Monday, 9 March 2020


[Favourite of the Month] Columbo lives in South West England. No kidding.

« OK... What have we got?
- Er... Well, someone's been murdered. »

A homeless man is shot dead in the mansion of engineer/entrepreneur Maxton Crockett, one of Bath's most prominent citizens, while its owner is away from the historic city with his pregnant wife. DCI Lauren McDonald, an ambitious young woman just transferred from South London, arrives on the crime scene and meets her new deputy. It's the middle-aged, shy and modest DS Dodds, back on the field after a 11-year desk job.

Traces of a break-in and a missing ancient Roman artefact suggest a burglary gone bad. Chief Superintendent John Houseman wants McDonald to wrap up the investigation quickly and to push Dodds into early retirement. The biggest pressure actually comes from Max Crockett himself and his family. And DS Dodds seems incompatible with the current style of policing. But the little sergeant in a beige anorak, who dips his chips in butter, has a keen eye for details. Things like a hat, a light bulb, a peregrine falcon and a wet stone step.

McDonald & Dodds -formerly Invisible - is a 2 x 90-minute mystery drama produced by Mammoth Screen (Endeavour) for ITV. Created and written by Robert Murphy (DCI Banks), it's a most pleasant take on the mismatched detective duo where the crime-solving genius isn't in the foreground. It's also an affectionate homage to Columbo in a setting reminiscent of Inspector Morse's Oxford. The brilliant Jason Watkins (The Crown, The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies) is Dodds, the unassuming DS with no first name.

« He, er... He makes annoying things disappear.
- Not all of them! »

The very good Tala Gouveia (Cold Feet) brings a touch of subtlety to the efficiency-seeking DCI McDonald. Other regulars are Pearl Chanda (DC Laura Simpson), Jack Riddiford (DC Darren Craig) and the excellent James Murray (Cucumber, Primeval) as the very politician Chief Superintendent Houseman. In The Fall of The House of Crockett, directed by Richard Senior, guest star Robert Lindsay (My Family) plays the manipulative Crockett, a shakespearean version of James Dyson or Alan Sugar.

With Natalie Mendoza (Mathilde Crockett), Sebastian Knapp (Seth Murdoch), Rosalie Craig (Megan Wattal), Susannah Fielding (Tamara Valentine), Jack Ashton (Jack Valentine), Roger Evans (Mikey Wallace), Navin Chowdhry (Pete Wattal), Ellie Kendrick (Ellie Crockett) and Cassie Bradley (Kasha Perry). Produced by Amy Thurgood. Co-produced by Sarah Lewis. Exec produced by Preethi Mavahalli, Robert Murphy and Damien Timmer.

Music by Blair Mowat (Happy!). Cinematography by Giulio Biccari. Editing by Meredith Leece. Titles by Liquid TV. Distributed by ITV Studios. With its likeable sleuths, its well-crafted plots, great dialogues and a talented cast, McDonald & Dodds has all to please the amateurs of the genre and (of course) the fans of Lieutenant Columbo around the world. It would be pure gold for France 3, the Gaullic home of Vera or Midsomer Murders.

« I suppose I've always been, erm... invisible. »