Wednesday, 19 June 2019


The second series of British mystery comedy-drama Agatha Raisin premiered on U.S. streaming service Acorn TV between Autumn 2018 and Winter 2019. It will start in France this sunday on pubcaster France 3.

Series 2, Episode 1: The Wizard of Evesham:

London PR queen turned amateur sleuth Agatha Raisin first appeared in a series of mystery novels written by M.C. Beaton (the pseudonym of Marion Chesney), who's also the author of the Hamish Macbeth books. Penelope Keith played the character for BBC Radio 4 from 2004 to 2006. In 2014, Ashley Jensen (Ugly Betty, Extras) starred in the title role of Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death, a fun, fast-paced and charming Christmas special aired on Sky 1. Following the success of The Quiche of Death, Sky commissioned a 8 X 60-minute series aired from June to July 2016.

Sky 1 chose not to commission a second series but streaming service Acorn TV ordered three 90-minute episodes, based on the novels The Wizard of Evesham, The Fairies of Fryham and The Case of the Curious Curate. Written by Julia Gilbert (Midsomer Murders) and directed by Roberto Bangura, The Wizard of Evesham premiered on November 19, 2018. In The Fairies of Fryfam, which was released on December 24. Agatha Raisin needs a retreat to write her first novel (a murder mystery, of course) so she rents a cottage in the remote village of Fryfam. The place, called Oberon Cottage, dates back to the 17th century and a local legend says fairies live around the village.

Soon after Agatha sees glowing little things flying in the garden, she's hired by a woman named Lucy Trumpington-James to prove that her wealthy husband, Tolly, is having an affair. When Lucy is accused of his murder, Agatha Raisin investigates. She's joined by Sir Charles Fraith (Jason Merrells), Gemma Simpson (Katy Wix) and DC Bill Wong (Matt McCooey). Compared to weird lights, a doll on her door, a dead rabbit and "a stunning harpy, mermaid, Mata Hari woman", the obtuse DCI Percy Hand (Andrew Brooke) is the lesser of Agatha's problems. James Lacey (Jamie Glover) returns to Carsely.

Midsomer Murders regular scribe Chris Murray brings Agatha Raisin on a territory quite similar to the villages in the famous fictional county of the venerable ITV detective drama. The legendary English actress Annette Badland, who plays Dr. Fleur Perkins in Midsomer Murders, guest stars as housekeeper Betty Jackson (a fan of detective novels). Guy Hescott produces both Series 2 of Agatha Raisin and Midsomer since its 20th series. Helmed by Matt Carter (1), The Fairies of Fryfam is very entertaining in spite of the noticeable absence of Roy Silver (Mathew Horne) and DCI Denzel Wilkes (Jason Barnett).

« So, let's see if Lord Grantham was having an affair with the bisexual curate. »

Also with Clare Lawrence Moody (Lizzie Findlay), Tommy Bastow (Barry Jackson), Milo Twomey (Paul Redfern), Maimie McCoy (Rosie Wilden), Phoebe Thomas (Amy Redfern), Lucy Liemann (Sarah Bloxby), Nicholas Agnew (Tolly), Elarica Johnson (Lucy) and Rebecca Bainbridge (Polly Dart). Penned by Chris Niel (Free Agents), The Curious Curate is directed by Audrey Cooke. Almost all the women of Carsely are crazy about the new curate, Tristan Delon. Not Sarah Bloxby, whose reverend husband is in Nigeria for missionary work. Delon tries to alleviate her resentment during a dinner until she finds a letter from the bishop.

The morning after, the young man is found murdered in Sarah Bloxby's house with one of her knives. DCI Wilkes and DC Wong interrogate Sarah, though Wilkes is more preoccupied by the election of the chairman of the parish council. Agatha teams up again with Sir Charles to clear the name of her friend. They find out Tristan Delon wasn't a saint (and he wasn't "Tristan Delon" either). An anonymous note draws their attention on software multi-millionaire Richard Binser. Bill has a new girlfriend who's scared of meeting his mother. Charles makes a surprising announcement and Roy seeks a new job.

The Curious Curate is the best episode of this second series. Most of the main cast is back for a festival of brilliant dialogues, an excellent humour, a very good plot with a couple of twists and nice performances by Olly Rix as Tristan and John Light (Richard Binser). The talented Jason Barnett sends DCI Wilkes, Carsely's Inspector Clouseau, to the pantheon of the great British TV comedy cops. Also starring Georgia Slowe (Ellen Partle), Pippa Haywood (Reverend Grace Lansing), Nicola Stephenson (Liz Jellop), Emma Cooke (Peggy Slither), Amy Beth Hayes (Charlotte Bellinge), etc. Produced by Free@Last TV and Company Pictures (an all3media company). 

Co-produced by Acorn Media Enterprises (a division of RLJ Entertainment, Inc.). Barry Ryan and David A. Walton exec produce for Free@Last TV. Michele Buck exec produces for Company Pictures. Shane Murphy exec produces for Acorn Media Enterprises. Produced by Guy Hescott. Ian Strachan is the line producer. Music composed by Evan Jolly. Theme composed by Rupert Gregson-Williams. Cinematography by Al Beech. Distributed by all3media International, except for English-speaking territories, which are handled by Acorn Media International. Sky bought Series 2 for the U.K. and Ireland. Agatha Raisin will be back for a third series.

(1) Matt Carter directed 5 episodes of Midsomer Murders between 2016 and 2018.

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