Follow TV Tropes


Series / Cluedo

Go To

Cluedo was a TV gameshow made by Granada for ITV and broadcast from 1990 until 1993. It was based on the board game Cluedo and produced in association with the game's owner Waddingtons Games and Action Time. It bore some resemblance to an earlier ITV gameshow, Whodunnit? (UK), in that each edition featured a short murder mystery, with teams of studio guests giving the task of finding the killer. In Cluedo the six possible murderers were the six characters from the board game - Mrs Elizabeth Peacock, Miss Vivienne Scarlett, Mrs Blanche White, Colonel Mike Mustard, Reverend Jonathan Green and Professor Peter Plum - who were played by different actors in each series. The setting for each mystery was Mrs Peacock's country mansion, Arlington Grange (not Tudor Close as in the board game).

As in the board game, the contestants had to use deduction and process of elimination to identify in which room the murder took place, with what weapon and which of the suspects was the killer, being given six options for each. Following a short introduction from the studio host, the two teams of detectives would be shown the pre-recorded drama (filmed on location at Arley Hall in Cheshire) and would then be given the chance to question the suspects - the actors appearing in the studio in costume and in character - before making initial accusations. They would be told how accurate these were, though no one ever got all three elements right first time. After the commercial break they would then be shown a second video clip with one or more previously unseen additional scenes and had to work out how, if at all, this "new evidence" changed things. More questioning would follow before the teams made a final accusation, one of which always fortunately turned out to be correct. The murderer would then turn to camera and make their confession, explaining their motive for the crime, part of which would be voiced over a final clip showing the lead-up to the murder (although, since this went out at 7pm, the actual moment of the killing was always faded out or freeze-framed).

Four series and a Christmas episode were made, hosted by James Bellini, Chris Tarrant and finally Richard Madeley. In the first series each team consisted of one celebrity and one member of the public involved in criminal justice or detection (police officer, forensic scientist etc.) but from series two this changed to two celebrities. The six weapons from the board game only appeared together once, in the Christmas special, and in other editions a wide variety of possible weapons were used or suggested, from croquet mallet to insecticide. There were no prizes whatsoever for the contestants, although in series 3 viewers were given the chance to phone in and win a murder mystery weekend by answering an observation question based on that night's mystery.

Many well-known TV actors of the time guested as that week's victim, always a ghastly type whose presence spelt trouble for the six inhabitants of Arlington Grange. The regular cast was of a similarly high calibre and the parts were played as follows:note 

This series is not to be confused with the board game Clue (Cluedo in the UK) or with the American film Clue which was also based on it.

This series provides examples of the following:


  • Ad Lib: The actors had to improvise a good deal when being questioned in the studio sequences. Some were especially good at this, notably June Whitfield, Richard Wilson and Tom Baker. Whitfield enhanced her characterisation of Mrs White by introducing Malaproper:
    Mrs White: Er, excuse me, Mr Bellini, are the defectives allowed to make remarks like that?
  • Alliterative Name: Colonel Mike Mustard and, even more so, Professor Peter Plum.
  • Ambiguously Absent Parent: Ms. Scarlet is Ms. Peacock's stepdaughter rather than her biological daughter in at least some of the episodes, but neither of her biological parents is ever mentioned. Her father isn't the late Jack Peacock, at least not according to "The Bolivian Connection", where she tries to flirt with him to avoid being evicted when he turns out to be Not Quite Dead.
  • The Announcer: Charles Foster.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: Although it depended which week you were watching.
  • Ascended Extra: Of a sort: Leslie Grantham and Nicholas Parsons were contestants in the Christmas special and series 3 respectively, and were then cast as Colonel Mustard and Reverend Green in series 4, being the only performers to be both detectives and suspects within the series. Richard Madeley was also a contestant (with his wife, Judy Finnigan) in the last episode of series 2 and won not only the contest but the presentership from series 3 onwards!
  • Audience Participation: The studio audience had the chance to vote on the killer's identity in series 1. After that they were restricted to cheering, jeering or booing as the drama unfolded. This was in contrast to international adaptations of the series, including in Germany and Australia, which gave the entire job of questioning and judging to the studio audience.
  • Bad Guys Play Pool: Although Arlington Grange was more refined and snooker was played rather than pool in the billiard room, the murder victim would sometimes play pool, while plotting their ruses. On at least two occasions, their killer sneaked up behind them while they took a shot.
  • Bait-and-Switch:
    • In "A Fête Worse Than Death", actor Bernard Kirkbride appears to be set up as the murder victim for the episode, as we see scenes of him antagonising each of the characters in turn. Near the end of the short film, Mrs Peacock tells Colonel Mustard that she's glad they're rid of him, only for Mustard to say, "What do you mean? Here he comes now!"... as Kirkbride arrives to report the murder of a seemingly unimportant background extra in a dragon suit (revealed to be an undercover cop who was seen observing incriminating behaviour or conversations by most of the suspects).
    • In the Christmas Episode "Christmas Past, Christmas Present", Richard Forrest, the son of the judge who owned Arlington Grange before Mrs Peacock shows up with gifts hinting that he knows about scandals in the past of all six suspects, setting himself up as the murder victim. However, the actual murder victim is his chauffeur, Ken. Or so we are led to believe; Ken and Forrest swapped identities as a precaution, but Ken was so nervous about being murdered that he spilled the beans to Miss Scarlet, who decided to kill the real Forrest and frame her stepmother in an attempt to get rid of competition for Colonel Mustard’s love.
  • Big Fancy House: And Mrs Peacock would do anything to preserve it.
  • Black Comedy: The short films of evidence are usually quite comic, despite being about murder. The victim is usually highly obnoxious, and most of the upper-class suspects entertaining to watch.
    Professor Plum: One does get used to death at Arlington Grange.
  • Blackmail: The murder victims frequently had dirt on one or more of the suspects, and while fear of exposure was enough to drive some of them to murder, in other cases, the victim was trying to extort money for their silence. For example, in "Going, Going, Goner" from Series 1, TV antiques expert Peregrine Talbot-Wheeler tries to blackmail Mrs Peacock into buying his silence when he reveals that her prize Rembrandt, for which she paid a fortune, is a worthless fake. It leads to her killing him. Then in “Charity Begins At Home”, she hires a guy named Ben to pose as a window cleaner and find out who had been stealing items from around the house but when Ben overhears Colonel Mustard telling her that he thought a painting was done by a famous artist named Turner, he tries to get in on the deal and apparently resorts to blackmail; not only does he get murdered but the painting turns out to be a copy!
  • Cannot Spit It Out: Some of the suspects' hesitant replies when being interrogated.
    Mrs Peacock: Come on Vivienne, spit it out.
    Miss Scarlet: I er... didn't want the insurance people going through my things.
  • Boring Religious Service: Lampshaded when the Reverend Green gives a particularly long answer to a question, and Bob Holness says "I wonder how long his sermons last on a Sunday?".
  • Christmas Episode: An extended episode broadcast in December 1990 featured a Christmas-themed murder mystery, a one-off cast of suspects and three video clips rather than the usual two. It aired between series 1 and 2 and had series 1's host, James Bellini.
  • Church Militant: When his church is desecrated by a group of hippies, the Reverend Green borrows one of Mrs Peacock's shotguns, although it is not clear what he does with it since he didn’t murder Dave, the main hippie.
    Mrs White: You're not going to shoot that horrible young man, are you?
    Reverend Green: You've heard of the church militant? From tonight, I'm it.
  • Cold Ham: Especially the various Peacocks and Mustards. Quite a few victims too, especially when the likes of Paul Darrow started turning up.
  • Colonel Badass: Mustard, although he no longer had any troops to command. In series 3 he encountered a journalist, David Stringer, who threatened to expose a Gulf War error of judgement by Mustard that had cost several lives.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: The suspects would wear clothes vaguely resembling the colours of their characters, but this was only consistent in series 4.
  • Confess to a Lesser Crime: Only the killers are allowed to lie to the interviewers, and so they sometimes confess to smaller crimes instead of the bigger ones that provide their motive for murder. For instance, in "The Best Insurance", Reverend Green claims to fear Cosmopolitan Insurance because he lied about his health status while getting life insurance from them. Actually, he lied on his insurance claim after the church was robbed to be reimbursed for items that he didn't own and had merely borrowed.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Several victims are corrupt businessmen who are threatening to ruin the idyllic area in and around Arlington Grange (often having just purchased it without explaining what they plan to do with it) with only one thing on their mind: profit.
    • Mr Hall from "Deadly Disco" is a greedy land developer who has bought the area in and around the village duck pond so that he can drain the water and build a garish dance club. Prof. Plum helped to arrange the sale without knowing Hall's plans, Rev. Green and Mrs White are outraged at the negative effect this will have on local wildlife, and it has sent the value of Col. Mustard's house (which overlooks the pond and which he has been advised to sell) through the floor.
    • Simon Charles from "A Deadly Deal" persuaded some of the six regulars to invest in a scheme that he knew would fail (taking a cut in commission), then he pulled his own money out at the last minute; in particular, Rev. Green, Miss Scarlett, and Mrs White each lost a huge sum. He claims that he can make their money back with another shady deal, which involves a software compatibility program that Prof. Plum invented but didn't patent in time.
    • Max Gold from "Murder in Merrie England" buys Arlington Grange from Mrs Peacock, and only reveals after the sale becomes legally binding that he plans to make the village the centrepiece in a gaudy "Merrie England" theme park, with parcels of land set aside for Rev. Green's church and an archaeological dig supervised by Prof. Plum marked for development.
    • Terry Radcliffe from "Where There's a Will" offers to invest the money Mrs White has just inherited, but he is really planning to embezzle it for himself; Rev. Green has already lost money in a dodgy scheme that Radcliffe persuaded him to invest in.
  • Corrupt Politician: In several episodes, the victim was a conscience-free MP or other politician.
    • Dave Chapman from "Politician's Funeral" is planning to run for the recently-vacated local Parliamentary seat, so he immediately sets about blackmailing the six regulars (including threatening the American Prof. Plum with deportation) to secure their backing for both the nomination and the election.
    • Sir Nigel Hussey from "Seven Deadly Sinners" is a Cabinet minister who is part corrupt politician, part Corrupt Corporate Executive, as he plans to develop the land next to Arlington Grange as a crass "Sin City" theme park, which is set to cause local property prices (including those of Prof. Plum's house and Arlington Grange itself) to crash. He has also conned funds out of Rev. Green under false pretences and exploited Ms Scarlett while refusing to honour his promise of a contract with the park for her.
  • Coy, Girlish Flirt Pose:
    • In series 2, Marie-Anne Cray lies seductively on the billiard table when she sees Reverend Green, recounting her "sexy romps with randy Rev".
    • Miss Scarlet often does this, with whichever lover she has picked up.
  • Creator Backlash: An in-universe example. In Series 1, actor Bernard Kirkbride has been invited to open a summer fete. After he has been introduced by the Reverend Green as Mr Kwik Cup in the coffee advert, he greets the audience (having kept them waiting) with "Ten years of original material, and how does he introduce me? As a coffee advert!" And he is not joking.
  • Curtain Camouflage: Mrs White hides behind a curtain in series 1.
    Mrs White: I secreted myself be'ind the curtains.
  • Cut Phone Lines: In the third series, Colonel Mustard dramatically rips a phone cord out of the wall, to stop the murder victim making a phone call.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Loads of times.
    • Chris Tarrant, just after each murder.
      So, George Biddle's life insurance has finally run out.
      So, the final curtain call has come for Marianne Cray.
      So, Ben the window cleaner has kicked his last bucket.
      Jack Peacock really is dead this time.
    • Between a rude guest, and a policeman:
      Policeman: Just be glad I'm not booking you for actions likely to cause a breach of the peace.
      Kirkbride: It wasn't me, it was that vicar! He can't take a joke. And as for that militaristic nutter, Colonel Mustard...
      Policeman: I thought that militaristic nutter showed remarkable restraint, sir. If I were him, you'd still be seeing stars.
      Kirkbride: (Cowering in mock terror) Oooooh!!!!
    • Professor Plum being interrogated by Sir Clement Freud:
      Clement Freud: Where are you a professor? What seat of learning could possibly have given you a degree?
      Professor Plum: As far as my professorship is concerned, I took it in a mail-order catalogue.
    • Some of the murderers:
      Professor Plum: It was a question of balance, you see: my reputation balanced against his life, and I found the scales to be tipped against him.
  • Denser and Wackier: The fourth series' style and tone changed completely from tongue-in-cheek to utterly barking mad, with the characters becoming cartoonish stereotypes who no longer bore any resemblance to real life. Colonel Mustard never appeared without his beret, Professor Plum entered Mad Scientist territory and Miss Scarlett went from English class to American broad. The actors still played the studio sequences relatively straight but the videoed scenes... well... There was no series 5.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: Mr White tells Mrs Peacock "he's been murdered! Dead!"
  • Door Slam of Rage: In series 1, Reverend Green slams the door to the drawing room, when the murder victim is indifferent to his plan for a mole sanctuary.
  • Dramatic Drop: This sometimes happens when the body is found, especially if Mrs White makes the discovery. Professor Plum also drops a chess piece when the Reverend Green says something incriminating.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness:
    • In the first series, Professor Plum was portrayed as a young American entrepreneur and not The Professor of the board game, to which he reverted in series 2. Mr White (played by Graham Rigby) appeared in a couple of episodes while in all later series Mrs White was a widow, allowing her a vague romance with Reverend Green in series 3.
    • In the studio segments of the first series the audience was asked to vote electronically on its views of the killer's identity, though this had no bearing on the outcome.
    • The actors playing the suspects would start at the top of a staircase and then have to walk rather clumsily down to their seats before the detection began, although this had the bonus of allowing the viewer to hear some more of the show's mean and moody theme music.
    • The teams consisted of one celebrity and one member of the public (with some relation to the concept of the show - genuine police officers, pathologists, private detectives and legal executives all appeared), not two celebrities as subsequently.
    • Following the first video clip, the teams would have to answer a simple observation question to determine who went first, e.g. "What colour was the telephone?", similar to the Observation round in another Granada gameshow, The Krypton Factor, which shared an executive producer with Cluedo.
    • There were various other, smaller differences from later series, such as the opening titles and music being edited differently and the presenter being named with a caption and not by the announcer. The series was in more recognisable form by series 2. Also in series 1, Reverend Green was never the murderer: instead, Mrs Peacock was the murderer twice (which gave Stephanie Beacham and Robin Nedwell the distinction of being, respectively, the series' only multiple murderer and the only actor to appear in multiple episodes without being the killer).
  • Everyone Is a Suspect: Well, everyone among the regulars. Over the course of the short film leading up to the killing, we see that all six of them have various reasons to want the murder victim dead; perhaps the victim can potentially expose a scandal involving them or is blackmailing them to keep such a scandal quiet, perhaps they're carrying out a transaction (generally involving Arlington Grange somehow) that will ruin them financially, or perhaps they've threatened the life or livelihood of someone they care about (particularly common for Col. Mustard regarding Mrs Peacock and/or Ms Scarlett).
  • Flush the Evidence: In series 4, Colonel Mustard is sent some counterfeit money. Having tossed it all around the bathroom, he tries to flush some of it down the toilet; but in his fury, he breaks off the chain, which becomes one of the possible weapons.
  • Funny Background Event: Two such moments in series 1.
    • During Miss Scarlet's confession, she refers to "her stepmother's stiff neck", causing Mrs Peacock to cringe, even though the spotlight is not on her.
    • While Mrs White is ranting in the kitchen about Peregrine Talbot-Wheeler, Mr White is licking the dish used to make the desserts. Even the detective Keith Barron notices this.
      Keith Barron: Do you usually give your husband the dish to lick?
      Mrs White: I'm afraid that is one of Mr White's little quirks: perks, as he calls them.
  • Gut Feeling:
    • In series 3 and 4, the detectives are asked for their gut feelings about the room, weapon and suspect immediately after viewing the evidence, before they can ask the suspects any questions; usually to boos or cheers from the audience, and pleas of innocence from the suspects.
    • In series 2, one detective gives "gut instinct" as her reason for accusing the Reverend Green, adding "I'll show you where it comes from, about here," pointing to her gut.
  • The Help Helping Themselves: The maid Mrs. White tends to steal small valuables from Mrs. Peacock, such as silver spoons. In one episode in the second series, the murder victim is a private detective whom Mrs. Peacock had hired to investigate things going missing, while in the sixth episode of the first season she murdered the undercover cop because she mistakenly believed that he knew she was stealing small valuables (he was actually trying to discover who stole proceeds from the festival the year before.)
  • High-Class Gloves: In series 4, Mrs Peacock always wore gloves in the house. When interrogated about it, she replied that she was sometimes a hand model, and liked to keep her hands in exquisite condition.
  • Hollywood Darkness: Seen in series 1, in the episode where the murder victim is Peregrine Talbot-Wheeler: the announcement that the body has been found takes place outdoors, supposedly after dark, but everything is deeply tinted blue.
  • Home Participation Sweepstakes: Home viewers could call in to win a murder mystery weekend after watching series 3 episodes carefully.
  • I Didn't Mean to Kill Him: Heard a few times during the murderer's confession.
  • Improbable Weapon User: The six weapons were different in every episode. Some of the more unusual choices were the tail from a dragon's costume, a funeral urn containing the murder victim's supposed ashes (described by Richard Madeley as a neat, ironic twist), a bridge trophy, a kettle flex, a G-string, a living snake. Interestingly, although a gun was often included, it was never used as the weapon.
    Detective: (to Colonel Mustard) Are you trained to garrote people with knicker elastic? Would it stand up to the tension?
    Col. Mustard: I am not an expert on knicker elastic.
  • Kangaroo Court: Played for laughs with the whole show, with the informal questioning of the suspects, and the host revealing that they knew who the murderer was all along, sometimes mentioning this at the beginning.
    Richard Madeley (as a detective): We think it was Professor Plum. You did it, son!
    Chris Tarrant: Don't call him "son"! He's innocent until proven guilty.
  • Karma Houdini: If the premise of the game is taken literally, then it seems that whatever punishment was meted out to these confessed multiple murderers was over and done with by the following week.
  • Lady and Knight: With complications, as Mustard was intimately acquainted with both Mrs Peacock and her stepdaughter Miss Scarlett, and was ready to protect them both.
  • Large Ham: Granada could have opened a delicatessen. Particularly in series 1 and 4 and when anyone found the body. Mrs White finding the body could have been heard on another channel.
  • Last-Name Basis: Mostly averted, in that the suspects had first names, which they sometimes used with each other: Mrs Elizabeth Peacock, Colonel Mike Mustard, Reverend Jonathan Green, Professor Peter Plum, Miss Vivienne Scarlet, Mrs Blanche White. In series 1, Mrs White's husband appeared, but she only called him "Mr White".
  • Later-Installment Weirdness: The fourth series episodes opened with Richard Madeley walking around the deserted Grange (in a white tuxedo!) to introduce the night's mystery, and the studio set was modified to (vaguely) resemble the library of the Grange itself. There was a complete stylistic and tonal shift into comic and cartoonish territory, with a change of music to prove it.
  • Lethal Chef: Mrs White became one in the final series, having been a good cook previously, the occasional poisoning aside.
    Detective: Mrs White, you put rat poison on the dish.
    Mrs White: Oh, only absent-mindedly.
    Detective: Yes, but you didn't throw the dish away.
    Mrs White: Oh, I put grated cheese on top, so nobody would notice.
    Richard Madeley: How long have you been a cook?
    Mrs White: All my life, that's why I'm so good now.
  • Malaproper: This was Mrs White's speciality in series 1:
    • "I secreted myself be'ind the curtains."
    • "I've been illuminated."
    • "I was paranotic."
    • "I was only speaking motapherically."
    • "I heard you, there's no use decrying it."
    • "You, with your smarmy incinerations."
    • "I knew I shouldn't have done it: now I'm filled with resource."
  • Meaningful Name:
    • In series 2, Mr Pane, the unseen regular window cleaner, who is replaced by the murder victim in that episode.
    • In series 4, Colonel Mustard has a good friend called Sergeant (Beat) Major, as opposed to Sergeant-Major.
  • Microphone Swinging: Mrs Peacock in series 4 does this, before using the microphone as a murder weapon in a massive Large Ham moment, showing her teeth.
    Mrs Peacock: (totally shamelessly) Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, I did it. Pounded the little ferret's head to mush with a microphone. Sorry, terribly terribly sorry, but there it is.
  • Motor Mouth: Some of the suspects gave very long replies when interrogated.
    Carol Thatcher (daughter of UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher): Reverend Green, would you murder someone with one of your beloved golf clubs?
    Reverend Green: Good heavens, no! I mean, I am a man of the cloth, I wouldn't strike a man in anger, let alone with a golf club, good heavens! Actually, I think I had every reason to; I gave that man my word. I mean, he was a cabinet minister, I don't know if you have much experience of people in politics, but I would expect a cabinet minister to honour his word. He let me down. I would like to have struck him, but I certainly did not do the evil deed.
    Bob Holness: I wonder how long his sermons last on a Sunday?
    Richard Madeley: The Reverend doth protest too much.
  • Mystery Fiction: Naturally. The episode opens with the events leading up to a murder, and the panel then have to interrogate the six suspects to determine whodunnit, where, and how.
  • The Night Owl: In series 4, the crime writer Candice Costello is a night owl, saying that if you're going to write about dark stuff, you don't do it at brunch time.
