  • Self-Insert Fic: The short story "Auteur Theory", in which a grumpy, unnamed Hill glumly watches as one of his D&P novels gets produced for the screen.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Pascoe and Dalziel, but also Digweed and Wield.
  • Serial Killer: Deadheads, Dialogues of the Dead.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Digweed, partly as a self-defense tactic.
  • Sesquipedalian Smith: DC Ethelbert "Hat" Bowler, who definitely thinks he has an Embarrassing First Name.
  • Shout-Out to Shakespeare: Hamlet plays an important role in A Killing Kindness.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: The dynamic between Edwin Digweed and Wield in Pictures of Perfection.
  • Snuff Film: The novel A Pinch of Snuff.
  • Straight Gay: DS Edgar Wield.
  • Straw Feminist: Ellie Pascoe slides into this a lot during her initial appearances.
  • Stylistic Suck: Squire Selwyn's annual performance of his epic poem at the Guillemard Reckoning in Pictures of Perfection. Actually, it's deliberately bad. See Obfuscating Insanity.
  • The Summation:
    • Pascoe tries it in the adaptation of Ruling Passion, and nearly gets shot for his pains.
    • Done with a twist in Pictures of Perfection: Edwin Digweed gets the summation scene, not the detectives.
  • Three Plus Two: With the addition of Shirley Novello and Hat Bowler to the original Power Trio.
  • Title of the Dead: Dialogues of the Dead.
  • 20 Minutes into the Future: "One Small Step" (1990) is set in 2010, with a manned space flight to the moon and a European wide police force headed up by Pascoe.
  • The Unsolved Mystery: Deadheads (the killer is never caught) and Dialogues of the Dead (wrong solution).
  • Twist Ending: Dialogues of the Dead, which reveals the killer's real identity to the reader, but not the detectives.
  • We Would Have Told You, But...: Dalziel's secret drug investigation in Exit Lines.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Arms and the Women suggests in passing that there's something more to Digweed's backstory than he has let on, but Hill never brings up this plot point again.
  • Where Everybody Knows Your Flame:
    • The recently uncloseted Wield wanders into here while looking for a killer.
    • Parodied in the novel Death's Jest-Book.
  • Writer on Board: While Hill usually restrains himself, he lets audiences know how he feels about experimenting on animals in The Wood Beyond, the Iraq war in Good Morning, Midnight, and the aftermath of Thatcherism in Pictures of Perfection.
  • The Wrongful Heir to the Throne: A comic version in Pictures of Perfection, as Guy Guillemard, on whom the estate is entailed, is a thorough prat.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: