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Series / Kingdom (2007)

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So, you sit down to watch ITV 1 on a Sunday night and the sponsored by clip is that of the channel's lower-level crime dramas, declaring that "Talk Talk sponsors ITV Mystery Dramas".

Then you spend an hour watching lovely East Anglian countryside, Stephen Fry being a lawyer and no-one gets the slightest bit murdered. There's actually a lot of comedy.

Welcome to Kingdom, where Crime and Punishment Series meets English planning law, and they fight crime in a genteel, laid-back fashion, with plenty of breaks for Scenery Porn.

Stephen Fry (10 pounds of awesome in a 5 pound bag) plays Peter Kingdom, lawyer for the small firm of Kingdom & Kingdom, in the fictional town of Market Shipborough, Norfolk. Every week, he has to investigate some argument between people over a will, planning issues or something like that. He also must deal with the town's most sue-happy citizen Sidney Snell (Tony Slattery), his long-suffering secretary Gloria Millington (Celia Imrie), and his loopy sister Beatrice (Hermione Norris).

Peter has an articled clerk, Lyle Anderson (Karl Davies) who is the funny man of the show, getting into the more comedic scrapes, including having to deal with about 20 cats, and getting drenched in nearly every episode of Season 1.

While at first it might seem that the other Kingdom in "Kingdom & Kingdom" is Simon (Dominic Mafham), Peter's younger brother (who has disappeared and is presumed dead at the beginning of the series and shows up again in Series 2),note  Peter informs us that Simon is actually neither Kingdom. The first Kingdom is their late father (who naturally never shows up) and Peter is the second.

The series was cancelled after 3 series and ended with a shocker.

Not related to Kingdom (2014), a Family Drama about MMA fighters, or Kingdom (2019), a historical fantasy involving zombies.


  • Actor Allusion: Fittingly for the host of QI, Peter evidently writes the questions for the Market Shipborough pub quiz.
  • Author Appeal: The balloon ride in Series 3 Episode 2 may have been one; Stephen Fry had taken his first balloon ride in North Carolina for Stephen Fry in America in 2008—a few months before the shooting for Series 3 began—and appeared to rather like it after an initial bit of terror.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: The second series shows Peter starting to lose his temper with the various misbehaviors he runs into, especially Simon
  • Biting-the-Hand Humor: "Is there an ITV4?"
  • Briefcase Full of Money: Simon keeps a duffel bag full of cash around for a good chunk of Series 2. Lyle takes £100,000 of it in a briefcase to post bail after Simon gets arrested, and the duffel bag floating in flood waters at the end of Series 2 is the first sign to the viewers that Simon is really dead. He also claims that the money actually belonged to the late Mr. Kingdom, and that there's more stashed in the house.
  • British Brevity: A particularly good example, with only three series of six episodes each. You could watch all of Kingdom in one weekend.
    • It would be a really lovely weekend though.
  • But I Can't Be Pregnant!: Beatrice at the beginning of Series 2. She accumulates a drawerful of "broken" pregnancy tests before seeing a doctor for a more definitive exam.
  • Butt-Monkey: Lyle. Lyle Lyle Lyle. He's saddled with all the menial work at Kingdom & Kingdom, regularly suffers embarrassing accidents, and generally gets very little respect from the people around him.
  • Celebrity Paradox: In Series 3 episode 2, the one with the Crop Circles, Peter encounters a man standing in a field dressed as the Fourth Doctor, doing a pretty good impression of Tom Baker. In the same episode, Colin Baker AKA the Sixth Doctor plays a local resident. May also be a Casting Gag.
  • Celibate Hero: Peter shows no romantic/sexual interest in either gender.
  • Character Filibuster: Series 3 Episode 1 has Peter talk about the debt the country owes its soldiers, irrespective of whether or not the war they fight is popular. The creators, including Stephen Fry, are known to be of this opinion, arguably making this a small Author Filibuster as well.
  • Chase Scene: Involving Peter's Cool Car and a guy on a bike. Lyle puts on "Flight of the Valkyries."
  • Citizenship Marriage: Lyle suggests marrying an immigrant client to help her remain in the UK and fight for custody of her son. This results in Peter dangling him off the balcony and threatening to let go the next time he has such an idea.
  • Cool Car: Peter has a gorgeous older car (an Alvis TE21). Don't forget to Watch the Paint Job (as we learned that one time it disappears).
  • Cool Old Lady: Aunt Auriel, who is unapologetic about enjoying life, including sex, and always has a supply of good advice.
  • Crazy Cat Lady: Several clients keep excessive numbers of pets, though they're not necessarily restricted to cats. One keeps dogs, another has stuffed cats, and one hoarder makes do with a single cat.
  • Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon: Lyle and Peter having pints in the pub. Lyle, being flippant, calls Peter "P.K."
    Peter: Although everything you just said makes no sense whatsoever, I do find myself inclined to agree with it. Though call me "P.K." again and I'll pull your pancreas out with a pair of pliers.
  • Double Entendre/Innocent Innuendo: When Peter buys his bait for his fishing trip in Scotland:
    Peter: I've penciled myself in for five days of unadulterated peace and quiet. Just me and my rod.
  • Faking the Dead: Simon Kingdom
  • 555: 01632, the UK version.
  • A Fool for a Client: Simon is forced to represent himself after being arrested, as Peter can't work for a family member. He playacts "consulting with" and "advising" himself during an interrogation. The charges are dropped because of questions about his mental state when he walked into the sea and a lack of evidence; quite a break for Simon since his legal skills are shown to be rather rusty when he accompanies Lyle.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Peter certainly acts more responsibly than the other two Kingdoms, who are much more impulsive and unstable. However, he also comes off as rather controlling and self-important, which Simon and Beatrice confront him on later in the series.
  • Geeky Turn-On: In the last episode:
    Emily: Anything exciting?
    Lyle: (getting up, slightly husky) Strict liability negligence polluted river case. No win, no fee.
    Emily: God, I love it when you talk dirty.
  • Hidden Depths: Simon can speak...Norwegian???
  • House Squatting: One of Lyle's clients is an elderly Holocaust survivor facing eviction by the local council because he hasn't paid rent in years. He'd been shut in for so long, he thought Peter's late father was still his solicitor and has avoided opening his mail for most of that time to dodge rent bills and other notices. Lyle finds that the circumstances just manage to qualify the man to assert "squatter's rights" and claim ownership of the property.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Lyle after the balloon ride in Series 3, episode 2. "That is quite a lot of brandy." "That was quite a lot of balloon."
  • Intoxication Ensues: Peter should never have eaten that mushroom omelet prepared by sci-fi fans at an impromptu con.
  • It's All About Me: Simon, most of the time. He only rarely notices that his actions affect the people around him, or demonstrates any remorse for his selfishness.
  • Killed Off for Real: Simon at the end of the second season
  • Mr. Fanservice: Lyle, considering that he walks around in a suit and how much he gets drenched.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Druids vs. golfers. In formation. There's even a Braveheart reference.
  • No Longer with Us: In series 2, Lyle encounters a cat lady who needs his help seeing that her cats are taken care of "after she's gone," and "can't take them with [her] where [she's] going." He assumes she wants to set up a trust fund to ensure they're cared for, and also distributes the cats among clients who saw an ad for free will preparation services. It turns out she's moving to Norwich to live with her son, who's allergic to cats.
  • Older Than They Look: Lyle, more or less. He could pass for someone at least five years younger. Lampshaded by Beatrice: "When did you stop being twelve?"
  • Once an Episode: In season one, Peter dodging Mrs. Thingy when she goes walking past.
  • Oop North: Lyle is from Stockport.
  • The Pig-Pen: Sidney Snell has virtually no sense of personal hygiene. That said, he gets better about it in Series 2, after he starts dating Gloria.
  • Rousseau Was Right: For the most part. And you know what? They manage to not only make it work, but also believable.
  • Running Gag
    • Lyle getting drenched (in Series 1).
    • Lyle never quite getting with the girl (in Series 2).
    • Mrs... er... Thingy (in Series 1).
  • Samus Is a Girl: Lyle's motorcyclist client in Series 2, Episode 3.
  • Scenery Censor: Beatrice's pregnancy, plus much of the nudist episode.
  • Scenery Porn: The shots of the Norfolk countryside and coast are really, really nice.
  • Second Love: Sidney Snell, believe it or not, for Gloria. It doesn't last past their trip to Norway, but the breakup affects both of them.
  • Short Run in Peru: For some reason, Series 3 aired in Belgium six months before airing in the UK. Why? Why Belgium of all places? Nobody knows.
  • Suicide by Sea: Simon walked into the sea some time before the series started. Peter trying to come to terms with his brother's death is a major thread of Series 1. It seems Simon did it to escape from debts and unsavory connections, but he survived and lived under an deceased client's name before returning to Market Shipborough for Series 2.
  • Talkative Loon
  • Two Lines, No Waiting: Most episodes feature two parallel storylines, typically the ongoing saga of Peter's family and his work for the client-of-the-week. Among other things, it emphasizes just how much the man has to juggle day to day.
  • Wham Episode: Each series ends with a dramatic change in Peter's circumstances:
    • Series 1 has Simon returning to Market Shipborough.
    • Series 2 has Simon's death, either by assassination or drowning in the floods.
    • Series 3 has Peter suffer a serious health scare, leading to a diagnosis of late-onset type-2 diabetes, and discovering that he is not related by blood to Beatrice or Simon, who believed they were half-siblings, and Auriel knows something about this.