  • No Inner Fourth Wall: In one episode, detective Andrew Sachs implies in a question that he has met the Reverend Green before.
    Andrew Sachs: I went to one of your church fêtes, and there was a copy of the same Rembrandt that was in the house. I tried to buy it, but you had bought it before me. What did you do with it?
  • Noodle Incident: Some of the suspects' backstories are revealed by the detective's questions, or the murderer's confession; but sometimes, the detective does not ask the "right" question. For example, in "The Best Insurance" in series 2, it is revealed that Mrs White is suspected of arson at her previous employment, but instead of asking her about this, the detective asks her where she keeps the teapot.
  • Not Quite Dead: The final episode of series 2 saw Mrs Peacock's wedding to Colonel Mustard interrupted by the return of her supposedly dead husband, Jack Peacock. Professor Plum saw him off though.
  • Not So Above It All: In "And Then There Were Nuns", Reverend Green engages in some Percussive Therapy by throwing all of the Holier Than Thou Sister Concepta (who questioned his godliness and his trying to evict his friends)'s suitcases out of the house and Ms. Scarlet, who has been the calmest of the suspect's throughout Sister Concepta's visit, sees this. Ms. Scarlet calms Green down, says not to let the nun get to him, and suggests he take a long walk. Then, once Reverend Green leaves, she glances at Sister Concepta's parasol, which she's carrying around, and drops it on top of the rest of the discarded luggage.
  • Ominous Pipe Organ: Heard when Reverend Green, accompanied by the bishop, sees that the church tower bears signs advertising a rock festival, placed there by a hippy Dave.
    Reverend Green: This is desecration!
    Dave: No it's not, it's decoration.
  • Percussive Therapy: Various suspects stab a weapon into an object to relieve their anger; for example, Mrs Peacock stabs a sharp knife into a wedding cake, for a wedding that will never happen.
  • Plot Tailored to the Party: As every episode featured the six suspects, each of them would have a reason for wanting the murder victim dead. In the final episode of series 2, the six main characters had roles in a wedding: Mrs Peacock as the bride, Colonel Mustard as the groom, Reverend Green conducting the service, Professor Plum as an usher, and Miss Scarlet and Mrs White as bridesmaids.
  • Pop-Cultural Osmosis Failure: Played for laughs, when the middle-aged Reverend Green is interrogated about his former relationship with the deceased.
    Detective: Did you snog her?
    Reverend Green: I don't know what "snog" means.
  • Pose of Supplication: Professor Plum does this, in front of a gloating Jack Peacock, from whom he desperately wants to buy a drug to cure the common cold.
    Jack Peacock: Let's start at fifty thousand.
    Prof. Plum: I can't get my hands on that sort of money.
    Jack Peacock: Too bad, old bean. (Sets fire to the drug)
    Prof. Plum: (in a pose of supplication) Noooooo! I'd have paid, I'd have found the money somehow.
    Jack Peacock: That's better.
  • Pun: A few occasional ones thrown in:
    • When introducing detective Andrew Sachs, James Bellini says he must know a little something about "faulty" dinner guests, referring to his time as Manuel in Fawlty Towers.
    • A deadpan one by the host, James Bellini:
      Detective: How did you meet the Count?
      Mrs Peacock: On a ferry.
      James Bellini: A ferry story.
    • When Professor Plum holds a pair of dead rats in front of Mrs Peacock, she shrieks "Oh Professor, please!", emphasising the beginning of "please" for a little too long.
  • Punctuality Is for Peasants:
    • In series 1, Peregrine Talbot-Wheeler, an arrogant television art critic, is three hours late for his invitation to dinner, perhaps knowing that his hosts will fawn over him, as indeed they do; until one of them murders him, and makes him even more late.
      Talbot-Wheeler: I meant that it tastes odd. Have you ever cooked veal before?
      Mrs White: (frostily) I have. But people are usually there to eat it when it's ready, and not three hours later! (Mrs Peacock nudges her)
    • When invited to open a summer fete, pop artist Bernard Kirkbride plays for time yelling at racehorses on TV, keeping everybody waiting. When Miss Scarlett pleads with him to appear, he literally throws her aside, casually saying that an audience is more eager if you make them wait.
  • Rapid-Fire "Yes!": Two suspects do this:
    • Mrs Peacock, when confessing to the murder of a tabloid journalist.
      Mrs Peacock: Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, all right I did it. Pounded the little ferret's head to mush with a microphone.
    • Reverend Green also answers in this way, when pressed about whether he had been "intimate" with the murder victim (he was not the murderer, though).
  • Repetitive Name: "Classic Kurashikku" version: Mrs White has the first name Blanche, which of course means "white".
  • Replaced with Replica: In "The Best Insurance" from series 2, Miss Scarlet pawns a bronze statue, and replaces it with a fake, probably made using Professor Plum's machine which can compress mud into objects that look valuable. She is then afraid that the insurance investigator will find out about this, and tell Mrs Peacock.
  • Retool: The fourth and final series, apart from generally being noticeably Denser and Wackier, featured a new set designed to look like the Grange, and allowed viewers to see the solution at the start of the episode.
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons: When TV and art critic Peregrine Talbot-Wheeler is murdered, eventually Keith Barron and Harriet Cozen correctly accuse Mrs. Peacock of committing the murder. However, they believe that Mrs. Peacock murdered the guy out of jealousy over the art critic’s flirting with Miss Scarlet, which is wrong — it was actually attempted blackmail.
  • Rules Spiel: Briefly done at the beginning of each episode. In series 3, Richard Madeley tended to over-explain certain rules.
    Richard Madeley: Obviously, the best thing our detectives could do at this stage would be to make a completely correct deduction. However, the next best thing they could do would be to make a completely incorrect deduction, because we can then eliminate a room, a weapon, and a suspect.
  • Running Gag: In series 1, Mrs White would often be drinking from a hip flask in the studio (Reverend Green, who sat next to her, would sometimes push the flask back into her handbag as if to say "Not now, Mrs White!").
    Detective: Mrs White, with poison, probably the poison she's...
    Mrs White: The poison I'm drinking at the moment!
  • Sensitive Artist: In series 2, Colonel Mustard tells of how he had blackmailed the artist George Velares for having affairs behind his wife's back, and drove him to suicide, adding "these sensitive artistic types".
  • Shame If Something Happened: This often happens, where the murder victim knows a secret of one of the suspects, and says this gloatingly.
    Dave: Oh, by the way, you know our little arrangement? The one we're not supposed to tell anyone about? Wouldn't it be terrible if Mrs Peacock somehow found out?
  • Shear Menace: Scissors were often included among the murder weapons. On two occasions, Mrs Peacock would be seen holding them menacingly at the study desk.
  • Shell Game: Seen briefly in the last episode of the first series. Professor Plum has a charity stall in which players put a 50p coin under a cup, and the cups are moved rapidly. If they win, they win their 50p back, and receive an extra 50p. The obnoxious Kirkbride plays this game, and wins every time, cleaning out Professor Plum's proceeds.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The whole "country-house murder" set-up owed a debt to Agatha Christie and there were some direct shout-outs, such as the series 3 episode "And Then There Were Nuns".
    • Tom Baker's outlandish ad-libs as Professor Plum in the studio sequences of Series 3 would be familiar to anyone who's attended a Doctor Who convention.
    • The piece of music used to accompany the closing murder flashback, with its scraping violin strings, was reminiscent of Psycho.
    • The piece of music used to introduce the dramas in the final series was reminiscent of "English Country Garden".
  • Show the Folks at Home: In series 4, the solution would be shown to the TV audience before the interrogation began, with the audience told to look away if they wanted to play along.
  • Sinister Minister: Reverend Green, who sometimes seemed more than a little unhinged.
    • In series 2:
      (Reverend Green walks through the kitchen with a shotgun, startling Mrs White)
      Reverend Green: Calm down, it's only me, I'm just borrowing one of Mrs Peacock's guns.
      Mrs White: You're not going to shoot that horrible young man, are you?
      Reverend Green: You've heard of the church militant? Well tonight, I'm it.
    • When confessing to the murder in series 4:
      Reverend Green: The time has come to confess before God, and fellow witnesses...your poor peasants. You sad, witless souls - did you not recognise that an artist walked amongst you? A true man of letters? Nay, I will go even further - a genius! I took into my hand the pen, the greatest weapon known to man; I flourished it with all the craft and eloquence of the noble bard. I took unto myself to write words that would echo through the centuries down to the end of time! And then, she arrived, and unravelled the text of my life! She knew that my book was not pure fiction, but based on fact - so naturally, I had to write the last chapter...of her life! But let me say this to you, philistines: lock me away...Lock me away, and you don't just bang up a barmy vicar; you incarcerate a living legend! Yes, a literary legend! I, the Reverend Green could have been up there in the heights, I was a contender! I could have been up there with Shakespeare, Dickens, Trollops...yes, even with Jeffrey Archer!!! Oh God...God...forgive me.
      Richard Madeley: I'm not sure that Jeffrey Archer will.
  • Snobby Hobbies: One of the murder victims in the first series is a bridge hustler, who is introduced to the house by Professor Plum, and tries to cheat Mrs. Peacock and Miss Scarlett out of a lot of money.
  • Softspoken Sadist: Some of those who set out to ruin the residents of Arlington Grange (and then ended up murdered for it) were like this: notably Jack Peacock in series 2.
  • Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace: In the final episode of series 2, a wedding between Mrs Peacock and Colonel Mustard is aborted by Jack Peacock suddenly reappearing (accompanied by Ominous Pipe Organ), having been presumed dead.
  • Stern Nun: In the third series, the victim Sister Concepta is very much this, talking down to everybody in the Grange.
  • Sword Pointing: In series 2, Colonel Mustard points a poker very threateningly at the murder victim, saying "listen to me, you moron!". Mrs White also does this with a sharp knife, which happens to catch the light, with a flash of Mrs White's anger.
  • Terms of Endangerment: In the fifth episode of series 2, the hippyish murder victim Dave shows his extremely casual attitude to some of the suspects, by addressing Reverend Green as "Vic", and Professor Plum as "Prof", especially when implying that he knows a lot about Professor Plum.
  • Thing-O-Meter: Electronically collated the studio audience's votes on the murderer's identity in series 1.
  • The Vicar: The Reverend Green being a vicar was often woven into the storylines; his motive for murder was sometimes a financial dilemma to do with the church. In series 1, he was an environmentalist passionate about saving moles; in series 2, he was a more sinister character. He would often be referred to as "a man of the cloth", and some of confessions to the murder were amusing.
    Rev. Green: I've never been able to understand quite why God didn't give me enough strength to be good.
  • Upper-Class Equestrian:
    • In the first episode of series 2, the murder victim and Miss Scarlet are both on horseback when they meet.
    • This is central to the first episode of series 3, when the murder victim is a hunt saboteur, who sets off a firecracker, spooking Mrs Peacock's horse Phantom, who is then run over by a lorry. This incident is not seen, but Mrs Peacock is later seen in riding gear.
  • What the Hell Is That Accent?: In "Countdown" from series 1, the French Comte Henri de Beauchamp speaks with an accent that would make even Peter Sellers as Inspector Clouseau puzzled. This is because he's English and only pretending to be French. He made the fatal mistake of dropping his accent in a confrontation with Mrs. White within earshot of Mrs. Peacock, leading her to realize that he really was a Gold Digger and to murder him with poison.
  • Who Murdered the Asshole: Many of the victims are such despicable people that all six regulars are clearly glad they're dead, whether they're the ones who killed them or not. Sometimes they're just rude and abusive, while sometimes they're threatening to expose scandals involving one or more of the suspects.
    • TV art expert Peregrine Talbot-Wheeler from "Going, Going, Goner" spends his brief time at Arlington Grange being rude and dismissive to all six suspects and ultimately trying to blackmail Mrs Peacock. Unfortunately for him, he never realized that trying to blackmail someone is rarely if ever a good idea.
    • Investment broker Simon Charles from "A Deadly Deal" is cheerfully unrepentant about the financial ruin that befell five of the suspects after his original dodgy deal or the lack of compensation for the sixth (Prof. Plum) that will result from his next one.
    • Soap star Marianne Kray from "Fatal Distraction" is abrasive and ruthless to an extent that would make All About Eve's Eve Harrington shake her head in disbelief.
    • Sister Concepta (the late Mr Peacock's sister) from "And Then There Were Nuns" is a stereotypical Moral Guardian who denounces all six regulars as depraved in some way and threatens several with exposure over their shadier actions.
    • Sir Nigel Hussey from "Seven Deadly Sinners" is a sleazy politician who double crosses and/or threatens to financially destroy the six suspects in different ways.
    • Terry Radcliffe from "Where There's a Will" has caused significant financial losses for Rev. Green in the past and is clearly planning to do so again for Mrs White, with further repercussions for most of the other regulars.
  • You Are Fat: In series 4, one of the murder victims (Sir Nigel Hussey, MP), was addressed as an "obese hypocrite" by Mrs Peacock, and referred to as a "very, very, dangerous lump of lard" by Colonel Mustard.