Follow TV Tropes


Series / Shakespeare & Hathaway - Private Investigators

Go To

Shakespeare & Hathaway - Private Investigators is a comedy-drama mystery television series set in Stratford-upon-Avon and chock-full of Shakespearean themes.

Ex-Detective Inspector Francis "Frank" Hathaway, now a debt-laden private investigator, meets Luella Shakespeare when she employs him to investigate the fiancé she met online. Hathaway and his assistant, RADA-trained struggling actor Sebastian Brudenell, discover that her fiancé is a con-man, and report back to Luella, but she is reassured by her fiancé and the wedding goes ahead. When her new husband is killed at the reception, Luella is suspected of murder by local Detective Inspector Christina Marlowe who had been Frank's junior. Luella is thrown together with Frank and Sebastian to crack the mystery of what has happened, and after her name is cleared she uses her recovered savings to buy into Frank’s business.


Contains examples of:

  • Absurdly High-Stakes Game: A very literal example kills the missing person in "Nothing Will Come of Nothing".
  • All Abusers Are Male: The show has a few episodes dealing with Domestic Abuse. Played straight by "This Promised End", where a wife leads her husband to believe he will be killed because of his abuse. Subverted in "The Fairest Show Means Most Deceit", where the husband is being physically abused by his wife and burned with cigarettes because he's a Crossdresser.
  • An Arm and a Leg: The victim in "This Cursed Hand" gets their hand cut off by the murderers after death.
  • Backup Twin: In "This Cursed Hand", the Russian mobster has one, and as a result was Alive All Along.
  • Bad "Bad Acting": The LARPers in "The Play's the Thing", especially the Queen.
  • Ball Cannon: In "The Envious Court", Frank and Lu chase the villain across a tennis court. The villain grabs a tennis ball launcher and fires it at them: firing balls at 90 mph.
  • Advertisement:
  • Bedmate Reveal: At the end of "Ill Met by Moonlight", Spider (a No Social Skills hacker Frank sometimes employs) is shown waking up next to the high-class girl he had been trying to pull at the ball the previous night. However, the true reveal occurs when the girls ex-boyfriend rises from the other side of Spider; equally naked and looking thoroughly confused as to what is going on.
  • Camp Gay: Sebastian, although so far the evidence for his sexual orientation is only second-hand. He also frequently falls into Only Sane Man territory when compared to his employers.
  • Car Fu: In "This Promised End", the Victim of the Week is run down and killed in an attempt to Make It Look Like an Accident.
  • Celebrity Paradox: An unusual example. Despite Shakespeare's life and works being central to the story, no-one comments on the coincidence of Frank and Lu having the same surnames as the playwright and his wife, or the people involved in their cases sharing their names with Shakespearean characters. An exchange in the fourth season reveals that Frank doesn't even know who Anne Hathaway was.
  • Character Name Alias: In "Exit, Pursued by a Bear", an actress receiving death threats is sent a threatening teddy bear (It Makes Sense in Context). Tracking down the courier service who delivered it, Frank says it was sent by a Mr. Baloo. DI Marlowe mutters about how stupid you would have to be not to pick that as a fake name.
  • Classically-Trained Extra: Literally in the case of Sebastian. He is a RADA trained actor, but his current acting career consists of bit parts in commericals and being an extra in Shakespeare productions.
  • Clear My Name: In "O Brave New World", Luella Shakespeare is framed for the murder of her new husband. She teams up with private investigator Frank Hathaway to clear her name, and ends up becoming his new partner.
    • A common mystery for Shakespeare and Hathaway, also found in "Toil and Trouble". They also have a tendency to make this the case even if they aren't hired to do it, such as in "No More Cakes and Ale", where they're hired to track down a missing criminal and instead try to clear his name.
  • Con Man: The Victim of the Week in "O Brave New World" is a con man with an M.O. of romancing single women, marrying them, embezzling all of their money, then faking his own death and disappearing.
  • Convenient Escape Boat: Played for Laughs in "The Rascal Cook", where the killer flees from Frank and Lu by jumping into a swan pedal boat that is on the bank and pedalling out on to the Avon River. Frank and Lu commandeer another pedal boat and pursue, resulting in a Low-Speed Chase.
  • Couldn't Find a Pen: In "The Rascal Cook", a poisoned chef collapses in the pantry. He uses his dying strength to dip his finger in some foodstuff and write the word "Sorry" on the wall.
  • The Diva: Sally in "Exit, Pursued by a Bear".
  • Enhance Button: In "O Thou Invisible Spirit of Wine", they are able to have a blurry night vision photograph enhanced to the point that a signet ring can be clearly seen on a finger.
  • Explaining the Soap: In "Exit, Pursued by Bear", Lu starts watching episodes of an old soap called Ward 9 as background to a case. She starts showing Frank relevant episodes and explaining the plot. He is initially dismissive but quickly gets hooked.
  • Faked Kidnapping: In "Ill Met by Moonlight", the daughter of a local aristocrat disappears (along with a priceless heirloom necklace). Although Frank and Lou initially treat this a runaway case, the girl's bloody hoodie turns up accompanied by a ransom note demanding 50,000 pounds; leaving Frank and Lu wondering if this is a genuine kidnapping or a fake. It's a fake. The girl is attempting to raise cash so she can run away and join her real father.
  • Fallen-on-Hard-Times Job: Sebastian is a RADA-trained actor who is working as Frank's receptionist and secretary while keeping his acting dreams alive by appearing as a spear-carrier in plays and doing bit parts in commercials.
  • Framing the Guilty Party: Part of Christina and Frank's Dark and Troubled Past, as revealed in the Season 2 finale. Christina framed a pedophile who murdered a young boy after believing he would go free, except it turned out to be unnecessary and Frank got her out of it.
  • Funny Background Event: in 'This Rough Magic', Sebastian describes a failed case from an identity thief whose sister thought he was dead.
  • Gardening-Variety Weapon: In "The Envious Court", the groundsman at the tennis club threatens Sebastian with a gardening fork when Sebastian discovers the burning aconite.
  • Genius Slob: A downplayed example with Frank, he's scruffy and untidy but not to extreme levels. He even cuts his long hair between series 2-3.
  • Gilligan Cut: Appear frequently, usually involving Sebastian in his latest disguise for going undercover.
  • Heroes Love Dogs: "Outrageous Fortune" reveals just about everybody in the main cast to be one, including the "villains", who were actually trying to spare the dog living in luxury to which he was poorly-suited and miserable. Gloria even adopts a new dog by the end of the episode, after the death of her own dog. Lu always wanted a dog.
  • Hyper-Competent Sidekick: Sebastian, especially noticeable through The Power of Acting that he uses in the cases.
  • I Have Your Wife: In "This Promised End", Mr. R and Mr. G use threats against Peter Quintus' wife to prevent him from going to the police. It is actually an elaborate scheme engineered by the wife.
  • I Know Madden Kombat: In "The Envious Court", the villain attacks Frank and Lu with a tennis ball launcher. Lu uses a tennis racquet to smash a ball back at her; slamming her in the bridge of her nose and knocking her down.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: The episode titles are based upon quotes from Shakespeare plays.
  • Impairment Shot: In "The Envious Court", a tennis player is poisoned with aconite. A shot from his POV show his vison blurring and the world looking yellow: both symptoms of aconite poisoning.
  • Intoxication Ensues: In "The Chameleon's Dish", Lu drinks a cup of tea intended for her client. The tea has been spiked with magic mushrooms and Lu winds up tripping: commenting on the beautiful blues and greens of Frank's face and his cute nose, and is talking to a fairy she thinks is perched on her hand.
    • Also happens in "Ill Met by Moonlight", after a missing daughter spikes her mother's drink during a wild party.
  • Jerkass: DS Joe Keeler through and through.
  • Large Ham: Any episode involving acting, especially Shakespearean acting, will have these. Certain examples are the LARPers in "The Play's the Thing", the White-Dwarf Starlet actor in "This Cursed Hand", and Sally in "Exit, Pursued by a Bear". Sebastian is a very downplayed example as most people find him very believable when he goes undercover. When he's actually acting, his hammier side can come out. There's even a character called Harold Hamworthy in one episode!
  • LARP: "The Play's The Thing" involves Frank, Lu and Sebastian going undercover at a LARP to get evidence of a cheating spouse, only to end up investigating an attempted murder.
  • Locked in a Freezer: In "Too Cold for Hell", Frank, DS Keeler, and Billy the Brick are locked in a refrigerated shipping container.
  • Low-Speed Chase: In "The Rascal Cook", the killer flees from Frank and Lu by jumping into a swan pedal boat and pedalling out on to the Avon River. Frank and Lu commandeer another pedal boat and pursue.
  • Like an Old Married Couple: Frank and Lu are this in spades, they act more like a couple than business partners. When even acting as a divorcing couple in one episode their bickering is so believable that it's clear they are very close to make it natural as an act. Doesn't hurt that their namesakes William Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway were husband and wife
  • Magic Plastic Surgery: The killer in "O Brave New World."
  • Makes Sense In Context:
    Frank: "And the moral of this story is Billy ? Don't nick a mob boss's dead mother!"
  • Master of Disguise: Sebastian, crossing over heavily with The Power of Acting. He wears an extreme costume at least Once an Episode.
  • Meaningful Name: This trope is used constantly, though the most blatant example is Harold HAM-worthy, a Large Ham out of work actor who hams it up for all it's worth.
  • Meta Casting: Usually with a Shakespearean theme. For instance, black actor Ray Fearon plays the angry ex-soldier in "The Play's the Thing", and has played Othello. (Though, like Timothy West who plays a Cool Old Guy called and based on Falstaff, he's also done many other Shakespeares, like Julius Caesar and Macbeth.)
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: The intention of one killer in "The Fairest Show Means Most Deceit" is to kill her boyfriend's married lover. Somewhat subverted in that her accomplice, the husband, doesn't seem too bothered about her infidelity, as he hates her for abusing him.
  • My Beloved Smother: We see Lu's mother Genevieve in "O Brave New World", and she is constantly critical and sour, insulting her daughter's appearance at her own wedding. In "The Envious Court", she disapproves of Lu's career as a PI.
  • Mystery Magnet: Frank and Lu are private investigators, so they expect to run into mysteries, but the number of times their investigations go from investigating small things such as potential cheating spouses and possible faked disability claims to full-blown murder mysteries is astonishing.
  • Named After Somebody Famous / Theme Naming: other than the examples in the title, Christina Marlowe's name doubles as a Punny Name, because she is Hathaway and Shakespeare's main rival and enemy on the police force. Almost constantly in the guest cast: Bardolph, a feisty elderly man named Falstaff, and a manipulative solicitor called Shylock are some examples.
  • Notable Non Sequitur: In "O Brave New World", when the hotel staff are being interviewed after the murder, one of the waitresses complains that a pair of shoes have been stolen from her locker. These later become the vital clue Frank uses to crack the case.
  • Not Me This Time: In "Toil and Trouble", one of Frank's old informants is accused of murder, but he responds with this. Frank believes him and eventually proves his innocence.
  • Not-So-Fake Prop Weapon: In "Exit, Pursued by a Bear", someone laces the poison chalice in a production of Romeo and Juliet with actual poison in an attempt to kill the actress playing Juliet.
    • In "The Play's The Thing", two LARPers are shot by real arrows disguised as fake ones.
  • #1 Dime: In "This Cursed Hand", the paintings turn out to be this. They are in fact drawings done by the mobster's now-deceased five-year-old son.
  • Obfuscating Disability: In "The Fairest Show Means Most Deceit", Shakespeare and Hathaway are hired to investigate an employee who is suspected of faking an injury as part of a workers' compensation scam. Later, the employee uses the fake injury to establish an alibi while she murders her boss.
  • Parenting the Husband: Though not a romantic couple, Lu & Frank's relationship has light shades of this. Especially when Lu notes they've talked about Frank 'tidying yourself up a bit', which is a very domestic discussion for business partners to have.
  • Pain to the Ass: In "Exit, Pursued by a Bear", Frank is interviewing a suspect when he sits down heavily on a pin cushion and jumps immediately to his feet. The pincushion later turns out to be a vital clue in solving the mystery.
  • Pink Girl, Blue Boy: In a very obvious crossover with Pink Means Feminine, as Lu wears very prominent pink colours and has lots of pink possessions, like her blanket and coat in "Outrageous Fortune". Frank wears a lot of blue, but they tend to be very downplayed greys and navy. Sebastian also tends to wear a lot of blue, but much brighter than Frank's.
  • The Power of Acting: Sebastian. He's RADA-trained so it's thoroughly justified. He needs to go undercover usually Once an Episode. It proves especially helpful in "The Fairest Show Means Most Deceit", where he discovers that the dead woman physically abused her husband while undercover as a Drag Queen, and finds physical evidence after pretending to be a plumber to get into his co-conspirator's house.
  • Put on a Bus: DI Marlowe after Season 2.
  • A Rare Sentence: In "Exit, Pursued by a Bear", Lu suggests that the crime could be the work of "aggressive Shakespeare traditionalists, which isn't something you say very often".
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Christina Marlowe is an Ice Queen, but she's also this, even as she's nearly always put in a position to be proven wrong by Lu and Frank (such as in "Toil and Trouble", where she believes Billy is guilty, and "The Fairest Show Means Most Deceit", when she arrests the wrong man.) In "No More Cakes and Ale", Frank instantly agrees that she would never commit police corruption, and she often listens (albeit irritably) to Frank's ideas, even though he's not a police officer anymore.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Lu is blue to Frank's red; in a role reversal, Frank is blue to Christina's red.
  • Role Called: Names and occupation given in the title.
  • Rube Goldberg Hates Your Guts: In "The Chimes at Midnight", the murderer rigs a Rube Goldberg Device to drop his victim off the roof of the building to allow him to establish an alibi by being inside in full view of everyone else when the body hits the ground.
  • Sauna of Death: In "The Envious Court", Luella's mother is lured into a sauna and locked in by the killer. Lu only arrives just in time to save her.
  • Scary Black Man: Subverted by "The Promised End", as one of the scary gangsters (who is black) is actually just a mild-mannered actor hired by an abused wife, to scare her husband. Played straight in "The Play's the Thing", where, in reference to Othello, a charming black man is in fact responsible for the accidental death of one of his fellow soldiers and covers it up. He's not the killer, but he's still extremely aggressive and attempts to imprison Lu.
  • Shamu Fu: In "Too Cold for Hell", Frank, Billy the Brick and DS Keeler are locked in a refrigerated shipping container. When the crooks return, Billy throws a frozen fish in the face of one of them and escapes in the confusion.
  • Significant Anagram: In "Too Cold for Hell", Frank and Lu are hired to find a fraudulent removal man. His aliases are all anagrams: Foster, Forest, Froste, Softer, etc. They soon identify him as Florian Fortes.
  • Sleepwalking: In "The Chameleon's Dish", Frank and Lu's attempts to establish their client's innocence are complicated by the fact that he was found sleepwalking near the Body of the Week, and that earlier that night he attempted to strangle someone in his sleep.
  • Take That!: In "The Rascal Cook", Sebastian compares being asked to watch four hours of their hidden camera footage for clues a second time to be almost as awful as being asked to watch the American version of Hell's Kitchen.
  • Taking the Heat: Frank did this for Christina in their backstories.
  • Tampering with Food and Drink: In "The Rascal Cook", a restaurant is sabotaged when the soup is spiked with syrup of ipecac. Later, the chef is murdered by being served a poisoned cup of coffee.
  • Teacher/Student Romance: The Victim of the Week in "The Chameleon's Dish" is a school counselor who was having an affair with one of her students.
  • Textile Work Is Feminine: Gloria runs a costume store, and all the dressers we see at the theatre in "The Play's the Thing" are women.
  • Themed Aliases: In "Too Cold for Hell", Frank and Lu are hired to find a fraudulent removal man. His aliases are all anagrams: Foster, Forest, Froste, Softer, etc. They soon identify him as Florian Fortes.
  • Twin Switch: Unintentionally done in "This Cursed Hand."
  • Tyrant Takes the Helm: DS Joe Keeler after the departure of Reasonable Authority Figure DI Marlowe at the end of Season 2.
  • Unconventional Vehicle Chase: In "The Rascal Cook", the killer flees from Frank and Lu by jumping into a swan pedal boat and pedalling out on to the Avon River. Frank and Lu commandeer another pedal boat and pursue.
  • Undercover as Lovers: In "The Chameleon's Dish", Frank and Lu go to silent retreat to keep their surveillance on their client for a weekend, only to find their client has booked them in as newlyweds. They also briefly pretend to be lovers in "Exit, Pursued by a Bear".
  • Unlimited Wardrobe: Justified. Sebastian lives with Gloria, who runs a costume store. While his work wardrobe is less variable, she lends him costumes for any occasions where he needs to dress up.
  • Unsuspectingly Soused: In "Ill Met by Moonlight", the hostess of a fancy charity ball has her drink spiked. This causes the alcohol to have a much greater effect than it normally would have and makes her roaringly drunk on a single glass of champagne, with the criminals using her drunken antics as a distraction.
  • Uptown Girl: Lady Bede is this to her gardener, whom she still loves, in "Ill Met by Moonlight".
  • Waistcoat of Style: Sebastian wears them whenever he's not in costume and/or acting.
  • Where Everybody Knows Your Flame: In "The Fairest Show Means Most Deceit", the team discover that one of their suspects has been visiting a transvestite bar. Sebastian goes in undercover to gain the man's confidence. Averts most of the trope, as the bar is just an ordinary pub whose clientele happens to be men dressed as women.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: At least once a season to a Shakespeare play.
    • 'Toil And Trouble' opens on a meeting between three older women, who are members of a group that calls itself HAGS and is trying to protect the habitat of an endangered newt. The murder victim is a town mayor named Duncan Rexler, and the murderer is the mistress of the mayor's second-in-command, who wants to see him become mayor himself. There's also a passing reference to a wood being relocated to make room for a housing development.
    • In 'The Chameleon's Dish', Frank and Lu attend a retreat called Wittenberg Manor to help an unstable young man named Hamish. It turns out that the plot in question is a reference to Hamlet. His 'father' was killed by his new stepfather and real father, Rex, whose name means "king".
    • In 'Ill Met By Moonlight', the client is Lady Tania of Thessaly Hall, who hires them to find her daughter Mia. Mia has a best friend named Helen, who fancies Mia's boyfriend Dimitri, but Mia is more interested in a young man named Lee Sandridge. Meanwhile, Lady Tania has had a bit of a falling out with her loyal groundskeeper Ron. The story climaxes at Lady Tania's End of Summer Ball, where the servers are dressed as fairies. Ron spikes Lady Tania's drink at the ball, which results in her making a pass at Frank. (There's also a silhouette of a man with a donkey's head projected on a screen in the background.)
    • In 'In My Memory Lock'd', a multi-millionaire hotelier has amnesia and Lu and Frank have to help him find the truth about himself. He went undercover in his own hotel, learning that his workers were committing fraud, and tried to extort the manager's daughter into having sex with him, like Measure for Measure.
    • In 'Best Beware My Sting', The Taming of the Shrew gets remade with an aggressive, violent environmentalist as Kate, a spoiled Daddy's Girl as Bianca, and both are daughters to an energy tycoon.
  • Widowed at the Wedding: "O Brave New World" has Luella Shakespeare's new husband being murdered at their wedding. When the husband is exposed as a Con Man, Lu becomes the chief suspect. She teams with private investigator Frank Hathaway to prove her innocence.
  • Worthless Treasure Twist: In "This Cursed Hand", everyone is looking for a locked vault with what are believed to be very valuable paintings owned by a Russian oligarch. Turns out these are in fact paintings done by his son, who died as a child twenty years ago.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: In "The Play's The Thing" Katie shoots herself in the leg with an arrow to frame Maggie for murder.
  • You Killed My Father: A recurring motive, notably in 'This Rough Magic' (though the killer accidentally kills the intended target's wife), and Gender Flipped in 'The Chimes at Midnight'.
  • Your Son All Along: A Gender Flipped example in "Ill Met by Moonlight", Lady Bede had an Arranged Marriage that became a Sexless Marriage to escape her tyrannical parents. She was impregnated with her daughter by the gardener, who remained unsuspecting and worked with her family for years.